Happy Book Birthday: If Elephants Disappeared!

Today is the day that If Elephants Disappeared is out on bookshelves! This is the third book in the If Animals Disappeared series written and illustrated by me, and published by Roaring Brook Press (an imprint of Macmillan Publishing).

Unlike it’s predecessors, If Sharks Disappeared and If Polar Bears Disappeared, this book took a total turn when doing the research. When I started researching If Elephants Disappeared, I thought I had picked the right elephant: the African Savannah Elephant. However, as I did more and more research, I realized there wasn’t enough information about the Savannah Elephant and I had to focus my research energy on the African Forest Elephant. Turns out, there was a lot more information readily available on the African Forest Elephant and it’s impacts to it’s ecosystem (the rainforest). This totally threw me for a loop! I had no idea what an African Forest Elephant was prior to starting the research and I thought I had a clear idea of how I wanted to illustrate the book (think beautiful Kenyan landscapes), however, I was thrown into the lush Congolese rainforest (also incredibly beautiful). I had to wrap my head around illustrating tons and tons of plants versus lots of sparse grasslands.

I love this about writing nonfiction books. I love that you can have an idea in your head and it gets completely scrapped as you go along because facts are truth and one has to stick to facts when writing/illustrating nonfiction. I love the juxtaposition of information and art that I get to create and boy did I have a lot to illustrate in If Elephants Disappeared! The lush landscapes took a lot of work and while I didn’t have the luxury of visiting the Congo, I based my illustrations off of the beautiful and vibrant Odzala-Kokoua National Park.

An HQ poster perfect for classrooms and libraries. This is an unused and scrapped spread from If Elephants Disappeared.

Rainforests are considered by many scientists and environmentalists to be the “lungs” of our planet (for more information read Drawdown by Paul Hawken) producing an estimated 20% of the world’s oxygen. They are of vital importance to our world and elephants are a keystone species of the African Rainforests.

I hope you all will have a chance to pick up a copy of If Elephants Disappeared and pass along some of the new knowledge you learned from it to a friend!

Let’s save African Forest Elephants!

A process image when I started the thumbnail illustrations for If Elephants Disappeared.