27 September 2007

Lunch with an Author--Steve Jenkins

This afternoon I had the privilege and pleasure of attending a lunch given in honor of author/illustrator Steve Jenkins, who was in the Boston area promoting his latest book Living Color. The book is all about how animals use color for a variety of purposes: as a warning, as a friendly message, or as protection. I managed to swing an invite because I reviewed his previous book, Dogs and Cats for "School Library Journal" (self-promotion! Read it here!) I've been a fan of Jenkins since the release of Actual Size, (Houghton Mifflin, 2004,) and a trip to the library revealed a back catalog of other equally impressive books, all featuring his distinctive cut-paper collage illustrations. He talked about his research methods (his wife helps quite a bit) and how he selects the paper he uses. For Living Color, for instance, it was a case of looking through photos of animals and separating them by colors, making sure that there weren't too many of one type of animal over another. Evidently purple was a tough color to find, but I love what he eventually settled on (check out the long-wattled umbrella bird.)

Today's lunch was also a great opportunity for me to spend quality time with like-minded professionals who work towards getting fantastic books into the hands of children. Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin (if any of its reps are reading this!) for including me in a fine afternoon of good food and good company. And thanks to Steve Jenkins for signing my copy of his new book!

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