Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Elizabeth Zunon

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Illustrator Elizabeth Zunon goes Off to See the Sea — that is, bath time, in a picture book written by Nikki Grimes.

1. So, bath or shower for you?

Shower! Always in a rush…

2. How do you illustrate something as invisible as water?

I think of the different personalities that water can have and illustrate those: Wavy, splotchy, curly, murky! Also, I had fun painting some of the water with my watercolor paints, which I rarely get the chance to do. I played around with sprinkling table salt into wet puddles of watercolor paint and seeing what inky effects the salt created — like magic.

3. What do you think a childhood spent in Côte d’Ivoire did for your painting?

It emboldened my sense of color and left me unafraid to mix patterns. And it made me thirst for opportunities to add tropical elements wherever I can, like palm trees, hibiscus, and sandy beach scenes.

4. What’s the first thing you look for in a picture-book manuscript?

A way for me to identify with the character.

5. You and Nikki have covered bedtime, bath time…when next?

I know Nikki has lots of ideas — a day in the life of a toddler is so full of exciting experiences. You never know what they might be up to next.

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Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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