Until we upgrade to actual scheduling software (soon!), KWiL’s “Master Production Schedule” is a spreadsheet with different color-filled cells blocked out to show how long a project will be in each phase: editorial, character study, mapping, sketching, color, proofing, printing, distribution, launch, etc. The columns are labeled by years and months, and stretching down the rows are the titles of our books, also color-coded.  If we have signed both an author and an illustrator for a project (or if we are working with an author/illustrator and she/he has signed), then the title cell is green. If we think we will likely get a deal but have not yet signed, we enter the title on the spreadsheet but fill its cell red. If we have signed an author, but not yet an illustrator, the title cell is (you guessed it) yellow.

For as long as there is a yellow title on the spreadsheet, the priority is turning it green.

For almost a month after signing with Janet Halfmann, the production schedule greeted me each day with a bright yellow warning: You have still not signed an illustrator for Caterpillar’s Surprise.

We knew what we wanted: detailed botanical work, vibrant colors, a touch of whimsy. Janet’s story is set deep in the forest and follows not just caterpillar’s, but also tadpole’s, complete metamorphosis. It closes with a magnificent woodland masquerade ball. The manuscript’s words had already painted a vivid picture in my head, and I knew there had to be an illustrator out there who’d see the same thing and more.

With my mind set so narrowly on what I wanted for this book, the search for an illustrator became even harder. It had now been five weeks since signing Janet, and Caterpillar’s cell was still yellow.

My thoughts wandered. We were heading to Duluth the next weekend for my niece’s birthday, and I still needed to make part of her present…a fleece knot blanket.

“Hmmmm…,” I thought, now drifting back to work. “Duluth…Duluth…the north shore…art…nature…illustrators?”

Now in a rush, I clicked on Safari, and, I kid you not, typed in “Illustrators in Duluth.”

Listed second on my results page was “Emily Krueger illustration.” I clicked on the link





No way.

No way.


“But YES! That’s it! That. Is. It. The turtle, the mushroom, the birchbark, the pine needles…the CATERPILLAR!” It was as if I was already looking at a page of Caterpillar’s Surprise.

I e-mailed Emily; we met for coffee; we e-mailed some more, and I am thrilled today to announce that Caterpillar’s cell on the spreadsheet has officially changed from yellow…to GREEN. KWiL has signed with Emily Krueger to illustrate Janet Halfmann’s fall 2019 release, Caterpillar’s Surprise.


Emily is a self-described graphic designer by trade and illustrator by heart. She studied design and fine arts at Bemidji State University. Her illustrations start with a hand-rendered pencil drawing that is soft, detailed, and realistic. Then, she brings the drawing onto the computer where she adds color digitally. Occasionally she adds painted backgrounds or elements. Emily illustrated the children’s book Goodnight Server Room, by T.D. Smith (2017). She also created the 2017 Quilt Minnesota Fabric Design, of which roughly 68,000 yards were sold throughout Minnesota during the 2017 Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop. She has been the recipient of multiple scholarships and has had her art published in multiple magazines.

Like Caterpillar, Emily lives in the woods with her husband and their “Little Oak,” Otto. They love family hikes, animals, and visiting the state park just a mile from their home. Emily grew up in the countryside in an animal-loving family and draws much of the inspiration for her art from her experiences in nature then and now.

We have Emily’s permission to share a few samples of her incredible work (below), and please check back often for updates on her illustrations for Caterpillar’s Surprise.

You can learn even more about Emily by visiting her website.

copyright Emily Krueger 




copyright Emily Krueger 



copyright Emily Krueger