Being a veteran graphic and web designer, I was excited when I landed a 3-book contract with Loving Healing Press with complete control over the visuals of each children’s book. What I didn’t calculate was what a tall task it is to deliver all three within a year. Clearly when I signed the deal and made the commitment, I didn’t factor in having a tween with a long list of school events and extracurricular activities and another child being 2 at the time. While frantically trying to complete the designs for books 1 and 2, I was hit with a splendid idea to tackle the art for the third book.
Due to a genetic link of sorts, many of my nieces, and my own daughters are artistically inclined. I decided to enlist the help of my 12-year-old niece, Iman in Calgary to develop the sketches for A Manual for Marco. Another niece in Houston––Sophia, who was 9 at the time took over the task of painting some geometric and organic background patterns. My own 10-year-old daughter Aanyah took a stab at creating some of her own background art. Not to be left behind, I handed some paint and halved onions and potatoes to my two-year-old daughter Aaliyana who developed some of her own visual conquests.
Now the challenge was to put them all together. Using Photoshop I scanned in the sketches and filled in colors. Next I brought in various pieces of background patterns and positioned them behind the characters. The result was something even I had not imagined. The art came alive and so did the talent of these gifted young girls. The book’s art is currently being widely recognized and praised.
“Through her genuine, caring accounts about growing up with an older, autistic brother, this eight-year-old also shows her love for her sibling who is special but sometimes does things that are not-so-special. I highly recommend this book written with sensitivity and beautifully illustrated.” –Lorna d’Entremont, Special Needs Book Review
“A Manual for Marco is a ‘must read’ for families or friends of an autistic child. Abdullah’s writing is clear, warm, and accessible. Even the youngest readers will be able to understand autism. Abdullah has the ability to show love under the worst circumstances, even when Marco’s sister realizes her treasures are probably in the toilet. The illustrations are delightful. A Manual for Marco is perfect for younger elementary students.” –Gwendolyn Hooks, author of 17 books for young readers