Creating a Picture Book

Reading RoomA teenager when 9/11 struck, author Sarah Dautel was indelibly impressed by our nation’s fighting forces. Now that she is older, Sarah has an even greater appreciation of what service members sacrifice to defend our country. This has inspired her to write a children’s picture book that deals with a tough topic: injuries to soldiers that change not only their own lives but those of their families. Using the attractive medium of music for her story, Sarah addresses the underlying theme of major injury—its horror, its life-changing implications, the long road to recovery—yet in a gentle way that children can grasp. And the reader is not left in despair: ultimately this is a story about perseverance, how second chances may just be more successful than the initial plan.

CatapultsSarah’s sister, Hannah Dautel, has brought this rabbit tale to life with her fresh, minimalist art style. A self-taught illustrator, Hannah breaks away from the typical huggable bunny of children’s literature, introducing a clean-shaven, tight-muscled “kid” rabbit on his way to military glory. Hannah’s use of color is especially effective at capturing the emotion of the storyline: the terrifying darkness of a nighttime accident; a cold, sterile hospital environment; the bold, celebratory colors of graduation day.

Ajax Playing his TrumpetIn a tale that explores mature topics—submitting to grueling military training, accepting injury, embracing change, persevering through trials—Sarah and Hannah Dautel bring the story of Ajax to a child’s level with a captivating sense of humor. A new figure has entered the world of beloved rabbit characters in children’s literature.