If you’re in New York on April 6-7, come visit our booth at the Society of Illustrators MoCCA Fest 2019! We’ll be selling books on Saturday from 11am to 7pm and Sunday from 11am to 6pm at Booth C141 and 142. Kingdom by Jon McNaught, which The Comics Journal has called “a pleasure,” and Hilda and the Great Parade, the second TV-Tie in to the Hilda animated series on Netflix, will both be making their show debuts at MoCCA.
It’s only a week until the guide to everyone’s favorite mysterious creature publishes: The Secret Lives of Unicorns. In all our excitement to bring more facts about unicorns to the world, we sat down with Dr. Temisa Seraphini, the writer of The Secret Lives of Unicorns to ask about her personal history with these magnificent creatures. Read on for first-hand stories of encounters with unicorns, historical details, and tips for what you can do to protect this endangered species today.
Flying Eye Books (FEB:): What made you want to start studying unicorns?
Dr. Seraphini: I’ve always been fascinated by odd creatures – by odd, I mean that they are odd to other people but no odder than most things. I like things that seem to defy logic and puzzle expectations. So from a young age I collected books on monsters, tomes on zoology, encyclopedias on ornithology, and ancient codices of forgotten animals. My local library was small but I was quite determined. What I discovered was that the unicorn was far more present that I ever imagined. It existed throughout history and across cultures in symbols from Ancient Babylon, legends from the Ancient Greece and was even sighted by Genghis Khan. They popped up everywhere. Their image was repeated, and repeated in places that were completely disconnected in space and time. The image of the unicorn still features on many coats of arms across the world—including that of the United Kingdom. It’s also the national animal of Scotland. Who wouldn’t want to start studying something so utterly mysterious?
FEB: Where were you when you saw your first unicorn? Can you tell the story of that time?
Dr. Seraphini: It was in the Sherwood forest in Nottingham, England. On Saturday mornings I used go walking with my grandparents in the woods. They packed a picnic filled with treats and after lunch they’d fall asleep under the trees, as grandparents do. Once they were sound asleep I would trot off to do some investigating on my own. I used to collect funny shaped twigs, the woods were the best place for finding new ones. I was running about quite happily until I tripped and fell over some protruding roots. I had scuffed up my legs badly and was on the floor weeping when a young unicorn appeared. It licked the wounds before galloping off. It happened very quickly but I still remember how large and curious its eyes were.
FEB: Why is it so hard to find a unicorn? Have humans ever tried to keep them in zoos?
Dr. Seraphini: They are incredibly shy and don’t tend to venture into human spheres. From around the 5th century and throughout the medieval period they were viciously hunted and caged. They were deemed symbols of purity and much of their anatomy was used for medicine. Their numbers dwindled and for a very long time they almost completely disappeared. Academics across the world believe that unicorns began accessing a space called the ‘Realm Beyond.’ It’s a haven for all magical creatures, we’re not sure how it was created or when, but we know it exists and we know it is as fragile as our own natural world. With the efforts of the SSU—Secret Society of Unicorns—we’re trying to encourage unicorns back into our wild spaces.
FEB: What do people need to know about protecting unicorns? Are they an endangered species?
Dr. Seraphini: Yes, they are. Today the greatest danger is that their natural habitats are disappearing. These are the wild windy moorlands where their berries grow, or dense forests of North America where they have roamed for centuries. They are incredibly fond of spaces of extreme beauty. The best thing we can do to protect them is learn about their habitats and how to maintain the spaces that they love to live in.
FEB: What is the most magical thing you’ve seen a unicorn do?
Dr. Seraphini: A young unicorn taking flight for the first time. It’s not magic in a sense that it is supernatural but the moment itself was magnificent! It was magic in the way that nature can be magic. Much like seeing a spectacular view that takes your breath away.
FEB: What advice do you have for budding unicornologists?
Dr. Seraphini: Keep tracking, keep learning, keep fighting for their habitats. And never stop believing in magic, without it the world is a sad sort of place.
