Today I want to tell you about a book I had the pleasure of illustrating. It’s titled Frebie Dog Tales (The New Mailman, The Dog Catcher and the Judge). It’s a children’s book written by Betty Reese Freberg, a Christian speaker, teacher, filmmaker and author. Betty afforded me the rare privilege and honor of providing the 12 illustrations included in the book.

The book is inspired by a true tale. Frebie was a mixture of Chow and German Shepard. As a six week old puppy, Frebie met and won the heart of his master, a Baylor University college student by the name of Doug. It was the start of a thirteen year love affair between two free spirits. But when Doug moved to Washington D.C., he asked his widowed mom to let Frebie move in with her. Neither Frebie nor Mimi could imagine the adventures they were about to share.

The use of illustrations in books has a long and storied history. Even before Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, medieval monks added gold and silver leaf letters, borders and images to the manuscripts they painstaking wrote out by hand. The process of illumination was both costly and time-consuming, making the illuminated manuscript a luxury item reserved for only the wealthiest customers.

Printing made illuminated manuscripts obsolete, but did not obviate the desirability of including illustrations in printed text. For example, Charles Dickens was one author who fully embraced the use of illustrations to enliven his novels. Dickens would give his illustrators an outline of his plot before beginning the text. He would then monitor their drawings to ensure that they matched precisely with his own conceptions.

Dickens’s most famous illustrator was H.K. Browne. He worked under the pen name “Phiz.” He worked so closely with Dickens as to the specific appearance of characters and the composition of plates that Phiz’s visual interpretation of a character became as important as Dickens’s description, if not more so.

This is the first time that Betty and I have worked together. In fact, Frebie Dog Tales is Betty’s first children’s book and my first time illustrating. And while we have not yet developed the intense collaborative relationship that Dickens and Phiz once enjoyed, I think you’ll be impressed by how well my images complement and enhance Betty’s simple and straightforward storytelling,”

Frebie Dog Tales is available for purchase on Amazon and at Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens, which is located at 4637 Pine Island Road on sunny Matlacha Island. For more information, please telephone 239-938-5655.