There is a packrat in every family. At least that’s what illustrator Cheryl Bielli of Gloversville recently discovered.
While working on the children’s book ‘The Boy Who Never Throws Away’, due out on Tuesday, she discovered many people were connecting with the young protagonist, Tommy, who can’t stand to part with anything, including broken toys and old stuffed animals. animals.
“I think that resonates with people. Everyone is a hoarder. I don’t think I’m exaggerating,” Bielli said.
The book follows what happens as all his toys pile up around him and he loses important things, like his brother, and gets trapped in his many piles of possessions. Tommy’s parents eventually help him find a way out by donating toys and clothes to others and recycling what can’t be reused.
The story, which is written by Margie Peterson, is told in rhyming prose and brought to life by Bielli’s detailed watercolor illustrations.
The cover features a mountainous pile of teddy bears, baseball bats, trains, planes, trucks, and a toy chicken. Inside there are intricate illustrations of Tommy’s cavernous bedroom, filled to the brim with toys. Some of the toys are also characters in themselves, like a headless superhero and a hen that lays eggs when a lever is pulled.
“There’s a ton of detail in the book. . . and it took forever,” Bielli said.
This is the first time Bielli has illustrated a children’s book, although she has been an artist for decades.
“I had always made little books for friends and stuff like that. I’ve been drawing since I was little,” Bielli said.
As a young teenager, she also drew caricatures at a community fair. Early in her career, she illustrated for newspapers and magazines.
“I would do illustrations for stories. I did it just because I saw a need. Back then there was no internet and you just couldn’t find [an image] at the push of a button,” said Bielli.
She has also written feature articles for the Leader Herald as well as The Gazette and other publications. Later in her career, she returned to college to earn her teaching degree and worked for the Johnstown and Gloversville school districts as an art teacher.
In 2020 she quit teaching and started working on “The Boy Who Never Threw Anything Away”. Peterson, a longtime friend, had submitted the story to Crave Press who agreed to publish it. It’s based on his son, Tommy, who was having a hard time letting go of anything.
During the illustration and planning process, the characters, including Tommy, his mother and father, evolved. However, Peterson had a clear vision from the start of the scenes to be illustrated and how detailed they needed to be.
Some of them, simply because of the sheer volume of stuff Tommy is clinging to, were particularly difficult to paint. Another challenge was the fact that there was no way to set up a model of Tommy’s packed house to use as a visual reference.
“[Usually,] you’re trying to use spatial relationships and proportion. . . and you didn’t have that with that,” Bielli said. “So you have to figure out where the light is coming from?” And what would it look like if things were stacked on top of things? »
In one scene, Tommy sends his dirty laundry to his mother via a toy plane. His mother in turn sends him his meals via a small train. This illustration, which was her first for the story, took about 30 hours to complete.
Throughout the months she worked on the illustrations, she visited schools and craft fairs and even Sauve Faire in Saratoga Springs to demonstrate her work. He seems to connect with people of all ages.
“I had a lot of good feedback. People of all ages seem to identify with the things the child hoards and have a packrat among them. In many cases, people confess to being the resident packrat,” Bielli said.
The book ends with a page of hidden pictures which has been popular with children and adults alike.
“Adults find a lot of hidden stuff and kids find the other, so it’s cool to see how perception changes with age,” Bielli said.
“The Boy Who Never Thrown Away” will be released on Tuesday and will be sold by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Books.
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Categories: Art, Life and Arts, Life and Arts