HomeBooks by AgeAges 0-3Illustration Inspiration: Deborah Freedman, Author-Illustrator of Carl and the Meaning of Life
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Illustration Inspiration: Deborah Freedman, Author-Illustrator of Carl and the Meaning of Life

The Children’s Book Review | May 22, 2019

Deborah Freedman is a trained architect who now works as an author/illustrator. She is the author of This House, Once, ShyBy Mouse and FrogThe Story of Fish and SnailBlue Chicken, and Scribble.

I make art because …

It’s my way of puzzling out the world.

My latest published book is …

Carl and the Meaning of Life

 Art medium used …

Mostly watercolor and pencil.

Artistic process …

My “process” involves ridiculous amounts of time staring into space, chasing an awful lot of ideas to nowhere, and falling in and out of love. I sure wish I had something less disorderly and unpredictable to plug into; it would make my writing life a lot easier! For a real look at my messy process, read my book Blue Chicken — it’s semi-autobiographical. I’m both the artist and the chicken.

Throughout this mess-making, I tend to think in both words and pictures, so I begin by “writing” with both, filling sketchbooks with snippets of text and doodles and musings. Once I feel ready (or just finally overcome inertia!), I sketch a book out in thumbnail, storyboard form so that I can see the entire book at once. For me, the book has to work visually at that tiny scale before I can move on; I will also pull the text out at some point and work on that by itself. There’s a constant back and forth between drawing and writing, each getting more and more refined every time I revise. Eventually  I graduate to tighter sketches and lots of experimenting with technique and materials, to get ready for final art.

Carl-and-the-Meaning-of-Life-Interior
I am inspired by …

The world all around! I love walking through the woods, wandering through museums, reading… all of those things spark ideas for me.

My favorite place to create & illustrate is …

In a sunny window at home, where I can look out and watch the birds and squirrels and other animals that appear in Carl.

My most used art supply or tool is …

Pretty boring — a mechanical pencil — a leftover habit from my days as an architect.

Illustrator idols …

I should be used to this question, but it will never stop being impossible to answer! So I’ll  just turn my head to the stacks of picturebooks currently on my desk, where I spy books by… Maira Kalman, Anne Herbauts, Bryan Collier, Ayano Imai, John Burningham, Nasrin Khosravi, Kveta Pavoska, Marije Tolman, Beatrice Alemagna, Lizbeth Zwerger… to name just a portion of today’s selection. I could go on and on because there are infinity-jillion talented illustrators to collect and be inspired by.

All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t illustrate …

The picture books that meant the most to me growing up—and that surely influenced me the most — were those written by my Aunt Mary Ann (Hoberman) and illustrated by my Uncle Norman, who was an architect and sculptor. My favorite of those, a book about imagination, was What Jim Knew.

A literary character to create art with …

Harold, of course!

Currently working on …

I’m not completely sure what to call it — a hybrid picture-book/chapter-book-thing. Which I’ve never done before. So wish me luck!

For more information about Deborah Freedman and her work, you can visit: www.deborahfreedman.net, Twitter: @deborahfreedman, Instagram: @freedmanillustrates, and Facebook: @deborah.freedman.author.illustrator.

Carl and the Meaning of LifeCarl and the Meaning of Life

Written and Illustrated by Deborah Freedman

Publisher’s Synopsis: From the often Caldecott-buzzed Deborah Freedman, a sweet and funny story about finding your place in the world.

Carl is an earthworm. He spends his days happily tunneling in the soil until a field mouse asks him a simple question that stops him short: “Why?” Carl’s quest takes him on an adventure to meet all the animals of the forest, each of whom seems to know exactly what they were put on this earth to do, unlike the curious Carl. But it’s not until the world around him has changed that Carl begins to realize everyone, no matter how small, makes a big difference just by being themselves.

Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | April 2, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-0451474988

Available Here: 

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Discover more picture book illustration inspiration and books like Carl and the Meaning of Life, written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our Illustration Inspiration series and articles tagged with , , , and .

The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by a guest author.

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