2021 Picture Book Previews Part Twenty

All good things must come to an end, in this case, it’s the final line up for 2021 Picture Book Previews. I’m sure there are many I have missed and many more covers to be revealed, but at some point, I’ve got to crack open what’s waiting for 2022 and move on to the next year. That is, if you’re all still interested! I’m happy to keep up this trend so long as people are benefitting from it!

2021 Picture Book Previews Part Nineteen

Remember how last time I said there would probably be only one more of these for 2021 (2022 titles are showing up more and more these days). Well, I’m going to say that again- There’ll probably be one more of 2021 after this post (I underestimated how many books are coming!), and then it’s time for 2022. In the meantime, enjoy…

Bird Show: Interview with Susan Stockdale

Hello! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Tell us a little bit about your new
book, Bird Show.

Bird Show celebrates the decorative patterns and rich hues of 18 exotic and
familiar birds from around the world. I imagine their plumage as clothing, from
suits and gowns to headdresses and tailcoats. The birds are in a fashion show!
Backmatter outlines details about each one, including where it’s from and its
courtship rituals, and features a match-the-colors-and-patterns game.


Tell us a little bit about your illustration process for this book.
I began by creating many pencil sketches of the birds while referring to photo
references of them. Since this is a nonfiction book, I needed to be factually
accurate in my depiction of the birds as I interpreted them in my own artistic style.
For each final illustration, I traced my drawing onto Bristol paper. Then for each
color, I applied at least three layers of acrylic paint to give the image a flat, crisp
appearance. Using tiny brushes, I reveled in depicting the smallest details, such
as the snow-white speckles on a Starling and the patterned tail of the Replendent
Quetzal.


Have you always been into writing/illustrating books?
My book career actually began later in life after I had my two children. But before
then, I freelanced as a textile designer for the apparel industry, creating patterned
designs that were featured on women’s clothing. That was a great way to express
my love of pattern and color.


What’s the most exciting part of your job?
So much of it is exciting but a few things really thrill me: coming up with a book
idea that I think will really engage kids; finding just the right word in a manuscript
to convey an idea; and mixing different paint colors and applying them with
precision and detail.


What inspires your creativity?
Nature has inspired all my books. I created Fabulous Fishes after a porcupine fish
inflated itself right before my eyes as I snorkeled in Belize. Stripes of All Types
was sparked after seeing a striped poison dart frog in the Costa Rican rainforest.
I’m always looking for themes through which I can open young eyes to nature in a
fresh and playful way.


What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell
us?

I sang in a rock and roll band in college and then performed with a pianist in
venues in Washington, DC afterwards. Now I try to find the “music” in my picture
books by writing in lyrical, rhythmic rhyme.


If you weren’t writing/illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d be a gallery guide for children, leading them on tours of museum art
collections. I worked as a gallery educator for school groups at the National
Portrait Gallery and The Phillips Collection for several years and really enjoyed it.


What can readers expect from you in the future?
I’m currently creating another book about animals that will be out in 2023. I’m
thrilled with its theme, especially as it doesn’t seem to have been explored in a
picture book before.


Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

I hope my books inspire children to appreciate nature and to marvel at its
magnificent colors and patterns. Nature is the ultimate designer!

Wolfboy Release Day Interview with Creator Andy Harkness

It’s a book birthday today for WOLFBOY by Andy Harkness, and I’m thrilled Andy has stopped by to answer a few questions! Andy’s answers are in italics.

Hello! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Tell us a little bit about your new book, Wolfboy.

Wolfboy is based on an interesting phenomenon we’ve witnessed in our house.  When our kids are hungry, they change.  They become, well, little monster versions of their normally sweet selves.  The rabbits represent a parent, teacher or friend who is able to see through the surface temper tantrum and help in a loving way (moonberry pie).  

I also love werewolf movies.  I remember as a kid, my dad took my sister and I to a scary werewolf movie.  On our walk home there was a full moon.  I did my best werewolf impression the entire way back.  My sister was not impressed.  But I’ve always wanted to create a children’s book about a little werewolf.  It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that the idea began to take shape.

Tell us a little bit about your illustration process for this book.

I start with a loose sketch that I place under a sheet of glass.  I sculpt with clay overtop using my hands for everything except the smallest details.  When the sculpt is done it is photographed and the color is added in layer in photoshop.

Have you always been into writing/illustrating books?

Really from day one.  I remember in first grade, getting my first library card.  I was in love with “Where the Wild Things Are”. I checked it out every weekend and when it wasn’t available I was very sad.  I’ll always remember how I felt reading it…getting lost in that world along with Max.  My goal was and is to have kids feel the same way about a book I make.  So fingers crossed!

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

The creating.  I truly feel ageless when I am drawing or sculpting.  When an illustration is done I disconnect from it fairly quickly. I just love the process and with sculpting I get to be a part of every little bit of every page.  I love the tangibility of the clay process.

What inspires your creativity?

Long walks in nature and reading.  Having a little time to sit without my cell phone or a tv on in pure quiet.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

I love butterflies.  I’ve collected them since I was a child and know an annoyingly large amount of info about them.

If you weren’t writing/illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?

That is so hard to say….But probably doing a lot more hiking, camping and fishing.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

Another Wolfboy book (fingers crossed) and many other children’s book ideas that are brewing.  

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

I’m just so happy that throughout this crazy year we’ve all had, children’s books and reading are alive and well.  We need them more than ever!