An interview with Kobi Yamada in partnership with Compendium, Inc.
The Children’s Book Review
Kobi Yamada is the creator of many inspiring books, including the New York Times best-selling What Do You Do With… series and Because I Had a Teacher. He is also the president of Compendium, a company of amazing people doing amazing things. Kobi feels grateful to share his life with his loving family in the Pacific Northwest, where he can look out and catch a glimpse of the marvelous every day. The latter leads us to his latest picture book collaboration with illustrator Elise Hurst, Noticing.
In this interview, we discuss Noticing, imagination, compassion, and the beauty of paying attention to our surroundings.
Be sure to scroll down to the giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Noticing!
Noticing follows a young girl and an accomplished painter as they learn to observe the beauty and magic in each day. What would you like readers to know about this mesmerizing book?
Kobi Yamada: Noticing is a book about awareness and perspective. It is a book that encourages you to pay attention, to be curious, and to observe the world around and within you. It is my hope that it inspires readers to look closely and to discover all the miraculous and sometimes hidden aspects that are available to all of us.
What was your specific inspiration for Noticing? At what moment did you know you had to create this book? Was it something you noticed?
It has always fascinated me how two people can look at the same thing and see it so differently. Our imagination, our compassion, and our experiences shape how we see ourselves and the world around us. My goal was to create a book that would encourage readers to take the time to observe, to pay attention to the world around them, and perhaps to see things with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
The jacket flap text challenges readers with a what-if question: What if you looked for the good inside yourself, and others—what would you see? What kind of answers do you think young readers might give after reading Noticing?
So much is formed by not only what we see but how we choose to look at something or someone. And we all are shaped by our outlooks, attitudes, biases, and experiences. It is my hope that readers will choose to engage with more openness and curiosity. What we focus on increases, and when we look for the good, we are also part of creating it.
The protagonist is a curious young girl, and it is an elderly, wise painter who helps her to take in the wonders of the world and encourages her to use her imagination to think bigger. Will you talk to us about this dynamic and why you chose an artist as the enlightened messenger of embracing what’s possible?
Much like our previous book, Trying, which I created with illustrator, Elise Hurst, this book also has a relationship between a young person and a mentor. I thought it was appropriate that our mentor was an artist who not only creates through purposeful observation and the details that she sees but also expresses and shares wonderful possibilities that can be imagined and brought into the world.
Where or from whom did you learn the importance of noticing?
Over the years, I’ve come to discover that we not only see what’s in front of us, but often we look back at the things we may have missed in life. I know I am guilty of this. I can be so busy or focused or distracted with something that amazing things pass me by. The more we can encourage each other to pause, to take in the beauty of the world and the people around us, the more we can connect with the fullness of our lives.
Would it be fair to say you are an optimist? Do you think having a keen sense of noticing requires a dose of optimism? Or do you think noticing and mindset are separate entities?
I think it is fair to say I am an optimist. I think developing a healthy mindset, attitude and orientation are all helpful life skills. And I believe they are key ingredients in developing the life skill of noticing. It is my opinion that these life skills are intertwined and build on each other to enable us to live and experience our lives in a way that is inspiring and fulfilling.
Noticing encourages readers of all ages to slow down and look at the world with their hearts—to use their imagination to expand their vision. What do you do in your daily routine to make sure you take the time to slow down?
One of my daily routines that I find to be most helpful to slow down is to sit quietly, close my eyes, regulate my breathing, and focus on what I am grateful for. When I am able, I also to try to get out in nature. I find being in nature is incredibly energizing and restorative and a pathway to creativity.
Elise Hurst’s artwork is absolutely stunning, as always! Will you share your thoughts on the art style, color choices, and how it lends to the art of noticing?
I knew I wanted to work with Elise on this book. She is a genius and incredible at creating worlds where we can discover and imagine. For Noticing, I asked her to create her illustrations in a way where many imaginative elements are subtly hidden. Not only is this central to the story, but it is a wonderful way for readers to discover and notice something new each time they read the book.
Since Noticing is a companion to the beloved children’s book Trying, should we expect to see more books like it?
Yes, Noticing is a sibling book to our first book together, Trying. It is my hope that I will get to collaborate with Elise on future books to enhance not only life skills like perseverance or observation but also the importance of mentorship and being there for someone else.
Is there anything else you feel we should know about Noticing, yourself, or your writing?
It is always my hope with any book that I write that it will be a catalyst for conversation, especially between people of different ages and life experiences. Those conversations can lead to greater understanding and connection if we look for new ways to grow and are willing to expand our unique perspectives.
For more information, visit www.live-inspired.com.
About the Book
Publisher’s Book Summary: This is a story about noticing the little things, the grand big things, the imaginary, and sometimes, hidden things. It is about embracing what’s possible. And that the incredible is everywhere and in everything—waiting to be known, discovered, and recognized.
This beautiful tale by New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada and illustrator Elise Hurst encourages readers of all ages to slow down and look at the world with their hearts–to use their imagination to expand their vision. A companion to the beloved children’s book Trying, Noticing follows a young girl and an accomplished painter as they learn to observe the beauty and magic in each day. It’s a story that will encourage you to pay attention, make new discoveries, and explore the unknown. And it’s also an invitation to look within, to your own hopes and dreams, and perhaps to discover even more.
Buy the Book
Book GiveawayNoticing: Book Giveaway
This interview—Kobi Yamada Discusses Noticing—was conducted between Kobi Yamada and Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Kobi Yamada, and Picture Book.
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