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From the Illustrator

We all know who the real authors of the books are, but fortunately, I did get to at least do the illustrations. One of the many benefits of having those opposable thumbs; it's far easier to control a pencil in your hands than in a muzzle.

On this page are some illustrations that didn't quite make it into the books, but I thought they might be interesting, or at the very least, will show you that making mistakes is a part of any creation. I have recycled a lot of paper trying to get the illustrations right. I hope you enjoy them.


Purple Monkey? (page 64.)

This one I was incredibly pleased with and really had my heart set on. I worked on it really hard, trying to get the shading just right, and the expression to convey some wisdom and amusement at poor Maya's frustration. When I thought I had it just perfect, I proudly brought it to show off. Shem was semi-sleeping in a patch of sunlight that was coming through the window. He always seems to be able to find that patch. He lifted his head and looked at me inquiringly as I approached, brandishing the drawing.

"Purple monkey holding a yellow banana!" I said excitedly.

Shem cocked his head to the side and looked at it for a moment. "Ape," he said.

"Excuse me?"

"Ape, " he repeated. "Purple ape holding a yellow banana."

I turned the picture around and looked at it carefully. "Just look at the eyes," I implored. "Aren't they just full of wisdom and amusement?"

"Very much so. They're the perfect eyes for a wise and amused ape."

Just then Sephira padded over. I turned to her with my cherished illustration. "Purple monkey holding a yellow banana!" I said again, this time a little less excitedly.

Sephira barely looked it before raising her eyes to meet mine. "It's wonderful dear, you've captured something really special there." My heart leapt and I looked at Shem in triumph. She continued, "But that's an ape, not a monkey."

"But, the eyes, look at the eyes..."

"The eyes don't determine if it's an ape or a monkey, dear, that privilege goes to the tail. If it has a tail, it's a monkey. Chimpanzees do not have tails, and are therefore classified as apes."


"It's a beautifully composed illustration dear, but we can't really have children going around thinking chimpanzees are monkeys, can we?"


"Science teachers would be very upset with us."

"Could you change it to purple apes with yellow bananas?" I asked desperately.

Sephira shook her head slowly. "I'm sorry, dear. I'm sure you'll draw a wonderful monkey as well." And she turned and padded off.

And so, this illustration didn't make it into the book.

I still like my ape.


Shem doing the three-legged amble (pg. 148)

This illustration was particularly difficult for me because of the perspective. It had to look like Shem was moving forward and towards us, not just sideways across the page. Getting a sense of movement in three dimensions is hard on a two-dimensional piece of paper. I focused on his legs and the body coming forward, and was happy with the feel of movement. When I felt like I had it set, I went to show it.

Shem was lying in his usual spot, a patch of sunlight on whichever part of the floor the sunlight was on, whether it’s in everyone's way or not. He claims he's meditating; I think he's just lazy.

"Shem doing the three-legged amble with a stone, feather and branch," I announced, holding up for him to see.

He lifted his head and appraised it carefully. "Nice perspective," he said.

"Thanks. I worked on it a lot."

"I can tell.” He paused. “I look rather porcine though."


"As in, cute little hogs."

I looked at the drawing again. "That's just because your mouth is open to hold the branch. It wasn't easy getting the palm branch in your mouth."



I could hear some books closing. "I'll be right there, dear."

I waited, staring irately at Shem while he looked innocently right back at me.

Sephira trotted over and looked at the picture. She turned her head and looked at Shem, and then back again to the picture. "Shem, you are pure Canaan in your line, aren't you?"

"All the way back to the beginning," he confirmed

"I thought so," she replied. "Then the drawing should probably be changed so you don't look like a pig." And she turned around and headed back to her books.

Shem kept looking at me innocently.

"Not a word." I said.



"Oink, it's onomatopoeia, which isn't really a word, so much as a sound."


I could hear her voice from the library. "He's partially correct, dear. Onomatopoeia is the attempt to represent a sound in word form, like bark, neigh, meow..."

"And oink," Shem offered.

"I give up." I said, and literally went back to the drawing board.

But whenever I need a little giggle, I take out the drawing.

He does look like he's part pig.


Bad Music - (pg 39.)

This was a fun one to try and conceive. I could see the wavy, crackled music notes, but wasn't certain how to get Sephira's paws over her ears in a way that looked possible to someone not used to having dogs like them around. I finally worked all the pieces together in a way that I thought worked. I confidently went to the library to show it to Sephira.

She was lying on the floor with her nose in a book.

"Sephira covering her ears from bad music." I announced as I held the drawing aloft.

She looked at it for a while, a quizzical look on her face. "I look rather angry, I think." She said.

"Your ears hurt and you're in pain," I corrected her.

"Shem, could you please come here a moment?".

"Just a minute." Shem came into the room, walked over and looked at the illustration. I could see the glint in his eye as he looked at Sephira. "Is your rabies vaccination up to date?"

"Most certainly," she answered, and looked at me. "Fix it."

"Maybe some foaming at the mouth would help?" Shem offered.

"She's in pain because of the bad singing," I tried.

"Froth? How about lots of frothing at the mouth?"

"It's the bad singing!"

"Oh, oh, I've got it, "Shem countered, "It's bat-dog, super defender of the weak. Can't you hear the theme music?" And he started singing. "Dah da dah da duh duh da dah, bat-dog."

I covered my ears to block him out.

Sephira looked at me calmly. "Perfect," she said. "Keep your hands and face just like that, and go look in the mirror. It's just what we want."

She was right, of course.

Just for fun, you may want to print out the picture of Sephira and give her a body, or maybe a whole bat-dog costume. If you send it to us, we may just put one or two up on the site.

She'll never know; because she's never on the web. Somehow, whenever she and Shem are near the computers, the mouse somehow gets crunched.

10% of proceeds go towards supporting Jewish charities

A Purple Monkey Books Publication