Clues Embedded in Pelican’t Do It; illustrator spills…

Photo of illustrator of Pelican't Do It, Kyle Tweed.

Story by Daniel Brown

Illustrator, Kyle Tweed, was one of those kids who always loved to draw, a passion that was cemented when at school an illustrator painted caricatured students onto a school wall. ‘The last time I visited the school, that wall was still there.’ Kyle was struck by the permanence of art.

As he describes a life-long love affair with Pixar and the small details scattered throughout their movies, it is obvious that Kyle was always a person who would end up involved in kids’ books.

Pelican’t Do It, authored by picture book veteran Cate Sawyer, is Kyle’s first as illustrator. The details he’s embedded into the book:

  • His and his partner’s initials are carved onto a noticeboard.
  • The calendar dates are relevant to his loved ones.
  • One of his signature ‘rats’ can be found in the background in the first few pages.

‘Children’s books are one of the few spaces you can hope to implant your own image in someone else’s head,’ Kyle said.

When the opportunity arose to make PeliCAN’T Do It, Kyle jumped at it and is already planning further books in the same world. He describes the process of drawing the same character in multiple scenarios as ‘both testing and rewarding’, especially since the two main characters are so visually similar. But he found small ways to distinguish them, like the colouring on their feet and beaks, and even a small feather fringe on the back of PeliCAN’s head.

The small details don’t stop there. I read that book more times than I can count in the lead up to this article, and I’m still noticing additional small details that add to the experience, like featuring the scooter from a book that’s still to be written. Every element of PeliCAN’T Do It was researched and well thought out.

Kyle sounds as though he had more fun filling out around the story than illustrating the central events, and talks about how much he ‘enjoyed his creativity to the fullest’. Then we come back to Pixar again, and I get the feeling the true vision for this book will only be revealed by obsessing over the details in a way that only small children can, and then comparing it to future releases.

So, we look forwards to release of future publications. About PeliCAN’T Do It, Kyle remarks how ‘phenomenal’ it is that their work will be out there in the world bringing joy to kids. He talks about how much he wants this to be like the books, movies and experiences that inspired him so much as a child. In fact, plans are already in place to accompany the book launch with its own ‘draw along’ activities led by Kyle as illustrator.

For future books, Kyle and the author want to continue in a similar style, building up even more links between their books in those small details (look out for a travelling scooter, and probably more rats). For now, Kyle says the great thing PeliCAN’T Do It has taught him is that he ‘shouldn’t doubt himself; anything can be fixed…changed’, which is a message that I think resonates with most creatives. Here’s hoping we can pass it on to the next generation.

Read Daniel Brown’s review of Pelican’t Do It
Purchase Pelican’t Do It

Carolyn Martinez

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