Book Design Tour of Natalie and the Nazi Soldiers

A walk-through of the book design process for "Natalie and the Nazi Soldiers" by Annette Gendler

Book Title: Natalie and the Nazi Soldiers

Author: Annette Gendler

Publisher: Self-Published by Annette Gendler, Nana’s Books

Trim Size: 8.5 x 11

Page Count: 36

Formats available: Paperback, Hardback

Layout Complexity: Illustrated Children’s Book

Book Description: During the Holocaust, Natalie is a hidden child in the French countryside. One day she has to prove her mettle to save herself and her sister. Based on a true story.

Illustrator: Ste Johnson

Designer's Notes

I love to work on books illustrated in a classic art style and books with a serious subject matter. While life has many beautiful and wonderful experiences to offer, it’s so important that we never forget the atrocities that have occurred against our fellow humans. It was an honor to have been chosen as the production artist and publishing consultant for Natalie and the Nazis. Since this is a book for children, Annette was careful to curate the story for their young minds. It is extremely well written, and the illustrator, Ste Johnson, lives in England (whose landscape was devastated during WWII by the Nazis), and he brought the perfect touch through his art.

Character Sketch

Since this is based on a true story, it was important to Annette that Natalie’s features be perfectly captured. The first round of sketches shows her with the short, curly hair that she had during this time, but after seeing Natalie the character, the author wanted to go with a bit longer hairstyle. You can see below that even though the hairstyle is the only feature that was changed, it made a huge difference in the feel of the character.

Interior Layout

With this story having a heavy climax, I wanted to make sure the placement of the art was telling its own story. That was accomplished by having the rising action art placed predominantly on the right page while the text was placed on the left page.

We dedicated three full-width spreads to the climax with text on both the left and right pages.

Then falling action spreads flipped places, so the art changes to the left page and the text then switches to the right page.

Pass off to the Illustrator for Storyboarding

The author and I work on which text will go on which page, and I make notes to the illustrator. Sometimes we have specific requests, and other times he is free to create as he is led. At this stage, everything is done in rough sketches. Most sketches are approved as-is, but we did submit revision requests on a few. 

Line Art

After all rough sketches have been approved, the illustrator starts work on the line art and introducing details.


After the line art has been approved, we submit any revision requests, then we sign-off on the interior’s core art.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Natalie and the Nazi Soldiers. The release date is scheduled for April 2023. Follow Annette on her Amazon Author page to get notified when the book is ready for purchase.

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Please note that In most cases, I am not available to work on projects that have already had illustrations completed. The illustrator and I work in tandem to create a beautiful book, and if the illustrator did not follow professional processes (as can often be the case when the author hires them on their own), it adds a layer (or two!) of difficulty to the project. You are still welcome to schedule a fit call and I can assess what I’ve got to work with.

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