Stephen Savage has authored/illustrated a number of children’s books but this one, Babysitter From Another Planet is among the most wonderful for its fantasy laden concept . . . and just a little bit of, “It could be, couldn’t it?” I asked Savage to show us his early sketches and how closely he followed this concept to its end product.
What is this book about?
It’s the story of an extra-terrestrial babysitter who mysteriously shows up at the midcentury home of a little boy and girl and does all the things most babysitters do but with a lot of intergalactic pizzazz.
How did you develop the story? Did it just flow or was it a process of development?
I started with the title (which doesn’t often get you a story). I was riffing off of a John Sayles’ movie I’d always loved called “The Brother From Another Planet”. After that, the story flowed pretty easily. It took 2 or 3 drafts to settle upon the babysitter’s character, which is “E.T. + Mary Poppins”.
. Your sketches are pretty minimal yet accurate. Is this usually the way you work?
Yeah.. I’ve always been loved the “less is more” visual language of midcentury advertising posters and labels. It takes me of a lot of drawing and redrawing to “essentialize” the images and make them seem “accurate”. It also helps to have a very watchful editor in Neal Porter.
How do you want your readers to react?
If my book elicits a few LAUGHS, SMILES and “AWS”, then my work here is done!
Did you have a sitter from outer space?
Nah. But I wished that I had. Every kid wants some magic person to take care of them, right?