Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

My interview with author-illustrator Emily Hughes is not supposed to go up until tomorrow, but I cannot wait another moment to share her beautiful and thoughtful responses to my sentence starters. I wrote the words in green, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Emily! 


The Little Gardener tells the story of the importance of vision. If you believe something to be right or true or important--be resolute, commit and live it, despite the obstacles and doubt. Sometimes it never comes out right, sometimes you need a lot of help, oftentimes you never reach your goal, but it paves the way for others to follow suit. Your vision will eventually be realised, but it starts with your determination and hard work. 


I created the illustrations with pencils and my computer. I do all the lines by hand with a mechanical pencil, and colour it all on photoshop. I drew a lot of flowers from studying botanical books in my library, though most of them are a strange culmination of different plants that bred in my head. 


The Little Gardener's endpapers are simple. It is of taro or 'kalo', an important plant to Hawaii's culture--not only was it one of the few sacred plants brought when Hawaiians first settled, it was considered an ancestor to those of Hawaiian decent, a big brother. I think that belief is beautiful, and that kinship with the earth is still prevalent in Hawaii. Being back home in Hilo one summer reminded me of this, and has been a huge source of inspiration for Gardener. 


I find joy in talking about ideas, starting ideas, when I feel brave and try something new (especially when it's something crafty), making art with children (who are fearless, how I admire that!), having an un-rushed museum day, walking. Having time set aside for reading on the bus and in the evening is definitely joyous. 

Photo of Emily retrieved from here
If you visited my studio, you would be shocked by the mess! To be fair, I am transitioning from my move, but I doubt my desk will be any neater when everything is (seemingly) tucked into their spaces! You would also raise a brow at the stacks of chocolate and bags of almonds I have hiding amongst the paper (I'd share). 


Picture books are amazing, comforting little things. It is an acting stage for adults when they read to their babes, and a 2D world for children to live in and question. It's poetic, with it's deliberate page-turning pacing. It's good fun. Picture books are underrated, really, and I wish people of older age ranges with or without children could feel comfortable and secure about their reading and enjoyment of children's literature--they have a lot to offer in both thought and image. 
Click here to visit Carter's website. 
Carter Higgins and I will be working on her wonderful story, Everything you Need for a Treehouse, which is coming out in 2017. It's written in a very pretty, lyrical way, and I am excited to have the excuse to look at trees and cabins for 'research'. It's going to be a blast drawing an assortment of funky tree houses that I always 'pined' for, but never had growing up. 

Visit Emily's tumblr page
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me less questions! I've got picture to draw and ideas that need starting! 

But if you really had to, you'd ask me what my favourite plant would be. And I would answer without shame that it would be a zinnia. 


Borrow The Little Gardener from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

3 comments:

  1. This is amazing!!! You said it so wonderfully!

    "Picture books are amazing, comforting little things. It is an acting stage for adults when they read to their babes, and a 2D world for children to live in and question. It's poetic, with it's deliberate page-turning pacing. It's good fun. Picture books are underrated, really, and I wish people of older age ranges with or without children could feel comfortable and secure about their reading and enjoyment of children's literature--they have a lot to offer in both thought and image."

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  2. I love the vision of the book, and think it would be great to use it in my Picture #bookaday in my middle school classroom.

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  3. Wow! What gorgeous illustrations....and zinnias are my favorite too. I loved the view into your work and process, Emily. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the interview Mr. Schu.

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