There you have it! You can find out even more next Tuesday, April 2, when The Secret Lives of Unicorns is available everywhere books are sold! Dr. Seraphini will be hosting a live Instagram Q &A on April 2, so follow along there for details.
Since yesterday was the first day of Spring, we’re celebrating with this interview with Sandra Dieckmann, the creator of Leafand The Dog That Ate the World. Both of these gorgeous books are available wherever you buy your books. Read on to discover how Sandra was inspired to turn a dark season of her life into a tale of resolve and strength in The Dog That Ate the World.
1. How did The Dog That Ate the World start?
The first time I thought of the story for The Dog That Ate The World I was lying under a tree in a park near my house watching the sunshine come through the tree branches above, celebrating being alive and warm. It was all roughly there, beginning to end. I don’t think it could have formed as a story in my mind if I hadn’t gone through a particularly dark time beforehand. I struggled through crippling anxiety and health problems for many months and connected that day to the the saying that “depression is a big black dog.” I imagined it swallowing the sun and everything alive, but that I would come out the other side stronger than before.
I thought about the power we give to thoughts that are counterproductive and destructive and shared a little sketch of handing the dog a flower. I wrote: ”If the big black dog comes to bother you don’t fight him, invite him! He’ll soon become much smaller even if he never leaves your side.”
In the book the dog disappears through taking everything in existence but mainly also because no one gives him any power by thinking about him or physically fighting him.
2. What and who in your life inspired the different characters and the overall arch of the story about building community in the wake of intense greed?
The Dog The Ate The World is a cyclical story of a community that lives peacefully, but is segregated into different groups of animals, until one day the dog appears in their valley. He swallows everything and everyone and does not stop, while growing to incredible proportions. The animals must band together and rebuild their lives. There is music when words fail, growing together as friends and rebuilding lives in uncertain times. It’s a story of rebirth and dark and light.
In a big way it’s the story of the world we live in. It is not a classic hero story where good defeats evil, but it is a story about overcoming darkness by living well and also about balance. The dog eats and eats without being satiated, which brought up the theme of blind consumerism. In my eyes it is also about the strength we all carry inside to make the best of a bad situation: be it a mental health crisis or living under a disagreeable government. The children of the world (the bunnies in my book) are faced with an incredible threat but respond peacefully. These characters were inspired by an early sketch I had made responding on the current political climate in the UK around the Brexit Vote. The calm, wise fox leads with little words and speaks through his music to pull the community together. He is the pillar of the animals in the valley and gets swallowed first by the dog, making everyone spring into action. Hans Christian Andersen said it best: “Where words fail, music speaks.”
The other characters I imagine all have their roles in the community and help rebuild it together, even though they lived very separate before this difficult time. The ferrets are silly and fun, the badger is the support system, etc. and all together they form a brilliant band. They dance by fire light and get on with living a good life. Hopefully everyone will find a different angle on this story. You will also notice a lot of mushrooms. It’a a surreal fable so you know…
3. After the success of Leaf, how did you feel putting together your second book? Was your process any different?
The Dog That Ate The World is more of a concept book than Leaf. Leaf grew together out of different stories and that was a marked difference between the two in the beginning. It was a little daunting to follow Leaf so soon after but also freeing in a weird way as I had been really pleased with the response to my debut, and I felt like I could try something a little different. The Dog That Ate The Word is a story very close to my own heart and in my mind this book looked darker, far too dark for a picture book so we worked really hard on balancing the dark and the light without losing my vision.
My brilliant editor Harriet was imperative in this task. I initially also thought about trying to work with simpler shapes and less detail but my usual way of working in detail automatically crept back in. In early idea sketches and roughs the dog was a very flat, black shape and the idea was to have him grow throughout the twelve spreads until he disappears when he has consumed everything. This we kept as a visual tool. In an early version of the story the dog swallows the mountains too which break his teeth. He started off looking quite silly but we later decided to make him more wolf-like.
