Sunday, October 18, 2020

Good News. Bad News


We got the first printed book of Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure!

Yay, but…

The cover is beautiful and the color of the interiors is as well, however, the printing on the interior has been cropped wrong and there are white bands on the tops and bottoms of all the pages. Ugh! So, I’m awful sorry to say, you need to be patient a while longer while we get this sorted out.

Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure First Printed Book Proof
First Print Front Cover

Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure first printed book proof
First Print Back Cover

Photo of interior pages gone wrong
Printing problems with the cropping

We have found the problem and are now in the process of getting it fixed. We have ordered a new proof copy from IngramSpark. I hope this final proofing stage won't take too long so we can send Itsy, Bitsy, Teddy Bear Willie out into the world.

Thank you ever so much for your patience and support!


 #TeddyBearsAdventure #fromsketchtofinalbook #process  

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Searching for Willie?

Still looking for Itsy, Bitsy Teddy Bear Willie?

He's on his way!

Searching for Itsy, Bitsy Teddy Bear Willie
I'll be getting my proof copy this week from IngramSpark and then (fingers crossed), I'll be able to move forward with releasing him into the world. This last stage of this journey has taken longer than I thought it would. It's all part of the process from sketch to final book.
Thanks for joining us on this adventure. Stay tuned for the launch of Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure/ Coming soon!



Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Coming Soon! Teaser Video

Coming Soon!

While we wait for the final details to getting the book ready to launch, here's a fun teaser video of the inspiration for the project and a behind the scenes look at illustrating Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure.

Stay tuned for more information. We will be getting a proof copy from IngramSpark soon. So exciting!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Itsy, Bitsy Teddy Bear Willie is Off to Press

Great news! Keep a look out!

Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure is coming soon!

Coming soon! Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure

We have uploaded the book and cover to Ingram Sparks. We are now awaiting approval.

We're getting very close to releasing Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear Willie out into the world to share his adventure and help kids learn that you can be brave even if you are small.

 Stay tuned for more updates! Thanks!



Friday, October 2, 2020

Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure

 Coming Soon!

Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure


Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure Book Cover

Story by Marilyn Van Wagoner
Written & Illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner
Designed by Kurt Keller 

Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear’s Adventure is an endearing story time picture book for children ages 4-8. Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear Willie gets teased awfully because he is so small. One day he’s had enough bullying, and he runs away on a dangerous quest. To prove his bravery and worth, he will take an egg from Mama Eagle’s nest on top of the mountain. All the teddy bears in the village are terrified of Mama Eagle.

Lush and colorful illustrations build on the imagination, creating a full world where teddy bear cubs live and breathe and conquer their fears.

Grab some cookies, cuddle your teddy bear, and snuggle in for the telling.

The Adventure -From Sketch to Final Book  

by award winning illustrator, Traci Van Wagoner

This picture book, a personal project, has been a year in the making for over a year now and is now almost ready to buy just in time for cold story telling weather and the holiday gift giving season when people come together, cuddle up and tell stories. This is a gift to my Mom who just turned 88 last week.

The inspiration

My mom is quite the storyteller and in the spring of 2019, my older sister, Kara, sent me several of Mom's stories and asked me if I wanted to do something with them. 

"Why, yes I do!"

And this is what I did, and what I'm doing with one of them, what my mom had called Eensy, Teensy, Teddy Bear's Adventure. After a year of living with these bears and this story, and reading it out loud over and over, Kurt and I decided it read best as Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure. Here is a run down of the journey to get to this point.

Read more: Embarking on an Adventure

This the paragraph that started it all and inspired me to illustrate and publish one of Mom's stories.

The Inspiration. Storytelling by Marilyn Van Wagoner

Text dummy

I start a project with a text dummy where I take the printed out text and cut and paste chunks into spreads. I am thinking about how the story is unfolding and what each turn of the page brings. I’m imagining the scenes and the characters and the story’s world. I’m thinking of how I can approach each scene from a different angle? What story can I tell that isn’t being told by the words? What is the story between the lines? How can I encourage imagination?

It was fun getting to know Willie and empathizing with his plight — bullies pushing him around because he’s different, smaller than them. He’s a tiny bear with a big plan — but I don’t want to spoil the fun of the story unfolding here. You can read more about this stage of the journey on my website blog.

Character Development

Creating characters for readers to love

I doodled many different bears trying to get a feel for how I wanted to portray Willie. Many of his details are dictated by the text, like at one point he shakes in his boots — so he needs boots. Another scene he stuffs his pockets with cookies, so he needs pockets somewhere.

Now, as you may know, I have a blue bear as a sort of company mascot. He appears in every book I’ve illustrated. I must thank Kurt for his donation of his childhood teddy bear. So, in honor of Blue Bear, I made Willie blue as well.

Read more about this stage: Step Two: Character Development


interior art sketch for Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure

Once I've got an idea of what story each spread needs to tell and the characters moving through those spreads, I start sketching out the book in my sketchbook with loose doodle working thumbnails, and random sketches of poses and possibilities, and loose sketches within the dummy book.

I then bring all my sketches together for clean up and finalizing onto my computer and into Photoshop. Kurt does his thing creating a layout with the text and art. I finalize sketches, making sure there is room for the text. Then I get them back onto my iPad pro to begin the painting.

Read more about this stage of my process here and here.


My method of painting for this project -- late nights when Kurt fell asleep I'd pull out my trusty iPadPro, Apple Pencil, open up Procreate and get lost in Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's world.

Color art in progress. Interior for Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure
I take the final paintings to about 90% finished in Procreate. Then I take them into Photoshop on my computer where I can look at it on my large monitor and have a final painting party to add the bling, aka final touches.

Final color interior art Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure

Final Layout and Design

The final book design being done by Kurt Keller is in process. We have a few last edits and changes and then it'll be ready to go. We'll share more as soon as we get closer to releasing Itsy, Bitsy. Teddy Bear Willie it into the world.

Now you are caught up on the journey so far. I had originally hoped to have the book done earlier, but there have been many interferences along the way, life, work, um, let's see what else, oh yeah a PANDEMIC! I have been ever so grateful to have this project to work on and escape from the real world for a while. I hope my joy of creating this book comes through and spreads joy out there in the world.

 See more of my journey from sketch to final book on my website and patreon.

My Mom and Me

Thank you Mom for your imagination, creativity and unwavering support. You are my rock, my inspiration, and my goal of the ultimate selfless person. (By the way, do you want your shirt back?)


Remember the Inspirational paragraph? We decided to put that on the back cover as an homage to my Mom.

Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear's Adventure Back Cover


A New Adventure Begins! 

The final stage of the journey From Sketch to Final Book is coming to an end. We'll be releasing Itsy Bitsy Teddy Bear Willie out into the world through Imagine That Design's publishing division Blue Bear Stories. I hope you will enjoy the adventure as much as I have.

Stay tuned for a release announcement and a link to purchase your own copy, or many copies -- one for every grandkid, or kid. Thanks a million!

Playfully yours!
Traci VW

Live. Laugh. Learn.