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James E. Ransome on Granddaddy’s Turn

bandy_granddaddy's turnIn our July/August issue, reviewer Robin Smith asked James Ransome about the challenge of illustrating difficult subject matter — specifically, voting disenfranchisement — for picture-book readers in Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box. Read the full review of Granddaddy’s Turn here.

Robin Smith: How do you convey the seriousness and emotion of your subject matter without burdening the child reader? It must be hard.

James E. Ransome: It is a delicate balancing act. One way I attempted to do this for Granddaddy’s Turn was by using warm tones and intimate spot art to convey the strong sense of family and tenderness among the characters. Utilizing the white space of the pages as a design element keeps the feeling of the book light. With the television program The Andy Griffith Show as one of my resources, I incorporated details from period clothing, checks and plaids, set against a bucolic country backdrop, to authentically reflect the time period and immerse the reader in that part of history.

From the July/August 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Robin Smith About Robin Smith

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.

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