Home Home

Monday, March 5, 2018

Little Quack

to a Birthday Party and
Signing for Little Quack!
Come and help celebrate
Little Quack's FIFTEENTH birthday!

We didn't want Little Quack's BIG birthday to go by without a celebration! The folks at The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul agreed that it would be fun to have a party and celebrate our plucky friend...

A Birthday Party for Little Quack!

Saturday, March 17th

Red Balloon Bookshop
891 Grand Avenue, St. Paul

I will be telling fun stories, reading Little Quack, drawing and signing books. Please come and join the Quacky Fun! No gifts for Little Quack, please! Just bring yourselves and the kids in your life.

If you can't make it, but would like an autographed copy of Little Quack (or one of my other books) please call Red Balloon at the phone number above- they will have it signed on the day of the event and ship it to you!

See you Saturday, March 17th!

You can go to Red Balloon's website by clicking HERE.




Friday, March 2, 2018

Derek Anderson

Thanks to my friends at
Otsego Elementary!

I had such a terrific time visiting Roxanne Book and the students at Otsego Elementary last week. At nearly every school visit, something interesting happens. When you speak to as many kids as I do and to as many different age groups as I do, something unexpected is bound to occur.

Sometimes it’s something a student says or does (a student tried to give me a tip once). And sometimes it's simply an unexpected question that comes up during the question and answer portion of my presentation.

Last Friday, a first grader asked, “What’s your favorite genre?” I have to admit- he caught me off guard. I'm not used to hearing that kind of vocabulary from someone so young.

I said, “I read everything- I love all kinds of books. My favorite books to create are definitely fiction. But I try to live a nonfiction life.”




Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Little Quack

Little Quack is FIFTEEN!
How a purple gorilla, a gust of wind
and some words of sense from my wife
lead to Little Quack

This is hard to believe, but Little Quack was published fifteen years ago! The tale of Mama Duck, Widdle, Waddle, Piddle, Puddle and Little Quack by Lauren Thompson changed my life.

This is the story of how it all began...


I don't know if I believe in fate. But I believe things happen for a reason. I'm sure of it. If it hadn't been for a painting of a purple gorilla, a gust of wind and a few words of sense from my wife more than fifteen years ago, I might not have ended up in publishing.

During the winter between 2000 and 2001, I was nearing the end of my rope. I'd been sending work off to publishers for years and had received more rejection letters than you would ever believe. I'd received a few encouraging calls and letters from editors and art directors, but I wasn't getting any closer to a book deal. I'd quit my job a year and a half earlier and was free-lancing to make ends meet.

My free-lance work grew quiet that winter, so I used the time to pursue publishing with everything I had. I wrote, drew and painted day and night. When that spring rolled around, I'd finished dozens of new paintings. I knew it was time to go to the publishers. This would be my last ditch effort. I was either going to get a book deal or change what I was doing.

I contacted every editor and art director that I'd been sending my work to and told them I had a portfolio of new paintings and I was coming to New York. I asked each one if they would meet with me. They all said yes. I scheduled meetings for a week in May and began putting together my portfolio.

It's crucial to get a portfolio right. You don't want to have too many pieces, or too few. You want strong work- in color and composition, character and narrative. And you only want to include your best pieces.

Because they're mounted in a portfolio and you're traveling with it, you never take original paintings. Instead, you make high quality reproductions. I didn't have a good color printer at the time so I used a color copier at a local copy shop to size and print each of the twenty or so pieces. But there were two pieces I was on the fence about. They were pictures of a purple gorilla named Gladys. I even had a story about her, but she seemed so far out there, I didn't think publishers would be interested. I decided to include her and went ahead and made color copies of the pieces.

Two weeks before my trip, I chose a breezy April day to put it all together. Each picture had to be cut out, sprayed on the back with a sticky adhesive and mounted on a portfolio page. One by one, I sprayed them outside on newspapers and then carried each inside to stick them down in my portfolio. Everything was going great until I got to Gladys.

