7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #805: Featuring Chuck Groenink

h1 July 31st, 2022 by jules

One of Chuck’s early illustration tests


Illustrator Chuck Groenink visits today to share some early sketches from Tanya Rosie’s Mum, Me, and the Mulberry Tree (Candlewick, July 2022), a book that both author and illustrator dedicate to their respective Mums.

I love that the publisher kept the “Mum” in this book instead of Americanizing it to “Mom.” Rosie does live in England and, according to her bio, has an Iranian mother and Scottish father, and Groenink was born and raised in the Netherlands. Still, I can imagine a publisher insisting that American readers wouldn’t understand “Mum” as well as “Mom” and changing the very title for a U.S. version, so I’m happy to see all the Mums here.

A mother gently wakes her child, they catch a bus with buckets and tubs in hand, and the two visit what they call “our tree.” It’s a once-a-year outing, this trek to the mulberry tree.

Mum squeezes my hand; her other hand’s full. We’re here! We’re here! Mum and me.

The tree stands on rolling hills in the country. The child is in awe. A stirring branch looks like a wave, a greeting from the tree. Mother and child pick and pluck berries. They sit under the branches during a rainfall. The sun sets, they head home, and they bake a pie. The child falls asleep with the “deep red” in mind and the taste of the pie on her tongue, already looking forward to next year’s trek to the tree.

No dramatic conflicts here. No rising tension. It’s a snapshot of a child’s day with the mother she loves. And snacking on mulberries and baking a pie (complete with a homemade pie crust) is one glorious thing, but the time spent with mother is another altogether more satisfactory one. (Whether or not Mum is a single parent is up for debate, I suppose, but there’s no other parent in sight.) They have each other, and it’s all they need.

It strikes me that this story (though it’s about a lot of things at once, including an appreciation for what nature has to offer) presents what all children need — the loving, mindful attention of at least one caretaker. I think of that perfect line of dialogue in the film Lady Bird: “Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?”

Rosie captures the bonding beautifully with tender, plainspoken prose: Mum holding out a hand, “strong and steady”; mother and child sitting “side by side, knee by knee” on the bus; and Mum “safe in the arms of our tree.” (When Mum climbs the tree, it’s the one moment of worry in the book, though it quickly subsides; not even the rain deters them.) Groenink conveys their closeness with a warm, earth-toned palette, spot-on body language, and an elegant use of light and shadows. There’s a velvetiness here, as if the stuff of memories. Full-bleed spreads capture their outing in the lush grasses at the majestic tree; though the browns and greens of this hill dominate, flashes of red from the berries (which the child sees as “jewels”) pop off the page.

Below are two final spreads, and I thank Chuck for sharing some preliminary images, including what he calls some “early character doodles.” (He also says that the mother, as you will see below, initially had a short haircut, “like my own mother’s.”)



Two images above: early sketches


Spread in progress
(Click to enlarge)



Two images above: final spread
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


A spread in progress
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread
(Click to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


MUM, ME, AND THE MULBERRY TREE. Text copyright © 2022 by Tanya Rosie. Illustrations copyright © 2022 by Chuck Groenink. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) A four-mile walk on a beautiful trail with a friend …

2) In which it actually did not feel like it was over 100 degrees.

3) Shark cookies!

4) My daughters have loved the Paper Girls comics for years now, so it was fun to start the television adaptation with them, which I’m really enjoying.

5) Rediscovering an album I loved my freshman year of college. As in, I had altogether forgotten it existed, so it’s been good to revisit it.

6) Our I Read Comics sweatshirts arrived.

7) Baby Colin Robinson’s musical theatre chops.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #805: Featuring Chuck Groenink”

  1. What a gorgeous book. Love and attention, it’s something I noticed in the UK with the availability of parks and free museums for families. Thank you Chuck Groenink for sharing the speads. I loved the tree and the gloaming kind of day is captured beautifully.
    Jules, what a fun week, I love rediscovering music.
    My kicks:
    1. Music tickets For Florence and the Machine and Bruce Springsteen purchased.
    2. The pool in the morning/
    3. Meeting with friends.
    4. Poetry zoom meet up.
    5. Jam inspired poetry.
    6. Marionberry jam and raspberry jam made.
    7. Mornings on the deck.
    Have a great week.

  2. Happy Sunday, everyone! Thank you for sharing your work, Chuck.

    Jules: What a cute astrocat on the sweatshirt! The premise of Paper Girls sounds neat.

    Jone: That sounds like a week filled with things you enjoy!

    My kicks:
    1) Hope
    2) Effort
    3) Ease
    4) Laughter
    5) Resilience
    6) Fit
    7) Fixed

  3. Jone, what a good week — poetry, friends, plans for live music, and jam. I don’t think I’ve ever had marionberry jam.

    Litte Willow: What lovely kicks, especially “ease” right next to “laughter.”

    I hope you two have a great week.

  4. What wonderful warm spreads, love that you can feel the connection between the two, and love seeing the early sketches.

    Jules – that 4 mile walk sounds perfect for a hot day, and yay for shark cookies and rediscovering old albums.

    Jone – I live vicariously through you on the jam making. It all looks delicious! Today was an excellent day for pool time.

    Little Willow – I’m with Jules in loving Ease and Laughter, as well as their positioning.

    My kicks this week:
    1) A full week dog sitting with Tartar Sauce and watching him relax and have fun as the week went on. he is back with his awesome Foster Mama now, and I really had a ton of fun hanging out with him for a week.
    2) New audio book – All About Me! read by author Mel Brooks. So fun and funny.
    3) Farmer’s Market this morning. Scored marionberries and peaches.
    4) A short fun visit with a friend who stopped by on her drive back to Bend.
    5) Reading and loving When Women Were Dragons. I’ve got about 100 pages to go. Jules – you give the best book recommendations.
    6) Watching Colin Robinson grow up. That whole show.
    7) Taika Waititi’s dad vacation Instagram stories with his daughters. When they give deadpan, so-not-impressed looks to the camera it is the best.
    7.5) Summer. I just love summer.

    Have a great week Imps!

  5. Rachel, how about that prom scene in Barnhill’s book? You have probably already read that chapter, right? THAT WRITING.

    I’m glad to hear Tartar Sauce has found a home! And I’m happy you had him for a time.

    Have an excellent week, Rachel!

  6. […] (Once again, I think of that perfect line of dialogue in the film Lady Bird: “Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?”) […]

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