Putting It Together!
Synopsis of Bunny Romero's White House Adventure: The Whole Megillah!
What happens when Bunny Romero—a Jewish immigrant from Mexico—discovers that the kitchen is not part of the White House tour? Find out in this delightful rhyming tale, lightly sprinkled with Spanish, Yiddish, and Hebrew, about a day that Bunny—and everyone else at the White House (including one fun-loving turkey)—will never forget! (The story features the Jewish festival of Purim and the holiday of Thanksgiving.)
Margie Blumberg: The spark that ignited this story—a chef-led tour of the White House, where I got to eat my favorite dish (a tuna fish sandwich) in the White House kitchen—was a moment that I had always dreamed of and have never forgotten. I will always be grateful to Walter Sheib III (1954-2015), the chef who made it all possible.
There were so many details involved in putting together our picture book. Each room was different—and not just because of the colors (red, blue, and green, for example)—and every scene had so many characters to keep track of—Bunny, Bunny's teacher and friends from class, the guards, the guide, the turkey—and the paintings, too, which came to life in their own funny, unique ways. Renée Andriani never ceases to amaze me with her attention to details and humor.
Here in her own words are Renée's memories of working on this book.
Renée Andriani: The images above and to the left show the progression of two side-by-side pages that feature the Blue Room: from references, to thumbnail sketches, to refined sketches, and finally to the finished art. The right-hand page shows Bunny Romero imagining herself with President Martin Van Buren as she participates (as a painter) in his choosing of the color blue.
Bunny was a challenge to illustrate because in addition to creating characters that were fun, energetic, and expressive, I wanted to be sure that all of the famous rooms inside the White House were depicted with such detail and accuracy that readers of the book would be able to recognize them when they visited the real thing!
I looked at a LOT of photos and images and took virtual tours online of both the inside and the outside of the White House and made composites from all of these references to develop sketches before creating the final illustrations.
The images here show the progression of two side-by-side pages in the book that feature the Blue Room: from references, to thumbnail sketches, to refined sketches, and finally to the finished art. The right-hand page shows Bunny Romero imagining herself with President Martin Van Buren as she participates (as a painter) in his choosing of the color blue. Spoiler alert: The turkey, which appears throughout the book, turns out to be President Tall Chief's son's pet. And the president is a Native American woman.
Needless to say, I learned a lot about the history of the White House as I worked on the illustrations. For example, the rooms continually change and evolve. Presidents redecorate and choose different works of art to display according to which people or events in our nation’s history they'd like to feature. The construction of the White House was completed in 1798, and President John Adams and his wife, Abigail Adams, were its first residents. Grover Cleveland is the only president to have ever been married in the White House (in the Blue Room), and Thomas Jefferson was the first to install indoor bathrooms (known back then as “water closets”!).
It was a lot of fun to work on Bunny Romero's White House Adventure: The Whole Megillah! with author Margie Blumberg at MB Publishing. It was very much a collaboration, where we talked through ideas, exchanged research, and went over sketches together . . . and—inevitably—talked a lot of politics!
Renée Andriani's Bio:
Renée Andriani is the illustrator of four other MB Publishing picture book titles—Paris Hop!, Rome Romp!, A Gefilte Fishy Tale, and No Naptime for Janie! A Hanukkah Tale. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, she lives near Kansas City with her husband, three kids and three big dogs. When she’s not illustrating, she can usually be found hiking, camping, or mucking around in her koi pond. Her upcoming books include Girl versus Squirrel by Haley Barrett (Holiday House) and Teddy Spaghetti by Dorothea Benton Frank and Victoria Hanna Frank (HarperCollins).
About “Sparks” by Margie Blumberg
Our posts are about those happy sparks of inspiration that we can all enjoy, such as a song in a movie that itself was based on a book. Children’s books and lyrics from musicals are what inspired me to write. I hope they’ll inspire you, too! We’ll also hear the latest news from our authors and illustrators and share their behind-the-scenes work and stories. And since our favorite plays and books are so often the inspiration for wonderful movies, we'll share trailers and book covers, too. We hope you enjoy these little sparks, and if you do, please share them!