BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – With about 30 children at her feet, decked out in all sorts of the garb of the Hallow’s eve, Holy Trinity Catholic art teacher Tracee Guzman began reading.
Guzman opened “The Witches’ Ball” a book by Lori Ries and illustrated by Guzman, and started reading and showing the hand-drawn pages to the children in the library at Holy Trinity Elementary School in West Point on Wednesday evening as part of the school’s after-school Halloween party.
The book follows Millie the Witch as she races against the clock to get to the Witches’ Ball at a castle complete with an alligator-filled moat.
The book is available at Amazon for $17.99 hardcover, $10.99 for paperback, or on Kindle for $4.99.
Guzman said Amazon sold out of the first printing and then a paperback printing.
One of the neat characteristics is the dot edging of the illustration. Guzman said there are millions of dots in the illustrations that she manually added to give the pictures a softness.
“There’s million of dots, millions and millions of dots in here. I actually get carpal tunnel from this. I’m not kidding,” she said.
“There’s a scene with a shop and that was the one that I sent in with my sketch. It makes it look softer.”
She said the technique is called stippling and she said it took a full year from start to finish to illustrate the 32-page book.
Her passion for drawing started when she was about three years old. Guzman said she can remember the book, “Where the Wild Things Are,” and that spurred a curiosity in drawing and literature.
She said now having her own illustrations featured in a published book seems almost surreal.
“It’s almost surreal to think that it’s really happened. It really is, and has been an interesting journey.
“My college professors said for my final project in my senior year, that my work was suitable for illustration and asked me if I had ever thought about that. I told them, I’ve always wanted to be an illustrator,” she said.
A social media event known as InkTober opened the door for her to have her work published. InkTober is a month where anyone can illustrate one word and then post it on the Internet and social media avenues.
A publishing company saw her work and asked her if she did illustrations. She said she didn’t, but always wanted to and they said they could put her to work right away.
“That’s how it started for me. It was just kind of serendipity.”
She said she gets royalties for the book but hasn’t received a royalty check yet.
Guzman said she would like to write and illustrate her own book at some point. She has an idea for it, but hasn’t started it.
“That’s on my list.”