Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Super Star Children's Book Review: The One with the Scraggly Beard

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Joan Charles, Laurie L. Young, Sarah Orgill—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 broad 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.

THE ONE WITH THE SCRAGGLY BEARD
By Elizabeth Withey • Illustrated by Lynn Scurfield
Picture Book (ages 4-8) • 32 pages
Published by  Orca Book Publishers • 2020
ISBN 978-1-4598-1855-2

Inspired by the author’s brother who is homeless and her experiences introducing him to her young son, The One with the Scraggly Beard is a compassionate story about a young boy who questions his mother about a homeless man in their neighborhood. He wonders why the man sleeps under a bridge when there are so many houses all over the city.

The young boy draws many parallels between himself and the man—they are both missing their front teeth, they both forget to brush their hair, they are both boys, one grown and one not—and in turn, the parallels offer a gently humanizing perspective.

Scurfield’s bright and energetic illustrations bring the boy and the one with the scraggly beard to life. Clean shapes and energetic lines flesh out the urban landscape and expressive characters. Thoughtful details, like a guitar and Princess Leia button, bring personality and humanity to the winsome homeless man.

An important and thoughtful read—one that is sure to spark compassion for the different experiences and life paths of the homeless living among us.


Buy this book:




Reviewed by: Jane Smith

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Super Star Interviews: Irena Freitas

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.

This month I'm pleased as pink lemonade punch to be chatting it up with the darling illustrator Irena Freitas! I adore Irena's light, bright illustrations and winsome characters. 
Irena is from Manaus, Brazil and holds a master's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design. When she is not reading and illustrating books, she likes to travel and visit new places. You can view more of her gorgeous artwork here.

Ooo! Perfect for Mother's/Father's Day!

Q: Your bright & beautiful NEW twin interactive children’s books, A Book All About Mom and A Book All About Dad just released! (What a delight! Congratulations!!) Give us the full scoop on your new books—their interactive elements, the artwork and your experiences developing the projects!

A: When Workman reached out to me to illustrate these books I knew it would be so much fun! I really love the idea of being an interactive book, and the editor and art director of the book were very kind and open to listening to my ideas and suggestions for the illustrations.

(Psst! You can order your own copy of All About Mom and All About Dad here today:)
Independent Booksellers

Fill in the blanks with all the sweet details!

Q: Let’s chat about your creative process—ideas to sketches to finished artwork! Tell us a bit about how it begins, how it flows, what mediums you use at various stages and how it all comes together in the end.

A: The first step is always to read the manuscript multiple times and highlight what feels more important or interesting to me. After that, I start working on very loose thumbnails to figure out the pace of the book. Only after I have all this figured out do I move onto sketches. I do all my preliminary work on pencil. When sketches are approved by the art director, I start thinking of other materials and how I want to color the final illustrations. Usually, I color artwork with a mix of traditional and digital techniques, but on A Book About Mom and A Book About Dad, I did most of the work in Photoshop and just created some watercolors to add as textures later on.

What would your dream treehouse look like?
                              
Q: You live in Manaus, Brazil and went to the Savannah College of Art & Design in the United States. Dish with us a bit about how each of these unique locations have influenced and inspired your artwork.

A: I love drawing on location, so where I live usually informs a lot of what kind of ideas and themes I incorporate into my work. When I was studying at SCAD, my MFA thesis project was a series of travel books based on places I've lived so far. The idea was to illustrate those places based on my experiences and how I viewed those cities, but in the process, I researched a lot the history and interviewed the local population. It was a really special experience.

Just hanging out at home!

Q: What is your MOST favorite illustration project: one from your past and one from your present?

A: My first picture book, Manaus, holds a special place in my heart. And I'm currently working on a book about Brazilian folktales that I can't wait to share with the world!

How cozy!!!

Q: Tell us about your typical workday as a creative professional—routines, rituals & practical practices. Set the scene for us, too—what does your creative workspace look & feel like?

A: Even before the pandemic, I've been working from home. I have my studio set up at my home here in Brazil, so commuting is never a problem—hahaha! In general, I try to keep my routine super simple, because I feel if I get too caught up on rituals I'll never get any work done. I'm not a morning person, so mornings are usually dedicated to walking my dog, run small errands, read a little and cook lunch. After lunch I start working on my studio, I try to keep my planner organized on what tasks I have to complete every week, so I don't waste a lot of time figuring out what's the next step on the project I'm currently working on. I try to keep my studio very colorful and cheerful, because it's where I spend most of my time, so I have illustrations hanging on the wall, books for references and inspiration. Around 7 p.m. I call it a day!

Isn't this the sweetest group of friends?!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: I'm a huge fan of quiet and rainy Sundays! I know it's boring, but I love to stay in and gathering friends to cook something or watch a movie.

Thank you so much, Irena, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! Congratulations on your adorable new books!