Posts by Kate

Books from Abroad: Interview with Camille Garoche

What an honor to be celebrating my newborn blog by interviewing French author-illustrator Camille Garoche! I discovered her wordless picture book Fox’s Garden this past summer while in the States, and immediately fell under its spell. The sequel, The Snow Rabbit–also wordlesshas recently been released by Enchanted Lion Books.

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French edition, Soleil, 2015.

Camille builds, lights, and photographs the paper-cut dioramas that furnish her stories. The result is a breathtaking 3D world that transcends the language barrier, and into which children love to introduce their own narration. (I’ve storytime-tested this and it works like a charm!)

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Enchanted Lion Books, 2015.

Thank you so much, Camille, for sharing with us today! First things first. At what age did you know that you were meant to be an artist? And what led you to pursue that professionally?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an illustrator. I let my parents know it very early on! And I was always so sure of myself that my parents let me follow my own path with their confidence and support.

When and how did you decide to focus on children’s literature in particular?

When I was 12, I wanted to be a stylist and costume designer. I even wrote to Jean Paul Gaultier, who very kindly answered me. In junior high, I did nothing but draw clothing. Then I wanted to make animated films. I even tried to enter Gobelins School of Visual Art in Paris, but while preparing for the competitive entrance exam, I realized that wasn’t at all what I wanted. I wasn’t very good at animation. Plus, I found it annoying.

In the end, book creation became the obvious choice. I had always invented stories for my brothers and sisters, and now I wanted to develop a world of my own creation.

Was there a key moment or turning point in your career?

Maybe when my book Fox’s Garden came out in the US. I was contacted by Claudia Bedrick (editor at Enchanted Lion Books who acquired foreign rights it) who wanted to work with me directly. Kirsten Hall of Catbird Productions wanted to represent me, and all of that re-boosted my energy. Before that, I’d been getting a bit tired and depressed. I’d even thought of quitting. They both gave back to me the will to create books.

How did you get the idea to associate paper-cutting and photography for Fox’s Garden and The Snow Rabbit?

The first time I tried that technique, it was for Frédéric Kessler’s book L’album de famille (The Family Album) published by Autrement Jeunesse. It’s the story of a little boy who comes across an album filled with photos. The text was very beautiful–it was the first time I had liked a text so much. I was supposed to illustrate these “photos,” and it became clear to me that I should make photos out of my drawings. My editor, Kamy Pakdel, said, “Go ahead, I trust you.” And despite my doubts, I went ahead with the experiment. I adored it.

A spread from L'Album de Famille.
L’album de famille, Autrement Jeunesse, 2012. Currently out of print.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

I wake up last-minute after hitting “snooze” on my alarm 5 or 6 times (I hate the morning!), shove aside my cat Attila who sleeps on my head, then wake my daughters Éléonore, 7, and Rose, almost 2, and my boyfriend, take my shower, and wake my eldest all over again because she’s gone back to sleep. We eat, then run to school which is just next door, and I go to my communal art studio, which I love, and which is only 4 minutes away on foot!

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Camille’s studio.

Next, I start doing cutouts or putting colors onto my computer, I drink 2 liters of tea, and I eat lunch with my art studio friends. (My art studio is amazing! There are costume designers, set designers, a children’s illustrator, a graphic designer, an upholsterer, a coreographer, a puppeteer, etc.)

At 5:10 p.m. I pick up my eldest from school and the nanny drops Rose off. We eat early for Parisians (6:30 p.m.). Each girl gets a bedtime story, then my boyfriend and I have a little peace and quiet in front of a TV series. Then it’s off to bed! I draw in bed, add ideas to my current notebook, and Attila reassumes her position on my head…

What feeds your creativity?

I realize I have the need to travel…Other than that, the other books that I read (children’s books or novels). Then there are all the audio books I read while I work. And I love discovering new techniques: engraving, modeling, pottery, silkscreen printing, lithography, stamping, etc….I find it very enriching and sometimes an idea comes from a certain technique and its constraints.

Scene from The Snow Rabbit.
A scene from The Snow Rabbit.

How did the idea for Fox’s Garden come to you?

My editor, Kamy Pakdel, asked me to come up with an idea for the collection “Histoire sans parole” (Wordless Story). He told me, “Make me an all-white book in paper-cutting, like in L’album de famille.” I of course thought of snow. In the end, it was clear to us that the fox couldn’t remain white, so I colored her in orange!

A scene from Fox's Garden.
A scene from Fox’s Garden.

What themes, subjects, and characters do you base your stories on?

I love stories with children, animals…I try to remember everything that enchanted me as a child.

Are your picture books always “wordless”?

If I’ve done wordless stories in the past, it’s been from a lack of self-confidence, because I haven’t always been comfortable with writing text. But I’ve always loved telling stories, and that insecurity wasn’t about to stop me from telling them. Now, things are better. I write with my boyfriend, and have realized that I do love it. (Essay-writing happened to be my favorite thing at school.) But I love wordless stories because they’re like silent films. I feel as if I was making an animated movie…and I’d love to be able to add music.

Anything else you’d like to share with an American audience? (Can we look forward to any new books from you in the near future, States-side?)

Yes, there is Pillowland by Laurie Berkner in paper-cut (Simon & Schuster), and another secret project with Enchanted Lion Books…But I won’t say more!

Fair enough. We can’t wait!

A scene from Pillowland.
Pillowland, Simon & Schuster, late 2017.

For more about Camille Garoche and her exquisite work, visit her website and portfolio at http://camille.garoche.me/ (Source of the images for this article.)

Shop Camille’s artful gifts at her Etsy boutique.

A list of her titles available in the United States can be found on Goodreads.

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(The original interview, conducted in French, is included below.)

1. A quelle age avez-vous su que vous étiez artiste dans l’âme ? Et qu’est-ce qui vous a amené à poursuivre ce chemin professionnellement ?

Depuis aussi longtemps que je m’en souvienne j’ai voulu être « dessinatrice ». Mes parents ont été prévenus très tôt !! J’ai toujours été tellement sûre de moi que mes parents m’ont laissée suivre ma voie avec confiance et soutien.

2. Quand et comment avez-vous décidé de vous focaliser sur la littérature de jeunesse en particulier ?

Quand j’avais 12 ans je voulais être styliste ou costumière. J’ai même écrit une lettre à Jean Paul Gaultier qui m’a très gentiment répondu. Je ne faisais que dessiner à des vêtements au collège. Puis j’ai voulu faire des films d’animations. J’ai même essayé de rentrer aux Gobelins, mais en passant le concours j’ai réalisé que c’était pas du tout ce que je voulais faire. Déjà je n’étais pas douée et en plus j’ai trouvé ça très chiant.

Finalement le livre est devenu évident : j’ai toujours raconté des histoires à mes frères et sœurs et j’avais envie de développer mon propre univers.

3. Y-a-t-il eu un moment clé ou un tournant dans votre carrière ?

Peut être quand mon livre « fox’s garden » est sorti aux EU. J’ai était contactée par Claudia (l’éditrice de enchanted lion books qui a reprit ce titre) qui voulait travailler directement avec moi, Kirsten de chez Catbird agency voulait me représenter et tout ça m’a redonné de l’énérgie.

Je commençais à m’essouffler , j’étais un peu déprimée et j’ai même pensé à tout arrêter. Elles m’ont vraiment redonné envie de faire des livres.

4. Comment vous-êtes venue l’idée d’associer la technique de paper-cut et la photographie dans vos albums Fox’s Garden et Snow Rabbit ?

La première fois que j’ai essayé cette technique, c’était pour le livre « l’album de famille » de Frédéric Kessler aux éditions Autrement Jeunesse. C’est l’histoire d’un garçon qui tombe sur un album remplit de photos. Le texte était très beau, c’était la première fois qu’un texte me plaisait autant. Je devais illustrer ces photos ; et pour moi il est devenu évident que je devais faire des photos avec mes dessins… Mon éditeur (Kamy Pakdel chez Autrement jeunesse) m’a dit : vas y je te fais confiance. Et malgré les doutes j’ai tenté l’expérience et j’ai adoré.

