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18 June 2015

BIRD & DIZ - Guest post with Gary Golio and Ed Young!

I am honored today to have two picture book heroes on to talk about their new release, BIRD & DIZ. Author Gary Golio and Caldecott Medalist Ed Young interviewed each other about this jazzy new book. I saw Ed speak at the Society of Illustrators in New York many years ago and he made a lasting impression on my art and how I teach illustration. Gary is husband to Susanna Reich, who I've hung out with many times at Kindling Words in Vermont. In other words, I am tickled beyond belief to have them interview each other on my blog today. Take it away guys!
Tossing Notes Back and Forth Between Ed and Gary...
GARY: The reason I showed you my text for Bird & Diz was because of your love for gesture and facial expression. In fact, you were my T'ai Chi teacher for 10 years. Were Bird and Diz doing bebop T'ai Chi with their bodies and instruments? Is that what we see in your artwork for the book?

ED: T'ai Chi is a dance and a conversation between inner body parts extended to the player's outer realms. In this fashion you could certainly find that in Bird & Diz between both their sounds and their facial and bodily expressions. I experimented by translating their sounds into colors and their rhythms into lines for the unique Bebop exchanges. What made you write Bird & Diz?

Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.
GARY: I love all kinds of music, but in jazz there's so much variety. I'd written a book about John Coltrane, who was very influenced and inspired by Charlie "Bird" Parker. So one day I watched the only known footage of Charlie and Dizzy playing together, and I could see they were just grown-up kids, using music as an excuse to have a lot of fun with each other. In my mind, they were like jugglers tossing notes band forth, trying to challenge and top each other, using their bodies (eyes, eyebrows, arms) to send signals and keep the chase moving along. For them, bebop was pure joy!

ED: The best books are made that same way. In the old days, Author and Illustrators of any given picture book met only on paper. The three-way dance was largely that with the editor. Today we still dance with the editor, but it's extended into a four-way dance with the art designer. More open-ended and fun. In our case, since we're already friends, it was pure joy.

GARY: So among the two of us, who's Bird and who's Diz? My cheeks are fatter than yours, so I could be Diz. But they both had hair, and neither of us does. ; ]

ED: Yul Brynner was ahead of his time--not many followers but Ed and Gary. But if you must be cheeky Diz, I'll be dancing-brows-and-rolling-eyes Birdman! : )

Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.
GARY: And were you surprised when Candlewick took your original 25-foot-long illustrated scroll and turned it into an accordion book? We weren't expecting that.

ED: Yes, very much so. Almost all my work starts with a scroll, as a story told orally has no interruption of turning pages. (Reading, on the other hand, does.) An accordion format is a compromise, but this way at least the reader has options to experience seeing the flow beyond two pages at a time. So I was pleased with Candlwick's decision. It takes courage and conviction to be innovative in this world governed by regulations.

GARY: You are a rebellious soul, old friend -- true to the spirit of Bird and Diz! I think we made some beautiful music together. ; ]

About the book:
A bold new picture book by New York Times-bestselling author Gary Golio and Caldecott Medalist Ed Young tells the story of Bebop's creators as they juggle notes and chase each other with sounds. In a remarkable format that mirrors its subjects' innovative style, Bird& Diz can be read page-by-page or unfolded accordion-style and enjoyed as a 12-foot-long scroll. A tribute to friendship as well as creativity, Bird & Diz is a work of art created by two modern friends that will leave young readers hankering for a listen.

Bios:
Gary Golio has been interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition and Michael Eric Dyson show, and featured on CBS-TV in New York City. He is the author of JIMI: Sounds Like A Rainbow – A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix (Clarion), When Bob Met Woody – The Story of the Young Bob Dylan (Little, Brown), and Spirit Seeker – John Coltrane's Musical Journey (Clarion). Golio is a clinical social worker/psychotherapist and visual artist who lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, author Susanna Reich. He is available for interviews.

Caldecott Medalist Ed Young is the illustrator of over eighty books for children, and finds inspiration for his work in the philosophy of Chinese painting. In 1990, his book Lon Po Po was awarded the Caldecott Medal. He has also received two Caldecott Honors – for The Emperor and the Kite and Seven Blind Mice – and was twice nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the highest international recognition given to children's book authors and illustrators who have made a lasting contribution to children's literature. Young lives in Westchester County, New York, with his two daughters and two cats.

Be-bop-a-skoodley Doo-wa!

BIRD & DIZ. Text copyright © 2015 by Gary Golio. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Ed Young. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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