Q. Barney, you’ve done it again! CHENGDU is adorable!!!
A. THANK YOU!
Q. How did the idea come to you? Are you also an insomniac?
A. The US State Department sent me to Russia and China to speak about my creative process. While in China, my wife took a 24 hour trip to Chengdu to see the pandas. After seeing her photos and hearing about one that couldn't sleep, I knew I had a book! As far as being an insomniac, I am far from it. I fall asleep very quickly and sleep through the night.
Q. This is a very different color palette for you. How did this book challenge you?
A. My editor and art director really pushed the look of this book. I had made the dummy in black and white. They had me draw (pencil sketches) half the size of the final art so that when the artwork was enlarged there is a toothy, grainy quality that I had never achieved before. I wanted some limited color with the bamboo so the green would pop against a completely black and white book.
Q. There are fold out (and down) pages in this book, and short, shorter pages - how was it to work with those?
A. I am a huge fan of Emily Gravett. She has opened my eyes to books that have the ability to surprise us. I find that having pages to unfold just adds to the rhythm of reading a book. I was thrilled Hyperion was open to these interactive flaps in a picture book.
Q. I adore the pages with the eyes - like great big Yin/Yang signs. Did that presentation idea come to you easily?
A. I honestly never thought of Yin/Yang signs until you asked that question. I think of my drawings from the perspective of how I would approach a scene with a camera. Zooming in and out, etc; We open with the long shot and see different pandas in the tree. When we hear that one panda couldn't sleep, it seemed like an obvious shot to zoom in tight.
Q. You are so prolific as a children’s book author/illustrator… This isn’t your only book coming out this year. The other is TEA WITH GRANDPA (Roaring Brook Press). I’m starting to believe you know the secret formula to creating great picture books (and selling them)! Can you share? :)
A. I'm lucky enough to have receptive publishers. I do seem to be exercising the creativity muscle more and more as the years pass. I'm delighted there is an audience for my work! Next year I have three books coming out!
Q. I’m positive you have more in the works… what’s next?
A. Speaking of three books. I have two board books coming out with Workman publishing. They approached me to create a series. In my book, Beautiful Oops, there are some red birds. My editor said she thought I could develop one into a character. REDbird was hatched! I also was concerned with contributing more 'concept' books to the world. There are so many. It took a really long time to find a different approach. I'm excited to have these books come out. I also used a different style of illustration for these books. Given the age of a board book reader, I knew I wanted bold lines and color. I painted pages of colors in acrylic paint, blending and mixing colors. I scanned the pages into the computer, drew the images on a Wacom Centiq monitor and dropped the color in. It was quick and I think a perfect medium for this series. The two books are, REDbird Colors, Colors Everywhere and REDbird Friends Come in Different Sizes. As a follow up to my Abram/Appleseed book, Andrew Drew and Drew, I have a new book called Inside This Book. It's loosely Russian Dolls in books. There's the book, and inside are three books, each about two inches smaller than the one before it. Three siblings are given blank books that their mother made them and we see how each child filled their book and what they ultimately do with them.
Thanks so much for the visit.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Hyperion is kindly sending a free copy of CHENGDU by Barney to sign for one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US to win - enter below!