His forthcoming children’s book, The Little Red Racing Car, features a father-son pair who find a 1955 Maserati 300S in a barn and work together to restore the thoroughbred to its former glory. Despite that vintage theme, Knowlton is making heavy use of social media and the Internet to include the public as he gets the book ready to publish. That makes sense, considering that Knowlton is design director at the online marketing firm Bulbstorm. He told JKC that he was inspired to write the book as a way to share his love of cars with his son, who's currently a toddler. Knowlton started working on cars at fourteen but never had a chance to do a father-son project. His goal with The Little Red Racing Car, he said, was to focus on “a father-son relationship that ties in that vital element of the preposterously amazing barn find. I wanted to create something that introduces the love of vintage cars and vintage sports cars.” And love of vintage cars is certainly something that Knowlton has in spades. He chose the 300S for the car’s racing heritage (Carroll Shelby and Stirling Moss both raced the 300S), its color (he came up with the title first, then picked the car to match – “If it was going to stay red I had to make it Italian,” because vintage international racing cars were painted to display their allegiance, and red was Italy's color), and the cars he hopes to include in the story (the first piece of finished art shows the 300S pitted against a Jaguar D-type). Knowlton’s attention to detail doesn’t stop with the cars: "So many picture books leave a blank spot, and somebody shoves the type in. The type is integral." That kind of attention to detail is just what we love about this book. He is determined that The Little Red Racing Car be “fully designed.” With heavy design influence from 1930s and 1940s Monaco Grand Prix posters and a story that celebrates the underdog, the result of Knowlton’s work is absolutely charming. The Little Red Racing Car’s Facebook page has more than 1,500 Likes, and Knowlton has used the page to generate feedback for some of his designs. He has posted polls on plot points and character traits but jokes, “I don’t have to do what I’m told!” He aims to have it ready for sale by Father’s Day 2013. And he has already bought Internet domains for a second book, The Small Silver Speedster, to feature his personal dream car, the Porsche 550 Spyder.
Free Poster App!To hold you over until the book is available, Knowlton has just launched his own custom poster creator app. The app is free; the only cost is for printing by a third-party company such as Shutterfly, for an expected cost of an amazingly cheap $11 per 20x30 print. The poster will allow two lines of customizable type. He suggested “Annie’s Speed Shop” for me, and I must admit I quite like that idea. If only I had a racing-car bed to hang it above.
You can follow the book's progress on The Little Red Racing Car's website. Editor's note from Jean: I love everything about this book, especially the old racing poster inspiration for its design. I want to hold this book in my hands. And as perfect Aunt Jean, I will keep this one on my bookshelf for visiting kids.