27 November 2014
Molly Idle's FLORA AND THE PENGUIN - interview and giveaway!
I've been a Molly Idle fan since I saw her first pieces through my Picture Book Artists Association message board. It took the rest of the world a short time to find her too, and award her a Caldecott Honor for FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO - which I interviewed her for HERE. Well, Molly and Flora are back, and this time it's winter with FLORA AND THE PENGUIN!
Q. So I heard a story that the idea for this story was almost serendipitous - it began with a light conversation between you and your editor?
A. I would say it was entirely serendipitous! We were talking about how I was drawing the reflections in the water in Flora and the Flamingo, and Amy, my art director, said they reminded her of a reflected sheen on a sheet of ice. And I said something like, "Oh, if it were ice she'd be dancing with a penguin... " And then there was this prolonged pause... And then we both started talking at once: "The penguin would come up through a hole in the ice!" "The book could be all blue!" "They'd be ice skating!" Then we calmed down a bit and Amy said, "But first, let's finish THIS book."
Q. This is such a different color palette. How did working with an entirely different set of colored pencils affect your general mood?
A. The colors of a book don't affect my mood nearly as much as the characters' expressions do. My mood tends to shift along with theirs. If Flora is smiling, I'm smiling while I draw her... If the penguin is completely grumpy, so am I. Brow furrowed, mouth turned down... Yesterday afternoon I was drawing yawning bunnies- I could barely keep my eyes open!
Q. Was it difficult to work with such a cool color palette after the warm one in FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO?
A. Only at first. At first I would look at a finished piece and think, ridiculously, "It's not pink." I mean, of course it wasn't pink! But it took a while for me to warm up to the new palette [e: Ha! Warm up - no pun intended!] and feel like the pieces looked right in their cool blue hues.
Q. Flora seems to get in a bit of a bad mood in this book. Where did that come from?
A. Well, don’t we all from time to time? And I thought if was important for Flora to be a really real little person. I mean, it would have been easy peasy to write a story where she's this idyllic child who's always cheery and never cross... But have you ever met anyone who is actually like that? I haven't. Even the best people loose it from time to time. We make poor choices. Do unkind things... We're human. But then, if given the chance, a good person will do their best to make right their wrongs. I think that’s the best part of our humanity.
Q. Obviously she gets over it and makes a lovely new friend. Was it difficult to work out this story?
A. Yep. Though we had all these wonderful ideas that set the making of the book in motion, working out the source of Flora and the Penguin's conflict and resolution took me a while...
Q. It’s such a perfect winter book. How are you going to celebrate it?
A. With the perfect winter treat- hot chocolate and marshmallows! Although, if you're a penguin, you'll probably prefer celebrating it with mackerel..
Q. I hope FLORA AND THE PENGUIN does as well or better than FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO - not a bad goal considering the Caldecott honor. What was it like to get the call?
A. Oh wow... That was an awesome thing. Actually made me a bit weak in the knees... I remember holding onto the kitchen counter after I hung up the phone. Positively faint with happiness!
CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN! Check out this adorable book trailer for FLORA AND THE PENGUIN:
Candlewick has generously offered to send one free copy of FLORA AND THE PENGUIN to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win - enter below.