New kids’s guide affords illustrated experience on Staten Island Ferry


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – You may take the boy out of Staten Island, however you may’t fairly shake the Island out of the boy. That’s why when award-winning kids’s creator and illustrator Michael Garland — who grew up in Nice Kills — was looking for an thought for his newest image guide, he regarded to his childhood recollections of using the Staten Island Ferry.

The result’s “Ferry Boat” — written and illustrated by Garland and simply printed by Vacation Home ( Advisable for beginner-level readers and to read-aloud, the guide is offered on and in native bookstores.

Garland took his first experience on the Staten Island Ferry when he was 5 years previous.

“Like many Staten Islanders, I’ve a protracted historical past with the Staten Island Ferry. My household moved to the Island from Manhattan within the pre-bridge period, round 1956. We took our automotive on the ferry to go to family. I traveled to trace meets with my teammates at Monsignor Farrell Excessive Faculty on the ferry. I commuted to my first job in downtown Manhattan, and to varsity at Pratt Institute,” defined the 68-year-old Garland, who now makes his house and studio upstate, not removed from Brewster in Putnam County.

“Staten Island gave me my first sense of neighborhood,” Garland stated.


“Staten Island gave me my first sense of neighborhood,” Garland stated.

Rising up on Acacia Avenue, he stated he remembers summers spent swimming in Nice Kills Harbor. His picture appeared on the entrance web page of the Advance in 1964, with associates diving and swimming within the harbor, he recalled with nostalgia.

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Garland additionally stated he remembers strolling to the Nice Kills Library together with his three siblings, and coming house with an armload of books to learn. His father, the late Thomas Garland, was a lieutenant with the NYPD, who retired from the 122nd Precinct in New Dorp, he famous.

He credit “Brother Burke’s English class” at Monsignor Farrell (the place Garland graduated within the Class of 1970) for encouraging him to watch and write concerning the acquainted. A significant in illustration on the Pratt Institute satisfied him to forge a profession as a kids’s creator and illustrator.

At first toiling as a contract illustrator for textbooks, commerce magazines and publishing homes, his profession within the kids’s early-reading image guide market started to take off with the publication of his first guide, “My Cousin Katie” in 1989, wherein, he stated, he used his younger daughter, Katherine, because the mannequin for the storyline and illustrations.

michael garland

Garland was 5 years previous on this picture, taken throughout his first experience on the Staten Island Ferry. (Photograph courtesy of Michael Garland)

Since then, Garland has had greater than 40 books printed or within the pipeline (

“For about half my books, I’m the creator and illustrator; for the remainder, I’m illustrator for a wide selection of authors,” he defined, including that his books have made The New York Occasions bestseller checklist.

Garland defined he’s illustrated image books for Gloria Estefan, James Patterson and others. And his books have received business awards, together with Greatest Books of the 12 months designations from the celebrated Kirkus Evaluation, he recalled.

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He simply completed illustrating a guide for the Getty Museum that’s due out within the fall.

When he’s not writing or illustrating kids’s books, Garland makes use of his free time to create fine-art work that he’s exhibited and offered in galleries. These days, he’s been engaged on a collection of surrealistic portraits (


Garland, who typically visited faculty lessons earlier than the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, stated he’d steadily be requested to explain his inventive course of. “First comes the thought, then the story begins to come back collectively. In kids’s image books, you’ve acquired about 32 pages or much less to inform a narrative, in brief, easy sentences, with a starting, center and finish,” he stated.

Michael Garland illustration

An illustration from Garland’s newest guide, “Ferry Boat.” (Photograph courtesy of Michael Garland)

As soon as the story is completed, he lays out in a narrative board, and designs photos to suit the textual content. In the beginning of his profession, he used conventional illustration methods and supplies like pen and ink, oil paints, acrylic paints and watercolors. When the publishing business transitioned to digital media, he made the change as properly.

“After I create an illustration now, I nonetheless start with a pencil sketch or charcoal drawing that I scan into digital format and start ‘portray’ digitally within the precise dimensions that it will likely be finally printed,” Garland defined

“Generally I’ll create an precise woodcut, then scan the black and white picture into the pc and shade over it digitally. My digital method permits for a lot higher inventive flexibility,” he added.

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The method might be seen in “Ferry Boat,” wherein coloured illustrations are laid over Garland’s authentic pencil and charcoal sketches.


Garland stated he enjoys sharing recommendation with would-be younger authors and illustrators. The kids’s image guide subject is very aggressive, he warned. It may be a sluggish transition from school to turning into a full-time freelancer within the publishing market. Throughout this era, he recalled working as an evening security guard on the building web site of the longer term Staten Island Mall in New Springville, serving as a custodian at an Island nursing house, and driving a cab in Manhattan — to make ends meet.

Be ready to take criticism and make modifications and revisions, he stated. “Publishing is a collaborative artwork type. An creator or illustrator has to be taught to work with different folks’s inventive enter. The publishing world isn’t ready simply to your story,” he noticed wryly. “For each story that will get printed, you may count on no less than three or extra concepts to be rejected.”

And be affected person. The printed course of typically takes a yr or extra, from conception to publication. Garland prompt that novices test the web site of the Society of Kids’s Ebook Writers and Illustrators ( for tips about how you can get began within the subject, in addition to present business tendencies and information.

“Don’t get discouraged,” Garland stated. “Benefit from the course of — and hold at it.”


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