Thursday, August 29, 2019

Q&A with Barry Falls

Barry Falls is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book It's Your World Now!. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Lancet and Bloomberg Businessweek. He lives in Northern Ireland.

Q: It's Your World Now was inspired by your daughter. At what point did you decide to create this book?

A: I decided to create the book about a year after my daughter was born. I had already written books for my other two kids - both of whom are boys - and when May came along I knew I would need to write something for her too.

Perhaps because she was so young, or maybe it was a daddy-daughter thing, I felt compelled to write something that would help her develop resilience and independence in a world that can be full of ups and downs. 

The book that I intended to write was very different from the final story though. I quickly realised that lessons from a parent to a child are all very well, but every child will ultimately write their own rules, and there is only one thing that they truly need to hear from their parents.

Q: Did you start with the illustrations or with the text--or work on them simultaneously?

A: I started with the text. I've been an illustrator for a few years now, so I felt pretty confident that the illustrations would come naturally, but that the text needed to be perfect before I started laying out the narrative visually.

Having said that, when you start working on the pictures, sometimes ideas for the text can be sparked by the composition, colours, or nuance of the pictures that wouldn't have occurred otherwise. Being an author/illustrator means that you can capitalise on those nice little moments.

Q: What do you hope kids--and adults--take away from the book?

A: I hope, more than anything else, that it becomes a book that both parents and children reach for when it comes to storytime. As a parent of three kids, I certainly have books that I enjoy reading to my kids more than others, and they have their favourites too. When that preference overlaps, it's sure to be a special book, and one that will always have a place in our shared story.

With this book, the takeaway is that unconditional love is the best and purest thing a parent can offer - I suspect parents already know that, I just hope my book give them another opportunity to communicate it to their kids in a fun way. As for the kids, I hope they enjoy the message, explore the pictures, and ask lots of questions!

Q: What are some of your favorite picture books?

A: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of my all-time favourites. Peepo! (by Janet and Allan Ahlberg) is so good for my youngest and a perennial favourite in our house, The Tiger Who Came to Tea (by Judith Kerr) is beautiful and intriguing, and, of course, almost anything by Dr. Seuss. More recently, I love Jon Klassen's books.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I'm working on another picture book - this time it's a more traditional narrative-based story, and is about loneliness and the value of friendship.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Only that you can find out more about me and my work at my website.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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