If you were a child in the 1980s, chances are good that you owned, or at least read, a copy of Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie, the book of verse that has gone on to become a Canadian kidlit classic. The book’s distinctive illustrations by Frank Newfeld are equally iconic, but also of a time. To honour the 40th anniversary of the book’s original publication, HarperCollins Canada is releasing the title poem as a standalone board book in October, and Q&Q has been given an exclusive sneak peek of the cover, illustrated by Sandy Nichols.
Last fall, HarperCollins Canada launched a contest to find an illustrator for the new edition. Entries were judged by a panel comprising Lee, HarperCollins Canada children’s books executive editor Hadley Dyer, Caldecott–winning author/illustrator Jon Klassen, agent Hilary McMahon, and Order of Canada recipient Barbara Reid. Nichols, a Calgary-based commercial artist who has illustrated one previous children’s title, was the jury’s unanimous choice.
When asked via email how she felt about providing updated illustrations for one of the most well-known Canadian children’s poems of all time, Nichols replied, “Pure, unadulterated tear-in-your-eye pride.”