There's a new wordless picture book out that has the children's book world all a buzz. It's called FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO and was created by an artist whose work I adore (and who is a fellow member of the Picture Book Artists Association), Molly Idle. Today, I have the great pleasure of hosting Molly at dulemba.com and asking her more about her work...

Q. Hi Molly, thanks for stopping by! Congratulations on FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO! It seems the entire Kidlitosphere has fallen in love with your creation - what has it been like to receive so much press?
A. Hi Elizabeth- thank you so much for having me over! And thank you too for your kind words about FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO.
     The reception that the book has received from kids, and the kidlit world, really leaves me speechless... Which, I suppose is appropriate, given that FLORA is a wordless picture book. The story was so close to my heart as I worked on it, that when it was done, I wondered if a book that felt so personal to me would translate to readers. Was it relatable? So, seeing it embraced wholeheartedly by so many people does my heart good.

Q. How did the idea for FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO come to you?
A. Ah, which came first- the Flamingo or the egg...
     I wish I could remember exactly how the idea was hatched... where I was... or the time of day... but I don’t. I do remember my inspirations for the story though: My nieces- Sarah and Katie, my two boys, and my proclivity for puns.
     My nieces provided the visage for Flora. When they were little, my sister would dress them in matching bathing suits and swim caps- ADORABLE!
     My boys contribution to the story came as they were starting school. Figuring out how to make friends amidst a sea of kids was a tricky business. Some days they would come home dejected—other days elated—depending on how well their attempts had fared. And the back and forth between the two extremes made me think that the formation of a friendship is like a dance.
     And that is where my love of puns comes into play. When I was little I thought that “flamenco dancing” was pronounced “flamingo dancing”... and so, to me, a flamingo seemed like an ideal dance partner.

Q. You worked for DreamWorks Feature Animation Studios straight out of school. Did that influence your story-telling ability?
A. Yes, I’m sure it did, and does. You simply can’t work in a place filled with hundreds of talented creative visual storytellers and not be influenced by it!

Q. Your medium is colored pencils, right? Do you add any other media in? How did you develop your style?
A. Yes, I am admittedly a color pencil junkie. Prismacolors pencils. Ages ago, I did try starting pieces with a watercolor wash because I thought it might speed up my process. But for me the opposite turned out to be true. I spent so much time fighting against the paint... So now, I simply build up layer upon layer of pencil- and I find that not only am I able to work more fluidly (ironically), but I feel as though I get better results too.

Q. So, it's wordless, but you've written another picture book too - TEA REX (Viking). As an illustrator, how was the writing experience different for you?
A. I suppose that on one hand, it isn’t really very different. Whether I’m using words or pictures- making a book is all about making a good story. So, I suppose the real difference for me, is comfort. I have spent so much of my life with a pencil in my hand creating stories with pictures—that it feels comfortable. However, I’ve spent comparatively little time with a pencil in my hand creating stories with words. It’s a different feeling... like trying to draw with your right hand if you’re a lefty. But the more I practice the more comfortable I feel. Someday I hope to feel comfortably ambidextrous!

Q. Both of these titles came out fairly close together. Have you been able to give them each proper love?
A. Oh goodness- that’s like asking me if I’ve given enough love to each of my kids! And so my answer is the same... I sure hope so! Luckily, I’ve got a great family support system to back me up with my kiddos at home. They say it takes a village to raise a child... well, the same is true for children’s books! That’s why I am so lucky to be working with Chronicle and Viking/PYRG. They are both such amazing houses—filled with talented and creative people who have been so supportive of my books.

Q. I hope you have more in the works, can you share?
A. I do. I can. And I will!
      Coming out in July is ZOMBELINA written by Kristyn Crow (Bloomsbury/Walker), And on my desk right now are: FLORA AND THE PENGUIN (Chronicle), and CAMP REX (Viking)- both coming out in 2014!

Q. Please let us know about any special promotions (or dates) you have for FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO.
A. I will be at ALA in June signing copies of FLORA and celebrating the 25th anniversary of Chronicle Books! Details to follow soon at www.idleillustration.com.

Q. Thanks so much for stopping by Molly, and I can't wait to see the new titles!

     One of my lucky commenters will win a free copy of FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO along with a signed poster sent by Chronicle!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Rhonda Miller said...

Thanks for sharing. This looks like a fun book. I think my little girls would enjoy it.

Catherine said...

My daughter's favourite colour is pink and she loves to dance. I love wordless picture books and I would love to share Flora and the Flamingo with her.

apple blossom said...

love to read this book sounds like it could be a fun on. I'd share it with my nieces thanks

Anonymous said...

What an adorable book. Would love to be able to share with my darling grand nieces. Thank you!

Geo Librarian said...

I love to share wordless books with my students because they so eagerly participate.