Picture Book on Obama
If it seemed like publishers were racing to keep up with the presidential election this fall they’re sprinting even faster now that the finish line is in sight—Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 20.
While it’s relatively rare for children’s publishers to rush books into print, it’s even rarer for them to compress the writing and prep work for an illustrated book into two weeks. That just might make Kadir Nelson’s illustrated gift book, Change Has Come: An Artist Celebrates Our American Spirit , the crashiest of the Obama crash books this season.
At a cocktail party on November 12 to honor the New York Times’s Best Illustrated Books of the year, which included Nelson’s We Are the Ship (Disney-Jump at the Sun), a few S&S staffers approached Nelson about illustrating a book that would capture the feeling of euphoria of the election, which brought together black and white, young and old.Two days later they had his initial two charcoal sketches. Nelson delivered the final image a week later on Friday the 21st, and the book went to press on Monday the 24th.Because of the time constraints, there was no time to go back and forth over the images. So Nelson drew far more sketches than Simon & Schuster could use and then let them make the final selections. Simon & Schuster also chose which lines from Obama’s speeches to go with them. In the end, the speed of the project could be its biggest strength. “There’s an incredible spontaneity to the book,” says Chanda, who compares its immediacy to that of an artist’s sketchbook. Ironically, he notes, it will take longer to produce a book trailer to promote the book than the book itself.