Who isn’t mesmerized by the moon? Little Imani’s lunar fascinations go beyond enchantment to obsession as she wills herself to touch the moon. In doing so, she would prove her worth to all of the naysayers in her Maasai village who literally look down on her. Inspired by her mother’s tales of Maasai mythology, not only does Imani accomplish the feat, she proves to herself that “a challenge is only impossible until someone accomplishes it.” Imani is quite a someone.
Frog on a Dime is pleased to host the illustrator of IMANI’S MOON–the adorable Hazel Mitchell.
Hazel Mitchell is originally from England and now lives and works in Maine. When she wasn’t riding horses as a youngster she was drawing them. After attending art college in the UK, she spent several years in the Royal Navy and then worked as a graphic designer. Now she’s doing what she always dreamed of – creating books for children. Don’t you love it when dreams come true?
Welcome, welcome, Hazel. I’m excited to talk about your new book, written by JaNay Brown-Wood. What first attracted you to IMANI’S MOON? I loved the story and the fantastical elements. I also liked the idea of the setting in Africa and drawing a Maasai child! It was quite a challenge.
And now that it’s finished, what do you love most about Imani’s story? That it’s a book! (That’s always surprising.) I do love the way the colours and textures came out. Great job by Charlesbridge Publishing!
There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the need for greater diversity in children’s books. How do you think IMANI’S MOON helps to fill that gap? I think IMANI’S MOON is a great book to add to the diversity bookshelf. Imani is in her own environment. This is not a case of forcing a child of color into a story for the sake of diversity. She’s just Imani–in her culture with her trials and tribulations–just like any other child.
People outside children’s publishing or those new to the industry are often surprised (even alarmed) to learn that authors and illustrators do not often collaborate on a book. Can you talk about that? When I was a newbie I didn’t realize authors and illustrators worked separately either. At first, I thought the writer might feel cheated. And some do, I think. But the more you work in the industry, the more wisdom you acquire. We have editors and art directors for a reason. Having a little distance between the author and the illustrator is good. And the input from an art director and editor can be crucial. If there’s an issue with artwork, I’ve found that they’ll refer to the author when needed. It’s a team situation. Without the freedom to create, the illustrator can feel frustrated and then the art might not be as good as it could be. You can feel boxed in. The writer has his or her vision, and the illustrator needs to be able to have their vision as well. A picture book is a collaboration; it cannot work without each part of the whole. That’s when the magic happens!
And we can see that magic in IMANI’S MOON, Hazel. It’s so lovely. Now, since Frog on a Dime exists to offer encouragement, could you tell us about what or who encourages you? Right. Oh, so many. First, all the books that I have read along the way and learned from. You can’t read enough. My peers – those I have met so far on the journey. It can be a lonesome profession and like minds are crucial to help you along. And those I have met who are further along the path and have been kind enough to mentor me. Going to conferences and workshops has been a great source of knowledge and inspiration.
Here’s your chance to be encouraging, Hazel. What’s one thing a writer or illustrator could do today to improve their craft? Create SOMETHING!!!
Love that! And what do you do when you’re “stuck” as you’re trying to create something? Make a cup of tea. Do something mindless (chores!). Work on something else. Read a book. Have a bubble bath. Talk to another creative.
I love those ideas, Hazel. I’m a big believer in the inspirational power of tea myself. Before you go, I’m curious to know what’s on the horizon for you. I have a busy year upcoming with three books I’ve illustrated – ANIMALLY from Kane Miller, WHERE DO FAIRIES GO IN WINTER? from Down East, KENYA’S ART from Charlesbridge and in 2016 by debut as author-illustrator TOBY from Candlewick Press.
How exciting! Thank you so much for visiting Frog on a Dime, Hazel. It’s been a delight getting to know you.
You can learn more about Hazel when you visit HazelMitchell.com. You’re welcome to purchase IMANI’S MOON directly from Charlesbridge.
Enter a drawing to win your very own copy of IMANI’S MOON.
All you have to do is leave a comment about why you love picture books! It’s that simple.
The drawing will take place at Noon on Friday, November 7, so don’t dilly dally!
And now, we’ll close with one of Hazel’s favorite quotes . . .
We are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. ~ Oscar Wilde