Ways of Looking at a Camel

Sam Moodey, illustrator of When the Camel Sneezed,  began sketching the animals in story, he was at a zoo. After watching animals, he'd mosey off, find a bench, and pull his small, leather sketchbook from a pocket and draw.

I've gone to zoos with Sam a number of times, as mother and, this last time, as a collaborating artist. Not a lot has changed over the years; Sam seems to become the animal he's watching. When we stopped at the orangutan exhibit, I thought we might have to leave. An old orangutan clasped his way across a line of rope, sat in a barrel-like bucket, and covered himself with burlap, as if to say, "Just go. I'm old, alone, and weary of entertaining you in these surroundings." For a while, Sam looked old. He put away his sketchbook and walked away. That story is not one you'll find in his illustrations.

Sam not only draws what he sees, but studies the animals' skeletal structures and anatomy. It's when he sets aside his work and returns to it later the magic happens. His animals transform, each having its own personality -- one you'd like for a pal. From draft one of the camel skull to the cover for When the Camel Sneezed is, like the story, quite a whimsical adventure.