5. Comment se déroule une journée type “Camille Garoche” ?

Je me réveille au dernier moment après avoir éteint 5 ou 6 fois mon réveil (je hais le matin!) en poussant ma chatte Attila qui dort sur ma tête, puis je réveille mes filles Eléonore, 7 ans et Rose qui en a presque 2 et mon copain, je prends une douche, re-reveille ma grande fille car elle s’est rendormie, on mange, on file à l’école juste à côté, et  je vais à mon atelier que j’adore qui est à 4 minutes à pied !

Ensuite je découpe ou je mets les couleurs sur mon ordi, je bois 2 litres de thé par jour, je déjeune avec mes copines d’atelier (mon atelier est formidable ! il y a des costumières, des scénographes, une illustratrice jeunesse, une graphiste, une tapissière, un chorégraphe, une marionnettiste etc)

A 17h10 je vais chercher ma grande fille à l ‘école et la nounou me ramène Rose. On mange tôt (comme les allemands! à 18h30) avec les filles, une histoire chacune, et après on est tranquilles avec mon copain… une série et hop au lit. Je dessine dans mon lit, j’écris mes idées dans mon carnet du moment… Et Attila reviens se coucher sur ma tête.

6. Qu’est-ce qui nourrit votre créativité ?

Je me rends conte que j’ai besoin de voyager… Sinon les livres que je lis évidemment (livres pour enfants ou romans) ; et puis il y a tous les livres audio que j’écoute en travaillant… et j’adore découvrir de nouvelles techniques : gravure, modelage, poterie, sérigraphie, lithogravure, tampons, etc … Je trouve que c’est très enrichissant et parfois l’idée vient de la technique et de ses contraintes.

7. Comment vous êtes venue l’idée de Fox’s Garden ?

Mon éditeur (Kamy Pakdel de chez Autrement) m’a demandé de trouver une idée pour la collection « histoire sans parole ». Il m’a dit : « Fais-moi un livre tout blanc en papier découpé comme pour l’album de famille». J’ai évidemment pensé à de la neige. Au final il nous a semblé évident que ma renarde ne pouvait pas rester blanche et je l’ai colorée en orange !

8. Quels sont les thèmes, les sujets, ou les personnages que vous aimez traiter en particulier dans vos oeuvres ?

J’adore les histoires avec les enfants, et puis les animaux… J’essaie de me rappeler tout ce qui me faisait rêver quand j’étais petite.

9. Vos histoires, sont-elles toujours sans texte ?

Si j’ai fait des histoires sans paroles, c’est par manque de confiance en moi, parce que je n’étais pas à l’aise avec les textes; Mais j’ai toujours adoré raconter des histoires et ce n’est pas ce qui allait m’empêcher d’en raconter. Maintenant ça va mieux, j’écris avec mon copain et en réalité je me rends compte que j’ai toujours adoré écrire, les « rédactions » étaient mes sujets favoris à l’école. Mais j’aime beaucoup les histoires sans paroles, comme un film muet ; j’ai l’impression de faire des films d’animation… j’aimerais bien ajouter de la musique.

10. Autre chose que vous aimeriez partager avec des lecteurs Américains ? La sortie d’un nouvel ouvrage aux States dans un futur proche?

Oui il y a « Pillowland » de Laurie Berkner en papier découpé chez « Simon & Schuster », et un autre projet secret chez « Enchanted Lion books »… Mais je n’en dis pas plus !

Picture Book Writer (Song Spoof)

Picture Book Writer

Picture book writer, writer…

Agent Dearest, will you read my book?

‘Took me years to write it, will you take a look?

It’s high-concept with a low word count

(But no illo notes)

‘Cause I wanna be a picture book writer,

Picture book writer!

It’s the funny story of a genius cat

(And his owner who is unaware of that)

He spends his nights running after mice

It’s a steady job,

But he’d rather be a picture book writer,

Picture book writer!

Picture book writer, writer…

It’s thirty-two pages, give or take a few.

I could make it shorter if you need me to!

I could tweak the ending if you’re not “in love,”

Overhaul the arc,

ANYTHING to be a picture book writer,

Picture book writer!

If you really like it, you can have the rights!

It will make a million for you overnight!

If you must reject it, could you please be kind?

Send your answer quickly,

‘Cause I NEED to be a picture book writer,

Picture book writer!

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*special shout-out to my cat Twombly*

Birthday Giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who entered my Birthday Giveaway! Earlier today, I put all the names into a box, shook it up really well, and handed it over to my fiancé. He drew the winning names, one-by-one, in the interest of keeping everything random and objective. That’s how it went down, Girl Scout’s honor. (Yes, I was a Girl Scout back in the day.)

Here are the winners who are getting hardcover picture books:

1. Jen Garrett

2. Jenna Grodzicki

3. Judy Sobanski

4. Pam Zollman

5. Karla Valenti

6. Maria Marshall

Here are the winners who are getting Parisian book bags:

1. Erin McKenna Nowak

2. Tasha Hilderman

3. Vivian Kirkfield

4. Christine Evans

5. Rajani LaRocca

6. Midge Ballou Smith

CONGRATS to all 12 of you! Please private message me via Twitter or at “katearonson (at) gmail (dot) com” with your postal address so that I can get these prizes in the mail to you :-). 


February is a short month, but OH IS IT SWEET! And not only because of Valentine’s Day…

Today happens to be my birthday and I’m throwing a virtual party right here, to the tune of…

“It’s my party, I’ll give away books if I want to, books if I want to, books if I want to…”

As a kid, I didn’t care for birthday cake and I wasn’t a huge fan of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey either (performance anxiety). But I LOVED party favors! So, 12 lucky winners are about to receive party favors from me:

6 will receive a surprise picture book from my personal library

6 will receive this Parisian book bag (since I live in France)

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(For the books: No, you won’t know which title you’re getting, but rest assured: Authors of the books I’m gifting include Molly Idle, Margie Palatini, Tara Lazar, Aaron Reynolds, Sarah Wilson, and Joan Holub! We’re talking talent, peeps.)

Are you game? All you need is a Twitter account to enter:

  1. Follow me on Twitter @mademoiselleK8 if you haven’t yet.
  2. Comment on this post ONCE with: a) your full name b) your Twitter handle c) your favorite birthday dessert.

Winners selected randomly at the end of February and contacted thereafter via this post and Twitter. Good luck!

The Truffle Hunter

A hotel nestled in an old French village…a cranky chef called César…a blue Citroën Deux Chevaux…an under-valued sow named Martine… ancient cave paintings…a dark and handsome stranger…and a lesson in digging up tasty tubers…

Can an English picture book be any “Frenchier” than Inga Moore’s The Truffle Hunter ?

IMG_1429Her words and pictures capture such a spirit of place that you’ll be transported to the Perigord in the space of a story time. (Couldn’t you almost step into the full page spread above?) Like so many of Moore’s timeless works, The Truffle Hunter is still in print today. My hope is that we keep it that way for the next generation.

(You’ll find a short bio of British author-illustrator Inga Moore here.)

IMG_1427The Truffle Hunter
Inga Moore
Published byKane/Miller Book Publishers
1985

The Stars Will Still Shine

I cannot start a brand new blog in a brand new year without featuring this picture book published back in 2005. While The Stars Will Still Shine is not a “European/international” title; it is a universal one, and just as important as ever.

this new year...

…So Cynthia Rylant begins her ode to all things good, inviting us in to be comforted a while. Page after page, she reminds us of what is still right with the world. From the chiming of church bells, to ice cream cones three scoops high, to snuggling on a rainy day, her text appeals to a child’s senses while evoking the symbols of peace, delight, hope, and love most common to a child’s experience.

Tiphanie Beeke’s luminous illustrations are a testament to how vibrant watercolor can be. Just look at those jewel tones!

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To open this book is to open up a space of beauty and calm in the midst of troubled, uncertain times. What better gift for our children and ourselves this new year?

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The Stars Will Still Shine
Cynthia Rylant & Tiphanie Beeke
Published by HarperCollins
2005

Cozy at Café Verlet

Creativity requires a certain amount of coziness. Particularly in winter. What steaming cup sustains your reading/writing sessions when you’d rather be hibernating? Coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? And where do you go to get out of the house, but get in from the cold, and carry on?

