Little Kunoichi Process Sneak Peek + Preorder Info

lk-process1One month until the official launch of Little Kunoichi!! May 5th is the big day. My heart palpitations are on the rise and I’m vacillating to and fro between nervousness and excitement. I heard an author on one of the bazillion podcast episodes that I listen to, and I can’t remember which author it was, but she said that she was “cautiously optimistic” about her book. I feel exactly the same way.

You can see a glimpse of how the cover of Little K evolved above, and today I wanted to show you a quick overview of the pictorial process of creating the interior pages of my children’s book. I’ve already given you a long-winded text-heavy version of the same process, but images always add more, don’t you think?

So, everything started with the “pitch”. Since I would be the writer and illustrator of the story, my editor and I agreed that as a first-timer, I should take it up a notch and provide a storyboard with thumbnail sketches to try to win the team over. I worked on a formal proposal with my editor and then sketched out each spread on blank 3″ x 5″ index cards, scanned them in and submitted this:


Happily, the publisher signed me up, and the next phase involved fleshing out the details of my rough sketches. I created full-size greyscale sketches of each spread and here’s what the opening spread sketch looked like:


After some feedback and tweaking, I plunged myself into weeks of painting. I’m planning a separate post on how exactly I create my illustrations (it’s a combination of hand-painting and digital assembly), but ultimately, that greyscale sketch turned into a very colorful final version. I turned in the art, and then the lovely designer at Sasquatch prettied things up and added the necessary text. Voila:


What was so encouraging about the process was how streamlined it was. I felt like the story emerged wholly-formed from the get-go and the illustrations and text remained virtually unchanged throughout. It was a dream project, and I’m so so pleased with the outcome. I’m giving you just a little taste today, but I hope this gives an interesting inside look into the making of a children’s book — at least my version.



I’m working on more sneak peek posts and some fun activities leading up to the “pub date,” as they say in the biz. The launch party is scheduled on Mother’s Day, May 10th at Queen Anne Book Co. from 4-6pm and if you’re local, I hope you’ll be able to make it! It’ll be a special Mother’s Day gift for me, I’ve been telling K. More on that soon.

Queen Anne Book Co. is taking pre-orders as well. We wanted to make these pre-order copies a little special, and if you place your order through QABC before April 25th, you will receive a signed copy. I’d love to personalize the books (maybe with an extra little illustration!) if you leave specific names in the comments section when you order here. The only caveat is that this applies only to US residents since QABC is a charming, but very local and small independent bookstore. [Update: don’t be scared by the $180 cost that shows up! There’s some kind of display error, but the correct amount will be charged, the bookstore staff has assured]

But Little Kunoichi can be pre-ordered all over the place including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound  and Powells. I even added a new My Book tab above that also includes a button for easy ordering (sigh, this required me to exercise some underused braincells and took me forever to figure out…).

Thank you for your continued support and please tell everyone you know about Little K!!

42 thoughts on “Little Kunoichi Process Sneak Peek + Preorder Info

    1. I’m glad you think so, Shelley – I put a lot of heart and soul into it. It was a super fun process!

  1. i can’t wait to buy this sweet book and look forward to owning anything that you are going to illustrate.. have you considered making illustration prints available? i love you watercolor. you have so many talents and i am so glad to have been able to see all of it for a few years now on this blog. you’re life fascinates me! i think some of my favorite posts were able your various jobs 😉 so great. you’re a talent for sure…story telling, illustration, sewing, photography.

    1. So sweet of you, Sarah, thank you! I have many, many more job stories to share 🙂 so stay tuned! And yes, I’m working on Little Kunoichi prints for sure – coming in about a month!

  2. Only one month left! I’m really looking fordward to get it. I ordered on Amazon and hope it doesn’t take too long to get it!!!

    1. Time is blasting away Idoia! I hope it doesn’t take too long either – Was your location Basque Country?

        1. Sounds beautiful, and not unlike Seattle, Idoia! Do you know Aran of Cannelle et Vanille? She’s from Basque Country and is absolutely lovely (I rented her studio for a photo shoot and we have mutual friends).

  3. Ya! Went to preorder from your link, but it’s popping up as 180.09$ in the cart. Eek! I’ll check back again.

  4. just sent them an email, but I’m sure you have more pull than me. 😉 Anyhow, once it IS ordered, will you sign mine to my daughter Wylie? Can’t wait to share it with her!

    1. Hi Abby, thanks for letting me know. I just checked the QABC website and it looks like it’s a display error that they’re aware of and that at checkout the correct amount should be charged. Please let me know if that’s not the case, and I’m so excited to make the book out to Wylie! Is there a particular animal that she likes?

      1. Got it ordered! That Janis is running a nice little business-she was so kind in our email exchange. Wy has a lamb lovey that she adores. Only animal that really comes to mind. 🙂 Can’t wait to read the story and see those illustrations!

        1. Fantastic! So glad Janis was able to sort everything out – that must’ve been quite a shock to see the price! I’ll make a note of Wy’s lamb lovey – thank you :-).

  5. I love this sneak peek, Sanae!! It’s cool to see how closely the finished book ended up following that initial storyboard. xx

    1. Hello Miss Publicist extraordinaire – so lovely to see you here! I thought it was interesting that it stayed very consistent throughout! I was under the impression that books undergo a lot of changes, but I guess it’s different for each book. 🙂 Thank you Haley!

  6. Totally love this sneak peak, and your description of the process. Thank you!
    Already pre-ordered for my grands AND me!

    1. So glad you liked the sneak peek, Annelieke and thank you so much for the multiple orders – I’m so grateful!!!

  7. Wow! So beautiful.
    Very interesting to see a bit behind the scenes – thank you for sharing?
    May I ask what age group your book is suitable for? I don’t have children so am not sure…
    Advance congratulations!!!

    1. Hi Miss Jenny! The target age group is 3-7, and our hope is that it will also appeal to all children’s books aficionados including adults. I used to collect kids’ books even before I had K! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Erin! Such a great, great experience all around. I’m crossing fingers, toes, eyes, that I’ll get another chance to work on kids’ books!

  8. I can understand the heart palpitations! The excitement of a new book! What an accomplishment! I bet your daughter must be so proud of her mom!

    1. Aw, thank you Melissa! K did read the book to her pet frogs, paused and then whispered “Mama, I’m so proud of you…” Man, that made me choke up. Kids, they kill me.

  9. Hmm.. there seems to be some kind of problem on the Queen Anne books website. When I put one copy of the book in my cart (listed at 16.99) it jumps to $180 in my cart. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong! I can order from Amazon but it’s nice to support local!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! I emailed both you and QABC (and added a little note in the post) about the situation – I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the display issue will be resolved soon :-). Thank you, thank you!!

  10. Eek! I’m SO excited for you, Sanae! Must feel a bit like the anticipation of giving birth. I have a pre-ordered copy awaiting me at Amazon but deeply wish I could be at your launch party. What lucky Seattle locals to be able to attend:)

    1. Thank you so much, Lucinda! I’ve been calling Little Kunoichi my second baby for months :-)! Very exciting, very scary too…Thank you also for your pre-order!!

  11. Oh my goodness! It looks amazing. I’m totally yelling out loud with excitement over here. How fantastic. I know so many mothers, especially those with girls, who are going to flip! Holy bucket list accomplishment!! Can’t wait to see it in person!

    1. Thanks so much, Melissa!!!! In many ways, it still hasn’t hit me that this is truly happening! I did write the book with girls in mind, but I do hope it has boy appeal too!

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