Joanie walked with me every step of the way!Two weeks ago, my friend, author, and Allie illustrator Joanie Bruce joined me to tell you about how we initially came together to create A New Home for Allie. (If you missed the post on

(NOTE: If you missed the post on how Allie originated, click here. And, if you missed the post two weeks ago about how I found an illustrator for Allie, click here.)

I truly did not know what I was getting into, which was probably a good thing or I might have backed out before I even started. Thankfully, Joanie (who was similarly clueless) walked with me every step of the way!

My First Thoughts on Allie

Don’t misunderstand. Over the years, I’d thought quite a bit about Allie, but it was more about the general feeling of her than the actual mechanics. In one of my early emails to Joanie, I wrote:

I’ve always envisioned kid-friendly, adorable drawings—probably more on the cute side than the realistic side. But you know me—I’m not overly picky about that. I’d follow your lead in that department because you definitely know more about the art world than me.

What more could she want? Freedom to pick any style she chose within those very broad boundaries.

Yeah, that’s not what Joanie wanted at all. Pretty soon, I found myself sitting on the floor in my local library pulling entire shelves of children’s picture books to compare picture styles and animal realism and attributes that had never entered my conscious thought. Out of the dozens of books I considered, I sent her five pictures that I had snapped quick photos of from the books piled around me.

It wasn’t long before Joanie sent me six snapshots of different styles of giraffes along the lines that I had sent her. From those, we easily picked the one that we both liked best, and that became the initial model for Allie.

It finally hit me … we’re doing this book.

Illustrator Joanie Bruce

Now that Carrie had written and edited the story, it was time for my part of the project to begin . . . I looked at the pages of story text, and it seemed so simple, but . . . I have to be honest, the thought of starting such a huge and totally new-to-me project was intimidating.

I told myself to start at the beginning . . . that was the plan. Carrie basically said she trusted me to choose the best style. Talk about pressure. 😊 I went to the library to study the art of illustrations in picture books, and for the next few weeks I spent hours online searching for tips from seasoned illustrators for newbies in the field. I also studied the illustrations of my friend, Lindy Burnett, who is an international award-winning illustrator.

Allie’s Face

During this whole process, I was sketching giraffes: giraffes lying down, giraffes eating, giraffes sitting on the ground and sleeping, their facial expressions and their habits. One day while I was playing around with different shapes of giraffe faces, I drew a young giraffe’s eyes, and I knew immediately it had to be sweet Allie’s eyes. When I added a face and a heart on her neck, I was satisfied. That day, Allie was born.

Sketching the Rest

When the sketches of each page were almost complete, I ordered the Bristol boards I used as a canvas for each page of the book. When the boards arrived, I spent several days measuring and cutting two-page spreads and setting up my painting area. I felt nervous and excited at the same time . . . I was ready to pull out my paint brushes.

The Painting Begins

The first attempt at painting with Gouache was a disaster. As hard as I tried, the strokes looked uneven, and every time I painted a second coat, it washed off the first. That day ended in frustration and indecision. After a long talk with the Lord, He answered my prayers. While searching on Amazon for an unrelated item, I stumbled on a book teaching Gouache. That book changed everything. After learning a few new techniques, each page became easier to paint than the one before.

I’m done!

I’ll never forget the last stroke I painted. I wrote Carrie a text and shouted (as much as you can shout in a text) “I AM DONE!” My husband and I celebrated . . . not because I hated the whole project, but because the Lord helped me complete something I thought entirely out of my range. And I knew Carrie was happy. Her precious little Allie’s story was finished and ready for the printed page.

So even though painting the illustrations for this book was a challenge, it was so worth the effort. I hope you plan to put it on your to-be-read list and enjoy the story Carrie planned for you.


Leave a comment below to be entered to win a cute stuffed giraffe!

If you’re not sure what to say, let us know: Are you excited about this new release from Carrie and Joanie?

Winner picked at random from commenters on Monday, April 9th!

Releasing April 20, 2018!

A New Home for AllieAllie loves her home in Kenya. But her dad works for the Animal Jungle Patrol, and he just got orders to move their family to Somalia. She has many questions, and the journey will be long. Will the new place be like what she knows? Will she find friends in her new home? And will she ever see her best friend again? What awaits her in A New Home for Allie?

Available for Pre-Order NOW on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book retailers.


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