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A Business of Ferrets

a business of ferrets lauren beckwith

A Business of Ferrets takes the reader on a whimsical journey through collective nouns of the animal kingdom. This hardcover, rhyming picture book with its literal, exceptionally detailed illustrations educates and delights readers both young and young at heart.

Available for purchase through Amazon and other select retailers. Autographed copies with personalized inscriptions can be purchased from The Shop!

A Closer Look

Here's a sneak peak into my process!

Introducing the army of frogs, from first draft to final.

Click on the images for a closer look.

army of frogs sketch
army of frogs rough draft
army of frogs

Free printable activity sheets!

Kaleidoscope coloring page JPG.png

 

Q & A for the Curious

What inspired you to write this book?

 

For many years, I worked as a waitress. I was serving on a particularly busy Saturday night, and someone was letting their kids run around the crowded floor as if they were on a playground. They nearly crashed into me and upset my tray three times. I remember thinking that a group of children should really be called a dervish — a whirling, chaotic force of energy and potential destruction! It later got me thinking about the odd names for groups of animals, like a business of ferrets, and how fun it would be to try and draw them as literally as possible.

 

How long did it take you?

 

About two years, off and on. The final illustrations I was able to crank out over the first four months of 2022, but all the groundwork - the sketches, the black-and-white drawings for the book dummy, writing the poem and its many drafts, even a few of the final paintings - took just as long. I did all of that in the spring and summer of 2020, and then took a break when I couldn’t find an interested publisher. I switched gears and drew pet portraits for awhile, then had a baby, then moved, then moved again… I didn’t find my publisher until my son was nearly a year old. Once I got a contract, I got back to work.

 

What do you use for your illustrations?

 

I used The Fine Touch pencils for outlines and occasionally Crayola colored pencils for little details, but the rest of the illustrations were done in watercolor. I used a variety of brands, but mostly relied on Van Gogh and Master’s Touch, and I really only used three paintbrushes for the entire thing. My favorite brush was a tiny (5/0 round) Princeton Aqua Elite. It’s about the size of the exclamation mark on your keyboard.

 

 

Which group of animals was your favorite to paint?

 

That’s a tough one! It really depended on the day. Some mornings I was relieved to have a simpler illustration to work on, but other days I enjoyed the challenge of a more intricate one. I'm pretty pleased with the parliament of owls. It took me the longest to complete, challenged me the most (architectural drawing is very unforgiving, with all those straight lines and precise angles!), and as a result was the most satisfying to finish.

What is your creative process?

 

It’s very hands-on, literally. I wrote out the first drafts of the poem on paper. To find the right combinations of rhyming words, I wrote the names of each animal and its group on individual scraps of paper and arranged and rearranged them like puzzle pieces until I had my pairs. The illustrations I also drew and painted by hand, because that feels most intuitive to me. I actually had to hire a graphic designer (thank you, Germán!) to get the files correctly formatted. So many illustrators today do their artwork digitally, from sketches to final product. I imagine that’s a much more efficient route, once you get the hang of it? I completely repainted a few of my illustrations because by the end I realized I wasn’t happy with them. You can’t erase watercolor with the click of a mouse.   

 

Where can I find this book?

 

You can find it for sale online here in The Shop as well as through Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble. Select independent bookstores and libraries carry it as well. 

We loved this book and want to share it with our community! How do we do that?

If you’d like to see it in your local bookstore or library, please ask! Booksellers like to know that it’s available through the distributor Ingram. Most libraries have a purchase request form online that’s pretty easy to fill out, and anyone with a library card can do it. Your support means the world to me!

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