David Ezra Stein is an author-illustrator whose previous books include LEAVES, winner of an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. His most recent children's picture book, I'm My Own Dog was just released this month. He lives in Kew Gardens, New York.
I’m My Own Dog, started out as just a quick sketch — a dog walking himself, with a caption that read "The true master is master of himself".
I hung it on the bulletin board in my studio and left it there for about a year or two. The rest of the story didn't start to come to me until I was on the road promoting another book. I began to hear the voice of an independent dog character, and it was strong. I tried to write down as much as I could, and later showed it to my editor at Candlewick Press. After writing, rewriting, thumbnailing, and fitting the story into the right book shape and size, it was time to begin the illustrations.
First and foremost I had to decide what this wonderful dog would look like. I drew many, many different kinds of dogs. In the end, the bulldog seemed the most man-like to me so I chose it as a model. Then I needed to develop the design of the human’s character. I sketched and sketched until I found just the right look.
Whenever I make art, I always begin with the feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing. I've created twelve children's books and, still, when I sit down to the drawing board, I have the sense that I am free-floating. Nevertheless, I keep on painting until, suddenly, the book begins to take shape. That’s where the real magic happens. I discover while doing.
I’m My Own Dog is available wherever books are sold and, of course, at the library!