This year marks the 75th anniversary of Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. In celebration, we interviewed one of the most beloved illustrators in Children’s books today, Mr. Christian Robinson.

His work reaches a wide audience with its beauty and remarkable way of touching the heart of childhood. Christian has a thoughtful and wonderful body of work in children’s literature including illustrated works like “Harlem’s Little Blackbird”,  “Josephine” and shop favorite “The Smallest Girl In The Smallest Grade”.

K: The Dead Bird was originally published in 1938 and addresses a difficult subject. Your approach was poetic and elegant. How were you introduced to this book?

C: The book came through my agent. I had never heard of Margaret Wise Brown and so it was fresh and I connected with it. I wanted to make it bright and light-hearted, although it touches the subject of death, it is just as much about the celebration of a life.

K: Did you learn anything new or interesting about M.W.B. that you didn’t know before?

C: I did a read a few bio’s about her online. One had mentioned that she grew up on a farm with lots of animals. She had lots of pets including rabbits, squirrels, and dogs. I read that her pet rabbit died and she skinned it, she was familiar with death.

K: I love the little boy dressed in a costume, what was the inspiration for him?

C: The book isn’t about the children as characters, but I wanted to give them depth. Children love wearing costumes and it was a way to express individuality. The boy dressed as a fox was inspired by a Jewish painter named Ben Shahn.

K: You continue to inspire us all with your incredible art and thoughtful choices in work. What is inspiring you right now?

C: I draw from everything really, even things I see on the news. If it’s really sad, I feel like I carry all those things into my art. Recently my boyfriend gifted me an instant camera and it’s been interesting to see the world that way, to tell stories through light and film.

K: Is there a future or current project you are excited about working on?

C: I am really excited about “It’s My Birthday” with Julie Fogliano out this Fall. Sitting on my desk right now is another book with Mat Dela Peña.

K: I work with many young aspiring artists. If you could tell your younger self anything about learning to be an illustrator, what would it be?

C: Sometimes parents want to know how to get their kids to be creative, I think it’s a hard balance of encouraging but not over praising. You want to make sure to notice and encourage the shy kids, the ones covering their art with their hands. You want to make sure that the encouragement is constructive, and not just complementary. You don’t want the art to be made for the anticipation of receiving compliments but for the pleasure.

K: Thank you so much for taking the time to share with me.

See more of Christian here and here

Drop In Class this week (May 8-13) is inspired by The Run Away Bunny” and watch for a Christain Robinson title inspired class coming soon!

 

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Mother’s Day is around the corner, and we’ve got a wonderful project for you to make for Mom, Grandma, and just about everyone else you love.

We’ve teamed up with our friends at The Soap Dispensary for a soap making + packaging project.

Step 1. Come the shop + make your wrapping + card for your soap collection. We’ll give you a coupon for the Soap Dispensary where you can grab all your supplies to make soap at home. You’ll leave here with packaging for all your soap + some gift cards too.

Step 2. : Go to the Soap Dispensary and grab the supplies to make soap at home (it’s so easy! We’ve got the instructions for you here in this post!)

This is a great project to do with kids 5 yrs old and up. Make a series of soap bars (pictured below) all presented in pretty wrap +  a matching card. Grandma is going to LOVE this…

Our kit includes everything you need wrap each bar of soap and make a card to match.

Included in the kit is a coupon for The Soap Dispensary where you can pick up your blocks of soap, and essential oils to make at home. You can follow the instructions here.

Supplies needed:

block of hand pour soap

essential oil in your favourite scent

dried flowers (optional)

soap mold or empty milk carton

 

Cut your soap block into smaller pieces and place in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and check them, then microwave for another 30 seconds. Once the soap is melted add a few drops of the oils into the bowl and pour into your milk carton. The soap sets pretty quickly. Make sure it has completely cooled before you slice it up. You can get anywhere from 5 to 7 bars of soap.

Once to soap is cut you can use your paper and twine to wrap up the bars.  A perfect handmade gift.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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