My good friend LisaRuth once paid me a high compliment. She said that my paintings struck her as inspired by European folk tales like the Brothers Grimm, but reinterpreted so that the kids are no longer the hapless victims. That really made my day. I hadn’t thought of it in quite those terms, but it’s a really nice insight. The kids in my paintings are often facing a frightening reality, but they shouldn’t seem scared or intimidated.

Well, a few months back I got a great assignment. Penguin’s young adult novel division called with a new book based on the Brothers Grimm. The book, A Tale Dark & Grimm, is a modern retelling in which Hansel & Gretel are far from hapless. In fact, they wreak some havoc on the abusive adults they encounter. The book is dark, funny, and gruesome in parts. Perfect for young adults! (It’ll be available in November.)

Here are a couple sketches:

And here’s how the front cover came out:

But the really cool thing is what we did with the wraparound dust jacket for the hardcover. (Click to enlarge) This sort of thing is tricky, because it has to work as a whole, but each panel has to work independently as well.

Inside, I created the title page and spot illustrations for each chapter. Here’s a sampling!

You know what’s cool? Some kids, somewhere in the world, will love this book. And they’ll spend a lot of time pouring over the illustrations, looking for clues, etching the images in their minds, just as I did with illustrated books when I was a kid. Maybe some of them will even grow up to be illustrators!