Melissa Sweet on Firefly July

melissa sweet Melissa Sweet on Firefly JulyIn the March/April 2014 Horn Book Magazine, Mag assistant editor Cynthia Ritter asked Melissa Sweet about her creative process when illustrating Firefly July. Read the starred review here.

Cynthia K. Ritter: Your visual interpretations of the seasonal poems in this collection are a mix of literal and symbolic. What was your artistic process like when approaching each poem, and also the book as a whole?

Melissa Sweet: These poems are short but evocative and they deserved a spirited interpretation. I began with the four seasonal spreads, hand-lettering the name of the season subtly within the art. This helped set the tone and anchored the book visually. Each poem was so different; some inspired more of an impression rather than a literal rendering. But at a certain point, the art takes over and I ask myself: what does this painting need? Keeping the materials simple — paint, pencil, a few collage papers, and judicious use of color — integrates the book as one piece of art.

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Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is assistant editor of The Horn Book Magazine. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.


  1. And a spirited work it is, methinks. One of our finest contemporary artists has given her fans yet another reason to place an order at their nearest Barnes & Noble. Fabulous follow-up to last year’s A SPLASH OF RED and BRAVE IRENE, and a sure Caldecott contender I would think.

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