Sesame Street Books
Many of the Sesame Street books I've illustrated were written by the great writers of the show itself; Norman Stiles, Daniel Wilcox, David Korr, Lou Berger, and Jon Stone, and others were written by assorted writers and editors, and some were illustrated without a manuscript, in which case, I am credited with authorship. In these cases, I improvised a visual storyline without words. Sometime a few words were added after the fact.
I always loved working with Sesame Street. In the early days, there were no style books, where artists could study the accepted character models, so Jim Henson encouraged me to visit the "Muppet morgue" the workshop where the Muppets were stored, and where I could study, and play with, the actual characters like Ernie and Bert, Cookie Monster, Grover, Big Bird, and even Kermit the Frog! I was also encouraged to sit in on the taping of the show, which was very low key at the time. I just sat there all day, letting it sink in. I think this gave me a rather unique point of view. It was just magical to watch these Muppets come to life when they were put on the hands of a Muppeteer. So I always tried to capture the animated look of each character in action or showing emotion rather than how they looked motionless on a stand or in a photograph.
I would also add that the Muppet characters evolved over the years. They were thinner and less cute in the beginning, and that's how I drew them then. They evolved over time, and became fluffier and cuter, and so the illustrations followed suite. I was also fortunate enough to have both Michael Frith, Muppet art director, and Jim Henson himself share their visions and guide me.
Books about Big Bird are often about his vulnerability as a rather large, but young child who is learning about the world. He's rather clumsy, but has a lot of love for his friends.
I've been illustrating Sesame Street books since 1972. I can't imagine a theme we haven't explored to some extent or another; from giving to stealing; from loving to anger; from birth to death!