All about Jim Harris Children’s Books .  Jim’s biography, tips for art students, advice and techniques for illustrating fairy tales. Jim Harris Children’s Books Home Page Tips and Techniques for Art Students Frequently (and Infrequently) Asked Questions about becoming a children’s picture book illustrator.  Facts and trivia about a job as an illustrator -- from best-selling fairytale artist, Jim Harris Email Jim Harris.  Link to Jim Harris Fantasy Art, Caricatures, Portraits and Sporting Art.  Jim Harris – The Story of a Children’s Book Illustrator.  Learn how Jim became a fairy tale artist. Creative Writing Tips from Author and Illustrator, Jim Harris Day to Day Life as a Children’s Book Illustrator.  Information for students learning about the day to day life of a picture-book illustrator. Illustrating a Picture Book, Start to Finish.  The step by step process of illustrating a children’s book. Activities for Kids.  Classroom reading, writing and math worksheets, and sketches to color from Jim Harris fairy tales.

Jim Harris shares illustration techniques from The Three Little Cajun Pigs fairytale.  Learn how to create a picture book using visual rhythm and diagonal lines.

Three Little Cajun Pigs


Illustration tips by artist Jim Harris from the book  The Treasure Hunter.  Jim gives pointers for art students about using overlapping to make paintings and drawings look realistic.

The Treasure Hunter


So, if I become a children’s book illustrator… what kind of people will I be working with?  Read Jim’s answer to this important question in his discussion of the humorous picture book, The Bible ABC.

Bible ABC


Jim Harris talks about using parody in children’s books, based on the Southwestern title, Slim and Miss Prim.  Tips for creative students about illustrators’ spelling woes, too!

Slim and Miss Prim


Jim Harris tells about starting out in a career as an illustrator.  Funny stories about life on the farm.

Towns Down Underground


Jim Harris gives painting tips from Three Little Dinosaurs.  Information for art students -- about how to use acrylic and oil paints and about cleaning your paintbrushes!

Three Little Dinosaurs


Go on location with Jim Harris and see how to develop a central character for the Cajun fairy tale Petite Rouge.

Petite Rouge


Jim explains more about the job of illustrating a picture book.  Information about creating art for a novelty book from the best-selling children’s picture book, Ten Little Dinosaurs.

Ten Little Dinosaurs


Jim Harris gives pointers on painting vibrantly colored children’s illustrations in a little talk about the use of saturated and unsaturated colors in the Southwestern fractured fairy tale Tortoise and the Jackrabbit.

Tortoise and the Jackrabbit


Illustration techniques for students from The Trouble with Cauliflower.  Tips for young artists about how to use texture in illustrations for children’s book paintings.

The Trouble with Cauliflower


Jim Harris gives tips for young artists from Jack and the Giant. Funny insights about the process of writing and illustrating a fairy tale for children.

Jack and the Giant


Dinosaur's Night Before Christmas, a holiday story as told by Jim Harris - the perfect Christmas gift for dinosaur lovers

Dinosaur's Night Before


Meet the cute puppy characters that fill another Jim Harris’ wiggly-eyeball book.  Ten Little Puppies who can’t seem to stay out of trouble!  New 2009!

Ten Little Puppies

Jim Harris Talks About Illustrating...

The Three Little Javelinas.  The much-loved Southwestern fairy tale starring the three little javelinas and the big bad coyote.  Illustrated by Jim Harris.

The Three Little Javelinas


One day I was reading an Arizona newspaper and I saw this very nice comment from Matthew, at Pomerene Elementary School in Arizona, about The Three Little Javelinas

                  “My favorite book is “The Three Little Javelinas” because it has funny pictures and no one gets eaten.”

Well, that’s how I feel about The Three Little Javelinas, too!

But there is another reason I like this book:  It’s given me lots of chances to visit schools and meet teachers and kids who have amazing art of their own.  One thing we talk about on school visits is references and models.  Because it’s hard to make up realistic-looking characters out of thin air, many artists (including me) take photographs of their friends and family to use as references while they paint.  Other times I just remember somebody from my past (or present) and start doodling with that image floating around in my brain. 

Of course, that brings up the question… ‘Who are those three little javelina characters, really?’

Well, now, let me think…

‘The First Javelina’  That isn’t really a house of straw, you know.  Way out in the desert they use tumbleweeds in their fairy tales, instead.

I’m not sure exactly who the first little javelina is.  I think he’s somebody I knew in grade school.  Very friendly…  but clueless about coyotes!


‘The Second Javelina’ on his way to build a house of saguaro ribs, instead of the traditional fairytale house of sticks.

The second little javelina --  the tall, confused-looking one --  is me.  I just got out a mirror and painted what I saw.  If I come to your school, you will see what I mean. 

‘The Third Javelina’ trekking through the desert… looking for some adobes to build herself a house.  Fairytale Art by Jim Harris.

And the heroine…  snazzy little miss #3 javelina herself…  is taken after one of my favorite old-time celebrities, Dale Evans.  It wasn’t easy to take a javelina’s natural proportions and turn them into a character as classy as Dale Evans…  but I did my best.

Another question kids ask is… How long does it take to paint the pictures for a book?  I never know what to say… because it’s always different.  But one thing’s always the same:  All the illustrations start out with a rough sketch.  Take a look at these sketches I found in my files:

An early javelina character sketch by artist Jim Harris for the Southwestern children’s classic, The Three Little Javelinas.  Another, skinnier, javelina sketch for The Three Little Javelinas fairytale.  Jim says he comes up with dozens of these before settling on a few favorite characters for a new picture book.

Pretty rough, aren’t they.   The art director for The Three Little Javelinas had to be a trusting soul to believe that these would turn into a nice book... but fortunately he took that leap of faith!

A Little Joke

Sometimes I like to play little jokes on my readers.  Often the joke is a hidden message that you can only understand if you know an important clue. 
One of my favorite jokes is to put a famous painting on the wall in one of my characters’ houses.  The joke is that the painting is changed to be a parody.  (A parody is a funny version of a serious piece of art.)  You won’t know my parody is a joke... unless you’ve seen  the famous painting. 

In The Three Little Javelinas the joke is a parody of a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci.  He’s one of my favorite artists... and if you know his most famous painting, you’ll get the humor in this scene from inside the third little javelina’s house.  It’s a private joke between you and me:  “We both know this little bit of art history... YEAH!!!”

‘Mona Lisa Wall Art’  Meet three little javelinas with awesome taste in wall art.  A private joke between artist Jim Harris and his fairytale readers.

Another Joke

Another joke I like to share with readers is the Harris mouse.  We live on an old farm, and there are a LOT of Harris mice, let me tell you.  I am constantly leaving little hints for them that they should stay OUTSIDE, but mice aren’t good at taking hints.   So I have taken to putting  some of my mouse friends in my books.  Sometimes I have them doing things that I would like to do if I were in the painting.  (In one book a Harris mouse flushed the toilet while a plumber was trying to fix it.  Very naughty!)  Other times, the Harris mice just peek out from unusual places... as they do at my studio!

At first I didn’t know the Harris mice would be so popular, but it’s gotten to the point that when editors send back their comments on my rough sketches,  they very often say “Please put a mouse on EVERY page!”   (Which I am very happy to do!)
One of the very first times I ever put a Harris mouse in a book was in this painting from The Three Little Javelinas.  See how cheeky he is!

‘Welcome Home!’ painting by artist Jim Harris.  From the PBS Reading Rainbow fairy tale, The Three Little Javelinas.

Well, I hope you enjoy the three little javelinas (and their house mouse) as much as I enjoyed painting them.   Happy reading!


Buy the book The Three Little Javelinas at Amazon.Buy an original illustration from The Three Little Javelinas fairy tale book.

Link to Jim Harris Children’s Books Home PageEmail the page ‘The Three Little Javelinas: A Southwestern Fairy Tale’ to a friend.

Images and Text © 2009 Jim Harris. All Rights Reserved