HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Kobi Yamada and Gabriella Barouch Discuss Maybe

Kobi Yamada and Gabriella Barouch Discuss Maybe

Sponsored by Compendium, Inc.
The Children’s Book Review | September 25, 2019

It’s highly likely that you know New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada from his many inspiring gift books, including What Do You Do With an Idea? He is also the president of Compendium, a company that turns everyday items into gorgeous gifts that inspire. For his latest book, Maybe, Yamada has partnered with award-winning illustrator Gabriella Barouch, whose work has received worldwide acclaim. Maybe is her debut picture book. Yamada’s joy and appreciation for life combined with Barouch’s deep love of nature has created an inspiring and absolutely stunning book that will undoubtedly speak to people of all ages. But don’t take our word for it, read on and be inspired all on your own…

Learn more about Maybe by Kobi YamadaI truly believe that readers will believe anything is possible after reading Maybe. The opening question of Maybe is simple yet profound: “Have you ever wondered why you are here?” It’s amazing how the power of suggestion can be so inspiring. Was this question always the starting point for the manuscript of Maybe? Please share your inspiration for how Maybe took shape.

Kobi: When I set out to write Maybe, my hope was to help readers to know just how rare and unique each of us is in the world and to see that our potential is vast and waiting for us to explore it. I think it is an empowering thing to wonder why we are here. It leads to so many interesting and inspiring places. While the journey is different for everyone, it is similar in that we all want to matter, we all want to make a difference, and we all want to live a life we love. Young or old, no matter where you are on your journey, it is an important thing to care about where you are going and what good you will do along the way.

Whether through tangible experiences or emotional involvement, readers are encouraged to travel, explore, and seek out opportunities that will stimulate personal growth. What are your personal hopes that young readers will take away from Maybe?

Kobi: My greatest hope is that Maybe will help young and old readers alike to ask questions, seek out answers, and not settle for anything less than a life that matters deeply to them. This kind of exploration takes curiosity, it takes determination, it takes courage, but what is life if not for living?

It’s wonderful to dream big, but we all know that some of our biggest times of personal growth come from the mistakes that we make. It’s valuable that this theme is included, that failures are to be expected, that when we fall we can get back up again. What mistakes have you made in life that ultimately made you “rise a little stronger and a little taller”?

Kobi: In many ways, we are all failures. And I feel that is a very good thing. We learn so much from the times we have failed. Failure is a necessary ingredient for success. In addition, I believe the experience of having failed gives us more compassion, more empathy, more understanding for others when they are dealing with challenges. Personally, I have failed so many times I can’t count. But I also know that I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything, as they helped me gain important perspective, appreciation, and courage.

The text is written as such that the illustrations really could have taken any direction. The first piece of nature inspired artwork is striking. The detail contrasts well against the whitespace and really draws the eye to the girl in a bird costume holding mountains with a flock of birds taking flight. How did you decide on which direction to go to convey the power of Kobi’s empowering message of potential?

Gabriella: It was a combination between Kobi’s vision for the book and my illustration style that includes elements I love to draw, such as nature and kids exploring childhood. When I read Kobi’s text I immediately fell in love with the first question, it felt so magical.

The detail in the artwork is exquisite. The bird headpiece worn by the young girl particularly enamors me. How did you come up with the idea of a headpiece made of leaves? It’s breathtakingly special.

Gabriella: It was actually Kobi’s idea, a part of his vision for the girl—a child that creates her own adventures. The bird hat represents her dreams and creativity for me since she made it herself.

I especially felt connected to the sewing leaves part, since my grandmother used to tell me that when she was young they used to play in the woods, collect leaves, and sew them into dresses. That’s what they had back then, and I find that to be charming. I was lucky enough to draw it in the book.

The girl has such a worldly and wise feel—this especially shows on the double spread page that illustrates the choice of travel mementos she has collected in mason jars. It feels like you really knew her, Gabriella. Do you? Is she modeled off of someone you know?

Gabriella: I do! The girl in the book is based on a real life girl I personally know. She was my reference for the art and naturally her personality transferred into the book, along with her look. She is a free spirit and I felt she is so right for this book.

Was there a particular piece of the text that was more challenging to illustrate?

Gabriella: Yes, the “you may fail” text. I wasn’t sure how I could show a child’s failure without it being too heavy or scary for a child to read. I was struggling with it for a while, then saw my son having trouble drawing something and it felt so right.

It’s possible I’m searching here, however, sometimes the artwork feels like it is playing homage to some classic literature. The polar bear reminds me of Iorek Byrnison, the polar bear from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The sweet pig could be Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web. Am I imagining this?

Gabriella: As an illustrator, I’m heavily influenced by classic children’s literature and art. With that said, no intentional homage was made.

Kobi, do you have a favorite piece of artwork that Gabriella created for Maybe?

