Q: What inspired you to create Five Magic Rooms?
A: Five Magic Rooms is inspired by my memories of going to a friend’s house for the first time as a kid. The feeling of trepidation at being at a different family’s home, of not knowing their private rules, but I wanted to depict it as becoming full of joy rather than fear.
I also liked the idea of a mansion full of stuff that
appeals to the five senses.
Q: The Kirkus Review of the book calls it "An engaging friendship story full of imaginative details for young explorers." What do you think of that description?
A: I like it! I’m glad readers can pick up on all the tiny
details I drew in the house. I wanted there to be a “game” element of finding
little fun things in the mansion as you read.
Q: How did you develop your artistic style, and how did you first get interested in creating children's picture books?
A: For Five Magic Rooms I really wanted the art to evoke cartoons I like: sunny, bright, bendy shapes, and a sense of playfulness.
Sometimes I think that my artistic style is a mishmash of every image I’ve ever seen, filtered through my tastes. I’ve always been interested in kids’ books because they’re a place where fantasy, fun designs, and wild leaps of logic are the default.
Before working with Holiday House, I self-published an
all-ages comic series called Bug Boys, so I’ve been working in kids’ media even
before it was my job.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: I hope they can feel a little less worried about going to
new places and instead see it as containing the joy of discovery.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a middle grade graphic novel (also about
friendship and trying new things) and I’m always thinking of new stuff for my
comic series Bug Boys.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: There are so many great picture books and kids’ comics coming out right now. It’s a great time to be a reader. Along with going to your local bookstore to get books, I recommend checking out small press comics shows to find even more fun stuff by independent artists to read.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb