The Ramble Shamble Children by Christina Soontornvat and Lauren Castillo

Hello, Christina Soontornvat! Hello, Lauren Castillo! I am so grateful for the time we spent together on Book Joy Live in April. During the episode, Lauren shared one of The Ramble Shamble Children’s BEAUTIFUL interior illustrations. Today, you’re both here to share the cover. HOORAY! 

Christina, please tell us about the 5 children featured on the cover.

Christina: Merra, Finn, Locky, Roozle, and Jory are living and thriving alone together in their ramble shamble house. They each have their own very important jobs at the house that help keep things running smoothly: Merra tends the garden; Finn looks after the chickens; the twins scare off the always-hungry blackbirds; Jory takes care of the mud. The five kids are resourceful and tough, and (like most kids) can really get a lot more done on their own than people might expect. They are inspired by characters I created for my daughter, back when she used to beg for stories “with absolutely no grownups!”

Lauren, thank you for sending me a PDF of The Ramble Shamble Children. When I opened the file, it went directly to the copyright and dedication page. My eye spotted “For the 5 little Sharps and their rad parents.”

Lauren Castillo: Yes! From the moment I first read The Ramble Shamble Children manuscript, The Sharp family came to mind. Colby and Alaina have 5 fun, wild, adventurous kids. And there are 5 fun, wild, adventurous Ramble Shamble Children. It just made perfect sense that this book be dedicated to them.

Christina, please respond to the following scenario.

A bookseller at Book People in Austin asks you to fill out a shelftalker about The Ramble Shamble Children. There is enough space for 270 characters.

Christina: Five children live, work, and play together in a ramble shamble house in the countryside. When they get the notion to turn their humble house into a “proper” home, nothing goes quite as smoothly as they imagined. This is a story about love, family, and what it means to have everything.

The perfect booktalk, Christina! 

Lauren, I always love hearing about your process and the materials you use to create your magnificent art. Please tell us about how you created the art combining ink drawings and Gelli monoprints in Adobe Photoshop. 

Lauren Castillo: Because there is so much outdoor landscape in the book, I visualized very organic printed backgrounds. Gelli printing is a loose form of printmaking that I thought would suit my needs well. When you lay colors and shapes down on a Gelli plate you definitely get some unexpected and (most times) fun results. It feels very ramble shamble. :) I combined those loose backgrounds with more rendered drawings of the characters using Photoshop on my computer. When you layer art digitally, it can be nice because if you aren’t quite satisfied with one of the layers you have the opportunity to rework it without having to scrap the parts you love. 

Christina, please finish the following sentence starters: 

Lauren Castillo’s illustrations honor children and reassure them that they are the most important people in the world. And oh, they are so beautiful!

Picture books are the most vital books I read. They remind me what is important, who is important, and help my feel connected to my fellow humans more than any other type of book.

Lauren, please finish the following sentence starters: 

Christina Soontornvat’s manuscript for The Ramble Shamble Children is a sweet, silly, and magical sibling story. The fantastical qualities helped to push me out of my comfort zone, where I tried new things with color palette and printmaking that I might not have done otherwise.

Story is illustrating, is learning, is growing, is empowering, is. . .

Look for The Ramble Shamble Children on March 9, 2021. 

The delightful story of an unconventional family of kids who learn the ups and downs of working together.

Merra, Locky, Roozle, Finn, and little Jory love their ramble shamble house. It’s a lot of work taking care of the garden, the chickens, and themselves, but they all pitch in to make it easier–even Jory, who looks after the mud puddles. When they come across a picture of a “proper” house in a book, they start wondering if their own home is good enough. So they get to work “propering up” the garden, the chickens, and even the mud puddles. But the results aren’t exactly what they expected, and when their now-proper household’s youngest member goes missing, they realize that their ramble shamble home might be just right for their family, after all.


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