Kobi: Gabriella did such an amazing job illustrating this book. On purpose, the text does not plot the story, we wanted the illustrations to carry the narrative arc. I love the way each spread contains its own little story and how collectively the reader is taken on a gorgeous journey of friendship, love, compassion, belief, and adventure.  If I were to pick a favorite, it would probably be the spread with our child hugging the polar bear. This is a deeply moving and meaningful spread to me as it symbolizes how we have big challenges in our world and we need the courage, compassion, and strength not to turn away from them, but to embrace them and stand up for them.

In traditional publishing, the author and illustrator of a picture book do not typically have a lot of communication. How did the both of you collaborate on Maybe?

Kobi: We believe in collaboration. We believe that together we are better than our separate parts. Jill Labieniec, our super talented designer, provided the art direction for this title. She worked hand in hand with Gabriella for over a year, discussing at length what we were trying to accomplish and how we wanted to weave in symbolism throughout to depict the growth and journey of our characters. Gabriella was a very generous and willing partner in bringing life to this book.

If you could both try something new to test your own potential, what would it be?

Kobi: I think, in many ways, each day brings opportunities to test our potential. But if I were to take on something completely new, it might be in the culinary arts. It is such a fun, life-enriching art form and you get to deliciously begin again with each meal.

Gabriella: I would love to try to design toys. I feel so connected to this field. It’s like this huge branch of childhood that carries so much nostalgia and charm, it warms my heart.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Maybe?

Kobi: Just that we are so proud to be part of Gabriella’s debut picture book. When we originally approached her about the idea of illustrating our book, we found out that she had previously turned down 50 book proposals. We REALLY wanted her to illustrate it, so we had our fingers crossed nervously when we sent it off for her consideration. Imagine our excitement when she said yes! Now the number 51 is my new lucky number. It also happens to be the number of years I have been on the planet. I love how these wonderful, unexplainable, serendipitous little delights seem to line up at just the right time. Maybe this book was meant to be?

Gabriella: I feel so, so lucky to be able to work on this book. I feel it’s something that will stay special to me for the rest of my life. I really thank Kobi for choosing me for this book and trusting me with his beautiful text.

For more information, visit: www.live-inspired.com

Buy the BookMaybe: A Story About the Endless Potential in All of Us

Written by Kobi Yamada

Illustrated by Gabriella Barouch

Publisher’s Synopsis: You are the only you there ever has been or ever will be. You are unique in all the universe. Just the odds of you being here at this exact place and this exact time are so great and so rare that it will never happen again. Written by New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada, this is a story for everything you will do and everything you can be. It’s a story about all the possibilities ahead of you. It’s for who you are right now and it’s for all the magical, unbounded potential you hold inside. With its beautiful visual storytelling and timeless message, Maybe is an inspiring story for kids of all ages.

Ages 5-7 | Publisher: Compendium | September 15, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1946873750

Buy the Book

Book Giveaway

Book Giveaway Kobi Yamada
Enter to win a Kobi Yamada book set!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • A signed copy of Maybe.
  • A What You Do Matters boxed set.
    • Includes signed copies of:
      • What Do You Do With an Idea?
      • What Do You Do With a Problem?
      • What Do You Do With a Chance? 

Four (4) winners receive:

  • A signed copy of Maybe

Giveaway begins September 25, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends October 25, 2019, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

How To Enter
  • Complete the entry form below.
  • Enter once daily (optional).

Giveaway Rules
  • NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER TO WIN.
  • Maybe giveaway sponsored by Compendium, Inc.
  • Enter between 12:00 AM Mounatin Time on September 25, 2019 and 11:59 PM on October 25, 2019.
  • Go to https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2019/09/kobi-yamada-and-gabriella-barouch-discuss-maybe.html on a computer or wireless device and complete and submit the entry form pursuant to the on-screen instructions.
  • One (1) grand prize winner receives:
    • A signed copy of Maybe.
    • A What You Do Matters boxed set.
      • Includes signed copies of:
        • What Do You Do With an Idea?
        • What Do You Do With a Problem?
        • What Do You Do With a Chance? 
  • Four (4) winners receive:
    • A signed copy of Maybe.
  • Odds of winning will depend upon the total number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
  • Winners will be selected at random on or about October 29, 2019.
  •  Important Notice: You may be charged for visiting the mobile website in accordance with the terms of your service agreement with your carrier.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are thirteen years of age or older in their state or territory of residence at time of entry. Void where prohibited by law.
  • The Children’s Book Review is not responsible for prize fulfillment.
  • Prizes courtesy of Compendium, Inc.

Sponsored by Compendium, Inc., this interview—Kobi Yamada and Gabriella Barouch Discuss Maybewas conducted between Kobi Yamada, Gabrielle Barouch, and Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with , , and .

Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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