I had a bit of a hangup about drawing kids for years. And yeah, they come up a lot in kids' books. To keep a character looking very young, though, you can't add a lot of details or lines to their faces. As a result, drawings of kids (my own included) often get reduced to circles and dots and smiles and rosy cheeks and big heads and tiny feet. On the flip side, in books where the drawings are overly reliant on photo references, the kids are often overly rendered and a bit creepy. But real kids are dripping with personality and so are their faces and bodies, and are only rarely creepy.
I created the above image as part of a pre conference "homework" assignment for a masterclass at the SCBWI conference in NYC. And dang it, just as in most other drawing challenges, when I forget to think and just draw, the resulting images have so much more life. Having kids of my own has made drawing kids far more natural than it was before. I know what their bodies look like when they sit and lounge and run and play and dance and eat and flail around. I love a huge range of children's book illustrations, some of which are very graphic and stylized. But in my own work, I look for that sweet spot where my characters are quirky and whimsical but natural enough to have full personalities in their faces and bodies. Forever a work in progress. This one seems like a step forward.