I love finding the right illustrator to bring a project to life and a book like Not the Worst Thing Ever has so many goofy, silly, goopy scenes for an artist to explore. The book is basically a game of “Would You Rather” but instead of grossing out your friends on the playground, I wanted to get kids giggling so they would see that the daily routines of their Type 1 Diabetes care really aren’t so bad.
The book follows four kids who are hesitant to participate in their diabetes care by doing things like checking their blood sugar, getting an insulin injection, changing their pump site, or replacing their continuous glucose monitor. To change the kids’ minds, the narrator takes them through a series of goofy and disgusting scenarios that would be way worse than managing their diabetes care.
I wrote a weird book. I needed a weird illustrator to help me make images like salivating sand fleas and extremely clown-themed birthday parties really pop off the page. I also wanted someone whose art could be silly and quirky without being too scary. My goal was to find an illustrator whose work fell somewhere between books like All My Friends are Dead by Jory John and Avery Monsen and Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli. Aside from being really fun reads, these books also have a playful art style and thick, bold lines that I really enjoy.
Drawn to Drawn by Shawn
I knew I had found the right person when I saw Shawn Turek’s portfolio at drawnbyshawn.com. His pieces like “Cigar shop owner turned boxer” showed just the right amount of weirdness and wrinkles while still being fun and approachable. And his piece “Monster gaming buddies” showed that he had a flair for silly, sci-fi creatures. That would come in handy because we’ve got some aliens in Not the Worst Thing Ever and they really like flipping kids inside out…you know, for fun.
Clint and I clicked with Shawn immediately. His sketches captured the tone of the book perfectly and he never judged me for writing a book with so much baby snot in it. Or if he did judge me, he kept it to himself.
How Much Shark Poop is Too Much?
Shawn is great about going where the story takes him. He takes his research seriously, whether it’s about the look and placement of wearable medical devices or the look and color of great white shark diarrhea. Here’s an actual quote from an email exchange to give you a feel for our working relationship with Shawn.
And just to remind you, we’re adults and this is our job and sometimes you just find people who “get” you. You know?
In the end, Shawn’s work was the perfect fit for a gross, giggly guide to dealing with diabetes. We can’t wait for you to read the book and enjoy his artwork.