Monday, April 14, 2008

Rickshaw in the rain

No amount of rain or dreary chill could dampen my excitement when the day finally came for my Brown Bag lecture at the Portland Public Library with Mitali Perkins. She gave an energetic and moving talk to the crowd of (mostly) young readers from three middle schools and several students from Deering High. I keep learning new things about Mitali's source of stories, her heritage, and her strong connection to her audience. She's one hard act to follow.

The big question: how does a girl from New Hampshire illustrate a book set in Bangladesh? Well, it takes research and good drawing, but also a connection with the story. Mitali's writing touches all the senses. I was immersing myself in visual reference provided by the art director, Susan Sherman, and also getting my daughter and her friend to pose for me, plus listening to the Bend it Like Beckham soundtrack! But more than anything, I related to the lead character, Naima. Being a daughter and having a daughter got me deeply into the heart of the book, where artistic skills, resourcefulness, and love cross cultural boundaries.

I'm always curious about process so I showed some of the rough sketches done for the cover.

After the talk and signing, fellow author/illustrator/islander Annie O'Brien
joined MItali, Kirsten Cappy and I for a long and relaxing lunch. Here they are, three muses with generous wisdom in the infinite realm of children's literature.

Kirsten Cappy, Mitali Perkins, and Annie O'Brien at David's in Portland, Maine

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