I just received the first two author copies of my new picture book, Bright Sky, Starry City, published by the lovely people at Groundwood and illustrated by the talented Aimee Sicuro. is there anything quite like opening a package and finding a new book? All right, I’m not going into the usual rant about the lack of tactility in an e-book, or how the heck we think kids are going to love books if they can’t hug them or smell them or chew on them or even what’s going to happen to bodies and brains if a backlit screen becomes the primary source of text and image. Instead let us consider endpapers. Look at these. Sidewalk chalk and sky, child mind and universe–it’s all in here. Are these endpapers not the perfect introduction to a book on dark skies and a child’s vast, reaching imagination? The picture book writer is only the owner of the book in a kind of curatorial way. You start the thing off with an idea that has you in its grip. You try to give it shape. You plunk some words on the page. If the thing holds up (and many picture book ideas do not) you keep going. If you can get enough of the vision down so it makes sense to others, well then a publisher might pick it up and assign it to an illustrator. The illustrator gets to work, without my word-bound oversight, for which praise be. In this case, I got to check facts. I suggested a few research sources. I asked a consultant to comment on the accuracy of both text and images. Some text changed as the images grew. But the endpapers? They were a complete surprise. They ensure that the story of the book begins in the child reader’s mind before even a single page gets turned. What a gift!