THUNDER TRUCKS by Cheryl Klein and Katy Beebe + GIVEAWAY!

Hello! I hope everyone enjoyed their summer. This week I’m excited to share one of my own books that was released just a few days ago! THUNDER TRUCKS, by Cheryl Klein and Katy Beebe, was a joy to illustrate, and I want to share a little bit of that experience with you today.

When I first received the manuscript, a story with about vehicular characters and environment, I wondered if there had been a mistake in asking me to illustrate this story. I’ve not exactly done a lot of books about vehicles and environments so far, but digging into the MS inspired a lot of ideas very quickly – which is always a good thing for me. I couldn’t wait to get started.

Cheryl and Katy have such a charming story here, and not only that, it’s in verse, and not only that, THERE’S A CHORUS! I’m pretty sure I had the THUNDER TRUCKS LOUD, THUNDER TRUCKS STRONG, THUNDER TRUCKS GOING through my head most of the time that I was drawing! Seriously, I’m not joking.

The first thing I had to do was get a feel for the characters/trucks, in the story. So I started sketching right away. It’s extremely hard not to be influenced by Disney’s Cars characters, but I was determined to make them my own.

Once I got a few character styles I liked for the trucks, I did up a rough color sample of one of the spreads, and sent it off to my editors at Hyperion. They came back with some great feedback on both the characters and the color mockup and I was off to the races with the rough sketches for the book.

It’s here I have to commend my wonderful editors (Heather Crowley and Rotem Moscovich), for their vision and faith in what we as illustrators (and especially in my case) do. My roughs tend to take the word literally, but they were able to decipher and decode my sketches and together with me, figure out the vision for this book. Sharing my rough work can be embarrassing when I see the level some other illustrators take their rough work to, but it’s okay. I really like to work loosely which helps with my next step when, after my roughs are approved, I can take them to final. I couldn’t be happier with how the finals turned out.

Cheryl and Katy have created an incredibly unique book here, as it’s not just about growing a child’s imagination or calming their fears, but there’s real heart in it as well. There’s even an educational page in the back about storms! I image many children will be chanting along in the chorus with the reader long before the book is done the first time!

I don’t want to spoil it too much, but here’s a glimpse of the first few spreads:

I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did illustrating it.

Special Bonus: Here’s a partial sneak peek under the jacket flap 😉

Special BONUS #2
*** GIVEAWAY ***
I’ll be randomly drawing a winner out of the commenters to receive a signed copy of THUNDER TRUCKS and I’ll announce the winner on my next month’s post! Good luck and see you next month!

Mike Boldt

Mike Boldt is an author and illustrator from Alberta, Canada. With more than 18 books in the wild, he's authored titles such as A TIGER TAIL and ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT FLUFFY (Simon and Schuster). He's also the illustrator of Dev Petty's I DON'T WANT TO BE A FROG & I DON'T WANT TO BE BIG & THERE'S NOTHING TO DO (Doubleday). You can learn more about Mike at


  1. Thanks for this interesting insight into your process. I like how you incorporated imagination into the illustrations. And I absolutely love the jacket flap art too!

  2. Congratulations Cheryl This is an adorable book! Love the creativity of trucks used to make the storm and the facts afterwards

  3. Oh my four year old grandson in Alaska will love this book! If I win it for him, great, if not I certainly will be purchasing it for him! Dump truck and excavator were two of his favorite things to watch when we would walk to see new home being built in his neighborhood. He will love the rhymes and the illustrations are perfect! Thanks for bringing this book to my attention!

  4. What fun! Looking forward to reading this!

  5. Oh, I need this book for my storm and truck loving toddler! Thanks for sharing a sneak peek at your process into making this charming book. Loved the post, Mike!

  6. I LOVE seeing process posts and this one especially because I also work very rough initially. It is good to know that other illustrators struggle with with being too literal. Also, I would imagine that breaking into a space where Disney has made such an iconic mark would be very intimidating and you definitely created your own space!
    Thanks for sharing your work space!

  7. Sheri Delgado-Preston

    The movement of the verse and illustrations is a feast for the eyes and ears! Great job!

  8. Sue Lowell Gallion

    Really interesting post and I’m eager to see this book! What a terrific combination of ideas, this is good inspiration for brainstorming. And your illustrations of the trucks in the night sky are wonderful!

  9. My nephew loves trucks and likes to watch them rumble past his house. I can picture him watching thunder clouds imagining the thunder trucks. I can’t wait to share this book with him!

  10. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    Oooh, looks like a fun book! Can’t wait to find a copy!

  11. What a neat concept! I love the small details of the warm streetlights.

  12. I love the idea of the trucks being a part of the a thunder storm. We have had some big ones lately! Adorable! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Those illustrations are amazing!

  14. This book is thunderously good! Bravo and congrats!!

  15. Sending out THUNDEROUS applause! Wishing you all the best of luck. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Love the expressions and personality in each and every truck!

  17. Look at those illustrations! I’m sure the kiddos are going to love this one.

  18. What a unique concept- and you got to bring it to life with your wonderful artwork! I will be looking for this one.

  19. I love trucks! What a great idea for a book and the illustrations are delightful!

  20. Congrats, Cheryl and Katy! This looks adorable.

  21. Can’t wait to get these for the grandkids for Christmas!

  22. This is SO cute! Can’t wait to read the whole thing!

  23. Thank you for a behind the scenes look! Love the imaginative concept behind this book.

  24. This book is fun and so creative! We are about to get a thunderstorm here right now (I can hear the thunder trucks already), so this post has changed my imagination about storms already. Can’t wait to read this myself.

  25. Oh, Mike! What a delightfully original take on trucks! Thank you so much for sharing and many congratulations for your incredible illustrations. This one is keeper!

  26. What an interesting and fun post! Thanks so much. I can’t wait to read this book. It’s sure to be a hit around here.

  27. Such a fun concept and a beautiful looking book! I love the picture of the little boy sitting on his knees looking out the window!

  28. Such a clever and beautiful book! Congratulations to this amazing team.

  29. Who doesn’t love noisy trucks! What a fun readaloud this will be.

  30. This looks really fun, and it’s always fascinating to see the art evolve. Congratulations, Mike!

  31. Omg these illustrations are so stunning. Thank you for sharing your process with us. I look forward to sharing this in my classroom with all my truck enthusiasts.

  32. The vivid colors in this book are really beautiful. I’m sure this one will be a real hit!

  33. Great teasers. Your sharing your process really brings home the saying, give the illustrators something to work with. Thank you

  34. What a clever and unique concept! Loved seeing a sneak peek of some of the illustrations. Looking forward to reading the whole thing!

  35. Wow! What an unusual combination but one that you brought to life!!! Congratulations!!! It looks wonderful!!!

  36. I love your trucks’ eyes – so expressive!! Can’t wait to get a copy of this fun book!

  37. This looks great. Trucks in the clouds. What a fun, unexpected combo.

  38. Thunder Trucks looks amazing!

  39. What an imaginative blending of trucks and storms! Thanks for sharing your process, Mike.

  40. I love, love, love these insights into an illustrator’s process, Mike! And the book looks SO CUTE.

  41. This is such a unique concept. I love that it has a refrain, too. The trucks make me smile—I like the way you have their eyes in the windshield.

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