Picture This! Meet the Design Minds Behind Our Newest Hot Dots Storybooks!

Bringing Famous Fables to Life

Hi there! It’s Jessie, one of the EI designers, here to share another behind the scenes peek at how one of my favorite EI products came together, just in time for the holidays!

I love working on our Hot Dots® Jr. Storybook sets—in fact, I’ve collaborated on three sets now. Each storybook requires a strong team of contributors, including a writer, an editor, a graphic designer/art director (that’s me!), and an illustrator.

It’s the designer’s job to find and direct the perfect illustrator to make each story come to life. I love this part because I get the chance to review the work of some of the best artists around the world! I look at artist’s agency websites, illustrator books like Workbook and Directory of Illustration, and the stash of artists I earmark throughout the year because I loved their work.

Illustration Books

After lots of looking, I decided to use Alistar, an Italian artist who had illustrated several other Hot Dots Jr. books, to illustrate The Tortoise and the Hare. I love working with Alistar because she’s so creative! In working with Alistar, I also learned a lot about her hometown of Pesaro, Italy. When I found out she’s an Airbnb host, I vowed to visit one day!

Tortoise and Hare

I chose another veteran EI illustrator to work on the The Ant and the Grasshopper. New Yorker Julissa Mora also worked on Magic Moves® Jammin’ Gym and RainbowJam™ illustrations, and I knew she was the right choice for this book when she began posting a series of ant sketches on her Instagram feed! I just love the way she depicted the ant as a tea-drinking, flower-wearing girl who enjoys her cozy fireplace and organized pantry.

Ant and Grasshopper


When I saw Argentinean artist Monica Gutierrez’s work, I knew she was the perfect artist to illustrate The Lion and the Mouse. Her animals are extremely emotional and her nature scenes include such interesting textures and bright colors. Her portrayal of the animals of the African Sahara really brought the story to life!

Lion and Mouse

Filipino artist Jomike Tejido had an incredibly impressive resume—he’s an architect, toy designer, fine artist, AND a children’s book author and illustrator. Now he can add fashion designer to his long list of accomplishments. We had so much fun collaborating on the mice’s outfits for The City Mouse and the Country Mouse!

City Mouse


The relationship between the art director and the illustrator is highly collaborative. I leave the parameters fairly open at the beginning,simply providing the manuscript and a template indicating where non-illustrated elements will go, like the Hot Dots activity questions and answers. Once I receive the artists’ initial sketches, I review them and share them with the product team. Then I note our combined comments in a single scan and send it back to the artist, so he or she has super clear direction.

Once the sketches are approved, the next step is “color roughs”, where we see all of the components of a layout and the artist’s color intentions. I once again share with the team and make comments so the artists can make final tweaks and send back high-resolution, print-ready files.


Once all of the Hot Dots Jr. Famous Fables illustrations were complete, I personally designed the book covers and package,and reviewed and approved the factory press-proofs to make sure everything looked perfect and all of the Hot Dots activities worked correctly.

Famouse Fables

There it is! That’s how our Hot Dots Jr. Famous Fables came to life. I sincerely loved working with each of the four artists and hope that children and parents everywhere enjoy these beautifully illustrated books!




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