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Friday, May 21, 2010

Bravely Be You: Virtual Tour: Interview with 'One of Us' Illustrator Penny Weber, Review + Contest!

Hello, hello!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers!
It's been a busy week here on the site what with my one year blogoversary (with contest...have you entered?), and blog tour after blog tour...but admit it, you had fun, right?  (waits for nodding of head....ah, there it is...)  Prepare to have even MORE fun, starting......NOW!

Today's guest comes to us courtesy of Sarah at Tilbury House.  They are in the midst of preparing for the big New York event coming up next week....but never too busy to share news of great books coming your way.  The theme of this tour is "Bravely Be You".  What an empowering statement!  In their own words, this tour is "to not only honor girls and women who are doing inspiring things, but also to help readers find the courage and confidence to truly be who they are — to stand up for what they believe in, follow their passions, and not be afraid to go against the grain."  Well if that isn't an effort worth supporting, I don't know what is.  Since this post will contain not only a review, but also a great interview with the illustrator, special event details for their launch party, and contest information....I'll try to keep my ramblings short (hehe...yeah, I said "try"...)  The book of choice for today and virtual tour guest is....

Illustrated by

This is a story about one little girl trying to find her place in the this case her world is a new school and we all know how FUN (read as scary, panic attack inducing, etc...) that can be.  Roberta James is a spirited child that is making her debut at Baker School two weeks after the start of the new year and just after moving to the neighborhood.  She approaches the first day with a small case of butterflies, but it's nothing she can't handle (strong girl!).  As she makes her way into class, she discovers many different groups of children collectively gathered due to their similarities.  There's the monkey loving crew (hangs out on the monkey bars and totes lunchboxes with monkey pictures on them), the fun hair girls, the flower lunchbox group....just to name a few.  So many to choose from...but what if you don't just fall into one category?  What if you and your interests are a blend of several?  Can Roberta sort through the kiddie hierarchy to find a place she belongs.....a place she can be claimed as "one of us"?

Okay...let's do a quick many of you have changed schools at least once in your life and been the new kid that knew no one at all?  (go ahead, raise your one can see except you and the screen....)  Now how many of you have felt out of place until you finally found a group of friends to call your own?  Yep, that's what I thought.  Most of us have been in Roberta's position, and it is not comfortable regardless of the age you were at the time.  I know in my experiences it was dreaded...hey, I was a shy child (still am to some smirking...really I am) and new situations with new people...not really my cup of tea.  The important factor here and one that is key to overcoming these situations in real life is that Roberta was brave enough to be herself.  She doesn't just squelch her other interests or change her appearance to suit the crowd.  She keeps moving, certain that she will find a place to call "home".  It's an admirable trait to be sure.

Aside from the wonderful story, this book is in fact a picture book and what makes it so?  The combination of the right words and fabulous illustrations.  This one in particular features the lovely artwork of illustrator Penny Weber.  The colors are strong and vibrant which each scene encompassing not only what the author speaks of but also little added touches of detail in larger unexpected scenes.  I was privileged enough to score an interview with this talented artist (thanks Sarah for the connect!), and pose a few questions of my own.  Here's what she had to say....


Interview with Illustrator Penny Weber

I'm certainly not an art major, but I can definitely appreciate fine artistry. The illustrations in this book bring to mind the technique used by the likes of Van Gogh and other revered painters. What made you choose this style for your work?

I am certainly very happy to have a style compared to Vincent Van Gogh!  As I believe many artists will admit, my style just sort-of evolved and is still evolving everyday. I love to layer color and build textures and experiment with different techniques. I've gravitated to this style over the years and it feels very comfortable for me.

As an illustrator, a love of art is generally ingrained within your character. To whom do you look up to in this field?

This field is full of such wonderful illustrators that I admire.  I have been a huge fan of James Gurney of Dinotopia fame and I've studied his process and learned so much from him. The amazing David Wiesner and Brian Selznick are also favorites of mine. And of course I am a great admirer of Norman Rockwell, (who isn't!) because of his ability to capture emotion in the people he painted which is what I strive for. I am also lucky enough to be part of an fantastic critique group of children's illustrators who are a constant inspiration to me.

Creative minds often give a portion of themselves whenever they create something new. Is there a little of you within the characters we see in this book? Who would you most identify with?

What a great question! I definitely identify with Roberta. Peggy Moss wrote such a wonderful character that immediately reminded me of my school years. I thought of myself as a "floater" with many friends and interests although I believe Roberta was a bit braver than I was when it came to being herself. When creating her I definitely drew on my memories as a kid - I wore a lot of those striped shirts too!

The color palette used is in one word...whimsical. I love the variety and mixed feel of them all on the same page at once, definitely plays right into the story. What inspired you to make Roberta's world so colorful beyond the differences noted between the groups of children?

Color has always been my thing- I've tried limited palettes but it never quite works for me even though I love paintings and illustrations done in monotones or a few colors to create a certain mood. Like I said, all artists tend to evolve into their own style and mine is certainly centered around color, right now anyway. I loved how this story felt so alive and fun so the full color approach really seemed to work!

I noticed in your 'about me' information, you worked as a mural painter, greeting-card illustrator and portrait artist. Quite a career in the art world! When did you realize that this would be your calling?

I've always admired and desired to work in this industry. Many years ago I took a course at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I worked one-on-one with a wonderful illustrator Deb Desiax (The Girl Who Danced With Dolphins ). She was so encouraging and inspirational but I was newly married and starting my family at the time. Illustrating greeting cards and painting murals were something I found the time to do but as soon as my third child headed off to kindergarten three years ago I have gone into children's book illustration full force and I have never looked back! I still do illustrate cards and I am refining my portrait skills but there is nothing quite like bringing stories to life!

Random Thoughts...

When I was younger, I wanted to be.... an artist!
If I wasn't an illustrator, I would be.... a weather girl on TV.
When I'm not plying my trade, I can be found.... reading or watching movies and sports with my family.
My favorite color is.... bright red!

On my nightstand is.... a note book for mid-night inspirations, a novel assigned by my book club (this month it's The Bridge of San Louis Rey by Thornton Wilder), and a non-fiction self help book, (this time it's The Seven Steps to Fearless Speaking since I have to do start doing school presentations!)  Oh and I can't forget my cell phone which wakes me up at 3am some days because I can't wait to get to work. (I do usually take a nap and go to bed by 9pm.)

The best advice I can give to future illustrators-in-training is..... make the time to learn to draw first by filling up many sketch books and drawing everyday, this is so important! And don't give up! A cliche but true, don't let anyone tell you it's too hard because if I can do it anyone can!


Thank you so much for the interview!  It was a pleasure "talking" to you...your answers are great.  Really, a weather girl?  Huh...interesting alternative choice there and the advice you gave for future illustrators is tried yes, but SO true!  Congratulations on your work in this publication and best wishes on your future endeavors!  For more information on her work both past and present, check out her site or her blog.  There is also a rather interesting piece on her illustration process for this book in particular so be sure to check it out (it's on her site).

One of Us is scheduled for release on June 1, 2010 (as of this post).  In the mean time, as a special for visitors to this virtual blog tour, anyone who visits Choosey Chicks during the tour (May 17 - June 1) and enters the code "one of us" will receive 20% off their purchase of beautiful, inspiring shirts for women!  (Chance for more shopping AND a discount...YAY!)

Special thanks to Sarah at Tilbury House for the opportunity to participate in this great tour and the ARC for review.  (THANK YOU)  For more information on this title and more, visit their site or follow along on Twitter.  For those that will be in the New York area for the BEA events, you may be interested to know that Tilbury House is throwing a huge launch event.....Powered by Girl/One of Us Launch Reception.  It is taking place Monday, May 24th from 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM.  You'll have a chance to meet the authors, illustrators, listen to key speakers and meet Sarah, herself!  Last day to purchase your tickets to this event is tomorrow, May 22nd so if you're interested click here to find out more, check out the new flyer from Tilbury House here!  (...and of course, if you attend, be sure to stop back through and let me all the details!)

Until next time....happy.....HA!  GOTCHA!  I bet you thought I forgot about the contest, right? comes the info right now!  The lovely folks at Tilbury House are celebrating this virtual tour with a giveaway to delight readers of all ages.  Here's the scoop: 

Chance to win:
- A copy of One of Us, signed by author Peggy Moss and illustrator Penny Weber (5 available)
- A signed print of artwork by illustrator Penny Weber
- A shirt from the empowering t-shirt company Pigtail Pals

To enter:
1. Leave a comment on a participating blog post during the tour (May 17 - June 1)...including this one...
2. Spread the word about the tour on Twitter using the hashtag #bravelybeyou

To get you started on your way....a few stops along this tour....
05/20:  BriMeetsBooks:  Interview with YA author Carrie Jones
05/22:  Miss Trimble's Trap Door:  New Crossword Puzzle on inspiring women
05/22:  Huck Hill Press:  Excerpt from Women Who Could...And Did


Alrighty, enough from' time to set you free!  Back into the bookish world you go.  Remember, spread the word for your chance to win as well as for the shear sake of supporting a great message....

Until next time...happy reading!


Happy Birthday Author said...

Great interview! It was nice to hear from an illustrator.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

I love author interviews but to have this illustrator was a real treat. Many thanks for the post.

Eric Rogers said...

What a neat book (and post).

Michelle Henninger said...

I'm such a huge fan of Penny's artwork! Thanks for the wonderful illustration.

Betty: Reflections with Coffee said...

Would be great for my granddaughters.

Gina said...

Happy Birthday Author: Agreed! You don't often have the chance to see where they draw their inspiration from.

Petty Witter: Glad you enjoyed it! Have a great weekend!

Sarita: Thanks! *smile*

Michelle Henninger: You're one up on me...I hadn't had the pleasure of seeing any till this book, but I definitely am a fan now.

BettyMc: I would think so. Should definitely speak to them in a colorful voice and get it's great message through.

Jill Bergman said...

Thanks for this great interview- Penny's the best!!

Unknown said...

I loved this story. It could be used so well in classroom discussions about acceptance and belonging in new places. It certainly would help children make that transition from being a new kid in school to being confident in their new school.

bstilwell12 at comcast dot net

Julie said...

This book sounds like a perfect book for my Step-Grandbebe Nevaeh! She loves reading, and she just moved to a new place, so I think she could definitely relate!

jewell330 at aim dot com

Gina said...

Jill Bergman: She really is! She was very giving with her time in answering the questions....

Barb: Agreed...and it's a situation faced by many students every day.

jewelknits: That might be a great match! She can see what this young girl does and apply that message to her new school.. Best of luck to her!

Unknown said...

My daughter will be starting grade 1 next September, and we are hoping to move before then so would be in a new school too so I think this one would be great for her!

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