There is a package in every family. Or so illustrator Cheryl Bailey of Gloversville recently discovered.
While working on the children’s book The Boy Who Never Throwed Anything, due out on Tuesday, she finds that many people connect with the young protagonist, Tommy, who can’t bear to give up anything, including broken toys and old stuffed animals.
“I think it resonates with people. Everyone is a hoarder. I don’t think I’m exaggerating,” Bailey said.
The book traces what happens when all his toys pile up around him and he loses some important things, like his brother, and becomes trapped in his many towering piles of possessions. Tommy’s parents eventually help him make a way out by donating toys and clothes to others and recycling what can’t be reused.
The story, written by Margie Peterson, is told through harmonious prose and brought to life by Billy’s detailed watercolor illustrations.
The wrap contains a mountain stack of teddy bears, baseball bats, trains, planes, trucks and a game of chicken. Inside are intricate illustrations of Tommy’s cavernous room, which is filled with toys. Some games are characters within themselves as well, like a headless superhero and a chicken that lays eggs when you pull a lever.
“There are a lot of details in the book . . . and that took forever,” Bailey said.
It’s the first time Bailey has illustrated a children’s book, even though she’s been an artist for decades.
“I’ve always been doing little books for friends and things like that. I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid,” Bailey said.
As a young teen, she also drew cartoons at a community fair. Early in her career, she did graphics for newspapers and magazines.
“I was drawing illustrations for stories. I did it just because I saw a need. In the past, there was no internet and you couldn’t just find it [an image] At the touch of a button,” Billy said.
She has also written featured stories for The Leader Herald as well as The Gazette and other publications. Later in her career, she returned to college for her teaching degree and worked in the Johnstown and Gloversville school districts as an art teacher.
In 2020, I quit teaching and started working on The Boy who never threw anything. Peterson, an old friend, submitted the story to Crave Press, who agreed to publish it. Depends on her son, Tommy, who has had a hard time breaking up with anything.
Throughout the illustration and planning process, the characters evolved, including Tommy, his mother, and his father. However, Peterson had a clear vision from the start about which scenes should be illustrated and how detailed they should be.
Some of them, simply because of the size of the objects that Tommy keeps, were especially challenging to draw. Another challenge was the fact that there was no way to set up a model of Tommy’s sober room to use as a visual reference.
“[Usually,] You try to use spatial and proportional relationships. . . And you don’t have that with this, Billy said. “So you have to know where the light comes from? And what would it look like if things were stacked on top of things?”
In one scene, Tommy sends his dirty laundry to his mother via a toy plane. His mother, in turn, sends his meals via a toy train. This illustration, which was the first I completed for the story, took about 30 hours.
During the months she worked on illustrations, she visited schools, craft fairs, and even the Sauve Faire in Saratoga Springs to showcase her work. He seems to communicate with people of all ages.
“I’ve had a lot of good feedback. People of all ages seem to relate to the things a child accumulates in addition to having a bundle in their midst. In many cases, people admit to being the resident bundles,” Bailey said.
The book ends with a page of hidden images that are also popular with children and adults alike.
“Adults find one set of hidden objects and children find the other, so it’s great to see how cognition changes with age,” Bailey said.
“The Boy Who Didn’t Throw Anything” will be released Tuesday and sold by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebox.