Joan Sandin’s Long Road to Publication

By Maya Patterson

Worlds of Words’s exhibit, Inspiration to Celebration: Publishing Journeys is now open to the public. The exhibit features the publishing journey of Coyote School News by Joan Sandin, an award-winning author, illustrator and translator. Sandin’s original artwork for Coyote School News hangs in the WOW Studio, and the Mary J. Wong Collection showcases her journey of publishing the book. Newspaper covers from two publications that feature the voices of young reporters, the Little Cowpuncher and Bear Essential News, also hang in the exhibit in the WOW Hall Gallery.

Joan Sandin

Sandin’s road to publication seemed almost as long as Monchi’s ride to school in his uncle’s car. Monchi, the main character in Coyote School News, and the other characters in the book were inspired by Sandin’s best friend in high school, María Amado, who attended a ranch school in rural Arizona. Sandin also found inspiration from the Little Cowpuncher, a mimeographed school newspaper written and illustrated by ranch school students.

Joan Sandin

The idea for Coyote School News came in part through Joan’s best friend in high school, María Amado, whose pioneer Mexican family had a town named after them – Amado, Arizona. Joan and Maria are about 15 years old in this photo and did not have driver’s licenses at the time. Fortunately, this automobile had no motor!

With this inspiration and her imagination, Sandin started her journey. She researched by taking trips to the Arizona Historical Society archives and the University of Arizona Libraries. Sandin also travelled to ranch school locations to take photos of the desert landscapes. The photos Sandin took translated to her watercolor illustrations in the book. In the exhibit, you can also see how Sandin’s illustrations of ranch school students’ newspaper match the newspaper covers of Little Cowpuncher.

After her research, Sandin started to write Coyote School News. She first imagined the book as an I Can Read book, writing the first manuscript to cater to that format. However, the story became too complex and detailed to publish as an easy reader. Expanding the text, Sandin enlarged the format and created book mock ups at the suggestion of her editor, Nina Ignatowitz. The book “dummies,” on display in WOW’s exhibit, show these pre-publishing drafts.

From there, Sandin’s book evolved in both text and pictures. Some illustrations never made it into the final edition of Coyote School News; such a piece of artwork is hanging in the WOW Studio. Correspondence and edits went back and forth between author, editor, and designer, which you can view in the exhibit as well. After all the edits and changes, Coyote School News reached the press, and the book was published!

To learn more about this long and rewarding journey, come visit Inspiration to Celebration: Publishing Journey. The exhibit will be up through May 2017 during WOW’s open reading hours listed below.

Journey through Worlds of Words during our open reading hours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Check out our two online journals, WOW Review and WOW Stories, and keep up with WOW’s news and events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *