28 February 2013
OLIVER by Birgitta Sif - GIVEAWAY!
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to OLIVER and his creator, Birgitta Sif. Oliver is a charming and memorable character who plays in his imagination all - the - time.
Boy, can I relate to this kid! I also lived in my head as a child, happy to draw for hours and hours without another sole around. I was perfectly happy with whatever stories were going on in my own head ... most of the time.
I asked Birgitta, who lives in London, about her new book.
Q. Hi Birgitta, Congratulations on OLIVER! Were you also a child who lived in your imagination?
A. Yes, absolutely! I still do. :)
Q. I love that his friends are puppets and stuffies. Mine all had personalities. I'm betting yours did too? Did any of them make it into the book?
A. None of my stuffed animals make an appearance in OLIVER. But I included some of my little girl, Soley's, stuffed animals. Soley and I spend a lot of time having tea parties and playing forts with them. They are a big part of our lives, with lots of personalities. We even have a lot of cute tiny cloth mice with striped cardigans and cowboy hats, those are our favorite. However, in my next book, my favourite cloth doll (now Soley’s) that I’ve had since I was 3 years old does make an appearance. :)
Q. I'm intrigued by the greys and washed out colors in OLIVER. What is your illustration style and what drove you to make the color choices you did?
A. For OLIVER, I worked in pencil. It’s my favourite tool, I feel like it’s where all my ideas start and makes my characters and places come alive. Kind of like my own personal magic wand that fits right in my pocket. After I’ve drawn everything, I scan and colour digitally in Photoshop. Although, colouring in Photoshop is dangerous for me, there are endless amount of options. :) For OLIVER, colour played a big role. Oliver was always in green, Olivia always in Red and everyone else in a gray blue colour. And the overall colours were muted, with the pink sky when they finally notice each other.
It's a subtle story, which I felt needed subtle colour. Bright colours would have given the book a different feeling.
Q. You also have a wonderful sense of architecture. I wonder if growing up in Iceland influenced your setting?
A. Yeah, I think my background has influenced the places in my stories! Although, we lived in so many countries growing up that I don't know where the houses in OLIVER are from! :) But I sure do love houses and architecture. In Iceland there are so many colourful ones. We lived in an old yellow corrugated iron house, on the 3rd floor. The attic was the playroom and when we moved in, there was a secret tiny side room there that had been covered up and we found old diaries! As a kid, this place was amazing.
Q. You've had a wonderful education to get into children's books, first with a BFA from Cornell in New York, and then with a masters in Children's Book Illustration from Cambridge School of Art in the UK. You've been all over! What kept you moving about so much and where do you consider home? How did all that influence Oliver's story?
A. Yeah, we moved a lot. Growing up I switched schools almost every year or every other year, mostly for my parents schooling, then work. I think in a lot of ways OLIVER is based on my story. Feeling different whether it’s in a new place or whatever it is, it can be challenging. But in moving so much, I am now lucky to have friends all over the world. You ask, “where do I consider home”, well, that's a tough question. But simply, I’d say “Home” is where my partner, Thor, and beautiful daughter are. It doesn't matter much were you are, I believe that it’s the company that you keep. And they sure are great company!! :)
Q. This is your debut picture book (congratulations!). Can you describe your path to publication?
A. I worked for a little while in New York with some great publishing houses. I worked with teams there designing children's books. From there, I decided to get my MA from Cambridge School of Art. I was incredibly thrilled when Walker Books approached me at my graduation show about making OLIVER into a picture book. I feel really blessed to have had the opportunity to work with them. And now I am currently working on my next book with them.
Thanks for stopping by dulemba.com!! And y'all check out this sweet interview with Birgitta:
OLIVER. Copyright © 2012 by Birgitta Sif. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.
One of my lucky commenters will win a free copy of OLIVER! (Must live in the continental US to win. Winning and review copy provided by the publisher.)
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