Laurie O'KeefeWhy did you choose to submit this art?
I was contacted by Sylvan Dell publishers to create the artwork for a fictional story featuring the pocket gopher as the main hero of the Mt. St. Helens eruption (Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story). I am a medical illustrator by training, but I always jump at the opportunity to draw fun animal characters, so this was a good introduction into the world of children's picture-book art. Even though the story represents a fictional animal, the scientific elements had to be accurate. I made sure to represent plants and animals accurately. I think the piece picked for this show represents the best example of merging accuracy with a picture book's stylistic look.
What does being part of SCBWI mean to you?
SCBWI is my link to the outside world from my island studio! It is a wonderful way to still feel connected.
What is your favorite picture book from childhood?
When I grew up, I thought "daycare" meant spending your days in the library. We did not have a library at home with books—this was the 1960s—so I checked out the same books over and over. We reserved two books constantly: Where the Wild Things Are and Parsley. Now, everyone knows the Sendak book, but Parsley (illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans) has fallen out of circulation. I am glad I received a copy of it for my birthday some years back. I even have a beautiful bonsai tree recently planted outside that I named Parsley. If I were Queen of the Universe, there would be no such thing as a great picture book going out of print!
Fun fact: Laurie lives on Orcas Island. Learn more, and see more images, on STQRY here.