4. What’s your ideal drawing space and what kind of snacks/beverages does it include?
My dream studio would be a light space filled with plants, big windows, and french doors leading into a garden which ends at a stream or lake. That would be bliss. I have worked in a shared studio for many years now with different illustrator friends and that has always been pretty ideal. My workplace, Studio Mama Wolf moved venue several times. Once we even had a studio/shop open to the public. That was especially good when we had short dance sessions to loosen up and laugh together and stuffed ourselves with morsels we had brought in to share. Space and food has always been best shared!
5. When did you start creating illustrations? What has kept you going?
I went full time as a freelance illustrator in 2012. Before that I mostly illustrated nights and days off for a couple of years, while I worked part time and built up my contacts and portfolio. Etsy was a big part of getting established, and my shop there has always been busy and a lifeline in supporting myself as an independent artist. I have always been in love with drawing from a very early age and still have paintings I did when I was four years old. When I was young I explored the countryside and forest in rural Germany as I wasn’t allowed to watch more than an hour of telly a day, spent loads of time reading, drawing and making things, and in the end just never stopped. I think at every stage of my life drawing has been my soul’s soothing balm.It’s been my retreat, my way to communicate feelings and cope with life in general (apart from crazy deadlines of course).
Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots in WWIIis Sally Deng’s debut book, which published earlier this year. What started as a scroll through Pinterest developed into this beautifully-illustrated passion project about three young women who wanted to reach great heights—Hazel is an Asian American living in San Francisco, Marlene is a young woman living in the English countryside, and Lilya is from a small town in Russia. Here Sally tells us all about the fascinating stories she learned while working on this book and answers questions about her creative process, how she conducted her research, and her chocolate-filled studio space.
Sally: “I was looking through Pinterest in college and found a vintage photo of Hazel Ying Lee—the first Asian American female pilot in the United States. I didn’t think it could be real—how could a woman, especially a Chinese American woman, be allowed near a plane during that time? I spiraled into an internet research hole and came out with a whole series of paintings and drawings inspired by these pilots.”
Nobrow: What kind of research did you do while creating Skyward? Did you get to meet any WWII vets?
Sally: “I checked out quite a few books from my university’s library, and had to dig into out of print books about female pilots from other countries. One of my professor’s mothers was a WASP pilot, and he had hours and hours of recordings of her talking about her experience. One of her stories made the book: she was in her plane, and the oil started to leak. She needed a quick fix, so she took off her shirt to clean the oil off the plane.”
(Note: this is referenced in Skyward on page 54, when Hazel has to make an emergency landing and wipe down the windshield with her blouse.)
Nobrow: Are the stories of the three girls based on anyone in particular? If so, who?
Sally: “Yes. The Asian American pilot is based on Hazel Ying Lee, and Lilya, the girl from Russia, loves to draw, which is also what I love to do. Each one is sort of representative of me in some way.”
Nobrow: What’s a favorite story that didn’t make the book?
Sally: “There was a young girl in America who wanted to be a WASP pilot. She had scheduled her physical, but knew she didn’t meet the minimum weight requirement, so hours before her physical, her mother took her to a nearby diner and she ate until she couldn’t eat anymore. She barely passed the physical, but she did eventually become a pilot.”
Nobrow: Which character in Skyward was the most difficult to create?
Sally: “The character that was the most difficult to draw was Marlene. The English women pilots that I saw photos of always looked so beautiful, like models, with their amazing hair and makeup. That’s totally not me, but I just tried really hard to make Marlene look cool.”
Nobrow: In your research, what little-known facts about the female pilots of WWII did you find?
Sally: “I learned a lot of things. First, doctors in WWII didn’t know much about the female body—all the requirements for passing the physicals were in accordance with male bodies. Also, a lot of flying was learned on the go. The pilots didn’t have time or proper training to learn how to fly each air craft. The UK pilots (the ATA) had manuals they would tuck in their boots, basically ‘Flying This-Type-of-Plane 101.’
In America, many of the women who were pilots came from wealthy families who could fund their pilot lessons, but for those who weren’t, they had to go back to civilian life with little hope of having the money to continue flying on their own. In a lot of their interviews, the women pilots didn’t want it to end. They wanted to keep flying.”
