Q and A  

Who are the real Toby & Magoo? Toby and Magoo are characters based on Penny's grandchildren Toby and Leah. When these twins were born in July 2006, Toby had a cute little turtle face, and Leah had long legs like a frog. It was her father who actually nicknamed her Magoo.

Where did the story idea come from? Penny was a primary teacher for many years. She always had a love for the environment and understands the need for looking after it. Penny ran an environment club in most of the schools that she taught in.

How many books has Penny written? Penny has written three books. Her first book, "The Computer," was never illustrated or published and is in her drawer. Book number 2 "The adventures of Toby the Turtle and Mighty Magoo" is now available. "Toby Loses His Stripes" is in the process of being illustrated. Penny says she still has a few ideas for future books and would love to hear from YOU!

How long does it take to write a book? The first draft usually goes quickly. Then there is editing and layout. SO it often can take at least a year.


How do Penny and Michele know each other? That is a good question because Penny lives in Ontario, Canada, and Michele lives in Illinois, USA. Penny's son, Matt, and Michele's cousin, Janette, are very good friends. One day Penny shared her story about Toby & Magoo with Janette. Janette immediately thought of Michele for the job as illustrator. Although Penny and Michele have not yet met fact to face, they talk on the phone and email quite often. They also plan to visit each other soon.

Has Michele illustrated any other books? Michele has been doodling and painting watercolors for years. Before working on Toby & Magoo's first adventure, she illustrated two environmental coloring books for the New Jersey and Connecticut Departments of Environmental Protection. She likes to draw editorial cartoons and creates unique cards too.

How did Michele learn to draw and paint? Throughout most of her life, Michele has enjoyed drawing, doodling and goofing around in the arts. In college Michele took a number of art classes and since then has joined many classes at local art organizations to keep her creative juices flowing. When she lived in Seattle she took classes at the Kirkland Arts Center and in Illinois she's been to the Oak Park Art League.

Illustrating Toby and Magoo

First Sketch

Michele spent a lot of time sketching out what Toby and Magoo would look like. Once she had decided on a "look" for each of them she went about sketching a visual description of the different scenarios Penny created verbally.

Final image

Here is a sample of how this process works. The top image shows two ideas of Mighty Magoo. In the first book, Toby the Turtle is in trouble, Mighty Magoo sees him in the distance and know she needs to help. In the first idea I show a distant view of Toby over Magoo's shoulder. In my second idea I show Magoo's face straight on and you can see the worry in her face. This is the idea we decided to work with and make into the final painting.




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