See Mike Wohnoutka and David LaRochelle talk about their upcoming Beginning Reader: See the Ghost

Mike: Hey, David. It’s a pretty special day today, isn’t it?

David: It is indeed, Mike! Thank you for remembering that it’s my birthday!

Mike: Uh…what I had in mind was that today is the cover release of our next book together, See the Ghost: Three Stories About Things You Cannot See.

David: And what a great birthday gift for me, finally being able to share your wonderful cover design with others. Do you remember when I shared my dummy of this book with you back in 2020?

Mike: Yes, I do. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me. But this time, I thought your ideas might be a little too creative. I thought there was no way in the world that Candlewick would ever publish a book like this. For example, your cover idea had nothing on it except a patch of grass.

David: Wasn’t that brilliant? What a clever idea for a book about things that you cannot see, to simply show a blank cover! Genius! But then you wisely pointed out that people are going to want to see something on the cover. When you suggested depicting Max and Baby Cakes, who return from the previous two books in this series, I had to admit that it made for a much more engaging image. Throughout the book you came up with many visual details that made my words so much funnier. No wonder you are the illustrator and I’m the author.

Mike: I do my best. And I appreciate that we are such good friends that both of us are comfortable suggesting changes to the book, whether the changes are about the words or the pictures. The other person is always willing to incorporate those ideas.

David: The other person is frequently willing to incorporate those ideas. You also suggested that the ghost in this story should be indicated with a grey outline. That was your one suggestion that I didn’t make. I thought it was important that the ghost should not be seen at all.

Mike: And you were right.

David: This third book is about a ghost, the wind, and a teeny-tiny fairy. Because they are all things that you cannot see, did that make it easier for you to draw them?

Mike: Drawing invisible things is one of my specialties. So yes, that made it much easier to illustrate. But you gave me other challenges that were a lot tougher. For example, there were some scenes where so much was happening, such as when Max and Baby Cakes get blown around by a windstorm or when the fairy releases an explosion of magic, that I struggled to depict all of this action on just the right hand side of the book. Finally it dawned on me that I could expand these illustrations onto the left hand side of the book that was usually reserved for the text. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this, especially since I had used this technique in the previous two books, but once I did, it gave me the room I needed to depict these moments as dramatically as possible.

What was one of the challenges for you, David, when you were writing this book?

David: Simply coming up with the theme. I’m usually not a big fan of sequels, but after the first book in the series was published, See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog, you gave me a follow-up title which instantly triggered a very different way to explore these characters, See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat. When Candlewick asked us to try a third book, I was stumped. I knew the title had to follow the pattern of the first two, and it had to initially seem like a contradictory statement. I puzzled over this for a long time. Eventually I came up with the idea of a book instructing the reader to see something that they cannot see. I thought this could be very funny.

Mike: And it is also very different from the first two books. Do you think there will be a fourth book in this series?

David: Absolutely not. Not unless you can come up with another good title. But then again, I never thought there would be a second or third book, so I shouldn’t be so definite. Even if this is the last book in the series, it makes me happy to know that we have two more standalone picture books coming out from Candlewick in the future.

Say, I heard that you are going to create a special piece of artwork to celebrate See the Ghost’s cover release. What medium do you plan to use?

Mike: Pumpkin.

David: Excellent! I can’t wait to see it.

Mike: And before I forget, David, happy birthday!

David LaRochelle is the author of many books for young readers, including Isle of You, illustrated by Jaime Kim, as well as How to Apologize, See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog, and See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat, all illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.
Mike Wohnoutka has illustrated numerous books for young readers, including How to Apologize, See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog, and See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat, all by David LaRochelle.He is also the author and illustrator of several picture books, including Croc & Turtle.