Thursday, June 16, 2022

Q&A with Blythe Russo


Photo by Megan Koabel



Blythe Russo is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Sloth Sleeps Over. She has illustrated several books, including Posie the Pika. She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio.


Q: What inspired you to create Sloth Sleeps Over?


A: As a kid, I attended so many sleepovers that I am still surprised it took me as long as it did to land on it as an idea for Sloth. I had created the design for Sloth a few years (and a few plotlines) before the final iteration.


But once the thought of Sloth attempting to stay up all night at a slumber party entered my head, I knew that was her (and Paloma’s) story. It just delighted me to no end. 


Q: BCCB Reviews said of the book, “The narrative tone nicely balances compassion for poor sleepy Sloth and cheeky irreverence for the whole situation.” What do you think of that description?


A: I think BCCB wrote a really wonderful review and that description is a lovely takeaway. The world is already overflowing with judgment, so if I am able to infuse all my books with “compassion” and “cheeky irreverence” - then I will have done my job.


Q: Did you work on the text first or the illustrations first--or both simultaneously?


A: I started with a general outline of the story and then made rough storyboards. I tend to see the stories I create as movies in my head, so I like to get them out visually first. After that, I am able to add text that works with the illustrations, without a lot of overlap/redundancy.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?


A: Sloth Sleeps Over is about a lot of things - fitting in, peer pressure, anxiety when experiencing new things, acceptance, etc. - but I honestly just hope that it brings kids a little bit of joy while reading it. I’ll take any giggle I can get.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am working on sketches for another Posie the Pika comic (Epic! Originals), written by Paige Braddock with colors by Whitney Cogar. I am about to start illustrating another project that hasn’t been announced yet and I’m always slowly chipping away at my own stories. Hopefully I’ll have more to share soon!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: If you’re looking for more picture book recommendations, check out the 2022 debut group I am a part of: PB CREW 22! Lots of beautiful books for all occasions and interests.


Thank you so much, Deborah!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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