Café Verlet, Paris, is one place I love to get cozy. Here, they import the finest coffees and teas from around the globe and serve them up with decadent French pastries (like this pear-hazelnut tart topped with vanilla bean cream). Most delicious, though, is the ambiance.

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Outside Verlet, an array of fruits confits gleam like jewels through the front window. Inside, the feeling is just as luxurious, from the smell of roasted arabica to the warm glow of a lamp-lit wood interior. IMG_1096

To ensure yourself a table, it’s best to arrive before noon. From lunch time on (sandwiches & salads served until 3pm), the ground floor fills up fast!

IMG_1094You can always wander upstairs for extra seating, and if you’re lucky, perch yourself near the window. What better way to sip, read, write, and watch passersby in the Rue Saint Honoré?

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Wherever in the world you’ll be spending your creative moments this winter, I wish you coziness, and plenty of it!

 

Verlet, Coffee Merchant since 1880

256 Rue Saint Honoré

75001 Paris

www.verlet.fr

(closed on Sundays)

Homemade Nutella

Did you know that the luscious stuff (pronounced nooTELLa) hails from Italy? But making it at home is cheap/easy/delicious and naturally healthier than buying the palm-oily, processed version. Fill up mini jam jars as gifts or as a twist on”place cards” for your holiday table this year.

Recipe:

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (for 1 cup of spread)

3.5 oz chopped hazelnuts

1 cup heavy cream

7 oz chocolate of your choice

Preparation

  1. Toast the chopped hazelnuts in a non-stick pan for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Put them aside.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.
  3. Add the toasted hazelnuts and turn down the heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool just a bit.
  5. Coarsely chop the chocolate and put it in a separate bowl. Now add in the cream, which should melt the chocolate as you stir until well-blended.
  6. Pour into a sterilized jar (as you would with jam) and seal immediately.

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Yum!

Books from Abroad

Each month I’ll be featuring a new Book from Abroad. My hope is that you’ll discover a wonderful foreign children’s title that you never knew existed! 

We’ll be peeking inside the following international picture books this year:

from Italy:

Cioccolata per te by Satoe Tone (2013)

from Canada:

Le Lion et L’Oiseau /The Lion and The Bird by Marianna Dubuc (2013)

from France:

Fox’s Garden by Camille Garoche (2015)

Un Petit Chaperon Rouge / A Little Red Riding Hood by Marjolaine LeRay (2014)

La Grande Fabrique des Mots by Agnès de Estrade & Valeria Docampo (2009)

Moi, J’attends by David Cali & Serge Bloch (2005)

Ti Boudin by Benoît Charlat (2013)

from Korea:

Crispy Crispy, A Seagull / La Mouette aux Croustilles by Mingle Mingle (2014)

from England (with a French flair):

The Truffle Hunter by Inga Moore (1985)

from the U.S. (with a European influence):

The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee (1988)

The Young Hans Christian Andersen by Karen Hesse & Erik Blegvad (2005)

Lucia and the Light by Phyllis Root & Mary GrandPre (2006)

Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb (2015)

Prizebox

PrizeBox was a game my sister and I invented as kids. Old shoeboxes in hand, we’d each raid our closets for treasures (a highly secretive, no-peeking operation). When our prizeboxes were filled, we’d take turns, closing our eyes and reaching into the other’s box to discover our “new” loot. We got to keep whatever we found, of course, and we revelled in surprising one another. For a 9 and 5-year-old, this was recycling at its most thrilling. What my mother meant by “Clean out your closets”? Probably not.

Flash forward to today, and it’s my children’s book collection that is begging for a round of Prizebox. As I have little access to children’s titles in English, I am always ordering new American books to stay up on my “native” market. But apartments are smallish in France and I simply cannot keep them all. My books are in new condition, though, and I’d love to mail one off to you! Check back each month to see what I’m giving away (be it a children’s book or a French flea market find) and maybe your mailbox will become the next prizebox.