By Gabrielle Murray
“I really like your book – I nearly bought a copy.”
While we often talk about the ways children are impacted by outstanding literature, one of Literati‘s correspondents pulled back the curtain to see the other side of the interaction: What impact do children have on the artists?
We posed a simple question to seven of our featured illustrators:
What’s been your favorite interaction with a child about your work?
Their responses did not disappoint:
Sophie Blackall, author and illustrator of Hello Lighthouse
“I was recently in Maine with Island Readers and Writers, a wonderful non-profit organization that brings authors and illustrators into remote, underserved schools.[…]
“At the end of the day when we are all fast friends and loathe to part, we leave each student with a book. One third grade girl accepted hers, thanked me politely, and asked where she should put it. I told her she could take it home.”
‘But I have to bring it back tomorrow, right?’ she asked.
‘No,’ I said. ‘You get to keep it.’
‘FOREVER???’ she asked.
‘Yes,’ I said. “Forever.’
‘Then,’ she said, “I will read it every night for the rest of my life.’”
Benji Davies, author and illustrator of The Storm Whale
“I visited Madrid in the summer of 2018 to sign some books at a book fair held in a beautiful park. My flight had been delayed and so I was late getting there. As the sun was going down, all these little white book stalls lined the pathways through the park. I was worried that the book fair would be finishing for the day and that I would miss the book signing.
“But when I arrived there was a queue of children and families waiting for me to sign their books. As I saw their eager faces and big eyes peeping over the edge of the table where I was signing the books, it struck me how incredible it was. I started writing picture books not knowing if they would ever be published in one language, but now they are published in almost forty languages. And to have just arrived in Madrid, I don’t speak Spanish, but I was able to sign books for these children who had waited for me to arrive – it was a very special moment.”
Matt Lamothe, author and illustrator of This Is How We Do it
“I have truly enjoyed hearing, ‘Kids drink coffee in Peru?!’ But the most exciting thing has been receiving letters and emails from kids who share that they’ve made their own version of This Is How We Do It and filled it with all of the activities of their lives.”
Jessica Love, author and illustrator of Julián is a Mermaid
“My favorite feedback is when a parent brings their child to a reading, and the child is a child like Julián.
I was doing a story time at a bookstore recently and I met a child who was wearing a sheer pink veil on their head and a sea-foam green skirt. Their mom just asked me to make the book out to ‘Max.’
“I was signing it she just quietly said, ‘Your book means a lot to our family.’ Getting to see Max, dressed to the nines in a pink veil and a sea-foam skirt is a kind of non-verbal feedback that I get from an audience, and this is my favorite kind. I managed to make it out of the bookstore without crying but, like, barely.“
Dan Santat, author and illustrator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
“I once met a kid at a comic convention who saw my badge and he said, ‘I loved your graphic novel, Sidekicks. I went to art school because that book made me want to make my own comics.'”
Brian Biggs, author and illustrator of the Tinyville Town series
“I was on a Tinyville Town deadline two New Year’s Eves ago while staying at a cabin in the Poconos with family, which included my sister-in-law and her three little kids. I had my computer set up on the big dining table every day, finishing up the drawings for Tinyville Town Gets to Work, and the kids were kind of warned to leave Uncle Brian alone so he could work.
“One morning, my at-the-time seven-year-old niece, Kate, who has all of my books and even several of my drawings hanging on her bedroom wall, came by and looked over my shoulder to see what I was doing. In the way that only Kate can, she incredulously announced to the house, ‘Uncle Brian’s not working! He’s just drawing pictures!'”
Jared Chapman, author and illustrator of Vegetables in Underwear
“I did a few school visits at some elementary schools outside of Houston.
“After I did my presentation at one school, I was in the library signing books. A kid walked up so I started talking to him. ‘What kind of things do you like to do?’ I asked. The kid just shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘It’s complicated.’ We left it at that and I still quote him to this day.”
Graeme Base, author and illustrator of The Eleventh Hour
“I got a letter from kid many years ago as follows: ‘Dear Mr Base, I really like your book Animalia – I nearly bought a copy.’ That’s hard to beat.”
Each month, Literati features one of our favorite picture book artists to create a unique illustration for our members on our monthly theme. To receive a framable print of this illustration, personalized bookplates created by our featured artist, and a selection of incredible books, sign up for any of Literati’s five age-specific book clubs!
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