We are excited to launch a new series of blog posts, highlighting our published members and their work. So join in me giving a hearty SCBWI Switzerland welcome to Simona Ceccarelli!
Her new book is called “SOIC and SOT: The Microchips” and it’s a lovely picture book.
Tell us about your new book.
“SOIC and SOT”, written by Jeffrey C. Dunnihoo, is a friendship story…only the friends happen to be microchips! After a harsh separation at the assembly line, they experience all the scary stages of electronics production and finally get to meet again in the most fantastic of ways: through the network.
The book is published by Pragma Media, which has set itself the goal of making electronics approachable and interesting for children. It is part of a three-book series, with the next two scheduled for next year.
Every page of “SOIC and SOT” has QR codes that link to a webpage with additional information about each step of the friends’ journey - for the most curious engineers-to-be.
What inspired you when working on this project?
I had to learn a lot about electronics myself to illustrate this book - and it’s a fascinating topic. It was thrilling to have experts review my illustrations and provide feedback. The author, Jeff Dunnihoo, is an electronics engineer. He was always happy to explain the hows and whys behind every detail: I ended up learning a lot more than what is included in the book and stand in wonder at what happens inside all our electronic devices.
Having a scientific background definitely helped.
Tell us about the creative process for this book.
It was a fun challenge to make microchips interesting and relatable as characters, convey emotions and have some dynamic range of expression. That’s why the first step of the process was extensive character design.
Finding the right style for the final illustrations also took some time. We wanted the book to have a painterly feel, but there had to be sufficient details as well. At the end, we settled for a colored-pencil look, which allowed to have both texture and fine linework.
I work digitally, but in a way that emulates traditional media.
The hardest part of creating the illustrations was collecting the right reference, because all technical details had to be caricatured yet accurate. There is a circuit board on many spreads: to keep consistency, I created a model of it in a 3D software to use as reference. Pragma provided a lot of images as well as technical files of the components and there were many changes before the board looked right: it’s completely fictional but looks like it could work!
Did you encounter anything unexpected while working on this project.
I found myself watching factory training videos to know how the inside of the assembly machines looked like.
Now for something completely different! Autumn or Spring, Why?
Autumn. Red and yellow are my favorite colors!
Thank you very much Simona for giving us an opportunity to learn more about your new book and your creative process. I must say it’s so interesting to hear how much you had to learn in order to produce accurate yet charming illustrations.
We wish you all the best on your continued journey as a children’s book illustrator and look forward to more books by you.
Bio – Simona Ceccarelli
After an exceptionally nerdy childhood, Simona left home with a passion for both art and science, a large library – which has been growing out of control ever since – and a dream that life would offer wealth beyond riches and several roads to travel. Her first journey was to study science and, after earning a doctorate, she worked as a medical research scientist for more than 10 years.
Art eventually lured her back to follow "the road not taken.” She studied illustration and visual development at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, and since 2013 she’s been happily doing illustration and animation projects for magazines, advertising and scientific education.
In 2016 she joined SCBWI and focussed almost exclusively on children’s book illustration. She has since illustrated two direct-to-school reading books for Rubicon Publishing (“The Horse of Seven Colors” and “Circle of Friends”), designed the cover and characters for a successfully crowdfunded book by the Microactivist Foundation and illustrated the “SOIC and Friends” book series for Pragma Media, of which “SOIC and SOT” is the first book. She is currently working on several educational titles for Rizzoli/Mondadori and Scholastic. Her first trade book as illustrator: “If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon” with Sterling Children’s Books (written by Joyce Lapin), will be released in April 2019.
Simona lives in Basel, Switzerland, with her husband and two children.
For children’s books, she is represented by Andrea Cascardi, Transatlantic Literary Agency
Willkommen! Bienvenue! Benvenuto! Bainvegnì! Welcome!