I have always loved animals, so it was very easy for me to enjoy this book. The text is fun and has both a sense of humor and a sense of adventure while sharing factual valuable information about the animals.
Why did you also fall in love with the idea that the book would be illustrated by children living in the sub-Saharan parts of Africa?
I thought this book was a wonderful opportunity to be able to give these children some way to be recognized for their accomplishments. The book is also a great way for children in the United States to relate to children in other parts of the world.
Were there any particular challenges during this book’s creation?
This book was a very different process from most books I work on, so that was an interesting change for me. John gathered all the art, the permissions, and handled getting the art scanned. My biggest challenge was taking paintings by many children and creating a cohesive looking book. A book needs to feel like a single thing. I took hints from where the children live and from the wildlife they depicted. That lead me to choose patterns that echo the animals depicted and the environment of the African countries the children reside in. I also took hints from the children’s paintings and from some of John’s paintings to determine the color palette I worked with.
I was pleased. The paintings by these children are quite accomplished. I thought they were beautiful and deserved a very special presentation in the book. Once I started putting things together, I had a lot of fun with the design of the book.
What do you love about the final product and why do you hope kids here in the U.S. will read it?
I am pleased with the cheerfulness of the book. And I love the photographs of the children on the back of the book. I think children in the U.S. will be fascinated that these are paintings done by children like them and will want to try drawing a lion, or they can try drawing the wildlife they see near their homes, or even their own pet.