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Going Wild for Wildwing

Last week, I released the jacket for Wildwing, a novel by Emily Whitman. About a year ago I was doing the photo shoot for the cover image with the editor, Steve Geck. Ali Smith was our photographer. We always love to work with her.

Makeup Wildwing Greenwillow

Our model in hair and makeup for the shoot.

A few weeks before the shoot we had to pick our model. So Steve and I met Ali for a casting. They were having open casting calls down the street for the Sex in the City 2 movie…but we only attracted a small crowd compared to them!
The book takes place in early 20th century England, and the main character travels in a time machine back to the Medieval era. Because of the era and the fact that she’s taken for a noble lady, we were looking for a girl with a fair skin and some welcome curves to fit the part. So, basically anyone who had gone to the beach was out (Attention models: fake tans are much easier to get rid of than real ones!). We were lucky that we got our first choice.

Preparing for shoot Wildwing Greenwillow

Ali demonstrates holding the frame for the shot.

We took our intern, Rivky Mondal, with us. She was in charge of shooting pictures for this blog. Ali had a dress but we needed something with lace to make it look more Medieval. We didn’t have much time! So Rivky and I took Steve to Old Navy on 14th Street and showed him how we can buy tops in fifteen minutes. He was getting good at it, and getting the size right! We treated him just like one of the girls.

First dress Wildwing Greenwillow

Our model wearing the original red dress. We're not too sure about it.

We only had four hours in front of us (for rental space and model time), but after three hours, the dress still wasn’t working. (Steve had also been shopping the whole weekend for a red dress and still did not find the perfect one!) Finally, we ran (literally) to a costume store a few blocks away, rented a red Medieval dress, left Steve with his American Express to pay for it, and Rivky and I ran back and shot the cover in half an hour flat.

Shot Wildwing Greenwillow

The final unfinished shot--with the new dress and Old Navy shirt!

IT WAS FUN! Our model was great, and Ali and her team were phenomenal. We ended up with a cool cover that really showcases a vraiment superbe livre!

Wildwing final cover Greenwillow

The final cover!


  1. mwt says:

    That is a beautiful cover and the dress looks great. I love the two contrasting images and I love it that she is inside and outside the frame. Do you often find the perfect thing only after the photoshoots? The next time you are at the Thrift Store do you facepalm and go “There’s the dress I had in mind?”

    Do you keep a costume closet at Greenwillow?

    And can Steve get a dress for me for the Horn Book thing in October?

  2. Emily says:

    This was so fun, seeing the cover in the making! And I am so grateful for the dedicated shopaholics at Greenwillow. You scored! I especially like seeing the model holding the white frame of a frame. Sometimes writing feels like that.

    Sylvie, you are a goddess.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Hi Sylvie- Beautiful cover. I loved reading about how you come up with your beautiful covers. I am a grad student in children’s lit and am currently researching book design and would love to ask you a few questions about the design of a hypothetical children’s book that I am working on. If you’re interested in giving me some more inside information on designing, I would be so grateful. Thanks in advance!

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