Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

On “Double Treasures” with René Colato Laínez

h1 Thursday, August 4th, 2016

The beauty of multicultural books is that they open new doors and windows for readers who are outside the culture. They can live, explore, and enjoy other cultures as they read amazing stories. For the majority of children and adults who were born in the United States, an ‘alien’ is indeed someone from outer space, and they do not associate it with immigrants or immigrant status. For me, as a writer of multicultural children’s literature, it is always important to write authentic stories where my readers can learn and discover the immigrant experience and the experience of living in two cultures.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus, I talk to author and teacher René Colato Laínez, pictured here, about his newest picture book, Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre, published by Lee & Low last month.

That chat is here.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Mr. Laínez used by permission of Lee & Low Books.

 

My Q&A with Jonathan Auxier

h1 Thursday, July 21st, 2016

‘What is the point of a storybook?’ is actually a really difficult question to answer because, at the end of the day, stories are largely frivolous: They don’t fill an empty belly or suture a wound or shelter the lost. And yet every reader knows that something almost mystical transpires when the right reader finds the right story. I was trying to articulate the meaning of that transaction. Ultimately, I found the easiest way to answer the question was to invert it and ask ‘What happens if we lose our storybooks?’ And that question became the foundation of the entire novel.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to novelist Jonathan Auxier, pictured here, about his newest book, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard (Abrams/Amulet, April 2016).

That is here this morning.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Jonathan used by his permission.

 

On Falling with Elisha Cooper

h1 Tuesday, July 19th, 2016


(Click to enlarge)


 
Author-illustrator Elisha Cooper and I started chatting about his new memoir, Falling, back in May when he was at the Sendak farm as a 2016 Sendak Fellow (hence the mug above), and I’m just now posting our conversation. (The Danielsons are moving to a new home this summer, so I take all the blame for the slow pace of this chat, though since I always enjoy talking with him, let’s just say I did it on purpose.)

Falling (published by Pantheon in June) is sub-titled A Daughter, a Father, and a Journey Back, and it tells the story of discovering a lump under his five-year-old daughter’s ribs and her subsequent diagnosis of cancer. With tenderness, wit, and precision, he writes about the changes in life brought about by the pediatric cancer, outlining his daughter’s treatment and even post-treatment, and the hopelessness he felt as a parent. But, as you can see in our chat below, the book is also infused with a spirit of hope (and, fortunately, his daughter is also now cancer-free). As the Publishers Weekly review notes, it’s a memoir that is poignant but never melodramatic.

Let’s get to it. Finally. I thank Elisha for taking the time to chat. (Bonus: There’s some art below.)

Read the rest of this entry �

The End Game with Isabel Roxas

h1 Tuesday, July 12th, 2016


(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above is, according to illustrator Isabel Roxas, one of many cover designs from Minh Lê’s debut picture book, Let Me Finish!, released by Disney/Hyperion last month. This is the story of a young boy trying to read, trying to reach the end of a book and experience the surprises in store, yet all around are his animal friends, revealing spoilers at every turn. At each spoiler, the boy picks up a new book, only to have its ending revealed as well. Lê paces the story well, building tension as the story progresses (and as the boy attempts to steal away and find a successful, interruption-free reading spot), giving readers a mammoth-sized surprise of his own at the end. (But I won’t ruin it for you.)

Roxas has illustrated many books in the Philippines but currently lives in the U.S. and is here to talk about creating the illustrations for this one. I thank her for sharing. Let’s get to it.

Read the rest of this entry �

My Kirkus Q&A with Jeannie Baker

h1 Thursday, July 7th, 2016

I was lucky enough to have Raymond Briggs as one of my tutors at Art College. I think he has inspired me more than anyone. As a tutor, he was always very positive and encouraging. Initially, I had a very small and clichéd idea of what a children’s picture book should be. Raymond’s work made me realize the potential of a picture book — that its boundaries and possibilities are wide and exciting and, mostly, that I’m only limited by my imagination.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to Australian author-illustrator Jeannie Baker, pictured here, about her newest picture book, Circle (Candlewick, May 2016).

