Johnnie has taken control and dispatched the bear. What would he feel like next?
Would he find the boat, rest a minute, and then get in?
I thought about how I would feel. Maybe exhausted.
Maybe Johnnie would get very determined and find the boat. Wouldn't it be frozen to the ground? What would it be like trying to move it? Would Swift help? Could Swift help?
Finally I decided that Johnnie would be very determined and use the last of his strength to get that row boat out into the moving water. I needed to show him kicking through the ice to get the boat out there. I needed to show the flowing water.
He actually has to get into the water- but, like his dog Swift, he does what he must do. He has to get help for his father.
On this page, I thought I would show Johnnie in the boat, Swift ever vigilant. But it was too soon. Here, Johnnie passes out from his ordeal. He dreams of being tossed around on white teeth- the movement over rocks in an area of whitewater combining with his dreams. He dreams of his father. And then, as Swift's body lends warmth to his own, Johnnie begins to feel his limbs soften. Finally, the weather changes- snow to sleet to rain- telling us he is back down to the warmer areas.
Would people come running out of their cabins when they saw a boat with a dog and a sleeping boy come down stream? Yes,but not quite yet. I wanted one more close and personal scene with Johnnie and Swift- I wanted to give them their moment.
So it was not yet time to show the rescuers.
Now is when I can use the scene of the two in the boat, alone. And I changed the earlier version to come in close on them, as in the bottom sketch. Note that Swift is still very alert, despite all he's been through.
At first I wanted to end the book by showing the people rescuing Johnnie's father. But it did not feel right to cut to something that happens many hours after the immediate moment when Johnnie and Swift are safe.
I decided to stay with Johnnie and Swift, though I made it clear that Swift was going to continue on and lead the men to Johnnie's father, and the boy was staying behind. So I pushed Johnnie almost off the page- and had Swift running back into the book.
I hope you enjoy my story about Johnnie and his dog named SWIFT. And thank you for taking the time to read my notes about how I made this book.
Thanks, also, to the people who voted SWIFT to be the winner of the 2010 Children's Crown award. I am honored.