Over the weekend, I had the huge honor of attending the Big Sur Writing Workshop held by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and it. was. wow. The redwoods, the wild roaming turkeys, the Route 1 cliffs above the Pacific…a perfect setting to do some serious work.

Mark my words, one day, I will highlight my own picture book on this blog. Until then…

Written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jim McMullan {which is clearly directly above, but still. Click on.}

Farmer has pigs. {duh.} Farmer must clean pigs. Pigs are stubborn. Farmer is sneaky. Pigs are clever. Farmer is determined. Pigs are {still} dirty.


There is so much to love about Hogwash. From the rhythm and the cadence of the words, to the warm colors and the loose, carefree quality of the illustrations, each design choice perfectly matches the nature of either the shrewd pigs or the hapless farmer. It’s a fun book to read out loud, and the pictures are irresistible too.

But something else very subtle and interesting is happening on some of these pages, and it’s worth an extra look. Simply enough, shapes are the space in between closed lines. You are probably more than familiar with squares, rectangles, and circles, and if you aren’t, well, you probably can’t read this blog anyway.

Dirt splats, drops, and drips are a clear (but muddy) motif in Hogwash. Why not use mud streaks as a shape to define illustrations from typography space?

It’s fairly obvious on the title page, but why stop there?

I love this page, where the illustration is intentionally contained within a stream of mud. Or  maybe it’s the water in Farmer’s bucket? Either way. Subtle and clever, right?

Same here. The Farmer and his side eyed smirk emerge right out of a puddle shape.

Shape. Containing and highlighting and making pictures more awesome since about forever.