Nobrow: What’s your ideal drawing space and what kind of snacks/beverages does it include?
Sally: “I just moved to a bigger shared studio space, but it doesn’t have windows like my last space. So windows and plants make the space ideal, and I always have chocolate around—it’s probably a vice.”
Nobrow: When did you start drawing? What’s pushed you to keep going?
Sally: “Ever since I could remember. My parents told me I started holding a pencil at 3. My parents really supported me from a young age with drawing. When I was a bit older, I couldn’t sit still, and I kept bothering them, so they sent me to art lessons. When I was trying to choose between colleges, my dad saw that I was hesitating between a studio art school and a regular liberal arts college. He encouraged me to go to the art school. I’m really lucky in that way.”
We’re so happy to announce that you can now stream the all-new Hilda series on Netflix! Yesterday, creator of the original Hilda graphic novel series Luke Pearson announced the original music by Grimes featured in the title sequence of the Netflix series.
This morning, the Nobrow team in New York screened the first two episodes for 125 kids from Brooklyn schools at the Brooklyn Public Library. The response was a lot of laughter, and questions about “what happens next?”
Sam Arthur, CEO and Co-founder of Nobrow, was excited to say: “Seeing Hilda develop from first sketches to first comic, to first graphic novel series, to TV show airing worldwide on Netflix has been a huge privilege. I’m so proud of what Luke Pearson, Nobrow/Flying Eye, and Silvergate Media have achieved. The last 10 years have been an incredible ride, and I have a feeling it’s just the beginning.”
Check out hildabooks.com for information on getting your own copies of the graphic novels or the first TV tie-in book, Hilda and the Hidden People. And don’t forget to get settled in to watch the entire first season!
Summer’s almost over and kids are headed back to school, and with that, there are new friends to make, and new stories to hear. In Me and My Fear(out now in the UK, US & Canada), a young immigrant girl starts school in her new country and has to face the challenges of making friends, learning a language, and overcoming her companion Fear, who perches on her shoulder every day—trying to keep her safe.
Me and My Fear is based on research that creator Francesca Sanna did in classrooms—asking children to draw their fears and encouraging them to talk about what made them afraid. To accompany this book, we’ve created a classroom guide, complete with activities and levelling information for teachers, students, and librarians to use for this upcoming year. You can download whichever version applies to you at the links below.
We hope that Francesca’s experience working with immigrant children will provide depth to your classrooms and conversations this year!
“I am a very anxious person, and at times when working on this book, my fear would grow too big and grip me too tightly. I would not have succeeded without the precious help of many people. Firstly, I would like to thank each and every child I met in schools and libraries, who was willing to share their fears about being the new one, the different one, the one from another country. They helped keep my own fear from growing too large.”—Francesca Sanna
Praise for The Journey
Many of you know Francesca from her brilliant debut picture book, The Journey. With six starred reviews, and acknowledgement on Best of lists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Public Library, The Journey moved readers with the illustrated story of a family forced from their homes, gently introducing children to what it means to be a refugee. Now, Francesca brings us into the story of one young girl, overcoming her struggles to feel at home in her new country.
“This heart-stopping, visually sophisticated story of a happy family suddenly forced to flee their home because of war evokes the dark danger of fairy tales to present the stark realities and enduring hope of modern refugees.”
—The New York Times, Notable Children’s Books of 2016
“Direct in language and lush in colorful illustration, this poignant picture book for readers ages 6-10 nurtures compassion for real-life refugees.”
—The Wall Street Journal, The Best Children’s Books of 2016
“The Journey offers a beautiful message to readers — young and old alike — about the difficulties of finding a new home, and the value of welcoming strangers once they arrive.” —The Washington Post
“A necessary, artful, and searing story.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“The innocent voice and dramatic graphic-style illustrations tell a harrowing, haunting, yet hopeful story of a family’s search for a place to call home.” —School Library Journal, Best Picture Books of 2016
“Given the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and immigration debates in the U.S. and abroad, Sanna’s story is well poised to spark necessary conversations about the costs of war.” —Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Nobrow and Flying Eye Books will be attending the American Booksellers Association’s ABC Children’s Institute from June 19-21st and the American Library Association’s Annual Conference from June 22-25th in New Orleans! Here is a rundown of all that we have going on.
