Written By: Mary Jane Begin, an award winning children’s book illustrator, and illustration professor at Rhode Island School of Design. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice This ancient tale, the earliest version written in 150 AD, has always intrigued me. I think because it binds magic and the terrifying notion of loosing control of it! When asked to retell and illustrate it, I decided that it would make an interesting twist to cast the role of the apprentice as a girl, and in this case…my own daughter. It’s not uncommon for illustrators to use the people that they know for models: I have turned many good friends into animal characters…my own mother became a porcupine in one picture book. For The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, my husband became the Sorcerer, and for the ebook app, one of my former students from RISD, Nicholas Kole, narrates the Sorcerer role. By using people that I know as a source for character development, it helps me to see the character in a truly real way, and makes illustrating a beloved face all the more meaningful. I partnered with Demibooks Studio to create an ebook app for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice their Composer platform. To my great delight, one of my former students and another RISD graduate, Natalie Murrow was the Compositor. She chose music, made animations and collaborated with me on ideas for making this an interactive story. We both felt that the tale had a strong cinematic feel, based on the use of light and detailed
costume reflecting the time of the Renaissance. The original paintings were created in layers of pastel and acrylics, with a focus on rich, layered color, imitating the process of painting during that time period, with contemporary materials. When Natalie added the sparkling animations, dramatic music and interactive word pictures…I felt that some kind of charm, had truly transformed this book as a new experience. Touching the screen and making things appear, dance, shimmer or speak appears magical, even to an adult! I can’t think of a better way to impart the valuable lesson of patience and learning to a young reader. He or she becomes the true “apprentice” bringing the story to life through the touch of their hand imbuing them with the sense of their own magical power.