A Visit with Debut Author/Illustrator Johanna Wright

h1 June 24th, 2009 by jules

I’m in one of my let’s-shine-the-spotlight-on-a-new-author/illustrator moods today, so I invited newcomer Johanna Wright over. I’m taken with her debut picture book, The Secret Circus (Roaring Brook Press, March 2009). You know how when you were a kid and the notion of miniature, underground, secret worlds was just about the coolest thing ever? Yes? Or was it just me?

Well, The Secret Circus is all about a world so shh-shh-secret that only the mice can find it. And it’s in sparkly Paris, no less, so it’s even better. A tiny circus. With tiny acrobats. Mice acrobats. Who tame big ol’ cats. In fact, that’s the spread opening this post, “the scariest page in The Secret Circus,” Johanna told me. “The mouse audience looks quite worried.”

Here they are eating their giant popcorn, which Johanna says she’d also like to do:

This is a great bed-time choice, as lots of reviewers have already enthusiastically pointed out (“a quiet, comforting debut, best shared snuggled close together,” wrote Kirkus — or, as the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books pointed out, it’s also a good classroom read-aloud for a quiet moment). I am kicking myself right now for having forgotten to bring my library copy of the title with me (I’m away-from-home blogging today), which I was going to use to provide captions for some of the spreads from the book Johanna is sharing today. Ah well. I’ll add those later. Let’s get to what Johanna sent, including some sneak-peek art from future projects.

Johannna was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon; studied in Olympia, Washington; moved to New York post-graduation; and now lives in Portland, Oregon. For a fun read, I recommend this page of Johanna’s site, in which you learn a bit more about her background, as well as 1) whether she eats enough vegetables, 2) her puppetry studies, 3) her cross-country bus trips, 4) her gig as a one-time Macy’s elf, 5) public urination charges in New York City (not hers), 6) how the fabulous Brian Floca was once her teacher, and 7) how she met agent James Proimos. Oh, and how it takes a lot of coffee sometimes to keep her focused. (I get that. I do.)

Thanks to Johanna for stopping by for an…um, it’s very clearly almost noon, so I thank her for stopping by for a brunch visit.


Another Secret Circus spread, the mice getting dressed for the circus.


Mousey band.


Johanna’s cover for Kaye Umansky’s Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage
(to be released by Roaring Brook Press this August).


Interior for Clover Twig.


Painting for a new book, Bike, written by James Proimos
and scheduled to be released by Dial in Summer 2011.


Spread for new book, Bandits, written by Johanna
and scheduled to be published by Roaring Brook Press in Spring 2011.


Sketch for a new book, Rabbits on Skates, written by Johanna and to be published by Roaring Brook. “Scheduled to be released someday…not sure yet when exactly,”
Johanna says.

* * * * * * *

All artwork courtesy of Johanna Wright. All rights reserved.

BONUS: Johanna’s Etsy page. Just look at that!





19 comments to “A Visit with Debut Author/Illustrator Johanna Wright”

  1. You had me at tiny snacks. And that is one gorgeous cover.


  2. Oooh, thanks for shining the spotlight on a very deserving & talented illustrator!


  3. Agree with Sara on the tiny snacks!

    I have this in my to-be-reviewed pile. When I saw it in the catalog, I requested it right away, because 15 years ago, I had written a story with the same title — only my circus was invisible/imagined instead of teeny tiny. Sigh.

    Love Johanna’s art, especially the peanuts and popcorn spread! The Paris setting is brilliant, too. :)


  4. Oh, gosh, that first illustration with the cat and the mouse is a total winner.


  5. I love this book! Deliciously beautiful.
    Johanna’s fun, too. AND she makes music.


  6. Johanna is the BOMB. Thank you for posting all the sneak peeks!!!

    I agree with Sara, Johanna had me at popcorn snacks, but that raccoon picnic has put me over the edge. And BIKE! Looks like a winner.

    As the proud owner of a Johanna original from her etsy shop I advise you all to check it out tout de suite.

    Go, Johanna, go!


  7. Johanna’s illustrations look sweet and the idea of a tiny, secret circus is fun! Thanks for this spotlight on her, Jules. :)


  8. Well, I think I just found a new favorite illustrator! I love Joanna’s style and the colours she uses. I followed the link back to her website and took a look around, and am totally smitten!Thanks so much for showcasing this marvelous artist! : )


  9. And then I totally spelled her name wrong. LAME!

    JoHanna!


  10. JoHanna is brilliant and talented. Thank you for giving her the attention she desereves!


  11. Oh ho! You beat me by a hair. I had just pulled out “The Secret Circus” to review yesterday. Beautiful!


  12. I’m in LOOOOVVEEE!


  13. Great review and a lovely book!


  14. [...] Umansky’s Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage, illustrated by Johanna Wright. (Remember when she stopped by?) It’s pretty funny so far. The second chapter is entitled, “First Off, Are You [...]


  15. Присоединюсь к предыдушим комментам, хотя у меня есть своё мнение по данному вопросу


  16. Да в принципе согласен, правильно сделали все.


  17. Мне как преподавателю очень помог этот блог с информацией. Спасибо Вам.


  18. [...] readers may remember Johanna’s 2009 debut, featured here at 7-Imp. (Boy howdy, do I love that book.) It’s good to see Johanna with a new picture book [...]


  19. just to show how impossibly behind i am with my TBR piles/lists, i am finally getting to this TODAY. two years later…

    thanks for bringing johanna’s work to my attention, even if i am slow to get to things. now i’ve got to find BANDITS. let’s hope it doesn’t take another two years!


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