by Sarah Kurpiel

Thank you, Tara, for hosting the cover reveal for my debut picture book, LONE WOLF (Greenwillow/HarperCollins), which I both wrote and illustrated.

Maple the husky loves being the Parker family’s dog, but strangers always seem to think she’s a wolf! It’s true: Maple can hunt, she can howl, and she can dig, just like wolves can. Oh, no! What if she is a wolf and doesn’t belong with her family after all?

LONE WOLF hits the shelves in May 2020.

Without further ado, here is the cover:

The main character in LONE WOLF, Maple, is inspired by my childhood dog, a Siberian husky with loads of personality. Like Maple, my husky was playful and goofy and stubborn in all the best ways. She liked to hunker down on the couch, pull us on long walks, and chew up action figures and video game controllers. I kid you not, she once stole an unlit candle by the wick from a spindly glass candleholder without knocking it over. She had skills!

I also remember how people often compared her to a wolf. This last memory got me thinking. I imagined my husky wondering if maybe, just maybe, she was a wolf. And that’s where the story got its start. I think a lot of kids (and people of all ages, really) can relate to the way Maple feels when she starts questioning her identity. I know I can. This story is about family, self-acceptance, and belonging—plus, it’s pretty funny!

As for the cover, I knew what I wanted to do with it from fairly early on. Colors and details changed with the help of my editor and art director, but the concept remained the same: Maple peeking out, staring squarely at the reader, a look of confusion, surprise, or worry in her eyes. Here are two early sketches:

Elements on the final cover design, like the dotted line and hand lettered text, appear throughout the book. I can picture young readers tracing the dotted lines with their fingers as the lines meander and loop across the page. I initially hand lettered the title simply so I could visualize the cover as a whole for myself. It wasn’t until later in the process that I learned that my editor and art director were going to use it (at which point I cleaned it up a bit). I’d love to do more hand letting in the future.

And first and foremost on the cover is, of course, Maple herself. I never get tired of drawing stylized huskies, which is fortunate since I had to draw Maple so very many times. If you scroll back in my Instagram feed, you’ll see a few of my earliest husky doodles. Drawing dogs in general is such a pleasure for me. (If you need further evidence, be sure to check out the endpapers when the book comes out.)

I’m happy with how everything came together in the end, which is in large part thanks to my editor, Martha Mihalick; art director, Sylvie Le Floc’h; and agents, Rebecca Sherman and Allie Levick. As a publishing newbie, I learned a lot over these past few months. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed making it.

LONE WOLF will be published by Greenwillow/HarperCollins in May 2020. It’s currently available for pre-order.

Thanks, Sarah! Love your style!

Sarah is giving away a signed copy of LONE WOLF to be sent your way when it releases in May 2020.

Leave one comment below to be entered into the random drawing. A winner will be selected on January 1, 2020.

Good luck!

Sarah Kurpiel is a librarian and author/illustrator from the Midwest. Her stories are inspired by animals, nature, and everyday life. Sarah has been doodling in the margins of notebooks for as long as she can remember. She started drawing digitally in 2016 and never stopped. Sarah uses a power wheelchair and considers her disability an important part of her identity. LONE WOLF is her first book. Visit her at and follow her on Instagram @sarah.kurpiel.