That is here this morning. Next week at 7-Imp, I’ll follow up with some art from the book.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Jeannie used by permission of Candlewick Press.

 

Seven Questions Over Lunch with Evan Turk

h1 Tuesday, July 5th, 2016


“Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the fertile Kingdom of Morocco formed near the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, delicious water to quench the dangerous thirst of the desert,
and storytellers to bring the people together.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 
This is supposed to be Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Evan Turk but it’s lunch instead, since I’m slow in getting started today. That’s okay, because Evan says he’s not a breakfast-eater anyway. He is, however, a fan of coffee, which we can have any time of day. Of course.

Evan has illustrated what I think is one of the year’s most beautiful picture books, The Storyteller (Atheneum, June 2016), which is the first book he’s both written and illustrated. (The book’s opening spread is pictured above.) It’s a story within a story within a story, and it’s a visual tour de force. In August, we’ll see his illustrations for the follow-up to Bethany Hegedus’ and Arun Gandhi’s Grandfather Gandhi, which was released in 2014 and was the book that first introduced readers to his artwork. In Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, Bethany and Arun examine how wastefulness can lead to violence.

Evan is here today to share lots of art from each book, as well as preliminary images of all sorts (boy howdy, does this guy do his research — and what beautiful research it is), and he talks a bit about what’s next for him. I thank him for visiting and, especially, for sharing so much art.

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jennifer K. Mann

h1 Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

When I read Two Speckled Eggs in 2014, Jennifer K. Mann’s debut as both author and illustrator, I knew I’d found an author-illustrator whose books I’d want to keep an eye on. This book (and Jennifer’s next two books) was right in touch, and authentically so, with the topsy-turvy, always intense feelings of young children. In Two Speckled Eggs, Mann addresses the drama that can be a young girl’s birthday party — issues of inclusion, individuality, and (as the Publisher Weekly review notes) “geek pride.” And in last year’s I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard, she sensitively addresses teacher-student dynamics and the vulnerabilities of children in the care of adults in a classroom. This year’s Sam and Jump, released in May, is a tender story of loyalties forged and friendship found.

I invited Jennifer over for a cyber-breakfast to hear more about her work and see a bit more art. Her favorite breakfast is toast, spread with a little chipotle puree, mashed avocado, a fried egg, and a little sea salt. (This sounds so good to me that right about now I am wishing this were a real breakfast.)

Let’s get the basics from her while I set the table for breakfast. I thank her for visiting.

Read the rest of this entry �

My Kirkus Q&A with Daniel Bernstrom

h1 Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

I wanted language to move and breathe on the page — to live. And maybe, as a visually-impaired child and adult, I learned how beautiful sound can be. I saw what I could do with words and punctuation. I so desperately wanted to share how words could live and breathe and sing for others, sighted and sightless alike, just as they did for me.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author Daniel Bernstrom, pictured here, about his debut picture book One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2016), illustrated by Brendan Wenzel.

That is here this morning. Next week at 7-Imp, I’ll follow up with some art from the book.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Daniel used by permission of HarperCollins.

 

Mischief with Marciano

h1 Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Over pie and coffee, I pitched Sophie a couple ideas. One was nothing more than a setting—a small city in southern Italy I had visited a dozen years earlier. The thing about Benevento is that it was totally infested with witches of all kinds, and for generations kids had to learn strategies on how to avoid them just to get through their day.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator John Bemelmans Marciano, pictured here, about The Witches of Benevento, his new chapter book series illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

That is here this morning. Next week at 7-Imp, I’ll follow up with some art from the series.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of John used by his permission.

 

My Q&A with Faith Ringgold

h1 Thursday, May 26th, 2016

I do love the creativity and energy of children. My foundation, the Anyone Can Fly Foundation, is devoted to teaching children about the African American artists that have been left out of the historical canon.”

* * *

Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Faith Ringgold, pictured here. Tar Beach, her first picture book and a Caldecott Honor book, is 25 years old this year. At Kirkus, we talk about that and her new book, We Came to America.

That is here this morning.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Faith Ringgold taken by Grace Matthews and used by permission of Knopf.