Children’s Institute Events
On the opening night of Children’s Institute (June 19th), we’re throwing an exclusive HILDA Netflix Screening Party at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in room Grand B. We’ll kick things off at 9pm with popcorn and Hilda swag. No need to RSVP but if you’re a bookseller, sign up here to receive a Hilda Display Kit for your store! Don’t forget to pick up a copy the TV Tie-in Hilda chapter book: Hilda and the Hidden People.
Friday, June 22nd at 10:30am: Hamish Steele will be on the Library Con Panel “Reaching Diverse Voices,” with Mariko Tamaki, Danielle Paige, Ridley Pearson, and Kami Garcia, in the Morial Convention Center Room 348-349. To attend this event you must be registered for ALA and sign up here.
Saturday, June 23rd: We’ll be in our booth # 2158 all day (9am-5pm) with giveaways!
3:45pm: Hamish will be back at our booth in the exhibit hall for a signing (it’s booth #2158—don’t forget!).
Monday, June 25th at 10:30am: Don’t miss our exclusive screening of the HILDA Netflix Original Series in New Orleans Theater, Section C, in the Morial Convention Center. This screening will offer librarians a chance to see the first two episodes of Hilda months before it airs on Netflix! The series follows the journey of a fearless blue-haired girl as she travels from her magical home in the wilderness, filled with elves and giants, to the bustling city of Trolberg. Don’t forget that this is also your sneak peak at Hilda and the Hidden People, the first Hilda illustrated chapter book and companion to the Netflix original animation.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay abreast of all the updates! We can’t wait to see you!
As a child, my personality was quiet and reserved, but my feelings were noisy. I was a stomper and a door-slammer — tucked in the middle of the sibling order. In retrospect, I see those characters from the animated movie, Inside Out sitting at the dashboard, haphazardly pushing buttons and battling for control. They acted independently of me, and they longed for expression — longed to be seen and heard (ahem — stomp, stomp). They often appeared in writing: in notes and stories, in journal entries and, as a small girl, in posters strewn across the house for my parents to find, depicting my honest, and probably unhelpful, feelings regarding the discipline of practicing piano (“I HATE PIANO”).
Sharp edges soften. That angry sadness, along with its note-scrawling, door-slamming and foot-stomping, finds a fullness of expression and, often, a quietness. That once-slammed door is sheepishly opened. This is the arc that my first picture book, Out, Out, Away From Here(illustrated by Sang Miao), follows. The story moves readers from the fullness of that noisy feeling — of MAD-SAD-GLAD — to a peace and quiet that we can all find within the space of our own imaginations. No matter how small, we all need to learn emotional intelligence, and that requires practice, care, and patience.
Though I don’t have formal child psychology training, I have spent a lot of time with children, teaching them and learning from them, in daycares and preschools, as a private tutor, as a homeschool teacher. Children have a lot to teach us. They navigate the world with lighthearted wonder, with honest and direct thought and feeling, and with an attention to the present moment. As we teach and care and parent them, we have much to learn from them — to learn together.
How do we encourage emotional intelligence in young children? How do we empower kids to cope with and carry feelings in healthy ways?
1.Remember, Feelings Begin Physically
Tantrums, stomping, frowning, fist-clenching. Identifying feelings is a challenge for all of us — grown-up or not. Young children may only know how to verbally express happy, sad, and mad. While still learning ways to channel and show these feelings, they will express themselves physically. We can help children to identify the clues their bodies/behaviors give them about those unnamed feelings.
2.Encourage, empower, and guide children to name their own feelings
Ask open-ended, exploratory questions. Try to veer away from questions with yes/no answers. Example: How are you feeling? What happened to make you feel this way? What can we do to calm you down or cheer you up?
3.Affirm that feelings are legitimate
Feeling sad, tired, grumpy, nervous, excited — these feelings are real and often important. Let children know that this is normal and okay, that adults feel these too. Share your experiences and strategies with children. When you’re feeling a certain way, how do you cope? We may not choose our feelings, but we can choose how to express them. My parents’ repeated advice was this: “you may be feeling this way, but you don’t need to act this way” (this was usually tired and grumpy, they were referring to).
Children need access to the outdoors to experience the quiet, beauty, and wonder of nature. Feelings need room to spread out.
In the midst of noisy feelings, children and caretakers can benefit from a pause. “Taking five” was a tool I used in the classroom to allow students (often frustrated and unproductive) five minutes to use in their own, quiet way — often with a pile of books. They, and I, often returned to the task more calm and ready.
6.Read illustrated books aloud
This medium offers children language higher than their level of expression — but not their level of understanding. Books give kids a greater ability to hold and communicate feelings.
7.Give feelings feet!
Encourage children to let their feelings move. If they’re happy feelings — or any sort of feeling, really — dance! As an adult, too, I have to remind myself to sometimes leave my brain and heart behind. Take a walk, write in a journal, create art, play. Move!
8.Help children to recognize that feelings are temporary
A wise friend of mine says you feel feelings — but you aren’t your feelings. Imagine them like visitors. How can we take care of them while they’re here? What can we learn from them? They’ll show themselves out, when they’re ready. They’ll come and go again.
9.Teach that caring for ourselves helps us to care for others
Learning to recognize and care for our own emotions is a necessary precursor to practicing compassion. Encouraging children to know and recognize their own feelings will help them to observe the same in others — and to practice compassion.
10.Remind children that feelings are complicated and that it’s okay
Feelings are often more muddled-up than happy, sad, or mad, but that makes it so important to talk through them.
The world of feelings is wonderful and complicated. It’s a world we all carry within us, child and adult alike. Guiding children to carry their emotions in appropriate ways will lead to healthier children and, someday, healthier adults — capable of caring for themselves and for others. Join me in a journey we all take, over and over again, out, out, away fromhere — through that mountainous terrain of feeling.
Rachel Woodworth grew up in Canada and graduated from a liberal arts university in the United States. With an ongoing wonder with words and the world, writing has accompanied her for the whole of her travels. Out, Out, Away From Here (published by Flying Eye Books) is Rachel’s first book and is available now. She is currently living in Tanzania.
Congratulations to the creator of Wild and The Little Gardener, Emily Hughes, for winning the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award from the American Library Association. Announced Monday, February 12, Hughes along with writer Laurel Snyder won the award for Charlie & Mouse.
Emily’s lush, playful titles have received rave attention since the beginning.
The Little Gardener was an NPR Best Book of 2015, and the New York Times praised, “Hughes’s illustrations thrum with life. The drawings are a tangle of Gauguin and Rousseau and botanical journals.”
As for Wild, the story of a little girl who simply won’t be tamed, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings said it was “an irreverent, charming, and oh-so-delightfully illustrated story, partway between Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are . . . Wild is one of the loveliest and most endearing picture-books I’ve seen.”
These stunning titles are available for purchase anywhere books are sold or on the Nobrow website. We wish Emily Hughes all the best in this prestigious win.
We’ll be at the American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute (running January 22 to 25) in Memphis, Tennessee. Say hello to US Sales and Marketing Associate Director, Hannah Moushabeck on Meet the Presses Day: January 25, 9:15am to 12pm; 1:30pm to 7pm. Booksellers will have the opportunity to meet with Hannah for an informal conversation, and pick up an advance copy of Professor Astro Cat’s Human Body Odyssey (forthcoming in March).
Then, running from February 9 to 12, Nobrow will be in Denver, Colorado for the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. Come say hello to us at Booth #1111in the Exhibit Hall at the Colorado Convention Center! Pick up a poster, buttons, and enter our raffle for a chance to win our full Hilda series and a Hilda doll.
We hope to catch you at one of these events. You won’t want to miss this chance at an early sneak peek of our Spring 2018 list of children’s books and graphic novels!