While graphic novels have been around for quite a while, their primary audience had been adults and teenagers. The market for younger graphic novels has exploded in the last five years. With There’s a Wolf at the Door, author Zoe Alley says, “We hit the right combination of timing and creativity.” Bob Alley is a familiar figure in the children’s book world, having illustrated more than 100 titles in his career! Pearl and Wagner, Paddington Bear, Detective Dinosaur, and Jigsaw Jones are just a few of the memorable characters he has drawn. In There’s a Wolf at the Door and its sequel There’s a Princess in the Palace (Roaring Brook, 2010), he takes his art to an even higher level. His wife Zoe’s clever retellings of familiar fairy tales pair perfectly with Bob’s images. Visual jokes expand on the writing to create the perfect partnership. In the typical system of picture book production, the author and illustrator may never meet. Their communications, if any, are carried out by email or through their editor. With the Alleys, their collaboration is evident on every page. Zoe’s words make Bob’s pictures funnier, and vice-versa.
I asked Zoe how it feels to work with her husband. Her reply: “In a word…Wonderful! It is so much easier to work closely with someone you know well in this arena. Bob is so used to how I think that he innately understands my “vision”—he knows just how I imagine my characters—and I write knowing instinctively how he’ll make them look. Scary, huh?! I’m pretty sure that such a rapport would not exist with un-related author/illustrator combos. One also certainly cannot discount the importance of being able to run room-to-room with ideas and comments—beats email all to heck!” We look forward to more wonderful books from this talented duo. Find out more about the Alleys at their websites www.zoeballey.com and www.rwalley.com—Lucinda Whitehurst.