In 2018, a crocodile went for a swim…with a pool noodle. Inspired, local author and illustrator Kaz Windness doodled the scene and sent it off to her agent. “This is a book. You need to make it!”
“I am not ashamed to say that I’m a floatie user,” said Windess with a laugh. “I’m a lot like Jim in that I was afraid of the water, but with the help of family and friends and an occasional floatie, I enjoy being in the pool now.”
Saturday afternoon, the shop was packed. More than 30 people attended the book reading and more trickled into the shop throughout the event. In addition to the reading, Windness held a drawing demonstration and judged a costume contest. Children also ran around the shop looking for eggs during the crocodile egg hunt. The reading itself was lyrical and engaging–Windness would ask questions, and the audience laughed at her fun and zany anecdotes. The book follows Jim, a crocodile who’s afraid that a trip into the water will end with him sinking. Thanks to an accidental field trip to a tiny swamp (a pool) where he finds pool toys, and with the help of his siblings, Jim finds the courage to take the plunge.
“What was the most unexpected part of the process? Can you tell us a little about your art?”
“There was a lot!” Swim Jim! was the first time Windness worked with a publisher and art director. She emphasized that it was a team effort and is excited to announce that more work is coming from this team. (If you’ve got a sharp eye, you can see a batty easter egg of upcoming Bitsy Bat, School Star hiding in Jim’s swamp!)
“I start with a sketch.” Windness usually starts old school when drawing and then transitions to digital. Working in photoshop, she uses the brush tools to color and add texture. “I just love texture!” Sometimes she also plays with watercolor and gouache. The crowd followed Windness outside for a drawing presentation–do you like chocolate hearts, French bread, pizza, mac & cheese, and watermelon seeds? If so, you too can draw Jim!
“I’m always thinking about simple shapes!” Windness beamed. She led attendees through her drawing process using her food metaphor before heading back inside to sign more books. Notably, Windness now holds the TWJ record for most books sold! By the end of the event, only four Swim, Jim! copies remained, which have since sold.
If you attended, let us know your thoughts by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We love hearing from you and getting your feedback on books, events, and everything. Happy Wandering!
P.S. Wondering about the title of this blog? No, it's not a mistake. It's an inside joke ;)