Q: What inspired you to create Bird Show?
A: A beautiful Cardinal swooped around me as I sat outside. As I watched it, I thought that it looked like it was wearing a red coat. That gave me the idea of imagining birds’ plumage as clothing. The birds are in a fashion show!
Q: How did you choose the birds to include, and do you have a couple of favorites?
A: I pored over books, magazines, and websites to select birds that looked like they were “wearing” a vest, an apron, a skirt. I featured the rare Resplendent Quetzal, which I was lucky to see while visiting Costa Rica.
A few favorites: the Quetzal, the Northern Flicker and the Golden Pheasant. They were glorious to paint.
Q: How does your background as a textile designer influence the creation of your picture books?
A: My work as a textile designer allowed me to express my love of pattern and color. Expressing that same passion in picture books was an easy transition, as nature is a pattern and color treasure trove! I always look for subjects that allow me to dramatize those elements, from the snow-white speckles on a Starling to the bold striped cape of the Golden Pheasant.
Q: What did you learn in the course of researching this book that especially surprised you?
A: I knew that male birds display their vibrant colors to attract drab-colored females, but I was amazed by their wooing behavior: tossing sticks while making a booming sound, hopping frantically on a log, cackling and grunting while beating their wings. The male birds work hard!
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a picture book about a fun and unusual behavior shared by six different animals. I’m particularly excited about the theme as it doesn't seem to have been explored before. The book will be out in 2023.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Susan Stockdale.