Friday, March 19, 2010


Although every book I write comes from somewhere deep down, I think that “A Wish for You” is perhaps one of the most personal. Some of my past books have been flights of fancy, some have been inspired by a single fleeting occurrence, and some have been simply a nifty exercise in wordplay and visual concept. Sometimes, however, a book will combine all of those with something a bit more important, a profound life changing experience.

Many years ago I met my wonderful wife, Victoria. We had many adventures together and loved each other deeply, but at one point we knew something was missing. We wished and wished for children. Sometimes the wishing was sad because we thought our dreams would not come true, but after a while we were blessed with the birth of our twin daughters. It was more than we could have wished for. More work. More joy. More work. More tears. More work, but most of all more love than we ever imagined. This book is all about that love and excitement of forming a new family.

The illustrations for “A Wish for You” were created digitally, but I always start with a regular old fashioned pencil drawing. I love to draw. It’s probably my favorite part of the whole process. I then scan the drawing into the computer and work over it using various software techniques. For this book, I used mostly Corel Painter and a Wacom tablet. It allowed me to get the soft impressionistic feel I felt this book needed. The best thing about working digitally is I can always “UNDO”. I build up layer upon layer usually starting with a ground color first. I want to get rid of that white paper as soon as possible. It helps me see things better. The biggest struggle for me sometimes is to keep the energy of my initial drawings when I am putting all of this “paint” over top of them. I like a lot of brush strokes. At the end of it all I don’t want the art to look like it was created on a computer. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

I am very happy when I have completed all 32 pages of a book. I guess you could say creating a book is something like having a new baby. It is very often more work and tears than you imagined but is always a labor of love.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


In a series of pictures and a simple, rhyming text addressing a young child, his parents explain that before he was born, they were two individual people who met, had fun together, married, and explored the world “in a bright red canoe.” They wished for a child, prepared for his coming, and rushed to the hospital, where he was born. They played with the baby, bathed him, and took him out to see the world. Each line in the text rhymes with you (no mean feat) until the three final pages, which proclaim, “We’re not just two. / We’re three. / Yippee!” With just a few words on a typical double-page spread, much of the story is told in the lively illustrations, from full-page pictures to small panels. Though the palette is subdued, the digital artwork creates a freewheeling, cheerful look with plenty of engaging details. For parents reading to their children, this book will lead naturally into each family’s own stories. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Carolyn Phelan

Monday, March 15, 2010


Kirkus Reviews
Novak, Matt

In this lighthearted chronicle of the making of a family, text and art deliver an affirmative message. A man and woman meet accidentally, fall in love, marry, travel the world, wish for a baby and become happy parents. Told from the perspective of the parents in simple, engaging verse, the text repeatedly focuses on the child reader as "you," which cleverly rhymes with the "000" of hospital visitors viewing the new baby, the "Goo" of the babbling tot, the "kitchy-koo" and "peek-a-boo" of parents playing with baby and the "pee-you" of the dirty diaper. Amusing and animated pastel-hued illustrations provide warm and fuzzy context and needed detail. Bucolic vignettes showcase the courtship, engagement and wedding. A double-page spread carries newlyweds across the world in a red canoe while their wish for a child culminates in another double-page spread highlighting the mother-to-be with her tummy expanding from summer to spring. Final scenes feature delighted new parents and baby paddling together in the same red canoe. A sweetly packaged view that a family of three beats two! (Picture book. 1-5)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Author Visit March 10th, 2010. Marion Walker Elementary in Bellefonte PA.

Tons of fun! In the afternoon assembly we created a story involving all sorts of aliens, and later, at Family Night, we had fun drawing and discovering how books are made. A great group of kids, teachers, (and parents!). Had some time to explore State College as well.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Twelve Snails to One Lizard reaches a milestone

Twelve Snails to One Lizard (A Reading Rainbow Book) is now in it's 15th printing. Chugging along!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another nifty author appearance today. The teachers and students ay Kraybill Mennonite School couldn't have been nicer and more welcoming. The presentation hall was the perfect size. I wish I could pack it up and carry it to all my visits.

Friday, March 5, 2010



NOVAK, Matt. A Wish for You. iIIus. by author. unpaged. CIP. HarperCollins/Greenwiliow. Mar. 2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-155202-1. LC 2008052485.

PreS-In this bouncy story, a man and woman meet, court, marry, and prepare for their new baby. Spot illustrations quickly wrap up the pre marriage scenes, and a couple of spreads show the pair enjoying their time together before "Two sometimes felt blue," so they "wished for you." Half-page pictures zip through scenes of preparation for the infant's arrival. Then, when the baby joins them on their vacation adventures, "We're not just two./We're three./Yippee!" Novak's soft-edged digitally enhanced artwork perfectly portrays the merry mood of his pudgy characters. This is a great choice for cozy sharing with a beloved child.-Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT