Hello, World! series author Ashley Evanson is back with This Book is Magic! (Grosset & Dunlap, $14.99 32 pages, ages 0-4) an interactive picture book-board book hybrid for emerging readers. Evanson’s clearly got a knack for getting kids interested in reading and she kindly answered a few of our questions about her craft and the magic of childhood.
Below is an edited transcript of our question and answer session from January 17, 2017.
- What was the inspiration for this book?
A couple of years ago my little brother called to ask a few questions about the first Harry Potter book, which I happily answered since I’m a huge fan of the series. The phone calls continued and I decided to read the books along with him so we could call each other every night to chat. Over the next year we read all seven Harry Potter books, Lord of the Rings, and the entire Sherlock Holmes series. I looked forward to our “book club” with great much excitement. These nightly discussions had me constantly thinking about magic, which is why I dedicated my book to my little brother.
- Why focus on magic? You have a whimsical, bright style that youngsters gravitate towards.
I think childhood is its own element of magic, and everything in this book is something I imagined as a child or see my own children imagining.
- Your Hello, World series is adorable–I have all 4 titles here–do you have plans to add to that series?
I would love to create more Hello, World books! But first I’m publishing a companion book for This Book Is Magic.
- What’s your medium?
Everything I do is on Adobe Illustrator.
- How do you approach a project? What’s your process?
My approach is pretty primitive. I mean, my rough drafts contain stick figures! The concept always comes first and the art follows, but I only include concepts of things I know I would love to draw. I have inspiration boards of my favorite artists, color palettes, and photographs of the images I’m drawing.
- Do you work solely in children’s picture-book illustration?
I feel like if I tried to illustrate anything else it would still end up looking like a children’s book illustration. It’s just who I am.
- Could you tell me how you think your work is helping shape and excite young minds.
I feel like the most unqualified person to be publishing books so I tell people if I can do it, seriously, anybody can do it!
- What are you working on now?
I’m in the brainstorming phase for the companion book to This Book Is Magic, but it feels a little more like the writer’s block phase! I’ll get there!
- What else should I have asked you that I didn’t but that you would like our readers to know about you?
My occupation may be an author-illustrator, but my number one job is being a mother. There is nothing more magical or important than childhood and raising your little ones.