Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Super Star Children's Book Review: Windows

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara ChowJoan CharlesSharon Calle—and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.



WINDOWS

By Julia Denos • Illustrated By E.B. Goodale
Picture book (ages 4-8) • 32 pages
Published by Candlewick Press • 2017
ISBN 978-0-7636-9035-9


Windows is the seemingly simple story of a boy and his dog on an early evening walk around their neighborhood. The text is spare and thoughtful and Goodale’s gorgeous artwork feeds us a wealth of rich details to enjoy—each read offering a new glimpse into the lives of the boy’s neighbors and friends: a yogi wobbling out of tree pose, a painter at work, a skateboarding friend waving hello.

And, of course, with the red hoodie the boy wears throughout the story, you can’t miss the homage paid to Peter, star of the iconic picture book, The Snowy Day. It is as if Peter may have traveled through time and space to grow into the boy whose adventure we are on.

The boy in Windows also gently, subtly evokes headlines in recent years of young boys of color in hoodies being mistaken for threats they are not. And in doing so, offers us, the readers, a meditation on what it means for our children to be safe, free and part of a community.

Windows
shares with us the best, most hopeful version of this: a boy and his dog enjoying their neighborhood, being privy to sunsets, dance parties, dinners, hugs, and finally, returning home safely to the family that loves him.

Buy this book:

Barnes & Noble

Independent Bookstores

Reviewed by: Jane Smith

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Super Star Interviews: Jana Curll

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month. 

I’m tickled summer sunburn pink to be chatting it up with the super fun Illustrator/Designer, Jana Curll! I’m a big fan of Jana’s delightful artwork, which is always chock-full of fabulous details. Jana has been working as a children's illustrator for over 10 years, starting out on the graphics team at Vancouver's Science World, and most recently, as one of the rad team at Kidzsmart Concepts. In her free time she does...well...more kids' illustrations, picking up gigs for great companies such as the amazing folks at Usborne and Owl Kids. Jana currently focusing on the children's book market. You can view more of her artwork here!

How totally fun! Do you want to play?

Q: You are a total rock star at creating fabulously fun & adorable activities (I’m talking puzzles, games, mazes & more!) for kids—each complete with a cast of amusing characters and plenty of space for typography. Give us the scoop on your approach & process for creating these complex pieces.

A: Thanks for your kind words! I think that artistically I'm naturally an "maximalist",  which tends to lends itself well to illustration that you have to 'figure out' and can get easily lost in. 
Richard Scary's books were a big influence for me growing up. I like the idea that multiple stories and moments are happening at the same time in the same place. If there is a game or activity involved you need to make it accessible for kids,  which often means testing it (with a crayon!) and finding ways to make it fun along the way. Once the bones have been worked out,  I pretty much slide into a 'more-is-more' mindset. 

Isn't this amazing?! I can't get enough of all the fun details!

Q: I absolutely LOVE the world map jigsaw puzzle you created for Usborne Publishing! Talk us through the development of this project from ideas & sketches through final color art.

A: The world map with Usborne was super fun to create and I worked closely with my Art Director,  who provided me with lots of guidance, sketches, and feedback. They were amazing to work with and came to me with the concept. Since then, I've done eight illustrated maps for other clients (which are in various stages of publication) and will eventually get their own section on my website. I find that maps are intellectually and artistically satisfying in that I have to work really hard at figuring out the balance between accuracy and abstraction. They are puzzles in themselves. Then, of course, I get to fill up 
every square inch (or centimeter in my Canadian case) with as much stuff as will fit.

Q: Dish with us about who/what/where/when inspires your artwork.

A: I really enjoy work that delivers something different every time that you look at it. I'm also super inspired by work that says a lot with very little language. I've always been a fan of graphic novels and comic books and I'm currently in that place of elbowing my way into creating some time and space in my life to bring these ideas into existence. 

Mysterious creatures = fabulous adventures!

Q: Tell us all about your MOST favorite illustration projects: one from the past and one from the present. 

A: Of course,  I'm very proud of the world map with Usborne,  and it's definitely up there as one of my favourite pieces. I also really enjoy some of my personal pieces,  which are character driven and I get to try out some new mediums and techniques.

Q: What would be your absolutely DREAM illustration project?

A: I would love to get into children's books and am really inspired by some of the middle grade work that is coming out. I love the innovation that is currently happening in the industry and would love to be a part of it! 

What do you like best on the playground?!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: My perfect Sunday is sleeping in (which, as a morning person with young children, is rare occurrence), good coffee, and absolutely nothing on my to-do list. 

Thank you so much, Jana, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! We think you're fabulous!!