As kid lit bloggers continue to help raise awareness of the Robert's Snow fundraiser, I am thrilled to introduce you to the ever so talented Elisa Kleven.
This year's snowflake is entitled,"The Paper Princess And Her Friends". (This is Elisa’s third year participating in the Robert’s Snow Fundraiser.)
click to enlarge snowflake
Elisa’s snowflake will be available for bidding Dec. 3rd thru Dec. 7th. Don’t miss out on being the winning bidder for this treasure and supporting such a wonderful cause!
As an illustrator who works in a collage style, I was over the moon when I found out that I was highlighting Elisa Kleven's snowflake here. Elisa has successfully illustrated over 27 enchanting books with 10 of those being books that she has also written.
A small sampling of Elisa's books
And there are more to come with no surprise why. As soon as you open one of Elisa’s books, you are immediately drawn into a magical world filled with vibrant mixed media collage illustrations that complement her poetic style of writing perfectly.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Elisa about her work and snowflake contribution…
Can you share with us the inspiration behind the design for this year’s snowflake?
This new one is made using ink, acrylics and collage (bits of wool and marbellized paper.) The Paper Princess herself inspires me. I admire her fearlessness. Though she is fragile and easily damaged, she faces life with open arms. She is constantly in the process of finishing herself and has a lot of fun along the way. Here she is flying on her friend the bluejay through a blizzard -- heedless of the extreme sogginess or even destruction that may await her -- while her fellow paper creatures cheer her on.
You have had an incredibly successful career as an author/illustrator. What comes first for you, the words or the pictures?
Sometimes I see an image which I have to build a story around -- a lion at the zoo whose tail reminds me of a paintbrush, a beautiful reflection in a puddle -- and sometimes the story comes from an amorphous collection of feelings, most of which go back to earliest childhood. A lot of my stories center on children making things and using their imaginations...the old saying about "writing what you know" definitely applies to what kinds of books I make. Of course, when I illustrate a book for another author the finished story is right there, which can be easier. I like stretching beyond my own mind and habits and setting illustrations (such as those for ABUELA, by Arthur Dorros) in a location which is less familiar to me.
Please share a typical day with us.
I get up, feed my ever hungry, adorable cats and dog, make coffee, read the paper, greet my awakening family, make breakfast/lunch for my youngest, get kids off to school, catch up on my e-mail, contact my elected representatives about things I feel strongly about, walk my dog , then go to my studio and work for about three hours on whatever I happen to be working on. I take many months to illustrate a book. If I'm working on a story, instead of on illustrations, I let myself gaze out at the Golden Gate Bridge and Mt. Tamalpais for a little bit, then knuckle down. When I can't work anymore, I walk dogs again, eat lunch, pet my cats, work for another chunk of time, chat with my kids about their day, and start thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner. I love my routine and feel grateful for my daily life.
What are you working on now? Upcoming projects?
I am working on a story about the crocodile brothers Ernst and Sol (from ERNST, THE PUDDLE PAIL and WISHING BALL.)
The story takes me back into some imaginary childhood place, which is populated mostly with animals. It will be published in Spring ’08.
And I have just completed the illustrations for a nonfiction book called WISH, by Roseanne Thong, which will be published in Fall '08.
In spring I will be illustrating a text by Thacher Hurd.
With the vast amount of books that you’ve created, do you have a favorite?
I think that the PAPER PRINCESS is my favorite of my books because it touches on many prominent themes in my life. As a book creator, I relate to the young artist girl in the story, whose paper person blows away before she can give her hair. Each time I send a book -- a personal, intricate work on paper-- out into the world to be published I worry that I haven't really finished it, that I should have done more, but I reach a point where I have to let it go. Like the paper princess, books have a way of "finishing themselves" by everyone who encounters them and brings their own reactions to them. The author and illustrator can really only begin the book, as books are an ongoing collaboration between creator and readers.
In addition to identifying with the young paper doll maker, I can also relate to the little bald princess herself because, like her, I lost my mom, the one who "made me" when I was very young. So I went off into the world feeling somehow incomplete and unfinished.
Also, I dedicated the book to my sister Susie, a three time cancer survivor, who was going through chemo as I was creating the book fourteen years ago, and who has lost -- and regained! -- her hair over and again. (I also dedicated it to my wonderful former editor, Donna Brooks.)
One other thing that makes the PAPER PRINCESS resonate especially strongly with me is that I was the kind of kid who constantly drew and cut out little paper people. So this book truly grows right out of my childhood. And finally, now that I'm an adult, I am still making paper people -- and birds and angels and monsters and animals -- in my books.
So this small picture book has big, deep roots in both my childhood and my current life .Thanks for asking about it. And now I'm off to make more paper characters.
And thank you, Elisa, for taking the time to share so much of yourself with us. You are such an inspiration and I’m sure your artwork and stories will continue to delight readers for years to come.
To learn even more about Elisa, please visit her website where you will find her bio section and Q&A.
Robert's Snow is an online auction that benefits Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Over 200 children's book illustrators have created art on individual snowflake-shaped wooden templates. For the next few weeks, we have the opportunity of learning more about each snowflake's illustrator to prepare for the auction in November.
Please visit these links to see the snowflakes being featured daily this week: