Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker Trifecta

The Nerdy Book Club, Mr. Colby Sharp, and I are celebrating Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker. This book dazzles and impresses me more each time I read it. It is one to add to your to-buy list. 

I’m a HUGE fan of your illustrations in Rain! and Harlem’s Little Blackbird, and I am over the moon about your latest book, Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker. When did you know you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

Christian Robinson: Thank you for asking me questions! It’s still kind of new and amazing to have folks interested in what I’m doing/illustrating.

Honestly, it didn’t really sink in until after college. I studied animation, and somehow had taken on a belief that animation was the ultimate form of creative expression for someone who likes making pictures. I mean, what could be more amazing then making your drawings come to life?

Funny thing is even in animation school I found myself going to the children’s book section of the library, and drawing inspiration off various picture book artist. 

After college I interned with Pixar Animation Studios, where I was paired with a mentor, Ben Butcher, who was obsessed with picture books, and encouraged me to trust in my own voice as an illustrator. Long story short it’s almost as if I’ve always wanted to illustrate children’s books, but it was only recently that I opened up to the possibility, or the possibility opened up to me!

Image credit: Christian Robinson 
I vividly remember watching The Josephine Baker Story in 1991. I wanted to learn everything about her. What surprised you while working on Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker? 

Christian Robinson: Just how enormous her heart really was! I’ll share this story that I came across during my own research:

If it were possible to meet Josephine Baker at your favorite coffee shop, what would you ask her? Oh, and what would you order? 

Christian Robinson: Well, I’d ask what she thought of the book? But probably what I’d most like to know is where she drew her strength from, what was her source of inspiration and encouragement? How does one cultivate such an indomitable spirit?

I’d order a creamy chai tea, with just the right amount  of spice and sweetened with honey!

Download this poster here.

What would I see if I walked into your studio right now?

Christian Robinson: A bunch of old and new work pinned to the walls. A copy of Mac Barnett’s picture book manifesto
A small bookshelf filled with vintage children’s books.
And an empty box of Samoas Girl Scout cookies!

Click here to download this activity. 

Please finish these sentence starters:

Picture books are a team effort. One I’m privileged to be a part of.

Reading is an open door to abundance.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked meWhat was the last song I danced to?

Song: When a Fire Starts to Burn 
Artist: Disclosure


Thank you, Christian

I am giving away a copy of Josephine. 

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 2/26 to 11:59 p.m. on 2/28. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

"Read. Read the kind of books you want to write. Read the kind of books you’d never write." -Patricia Hruby Powell  

"Josephine, at the end of the chorus line, darker than
the other girls, laughed at herself. She rolled her eyes, jutted out her hip, flirted. She was goofy. She was fabulous. She was original." -Patricia Hruby Powell 

Borrow Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


  1. Great interview! I love the page that goes with it, walking the other animals. :)


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