Books by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
Little Wolf's First Howling
From the Candlewick Press catalog

Little Wolf can hardly wait. Tonight he will howl the moon to the top of the sky. First, Big Wolf demonstrates traditional howling form: AAAAAAAAAAOOOOOooooooooo. Then it's Little Wolf's turn. He's sure he is ready, but when the big moment comes, something happens. Something unexpected, something wild, something unbe-beep-bop-believable!

Sisters Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee have created a wonderful story about the importance of doing things your own way and being true to your heart when it swells with wildness and joy. Some may favor the proper way to howl, but what if you have a song in your heart that needs to come out?

A delightful, disarmingly funny tale for little and big wolves everywhere.

The Story of the Making of Little Wolf
My sister Kate and I got into character to work on the illustrations.
My sister Kate and I got into character to work on the illustrations.
Little Wolf's First Howling is close to my heart because it was inspired by our first grandchild, Emmett John. The story arose when my husband John and I were playing with a wolf puppet we purchased for the soon-to-be born baby. I worked over the text and then the dummy with my critique group as well as family readers then sent it off to Candlewick Press, where it connected with editor Katie Cunningham and art director Heather McGee.

The story takes place at night. Heather explained this would require the artwork to have two black plates. Typically printing requires four plates, CYMK — cyan, yellow, magenta and black. Little Wolf's art is printed with CYMKK to achieve velvety blacks and make it easier to swap out text for other languages.) I would need to create artwork separated into two parts: a black over-layer and a color under-layer. The black layer I did in gouache resist, using only white paint and black ink.

My younger sister Kate is an accomplished pastel painter. This book depends on the beautiful landscape of Yellowstone, so I asked Kate if she'd be willing to provide the color layer. I scanned my black and white paintings and sent them to Kate. She added color digitally. I loved collaborating with Kate and the excitement of finding out how she would color each spread.

The book was published about the time Emmett John turned two.

"Kvasnosky's story celebrates all that is fresh and original in the creative spirit of children, and her text will be great fun as a read-aloud, especially after some practice. Kvasnosky and McGee's collaborative illustrations are done in gouache resist with digital colorization, a striking technique that particularly emphasizes the black night and the bright moonlight. All double-page spreads, the illustrations successfully evoke the vast beauty of the country the wolves inhabit. Visually lovely and sure to be a read-aloud hit; put on some Ella Fitzgerald, too."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Kids will enjoy seeing the supportive father-son relationship, in which each party learns from the other. From the woodland, meadow and mountain settings to the appealing depictions of the wolves, the distinctive illustrations were created collaboratively. Kvasnosky contributed the bold, black line drawings and textured effects, while her sister McGee — a landscape artist — added beautiful, soft, dusky colors. Written with economy and wit, this handsome picture book is a natural for reading aloud, and kids will be ready to help when it's time to cut loose and howl."
Carolyn Phelan, Booklist (starred review)

Related Links
  • You can see Kate Harvey McGee's fine art here.
  • You can read my journal entries related to the making of Little Wolf here.
  • Photographer Max Waugh introduced us to Yellowstone and its wildlife in his beautiful images. You can see his photos here.
  • And check out the video about the amazing positive impact of reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone here.

Little Wolf's First Howling
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