Amy Guglielmo is the author of the new children's picture book biography Just Being Dalí: The Story of Artist Salvador Dalí. Her other books include Cézanne's Parrot. Also an artist and art educator, she lives in the Adirondacks.
Q: Why did you decide to write a children’s picture book
biography of Salvador Dalí?
A: As an art teacher who teaches Dalí and surrealism, I have a lot of students who are curious about Dalí. He has a funny mustache and makes odd art, and the students are mesmerized by his fantastic creations.
I wanted them and students everywhere to know about the man
behind the art and how and why he became a famous artist. I always write books
that I want to read or use in my classroom. I was very surprised that there
wasn’t a true biography about Dalí for kids.
Q: What do you think Brett Helquist’s illustrations add to the book?
A: I worked with Brett on a previous book called Cézanne’s Parrot and he did such an incredible job. The entire time I kept thinking that he would be the perfect artist to draw Dalí because he is so good at making elongated, pointy characters.
Brett brought Dalí’s imagination and flair to life. I’m
grateful for the partnership and that he said, “Yes!”
Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: Sometimes the title comes before the book, but this title came after. My amazing editor Stephanie Pitts at Putnam worked with me to get it right.
We already had a refrain, he was just being himself, and
that also inspired us. Salvador Dalí was eccentric and liked to cause a
sensation, so the title had to match the quirky main character. He was just
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: I hope it shows kids the power of play and imagination.
Be a dreamer, take chances, and always be yourself!
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have a Vincent van Gogh biography coming out in August
and a Lucille Ball biography out next year. There are a few other projects in
the works and hopefully many more to be written.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: If anyone out there is inspired by a creative problem-solver and your think they deserve to have their story told, drop me a line!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb