TED & BETSY LEWIN!!! Interview and Giveaway!!!

Wowsie, wowsie, wowsie! I am thrilled, excited, giddy over today's guests! Ted Lewin and Betsy Lewin, creators of too many award-winning children's books to name, including the two Caldecott Honor books Click, Clack, Moo and Peppe the Lamplighter.

     They're on tour, celebrating the release of their two newest titles: YOU CAN DO IT! by Betsy Lewin and LOOK! by Ted Lewin. (Both with Holiday House.)
     Needless to say, I was a little intimidated to ask these two questions - so I put the opportunity out as an exclusive to my weekly newsletter subscribers (you can sign up HERE). Below is a gathering of their curious minds!

Q. Welcome, welcome Ted and Betsy! Thank you for stopping by dulemba.com - I'm honored! You are both stars in the children's book industry, but how did you get your starts?
Betsy: I did all kinds of things from greeting cards to magazine illustration. When a children’s book editor asked me to expand a poem I had written and illustrated for a children’s magazine into a 32 page picture book I jumped at the chance, and have been doing picture books ever since. I love telling stories in a sequence of pictures.
Ted: After paying my way through art school at Pratt Institute by wrestling professionally I started doing illustrations for men’s magazines. A few years later I worked my way into children’s magazines, text books, and YA jackets including most of the Scott O’Dell jackets. (I probably did more of those than anybody.) Readers Digest condensed books also kept me very busy. In 1984 Houghton Mifflin Children’s Books offered me “Faithful Elephants” to illustrate I think because of my love of drawing animals, and I realized that was where I wanted to be, and I never looked back.

Q. Your two newest books, coming out April 1st, are LOOK (Ted) and YOU CAN DO IT! (Betsy). How did these latest titles come to be?
Betsy: Many years ago I had done some sketches of alligators exercising. I recently pulled them out of a drawer, and they inspired the story “You Can Do It!”
Ted: I have forty years worth of slides from our many wildlife journeys. In thinking about all that we had seen the idea of “LOOK"!” came into my mind. It was a dream job for me to be able to use so many of those photographs to create images for this book.

Q.Having two children's book author/illustrators in the same family must be interesting. How do your work habits differ? Do you share a studio?
Betsy and Ted: Having an educated second opinion on our work is extremely helpful. Most illustrators work alone. We do each have our own studio. Ted’s is on the top floor of our brownstone, and Betsy’s is on the floor below. Ted has the entire floor because he also uses it as a photography studio to shoot models, and store all his thousands of slides and reference pictures. We also store most of our art there in flat files. Fortunately we’re both “day” people and like to work in the morning until mid afternoon. The rest of the day we exercise, take long walks, go to the movies, and do other chores. We use the same materials, but in different ways. Betsy’s line is as important as her color, and Ted’s line is very pale, almost disappearing under the watercolor. Betsy uses a light box to transfer her sketches to watercolor paper. Ted uses a slide projector to achieve the same end. Then he refers to an image on his computer screen to paint from.

Here is Betsy in her studio - click to see the image larger in a new window.

Here is Ted in his studio - click to see the image larger in a new window.

Q. Have you ever done a book together or do you have any upcoming?
Betsy and Ted: Starting with “Gorilla Walk” in 1998 which was our first collaboration, we’ve done six altogether. The great part about collaborating is telling a story from two different points of view. Betsy’s pen and ink “field sketches” (she actually does them from memory) carry the reader along on the journey. Ted’s full page watercolor paintings put the reader right next to us, seeing what we are seeing at that moment. Due out next year is our latest collaboration which we are very excited about. It’s titled “Adventures With Ted and Betsy” about our forty years of travel all over the world. Besides our text it will be richly illustrated with photos, sketches, paintings, journals, and lots of memorabilia.

Q. Betsy, I have to share. Leslie Muir, author of The Little Bitty Bakery, is a friend of mine (interviewed HERE). We were so excited when you were named as the illustrator! And even more excited when the chef became an elephant! How'd you come up with that?
Betsy: It was a natural. Mice and elephants go together, and I love to draw elephants.

Q. You both love to travel. My husband and I went on Safari in Kenya for our honeymoon, so I can relate to your love of Africa and the animals there. How has that shaped your lives?
Betsy and Ted: When we made our first trip to Africa in 1970 someone told us that no matter what happened in our lives no one could take away these memories. Over the years we’ve added layers of wonderful memories. The fact that we are able to turn these experiences into stories to share with children is a great source of pleasure for us. Our life and our art are the same.

Q. A friend recently described success as the ability to wake up and do what you love every day. Seems like you both have been very successful from that point of view! Any words of wisdom you can share with my readers on looking back at it all?
Betsy and Ted: In all these years neither of us has ever forgotten the Pratt motto. “Be true to your work, and your work will be true to you.” We might add to that, if you long to do something don’t put if off until tomorrow. Sometimes tomorrow never comes.

All images ©copyright 2013 Ted and Betsy Lewin.

Enjoy this great interview too!

WOWSA! I wish I could win this one! TWO of my lucky commenters will win either a signed, dedicated copy of LOOK! or YOU CAN DO IT! (This may take a little longer to get these prizes to you, but I think they'll be worth the wait!) Must live in the continental US to win. Winning copies provided by the publisher.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Joanna said...

Two awesome people and talented author/illustrators. What fun to see that old photo! I love how they use their shared memories in their work.

Rhonda Miller said...

Wow, what talent. I have loved reading books they have worked on in the past and would love to read these. I would share it with my kids and neices and nephews.

Eric VanRaepenbusch said...

Thank you for this interview! Enjoyed reading and seeing the photos of their studios!

Eric VanRaepenbusch said...

And I would love to add their new books to our family collection of children's books. I would most definitely read them to my children or any child who would ask!

Leslie Muir said...

Great interview, e. Betsy was such a joy to work with. She's incredibly talented and really knows her elephants. ; )

Thanks for the mention.

Anonymous said...

I'd share it with my kids

Anonymous said...

I moving to the States...lol. Oh my gosh, that is one of the best interviews I ever did read. Even more of a fan now and how sweet that Travels With Ted and Betsy is going to be. Did a bit of a screech when I saw Betsy will be illustrating one of Leslie's books.

Thanks for the interview, the insight, the inspiration!

Diandra Mae said...

At my very first big SCBWI conference, Betsy and Ted were speakers in the Illustrator's Intensive. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Betsy's work and hearing her speak helped me to decide that illustrating was definitely what I wanted to be doing. What a great interview. (And giveaway!)

Becka Mickelson said...

My son and I read Peppe the Lamplighter and loved the story.
These new books look awesome can't wait to read them also.

Clara Gillow Clark said...

I met the Lewins at their home in Brooklyn many, many years ago and had dinner with them at a neighborhood restaurant. What I best remember is how gracious and humble these two gifted people were and how honored I was to be in their presence.