Billie Jean!

My most recent book, Billie Jean! How Tennis Star Billie Jean King Changed Women’s Sports is available in stores TODAY! Happy Birthday, Billie Jean! (the book—real BJK celebrates hers November 22). This was one of those books where, when you are contacted by the editor, all the other details sort of turn to a blur once you see the name BILLIE JEAN KING. I had been itching to do a book about a women’s sport figure and could not have dreamed up a better subject. Fortunately, all those other details: a fantastic manuscript by Mara Rockliff and dream team at Putnam also worked out in my favor. I consider myself so very lucky to have worked on this project.

This also happens to be the very last thing I worked on before having my son last November. Truly, I turned in the the final cover art on a Monday afternoon (fully expecting to have a few days to relax) and when into labor that Monday night. It’s a weird sort of feeling looking at the art and thinking about the place I was in when I created it. I painted little dots in the crowd between mandatory afternoon naps. I scrutinized the architecture of Wimbledon Stadium between doctor’s appointments where I listened to a little heartbeat grow stronger and louder. And here I am, months later, reading Billie Jean! to a very grabby 9-month old who has neither the patience or interest in books and will likely destroyed a page or two while I attempt to read it to him. Life’s a trip, yeah?

The schedule of the freelance/picture book biz can be unpredictable at best, so I was a bit nervous going into this project that loomed so close to my due date. I absolutely could not have finished this book without the assistance of my fabulous agent, Alex and the team of Stephanie, Cecilia and Eileen at Putnam who kept my ultimate deadline in mind and worked so efficiently all along the way.

I’m not going to tell you much more about Billie Jean!…because that is what the book is for, of course. Here’s a link to purchase yours today. But since I love and appreciate everyone who’s still reading this four paragraphs in, here are some photos of my process along the way!

A Billie Jean King tennis racket I fortuitously found at a yard sale and used in many a reference shots. Process on the Billie Jean winning Wimbledon illustration.

A Billie Jean King tennis racket I fortuitously found at a yard sale and used in many a reference shots. Process on the Billie Jean winning Wimbledon illustration.

EBaddeley_BillieJean_06.jpg
Baby J at various stages of the process.

Baby J at various stages of the process.

I can play both Bobby and Billie. I am highly skilled.

I can play both Bobby and Billie. I am highly skilled.

EBaddeley_BillieJean_09.jpg
Posing for reference at various stages of pregnancy.

Posing for reference at various stages of pregnancy.

Accuracy was key, so the poses changed somewhat along the way.

Accuracy was key, so the poses changed somewhat along the way.

I will send a free book to whoever can guess what TV show I watched while painting the crowd scenes.

I will send a free book to whoever can guess what TV show I watched while painting the crowd scenes.

With my due date in mind, I wanted to make sure any changes to the art would be easy to make so I worked in layers and composited digitally in photoshop.

With my due date in mind, I wanted to make sure any changes to the art would be easy to make so I worked in layers and composited digitally in photoshop.