HUMPHREY'S FIRST CHRISTMAS
Written and Illustrated by Carol Heyer
Ideals Publications September 2007
In Spanish speaking countries, the three wise men or los tres reyes magos bring presents to children on January 6th. Are you familiar with this tradition?
Ye, my grandmother was from Spain and The Feast of the Three Wise Men, The Epiphany was very important to her. When I was little, my mother followed that tradition and always kept our decorations up until the sixth of Jan. On that day we had another celebration and then the Christmas season was officially over.
How did you get inspired to write the story?
My publisher, Pat Pingry, wanted me to do another book for Ideals Children's Books. She liked the way I painted camels and asked if I could write a story about a grumpy camel. This sounded like a wonderful idea, for a story, since I love camels! I worked for a few months until I came up with an idea that I thought was good and included all of the familiar elements of Christmas. I tried to balance that, with humor and still maintain the importance and dignity of the season.
Tell us about your most wonderful Christmas memory as a child.
I have so many memories that all melt together to form a happy Christmas feeling. Opening one present on Christmas Eve. Going to midnight mass. Picking out the perfect tree and decorating it. Putting the star up at the top of the tree, cookies and milk for Santa. So many special and wonderful memories that have made Christmas my very favorite holiday.
Can you tell us the process from manuscript to published book?
Well, it took some time coming up with the idea and writing it, then rewriting it and writing it again, until I got the story to a place where I was satisfied.
Then I sent it to the publisher to look over. At that point they make suggestions for changes and I re-wrote and polished it and then polished it again, until it became the manuscript you read in the published book.
At that point I did a book map, which is a thumbnail storyboard of the book. It has the projected layout of pictures and type. Then I do larger more detailed sketches for the final paintings.
Once those sketches are completed and accepted, I worked with the art director Eve Degrie and the publisher to on the final design of the book and began the finished acrylic paintings that appeared in the final product.
You are also the illustrator of the book. What came first the image or the story?
When I'm writing I often picture the event in my mind first and then write the details out for the manuscript. Sometimes I may go back and modify the text if I have an idea for a really great illustration. It's kind of a back and forth process.
How long does it take to illustrate a book?
All in all it took over eighteen months to complete Humphrey's First Christmas.
What is your message for the children reading this book?
I hope they have as much fun "meeting" Humphrey as I did painting him! And that, like Humphrey found out, giving can be more important than receiving.
Where can we get a copy of the book?
The book is available at amazon.com, Adventures for Kids in Ventura CA, and most Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores.
Can you send us, un saludo navideño- a Christmas greeting?
I wish for everyone to have the joy of Christmas, all year long.
CAROL HEYER is a resident of Thousand Oaks California and is a full time illustrator and writer. She has retold and illustrated numerous books and faerie tales, among them, "THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD", "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST", "THE EASTER STORY", and "ROBIN HOOD". Heyer has won awards for her children's art from; The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, The Carnegie Art Institute, and The Society of Illustrators LA. To date well over one million of her books have been sold. Visit Carol at www.carolheyer.com.