Ruby the Red Worm's Dirty Job Make-A-School Project. Pictured here are the student illustrators standing in the shape of a worm and the message, "We love worms.".
Illustration ideas by subject
Sometimes we give students a sentence to illustrate and other times we just give them a subject.

Thinking outside the words

I continue to learn how to work with the various ways kids learn and create. Some students prefer to illustrate an actual sentence from the book, which requires a more literal interpretation; while other students prefer a more conceptual approach. In the photo above, a student studies keywords for missing pages in the book, including a few extra key phrases to see if they would generate any creative drawings — and they did! — so I then rewrote the book to fit the new pictures. One of my favorite pages not in the original manuscripts is about the worm astronauts. Worms indeed have been sent to space in NASA experiments.

And below two students collaborate on one picture. It is quite common to see this level of cooperation at the STEM school. Still, it amazed me to witness the students so lost in the passion of the drawing that ownership never crossed their minds. Sometimes I would ask some students to illustrate a background image and others to illustrate the subject, which I would combine on the computer.

Two students collaborate on one picture
Two students collaborate on one picture. It is quite common to see this level of cooperation at the STEM school. Still, it amazed me to witness the students so lost in the passion of the drawing that ownership never crossed their minds.
Art class illustrating Ruby the Red Worm
One of 18 art classes at the Waukesha STEM Academy charter school is working on their drawings for “Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job.” It has been a privilege to work with this school. The kids have been overwhelmingly energetic and creative.

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More stories about the making of this book

How I make the aerial view photos look real, including using satellite views and chalking the drawing out square by square.
The ice cream social and book signing celebration for "Ruby the Red Worm" drew over a 1000 people. It was one of the most overwhelming, amazing and fulfilling moments of my life to see the dreams of so many students coming to life.
The new book, Ruby the Red Worm, is finally here! Perhaps no one is more surprised how beautiful it is then me, especially the cover!
Footprint in the sand

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