In 1988, Byron Preiss collaborated with Bank Street College to produced a children’s book series, Bank Street Ready-to-Read, to be published by Bantam Little Rooster. The series had three levels: Level 1 (Blue), Getting Ready to Read; Level 2 (Red), Reading Together; and Level 3 (Yellow), I Can Read It Myself. The Color Wizard, one of the first books in the series, was written by Barbara Brenner and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. I was responsible for the design.
I do not have the color comprehensives of the proposed cover designs. So, what I’ve done is to place two of the proposed panel designs over a printed cover. Byron showed the design to Bantam, which gave its tentative approval. A short time later, Byron informed me that Bantam rejected the design. The panel was dropped altogether.
Rejected cover design
Rejected cover design
For the revised cover design, a designer at Bantam came up with the “bullseye” flanked by “Bank Street” and “Ready-to-Read”; Byron called it “the propeller”. Each level was in a colored capsule, which he called “the hot dog”. The font was ITC Souvenir. The Color Wizard title, based on LetraSet Glastonbury, was hand-lettered, in outline, by the Dillons. The credits were set in the font ITC Korinna.
Front cover design
The first page of the book with art
picked up from the interior art.
Title page with art from the last story page
First page with text
The Dillons produced a sample spread with hand-lettered text, but the lettering was rejected. Two sample spreads were made with fonts from the ITC Benguiat Gothic and ITC Korinna families.
Photocopy of sample art with hand-lettered text
Photocopy of sample art with ITC Benguiat Gothic text
The art was ink on watercolor paper, but before the colors were added, photostats were made of the line art. Byron planned to produce a coloring book version but it never happened.
Photostat of original line art
Printed original art with ITC Korinna text
One by one, primary colors are added
Secondary and other colors appeared
Rainbow of colors
On the last page, evening at the wizard’s home,
followed by a note by the Dillons
The thirty-two page book had twenty-six pages of art. In July 1989, the book was published in paper-over-board and trade paper editions.