Celebrating Sam Zuppardi

By Charlotte Comley

Picture books are hard to write, but I must admit it is the illustrators that put the zing on the page.  So, I am really pleased to announce Sam Zuppardi's fabulous news.  His wonderful illustrations have breathed life into an amazing story for tots.

Sam writes:

Nobody’s Perfect,’ by David Elliott, illustrated by Sam Zuppardi, is
published by Candlewick/Walker. It’s out in February in the US and March in the UK.

This is my second picture book. It came about when I was in the final
stages of working on my first picture book,'The Nowhere Box.' My
publisher got in touch and asked whether I'd like to illustrate a
picture book by David Elliott. I was excited because, for one thing, it was a concrete chance to do another book but also, I loved David Elliott's book 'Finn Throws a Fit', which is fantastically, messily illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering.  I took a look at the text for 'Nobody's Perfect' and it seemed like something I could have fun with. My agent negotiated the contract and it went from there. Illustrating someone else's text was a really different experience to illustrating my own. I realised how my creative process for picture books so far had revolved around a kind of simultaneous evolution of words and pictures together. With 'Nobody's Perfect' the text was already all there. It was kind of daunting at first, having to think up pictures to go with them, as there was very little in terms of initial art direction and David was so generous with the level of flexibility he gave me to interpret the text. (I think the only image pointer given was that the boy's room should be messier after he tidies it). Other than that it was up to me.

As usual it helped me to give the story time to brew in my mind, without trying to force anything too quickly. It's quite a reflective book, with lots of thinking going on, so the core image I ended up organising things around was of the boy sitting on the step, thoughtfully looking out at the reader. After that, the rest kind of took shape. I began to sketch out characters and spreads and share them with the editor and art director. But as an example of how flexible things were, when I designed the main character's sister, Gigi, I made her a little baby sister. When I sent her sketch off to the publisher the response back from David was that he'd imagined Gigi as an older sister. But in fact he liked the baby sister idea and so we actually went with that for the finished book.

It was an interesting insight into the collaborative process, and one I've really enjoyed. As ever, seeing the final book come together is a magical thing and I'm so pleased to be able to share the celebration with everyone, through Words And Pictures.

Thank you Sam


  1. Very interesting artist. I didn't know him, wow!

  2. Love your illustrations Sam! Thanks for the insight into your work.

  3. Sam is one of our North-East members and is a regular at our York gatherings. It's been wonderful to watch him develop over the years and see his first books published. He has recently let us rummage through his sketchbook which is full of fantastic creations. All that and he is lovely too. Congratulations Sam!


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