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1:06 AM Wed, Oct. 17th

Author-illustrator strives to inspire

Local author/illustrator Diane Iverson describes how she researches and draws the illustrations she provides for the children¹s nature/educational books that contract her services.

Courier/Les Stukenberg

Local author/illustrator Diane Iverson describes how she researches and draws the illustrations she provides for the children¹s nature/educational books that contract her services. Courier/Les Stukenberg

PRESCOTT ­ Diane Iverson's job entails hiking, backpacking, camping, drawing and writing.

The author and illustrator of children's environmental books must research because conveying accurate information is a key aspect of her work.

"Doug and I have always gone camping, hiking and backpacking," she said of herself and her husband. "This (work) is just an extension of thatŠ You just see more when you set your mind to the research of it. You see things you wouldn't see otherwise, like insects and other weird things that are beautiful in their way."

In the sun-filled studio in her Prescott-area home, Iverson recently shared some of her rough pencil sketches, in-progress colored-pencil drawings and finished books.

A Ponderosa pinecone ­ which squirrels had apparently chewed neatly to its core ­ sat on her desk near a drawing she was working to complete.

The same drawing, of a hawk capturing a member of a squirrel family, included detailed, realistic hawk features, right down to the shape, color and texture of the tail feathers.

That illustration will appear in a book Iverson currently is working on for the Grand Canyon Association, "Rascal: Tassel-eared Squirrel of Grand Canyon National Park (working title)," set to release next March.

She's written and/or illustrated about a dozen other books, mostly for children. All of the books focus on nature and the environment.

"Accuracy is really important," Iverson said during a recent interview in her home. "Kids' books shouldn't be done less accurately just because they're little and they can't discern what's true."

In fact, she said, accuracy is more important in children's books because they should be learning things correctly.

"Books are really important at this level," she said.

Iverson worked as the director of Open Door, a service agency, for the first five years of its existence. She said the work she did there ­ helping people find resources to get out of poverty ­ ties in with the work she's doing now.

"If kids love books, and they feel like school is fun and learning is fun, it breaks the cycle of poverty," she said.

Emphasizing the importance of children learning accurate information, she said she loves to head out into the forest to collect information, whether it's through her husband Doug Iverson's photographs or through her own drawings or collections. Also, she researches online and at the library quite a bit.

When she's going to illustrate a book someone else writes the text for, the publisher sends Iverson a manuscript, which she breaks down into sections to go with illustrations.

She sends rough pencil sketches to the publisher, who sends back recommendations for changes or the go-ahead for final illustrations.

Iverson said her favorite book is "Discover the Seasons," which she wrote and illustrated.

It includes poetry and scientific text in a graduated format. The larger text, the poetry, is designed for children of all ages, especially younger readers. The smaller text, the scientific writing, is designed for older readers.

"This book was a lot of fun," she said of the work that highlights each of the four seasons and their changes. "It required hiking and backpacking."

Since 1989 Iverson has written and/or illustrated 12 books, several of which have earned awards. She has completed numerous drawings for magazines. Also, she is on Open Door's speaker's bureau, helped establish Fair Start and she volunteers for Circles of Support.

For more information people may visit www.dianeiverson.com.

Contact the reporter at hdartt@prescottaz.com