Monday, January 9, 2017

Q&A with Carin Berger

Carin Berger is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Good Night! Good Night!. Her other books include Finding Spring and A Perfect Day. She lives in New York City.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Good Night! Good Night!, and why did you pick bunnies as the characters?

A: Like many kids, my daughter was a sleepless wonder...always finding one more reason to delay bedtime. The delicate balancing act of nighttime rituals...the parental goal of ending the evening and the delicious cuddliness of that particular point in the day was the inspiration for Good Night! Good Night!.

As for bunnies...well...we have a beloved pet rabbit, Pearly, who is now 100 years old in bunny years, and he [or bunnies] appear in some form in many of my books.

Q: How do your illustrations and your writing come together for you when you're starting a book project like this? Does one happen before the other, or do you work on them simultaneously?

A: In most of my books, including this one, the writing comes first. However, because I both write and illustrate, there is a great deal of toggling back and forth between text and illustrations.

By doing both parts I am able to make decisions about how the story is told...when to use words to tell the story and when to let the pictures do the work.

Q: What materials do you work with in your collages, and what did you use for this book in particular?

A: All of the illustrations are made by hand, not digitally. I work with a combination of materials for my collages...ephemera [old letters, vintage books, found receipts and bits of paper] and scraps from magazines, catalogues, etc.

For this book I also did something new. I found vintage fabrics that I liked, made color copies of the fabric and then used this created paper for the clothing on the bunnies.

I also wanted to have the contrast of simple, flat backgrounds and the almost toy-like bunnies, which were made like paper dolls and raised up off of the background in order to create shadows and dimensionality. I then worked with a photographer, Porter Gillespie, to photograph the art.

Q: What age group do you think would especially enjoy this book?

In the process of creating Good Night! Good Night!.
A: Good Night! Good Night! is best suited for the youngest set, 2-5, as a bedtime story. Although I do hope parents can also enjoy it.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am deep into two projects that I am very excited about. The first is a book about love and community, with a working title Love Wins. The second is called A Curious Menagerie, and is a book about collective nouns. These are both with Greenwillow Books.

I also have illustrated Are We Pears Yet?, written by Miranda Paul, which will be out in the fall (Neal Porter Books).

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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