Exclusive Cover Reveal: DASHER CAN’T WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS by Matt Tavares
Matt Tavares has not one, but two books coming out in 2023. Hoops, his debut graphic novel hits shelves in March. And his next picture book, Dasher Can’t Wait for Christmas, arrives in September. Today we’ll take a first look at the cover.
But first, I had to talk to Matt about how the book came to be.
Travis: Hi Matt! What was the initial inspiration for Dasher Can’t Wait for Christmas?
Matt Tavares: At the end of the first book, I left Dasher in a pretty good place– she was at the North Pole with her family, living happily under the glow of the North Star. She literally had everything she ever wished for! I loved the idea of going on more adventures with this character, but I struggled for a while trying to figure out what could possibly happen next. Then I thought about how even though her life was great now, there was one night that really stood out- Christmas Eve!
Dasher is a little kid, in a lot of ways. She’s adventurous, curious, kind, and brave. And like a lot of little kids, Dasher has a very hard time waiting for Christmas! Once I starting thinking of Dasher as a kid who is having a hard time waiting for Christmas, the story started to emerge.
TJ: I would imagine returning to a familiar character would be fun but also a bit tricky. How was the experience for you?
MT: Honestly, it was a blast. It usually takes me a while to get into the groove when I start a new book. But for this one, I just dove right in. I already knew the characters, and I knew how I wanted the art to look. It felt like when you visit an old friend, and you pick up right where you left off, like no time has passed.
TJ: How do you typically approach creating a book cover? How did the cover for Dasher Can’t Wait for Christmas come together?
MT: I usually do the cover last. I look through the interior images, and see if any of them might make sense on the cover. Sometimes an interior image works perfectly as cover art, but more often than not, this process leads me to a new image, inspired by one of the interior scenes.
For this book, I debated between two images for the cover– one of Dasher on a rooftop overlooking a festive scene of Christmas lights and decorations, and one where Dasher is meeting her new friend, Charlie, for the first time.
We ended up going with the image of Dasher and Charlie, since it fits better with the story, and also echoes the cover design of the first book, which shows Dasher meeting Santa Claus for the first time. I started with the interior scene, and changed the background a few times to better fit the composition of the cover.
Since I was starting with a finished illustration, I didn’t do sketches for this cover the way I normally do. It was more a matter of starting with that artwork and adding to it digitally, and going back and forth with my art director until we figured it out.
And of course I can’t visit your blog without mentioning the case cover!
TJ: I appreciate that!
MT: I had a couple different ideas. First I tried showing the same scene that’s on the cover, but at night, with Christmas lights illuminating the scene.
I ended up scrapping that idea and showing a snowy night with a town in the distance, all lit up for Christmas.
TJ: An important question: What snack puts you in peak creativity mode? Or what snack powered the making of Dasher Can’t Wait for Christmas?
MT: Great question! I happen to have a favorite snack that I like to call “The Super Snack”.
TJ: I’m intrugued.
MT: It started as a travel snack. When packing for flights, I would bring a good healthy snack from home- a ziplock bag full of whole raw almonds. But then at the airport, I would buy a bag of peanut M&Ms and mix them in with the almonds. I used to only do this while traveling, but now it’s become a favorite studio snack too. For anyone hoping for the recipe, I’d say it’s about 2/3 whole raw almonds and 1/3 peanut M&Ms. So I have the almonds, a mostly healthy snack, but then there are also the M&Ms, which make it fun. Dasher Can’t Wait for Christmas was definitely powered by The Super Snack.
Thanks for taking my questions, Matt!
And now, for the first time in the history of the world, the cover for Dasher Can’t Wait for Christmas by Matt Tavares, coming September 5th, 2023:
Filed under: Cover Reveal
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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