I love poets and am lucky to have a few friends who are truly passionate about it. One is Irene Latham and I'm thrilled to help her celebrate her new book of poetry here today as she interviews the illustrator of DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEESTE, Anna Wadham.
When I was a child writing my first books, I always illustrated them as well. To this day, I am a doodler, and a huge appreciator of art – not only was my first novel LEAVING GEE'S BEND inspired by art, but I have written many poems inspired by works of art that hang at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC). So, when my editor at Millbrook Press contacted me to let me know they had selected Anna Wadham to illustrate DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST, I was on her website within seconds.
And I was thrilled! I love Anna's work, and I'm so honored to share a book with her. Anna will also be illustrating another book of mine – SUMMER IN ANTARCTICA, coming from Millbrook Press in 2016. From the grasslands to an ice desert... Anna is versatile, too!
While Anna and I have never met – she makes her home in Norwich, England – we do keep in touch, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions for me to share with all of you. Thanks, Anna! And thanks, Elizabeth, for inviting us to your blog!
IL: What draws you to a manuscript? What makes you say yes?
AW: To begin with I try to visualize how the finished book could look in my mind (roughly!) When considering a project it's important to me that my painting style "matches" the writing. With our new Antarctica book project on the horizon I'm imagining lots of painterly effects and stripy icebergs.
When I read the manuscript for WILDEBEEST, I knew instantly it was a yes! I've really loved illustrating for poetry- it's not as repetitive as a traditional picture book but still has a sense of place and continuity, starting with morning- through to night in the African grasslands.
IL: Tell us about a challenge you encountered during your work on WILDEBEEST.
AW: “Triptych for a Thirsty Giraffe” was the most challenging, a giraffes legs whilst bending down are very hard to fit on the page- especially when considering space for text as well!
Also, “Lioness, After the Hunt.” I wanted to make her look ready to pounce- even when asleep. I was also thinking of my cat Charlie. She always hears me enter the room when she's sleeping and has a sneaky look at me! I'm not sure it's totally realistic (or possible?) for a cat to have one eye open, but think it still works for the poem. (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.)
IL: Which spread are you most proud of?
AW: My favourite at the moment is “Tree For All.” I also like “Says Nightjar to the Stars.” I like the little details and surprises in these pages for the reader to spot- little snails, anteaters and insects! “Oxpecker Cleaning Service” feels quite special to me, it was my first painting for the book and set the scene for others to follow.
(Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.)
Thank you, Anna! That lioness's one eye open is one of my favorite parts of the book. And “Says Nightjar to the Stars” is so gorgeous and resonates so deeply with me that I begged Anna to let me use it as a header for my email newsletter! So thrilled she said yes. :) Here's to many more books illustrated by Anna!
Thanks again, Elizabeth, for inviting us to your blog today. Your generous spirit shines! xo
Irene Latham was inspired to write DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST after viewing images from wildlife photographer Greg du Toit, who submerged himself in a Kenyan water hole in order to best capture the animals drinking. In response, she submerged herself in research and waited for these poems to arrive. She is also the author of three volumes of poetry for adults and two award-winning novels for children: LEAVING GEE'S BEND and DON'T FEED THE BOY. www.irenelatham.com
Anna Wadham is the illustrator of several picture books and has an MA in children's book illustration. She currently lives in Norwich, England, where she enjoys the city cafes and the rooftop views of trees, gardens, and chimney pots from her flat. Inspiration is drawn from many things - memory, great painters, pattern, and a bit of imagination. She loves to paint animals and create colorful landscapes for them to inhabit. www.annawadham.com
Irene is generously offering a signed copy of DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win - enter below: