For the book Ranger in Time: Race to the South Pole, I created 15 black-and-white chapter illustrations.
As I said in my last blog post about the cover illustration, this book is about the Scott Expedition, which took place during 1910-1913. The previous books in the Ranger series have been set further back in the past - from the mid-1800's to Ancient Rome - so this was the most modern of all Ranger's time traveling adventures.
Because of the relatively recent time period, and because the members of the Scott Expedition knew they were on an important mission, they took a lot of photographs. That meant I had a lot more photo references to work with than usual - which was helpful, but also a challenge because it meant that I had to pay more attention to details.
Everything, from the types of shoes they wore to the construction of their sleds needed to be double-checked with the photographic evidence.
Here is a scene from the chapter when the expedition is landing on the mainland of the south pole for the first time, and Ranger meets his first Adelie penguin. The author, Kate Messner, told me that this is her favorite illustration out of the entire Ranger series so far.
This scene in particular has some little details I'd like to point out, if you'll indulge me. All of the cans and crates are based on photos of supplies the Scott expedition actually used.
Note the boxes of Colman's corn flour in the back, and the cans of golden syrup in the front.
I had several questions about this. I sent an email to Scholastic who forwarded it to Kate Messner.
- Would the party be wearing skiis or not?
- They must have had a lantern with them, right? Would it be ok to show the main character holding a lantern?
- Why would any human being put themselves through this?
Kate got back to me quickly. She looked up the information in an autobiography written by Apsley Cherry-Gerard, one of the men on the expedition. As for question #1: skii poles but no skiis. As for question #2, it turns out they guided themselves by moonlight and by holding a single candle. (!!!!!!)
I don't want to spoil any more of the book for you, but let me just say that it is packed with all sorts of cool stuff: killer whales! Ice cravasses! Storms at sea! You'll want to check it out. Ranger in Time: Race to the South Pole comes out on June 28.