I took the first picture outside, laid it on the newspaper and gave it a good coat of spray. When I picked it up, a gust of wind took the picture out of my hand and it landed sticky-side-down on the grass. I couldn't believe it. It was only a copy, but it was ruined. And since I was unsure about whether or not to include it anyway, I took it as a sign. This was fate. It couldn't have been clearer to me. Gladys was not supposed to be in my portfolio. I finished assembling the rest of the portfolio and left both pictures of Gladys out. When Cheryl got home from work that night, I told her it was ready. "Let me see," she said.

She paged through, carefully studying each piece and the order I'd chosen. When she got to the end, she said, "Where's Gladys?" I told her what had happened and that I'd decided to leave the pictures out. "You can't leave Gladys out," she said. "You have to make another copy and put her back in." Here was my wife going against fate. Fate wasn't nearly as vocal as Cheryl was. So I drove back to the copy shop that night, made another copy and put the pictures of Gladys back in.

Gladys Goes Out to Lunch

I still wasn't sure about my decision until I walked into Simon & Schuster on my first day of meetings in New York. I'd had some contact with Kevin Lewis and his assistant, Alyssa. I'd been sending them work for more than a year.

We chatted a bit before we sat down. And then Kevin began flipping through my portfolio. He asked about a few of the pieces and what I was after, story-wise, with some of the narrative details. And then he got to the page with the Gladys pictures. He stopped and looked up at me with these absolutely piercing eyes and I braced myself for what he was about to say.

"Have you been holding out on us?" he asked.
"What?" I said, a little shocked. "No, why?"
"Why haven't we seen this before?"
"I just finished it," I said.
"THIS," he said, "This is what we want!" I almost didn't believe him.

I can remember that conversation word for word. The moments where your life changes tend to stick with you. That meeting lasted an hour and a half. Kevin and Alyssa talked about a manuscript they had called Little Quack by Lauren Thompson. They said they'd been considering another illustrator, but I was perfect for it. They didn't offer it to me right away. It took months to get everybody at Simon & Schuster on-board with the idea of bringing in an unpublished and unproven artist to illustrate a picture book. But they offered it to me later that summer and I was working on sketches for Little Quack that fall.

Little Quack was published fifteen years ago this month. Was it fate that I would illustrate it? I'm not sure if I believe in it. And I don't believe in luck, either. I think we make our own luck.

But if I did believe in luck, I would say I'm lucky I didn't give up when the rejection letters poured in all those years ago. I'm lucky I was so stubborn and pressed on even though the odds were against me. I'm lucky that I didn't listen to the people that told me this dream would never come true. I'm lucky my free-lance work grew quiet that winter and that I took the time to paint all those pictures, both good and bad. It really helped me develop my work. I'm lucky the wind took a picture of a purple gorilla out of my hand. And I'm really lucky that Cheryl had the good sense to talk me out of believing it was fate. If I hadn't walked into Simon & Schuster and met with Kevin and Alyssa on the day I did and with that portfolio, someone else would have ended up illustrating a terrific manuscript by Lauren Thompson called Little Quack.

Fate? Luck? You can call it what you want. I get to spend my life creating books and it's exactly where I'm supposed to be.




Thursday, February 8, 2018

Croc and Ally

Introducing my NEW friends
Croc and Ally,
and a whole NEW website!

I’m so excited to introduce you to my new friends Croc and Ally. Croc is a little grumpy, and you'd think that would bother Ally. It doesn't. Not one bit. To say Ally is happy-go-lucky would be an understatement. He is one goofy alligator and the two of them couldn't be better friends. Croc and Ally have TWO new books coming out in September. I can’t wait to show you more of their world!

In the meantime... we did a bit of tidying up around here. Come on in to the newly remodeled website and have a look around. I will be posting a whole lot more in the coming weeks and months.

Happy reading!





Derek Anderson Facebook Instagram

Derek Anderson • Derek Anderson • Author & Illustrator • Author • Illustrator • Children's Books • Painter • Artist • Art Blog • Waking Dragons • WAKING DRAGONS • Little Quack • LITTLE QUACK • Hot Rod Hamster • HOT ROD HAMSTER • Author • Artist • PAINTER • Children's Books • Simon & Schuster • Scholastic • Minneapolis