100 Scope Notes
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Exclusive Book Trailer Premiere: RETURN by Aaron Becker


Journey came first. Quest was next. Today, I have the pleasure of sharing this first look at the trailer for the third and final book in Aaron Becker’s award-winning picture book trilogy: Return.

I talked to Becker about creating the trailer and how he feels now that the trilogy is coming to a close.

Travis: What’s it like making a book trailer? What’s the most fun part? Most difficult part?

Aaron Becker: As a kid, I always dreamed of being a film director (after my astronaut hopes were dashed). In middle school I made short films on my super-8 camera – I even went to college out in California thinking it would be a good place to study movie-making. But after working in the industry for a while as a concept illustrator, I realized I was happier telling my own, quieter stories than ones controlled by a larger studio – this is why picture books are such a perfect medium for someone like me. Unlike film, which is a collaborative, expensive, and stressful undertaking, picture books can be done a bit more meditatively and intentionally.

That said, these short animations that I create for my book trailers are a great outlet for the part of me that still wants to be a film maker. I use all of the tricks I learned from working in film but I can do it on my own terms without the pressures of a producer behind me! Each trailer takes me about a month to create. I love seeing these flat images come to life in movement. But by far the most thrilling part of the process is working with a composer out in L.A. (Jacob Montague) who scores them. It’s a fulfilling moment when it all comes together.

Travis: You did the art for RETURN overseas – what was that like?


Aaron Becker: A bit nerve wracking! But very rewarding. My painting process involves printing my sketches out onto watercolor paper before I start my brushwork and inking so I had to prep all of my paper before heading to Spain. So for each painting, I only had a couple shots to get it right. I think the pressure helped keep me focus.


Once I had my rhythm down, I moved into a co-coworking space to finish my work. I felt a need to be more of a part of the culture I was living in, plus I wasn’t learning Spanish at home! So these paintings were completed while stumbling through learning a foreign language! All of this created an urgency and an immediacy behind the work and I’m really thrilled with the paintings. As for the stress of shipping them back to the United States – that’s another story for another time! :)

Travis: How are you feeling about the trilogy now that it’s about to wrap up?

Aaron Becker: The story arc that RETURN completes actually started when I was drafting JOURNEY years ago. I knew I wanted to address the girl’s original rift with her family – after all, it’s the lack of engagement from her family that sends her off on her adventure in the first place. So I had to have some faith that I’d have the opportunity to share the whole story at some point. Now that it’s almost here, I simply cannot wait to share it with the world!!!

Thanks, Aaron. Now let’s watch that trailer…

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


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