The Children’s Book Review Interview in partnership with Kimberly J. Muller, author of Goodnight Shadow
Kimberly J. Muller is the author of The Adventures of Fifi and Noni and Last Night I Swam with a Mermaid (Winner of the 2013 Best Children’s Book award at the LA Book Fest) . Kimberly is currently developing a live-action TV show based on her middle-grade book manuscript, The Paloma Peach Picture Show. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, three daughters (her CIO’s Chief Inspiration Officers), two dogs, three cats, and a few chickens.
The Children’s Book Review: Without a shadow of a doubt, Goodnight Shadow is a poetic picture book that empowers kids to be brave and fearless. What inspired you to write this particular story?
Kimberly J. Muller: Since my girls were babies, I witnessed their fascination with shadows. The black and white shadows that danced on the walls kept them captivated. As they got older and asked questions about shadows, I looked for age-appropriate books, but could not find any that explained in a very simple way. My friends in therapy were always talking about their shadows and at times referred to them in a negative context. I wanted to have my kids understand that “shadows” were nothing to be afraid of and made us who we are. I wanted to create a book that ignited conversations.
After reading your story, young readers will come away with the knowledge that shadows are not always as they appear, and they’ll also receive a solid boost of self-esteem and the encouragement to use their imaginations. Do you have a particular audience in mind for which your story is best suited?
In my opinion, this book is for children and adults of all ages.
With her shadow in tow, a young girl enjoys eating sorbet, playing at the playground, walking by the seaside, and frolicking in scenic fields of grass and flowers right up until the moment the lights go out at bedtime. How did you decide on the experiences you wanted the girl to have throughout her day?
My intent was to keep it light and fun. I wanted to create a world that was relatable, so in my head, it was a weekend. She just happened to have an epic weekend and she did all the things she may do over many weekends instead of just the one!
Written in fluid rhyme, the words in Goodnight Shadow dance right from the reader’s mouth. Are poetry and rhyme your favorite way to write for kids?
Yes, It is what comes naturally. The first book I wrote as a gift and I wrote it as a rhyme. The three books that followed, I wrote the same way.
The artwork shows the young girl as she twirls and plays her way through the day with her glorious shadow in tow. The tone of the pictures really matches the rhythm of the text. Can you share a bit about your writer-illustrator partnership and how you came together for such a lovely marriage of words and pictures?
Mackenzie and I had an amazing work relationship from the beginning. I always have a vision when I write and Mackenzie saw what I saw. When I described what I envisioned she was able to bring the story to life.
It appears that there is a carefully placed contrast between the scary and the fun shadows. For example, a shadow of a tree that looks like a ferocious bear is followed by a child on a swing wearing a hooded sweatshirt that throws a shadow of a wise wizard and a young girl swinging on a tree branch that throws the shadow of a cute chimpanzee. Was it your intention to carefully alternate the scary with the reassuring?
Yes, it was important for us to find a balance and give some different scenarios that one may encounter without being overwhelming.
The most empowering double-page spread shows a chic little girl with her hand on her hip and her shadow appearing fearless with a superhero cape. The accompanying text says: “My shadow is a part of me, showing me how to be the very best I can be.” Can you share any inspirations for this particular page?
My favorite page in the book! I have three daughters and they were my inspiration for this page. I simply wanted them to see what I saw, that their amazingness all comes from within. All the parts of us, the light and the dark are what make us who we are.
Are there any children’s book authors that have inspired your writing style?
I love books… all types of books… all types of authors… a few of my favorites: Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume.
Are you working on any more books for kids that we should know about?
I wrote a middle grade chapter book called, The Paloma Peach Picture Show, it has yet to become a book, but is currently being developed into a live-action TV show.
Last Night I Swam with a Mermaid (my 2nd book, which came out in 2013) continues to be the little book that could. The proceeds go to Philippe Cousteau’s Earth Echo, which inspires and engages youth to shape the planet. We are always doing readings and working with kids on projects to help our oceans.
For more information, visit http://kimberlymullerwords.blogspot.com/
Written by Kimberly J. Muller
Illustrated by Mackenzie Bontempo
Ages 4-8 | 32 Pages
Publisher: Archway | ISBN-13: 978-1480897281
Publisher’s Synopsis: Goodnight Shadow follows a child and their shadow as they go through a full day together. It encourages young readers to have fun, use their imaginations, and be brave. It also reminds them not to be afraid of their shadows, which are part of what makes them extraordinary. Our shadows represent everything we can’t see in ourselves, and it’s important to grow up knowing that we should embrace our shadows as guides and teachers. Engaging children and parents, this is the ultimate goodnight book.
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This interview—Kimberly J. Muller Discusses Goodnight Shadow—was conducted between Kimberly J. Muller and Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Bedtime Stories, Bravery, Girl Empowerment, Picture Book, and Self-empowerment.