Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Q&A with Orit Bergman


Photo by Efrat Eshel



Orit Bergman is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Simon Says Good Night. She lives in Israel. The book was translated from Hebrew to English by Annette Appel.


Q: What inspired you to create Simon Says Good Night?


A: The book started, as many of my works, from an illustration I made of a boy riding a grasshopper. I knew there was a story hiding there but I had to wait for it to appear.


On one of my son’s birthdays, we played Simon Says with the kids. It’s one of my favorite games because it involves movement, attention, imagination, and humor. In Hebrew the game is played with the phrase “The King Says,” and the birthday boy is the king.


One of my son’s instructions was “close your eyes and go to sleep.” I watched the kids cuddle themselves to sleep—and bingo, there was my story.


Q: Did you focus on the text first or the illustrations--or did you work on them simultaneously?


A: As an illustrator and an author, I have the privilege to work simultaneously on the text and illustration. This method allows me to create interesting dynamics between text and illustration.


Since children’s books are read many times, I try to insert clues and stories in the illustrations that can be discovered after multiple readings.


For example, in this book I plant images of the wolves long before they appear in the text. The children, who “read” the illustrations, spot them early on and follow them, until they appear in the text and become important characters in the story line.


Q: How did you develop your artistic style?


A: In this book I was interested in making a mix between lines and shapes. I explored mono prints with acrylic colors to create the textures of the environment, used pencil lines to create the characters, and then scanned all the parts into the computer. The fun part was playing with the different layers to create depth and composition.


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


A: I think going to sleep is a tricky part of the day. As parents we can help our children in many aspects of their lives, but falling asleep is something kids need to learn to do by themselves.


The scary part is letting go. We try to help them by singing (I personally sang the same verse for years, which led to myself falling asleep rather than my child) or reading.


In this book I offer the kids a way to take control over the process by rehearsing it with their toys and turning it into a game. I think humor, imagination, and play are the three “superpowers” of childhood which help kids take control and make sense of their lives.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on transforming a truck into an orange library cat. The truck will become a moving library which will bring books to children around the country.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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