I SAVED these kids from a JAM of MONSTER PROPORTIONS!!!

The MONSTER JAM — arena Extravaganzas featuring daredevil Competitions of Humongous Monster Trucks — and kids were struggling. 

Yes… a MONSTER JAM — arena extravaganzas featuring daredevil competitions of humongous Monster trucks — and kids were struggling. 

Each year, countless bewildered children are exposed to these spectacles by well-meaning parents without sufficient guidance and support to nurture their budding fandom. Kids left the stadium with no comprehensive, licensed guide on the market to help them savor the thunderous, gravity-defying marvels they had just witnessed. 

Scholastic saw the urgent need and appealed to Carling Design to help correct this deficit in the universe. Our offering: Monster Jam Official Guidebook.

It’s a 128-page, kid-friendly canon of all things Monster Jam.  Here’s a peek.

While I’d be delighted to design your next kids’ nonfiction book that will save the world, I’m also open to more modest assignments on books that merely aspire to compelling elucidation, sheer delight, and market dominance. If that’s all you’ve got, let’s talk anyway.

Buy it, Collect it, Trade it? Uh, not quite.

“Oh, jumbo sports cards!” 

That was my response as I listened to the pitch for a kids’ book featuring profiles of current NFL stars — stats and story on the left-hand page facing a big action photo on the right.  

I knew the medium, having designed baseball cards for Topps back in the day. But this was different — card fronts and backs don’t have to relate closely; book spreads do. Dismissing static borders to unite the pages, I went for a more dynamic, integrated look that offered lots of visual variety.

The result: the 48-page, 8.5´´ x 11´´  Football Superstars 2017 for Scholastic.

Put me in, Coach! If you need a little more spark on your team. I’ve got energy, experience, and a good head for the game. And I won’t break your salary cap.

They Lied. The True Story.

I thought I might share a recent project: some quick comps I produced recently with a book packaging partner for a proposal. A glimmer of our prodigious collaboration follows: 

Book Packager: The concept: They Lied! The Truth About Famous Liars — a middle-grade book profiling 30 liars, their scams, and why they got caught. 

Tom Carling: Got it. A quick thought for the cover: Polygraph "typography" spelling out the title? 

BP: Ooh, yeah.

BP: Hmmmm, not sure we nailed it. Too esoteric. It's got to hit in the gut.

TC:  If you want gut-punching, let's try the cover as a tabloid front page.

BP: OK, something memorable for a photo. Someone covering his face in shame. 

TC: I'm thinking no pic, BIG TYPE!

BP:  If you can do it with all text, great. I'm all eyes. 

BP: Nice going! Now for the interior.  

TC: Let’s stick with newspaper concept for the spreads, yes? 

BP: Absolutely. I think one straight-up and one hardcore tabloid.

BP:  Good stuff! I like them. That’s a wrap! Fingers crossed.

Despite VERY enthusiastic initial receptions, the proposal was ultimately orphaned in a publisher’s reorganization. But hey, if this might be a good fit for your house, we’re all ears — we’d love to make this book with you. And that’s the truth.

Art and Science Blend Beautifully to Inspire and Inform Young Readers

Jenni Desmond’s second narrative nonfiction effort is a lyrical and richly illustrated introduction to the life and science of polar bears. For me, her spare illustration style, influenced by Japanese woodblock, is a perfect compliment to the subject and setting. In blending fantasy with reality, the book succeeds in enchanting and informing in equal measure — just the right balance for nonfiction aimed at this age group, 4- to 8-year-olds.

“I aim to make my work entertaining, beautiful and funny. I love hidden depth both visually and narratively. I believe that picture books are important for nurturing young imaginations.  I don’t think picture books should be limited to children though, and I hope mine will also appeal to older people with youthful minds.” —Jenni Desmond


Hardcover: 48 pages • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books (November 15, 2016) 
Art © Jenni Desmond