a picture book for kids and dog lovers

The illustrator’s story

The illustrator’s story

The story of Destiny’s Escape includes three things I love: dogs, gardens, and the idea of finding a home. I just loved the process of bringing the story of Destiny to life; every stage from initial sketches to storyboarding, all the way to receiving the printed book in full color were challenging and rewarding at the same time. From the day I joined the project, my number one objective was to make the character of Destiny a visual celebration of the beautiful greyhound form.

I started out by taking reference photos of two adopted greyhounds at the home of one of the co-authors. These photographs helped me to refine the intensity of the greyhound gaze that I wanted to capture, as well as many in motion poses that helped me establish preliminary sketches. I knew that I wanted to make the drawings of Destiny slightly sad to highlight her lostness, which you can see in her eyes especially. Throughout the book I emphasized in her gestures and her face that she was both lovable and deeply in need of a home.

Greyhounds are such striking animals, and in my drawings I worked to capture their long graceful shape in a variety of poses and settings. The feedback I received from the two co-authors on each illustration was so helpful to refine the characters and setting. My favorite part of illustrating this book was storyboarding the adventures that Destiny and Ruby would take on together. In the process of illustrating Destiny’s Escape, I came to love not only the character and the story, but the reason behind making the book.

There are so many reasons why I believe in this book, but my number one is to show children that they can make a difference. This story is written to give children the true story of something wrong that is happening in the world, and shows them they have the power to help make this wrong right. Growing up I was a little activist too, making signs as a five year old to “save the gorillas,” but I was never aware that greyhounds were just as much in need of little activists as any other cause until illustrating this book. To help the child reader to relate to the story, I chose to finish the drawings with light washes of watercolor over colored pencil. Making the drawings look colored in was a way to show the children that they can make books that stand for something too, if they get out their box of crayons.

I grew up near a racetrack in New England called Wonderland where greyhounds were raced for nearly 75 years. As an animal lover I always thought it was strange that such a place was operating so close to my home, but although I lived close to the track I never really understood how prevalent greyhound racing still is. Thankfully the Wonderland track I grew up near was closed in 2010, but there are still tracks around the world that are hurting greyhounds. Some of the pictures in the book show the harm that racing does to greyhounds such as the tattooed ear, the muzzle, and Destiny not wanting to race. There are many other hardships we left out that racing greyhounds bear including injuries, overbreeding, and high euthanasia rates.

The good news is that greyhound racing is in decline. In just six states, dog racing remains legal and operational. With this book we hope to increase the awareness of the plight of the greyhound, and tell their story. We believe that greyhound racing can end during our lifetime, and we hope you will join us in that mission. Please share this book widely with your friends, teachers, librarians, animal lovers, and most of all with children. We are grateful for your help in the mission to end greyhound racing.

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