Friday, July 11, 2014

Author-illustrator Micah Player

Every Friday, an author, an illustrator, a teacher, or a librarian drops by to chat with me about children's books. This week's special guest is author-illustrator Micah Player. We chatted about Lily, school libraries, reading, picture books, and his family. I wrote the words in red, and he wrote the words in black. Many thanks, Micah! 

Lily is The Traveling Girl! She’s the center of a collaboration with my friend Erin Nichols, an apparel designer. We design and produce a series of teeshirts for girls that follow the daughter of a writer and photographer for the “World’s Greatest Magazine”. Always on the go, Lily lives out of a Sunny Yellow Suitcase. She explores the world with her best friend, a corduroy stuffed Zebra she found at a thrift store in London. We tell her story through hangtags that are written in the style of notes she keeps in a travel journal, as well as letters she sends to friends and family.

It is a very different way to approach art for apparel. I literally write and illustrate every release as if its a little book. When you pick up one of the tees, you can sense that Lily’s life is more than the snippet you’re seeing on that particular piece. There is a real magic to working this way, and as a writer who is also a designer it just feels like everything I love all at once.

When we had finished our first release, a story about Lily in Peru along the shore of the world’s highest lake, I was incredibly proud of it and sent our website link to some friends at Chronicle Books. They immediately got what we were doing and fell in love with Lily. Before we knew it, we were working on a picture book!
The book trailer for Lately Lily: The Adventures of a Travelling Girl is a love letter to both Lily and to the kinds of kids that inspired the character. Its set to a song by my friend Lucky Diaz, a Grammy-winning kids musician who is also a frequent collaborator. We both have very particular ideas of what good work for kids is all about and the lyrics he wrote, though not about Lily particularly, absolutely capture the sense of optimism and curiosity that she brings to mind.

In addition to writing and illustrating children’s books, I’m constantly doodling on my little Casio keyboard, writing little snippets of songs. It is a dream and ambition of mine to tell stories across lots of different mediums. I am an obsessive daydreamer and never quite satisfied with any one thing.

School libraries are sanctuaries. A place for reading and thinking. A Library is a Feeling. It is a sense of quiet and respect mixed with limitless possibility. Everything good about being a person is on display in a Library. When I think of a School Library I always picture the one in my middle school. Isn’t it basically a universally agreed upon fact that Middle School is the darkest most horrible period in a western, educated life? 6th, 7th and 8th grade are like the middle ages or something. There is no better contrast in the world than a Middle School hallway and a Middle School Library. I hid-out there many a lunch hour...

Reading is a luxury. It never stops feeling that way.

Picture books are too short and they keep getting shorter! I would love to do a picture book that was at least seventy-something pages or whatnot.  The one that busy parents dread on the shelf at story time, but the kids love because it goes on forever. A loophole in the one-book-before-bed rule!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my family! The lovely Stephanie Player and I were married fifteen years ago and we have two voraciously curious sons that absolutely pack their tote bags every chance they get at the Newport Beach public library.

I am giving away one copy of Lately Lily: The Adventures of a Travelling Girl

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 7/11 to 11:59 p.m. on 7/13. 

2. You must be 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Borrow Lately Lily: The Adventures of a Travelling Girl from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


  1. I know I'm supposed to be cutting back on blogs (and I am!), but this is too good NOT to read! I LOVE Lately Lily and own it, having won it (yay for me!) through Kid Lit Reviews (http :// kid-lit-reviews. com/2014/05/16/561-lately-lily-the-adventures-of-a-traveling-girl-by-micah-player/). Love Chloe, Instead too!

    These trailers are fantastic! (tweeted about them). That Zeborah is hilarious lol The harmonica? Priceless! And I can't tell you how much I LOVED hearing you say, Micah, that you want LONGER picture books! It's something I feel SO strongly about, but publishers and parents want SHORT, SHORTER, SHORTEST so they have quick bedtime reading (I used to love that time, not quick) and children reading by themselves. There need to be picture books for all reasons, not just those :)

    Your whole interview REALLY made me smile, Micah. And that Chronicle Books puts out some real gems! Love them! :D Thanks, John!

  2. Ditto! I've always dressed my dd in frills and ruffles, not so much a tee shirt person, but this made me turn to tees! (the only ones we!) I love Lily, the books, music, etc. In this day in age when everything is about quickly growing up and lost innocence, it's very refreshing to slow down and have my little one explore. She had a riot seeing Zebora because she actually owns about 2 harmonicas and 3 different tambourines. I love you guys and we are looking forward to all the goodies your future holds!