Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Q&A with Susie Jaramillo




Susie Jaramillo is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Skeletina and the In-Between World. A storyteller, artist, and entrepreneur, she lives in Brooklyn.


Q: As you created Skeletina and her in-between world, did you work on the text first or the illustrations first--or both simultaneously?


A: Believe it or not - at the same time! I had ideas in my head for visuals that I wanted to bring to life.


This first book is more of an introduction to the world, so I wanted to kind of lay down an overview of what the in-between world was like for kids, and how Skeletina functioned in this world.


At the same time, I wanted to establish clearly what the world looked like with drawings that would really evoke the magical realism of this world and all of its quirky details. 

Q: The book is published in English and Spanish editions--can you say more about that?

A: I’m very passionate about my culture. About telling Latino stories for everyone to appreciate.


My first book series, Canticos, does exactly that for very little children. It’s Latino nursery rhymes in Spanish, but also in English so that non-Spanish speakers can also enjoy them. 


Skeletina comes from a very Latin place and I wanted her world to be experienced in Spanish out of the gate. I’m Venezuelan-Ecuadorian and I grew up in the US where I felt the closest to Mexican heritage as the dominating influence on us Latino kids.


When I grew up I traveled extensively to many different Latin countries - Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Colombia - and I truly consider myself a student of Latin culture and a unifying force for our community here in the USA.


There is a nostalgia that permeates our Latino culture, especially for those of us that live with our feet in this country and our hearts in Latin America; you can see a lot of that nostalgia in the details of Skeletina’s house. There’s a fair amount of Latin lore in the characters that come to life in Skeletina’s world. We’ll see that more and more as the series progresses.


At the same time, the themes we tackle in the series are universal: Nightmares. We all have them, and wouldn't it be nice to have a sassy, funny little girl guide us through them?

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

A: I hope kids learn to see bedtime as a time to let their minds relax and their imaginations run wild. I hope they learn to breathe through and let go of their fears in their dreams, and that this helps them be more fearless when they are awake.


I also hope they learn to fly in their dreams, jump like Wonder Woman, find cool hidden rooms they never knew existed in their childhood homes, and receive hugs, strength, and love from those that have passed that they miss.


Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Follow Skeletina @skeletinasworld - I’ll be posting lots of videos there and behind the scenes inspiration, thoughts, illustrations and more. Feel free to share your dreams with me there, or those of your kids - I’m ALWAYS looking for inspiration!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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