Welcome to another exclusive author interview and giveaway here at Three Show Saturday!
Nothing makes me happier than sharing new books with you all, and this week I bring you a fantastically fun new board book from Candlewick Press.
I hope you find this book as charming as I did, and enjoy the exclusive insights offered by author/illustrator Steve Light. Don’t forget to comment on this post for your chance to win a copy of Black Bird Yellow Sun courtesy of Candlewick Press.
And now, on with the show!
Black Bird Yellow Sun (2018, Candlewick Press, Board Book)
From the publisher:
From the creator of Have You Seen My Dragon? comes an exploration of color that truly soars.
As a solitary black bird wings its way through the day, little ones are treated to a magnificent flight from one vibrant color to another. Inimitable illustrator Steve Light showcases a new style in this board book for the youngest readers. Children can journey with the graceful black bird and its tiny worm friend past orange leaves, through green grass, onto gray rocks, under pink flowers, and more before coming to rest beneath a brilliant blue moon.
Black Bird Yellow Sun, written and illustrated by Steve Light, will take the youngest of readers on a bold adventure. At first glance, this book is seemingly quite simple, a black bird is contrasted against a background of varying colors as he goes about his day, always accompanied by a small worm, but as the reader really looks at the illustrations and contemplates the simple text, the story becomes much more complex. The sharp contrast of the black bird against the brilliant light of the morning sun evokes a sense of anticipation for something to come. The black bird encounters a red snake in a scene that is sure to excite young readers, and my personal favorite is the black bird green grass scene where the textures seem to leap off the page.
Board books are fascinating in their simplicity as they teach children their first words, first shapes, first colors, and some, like Black Bird Yellow Sun, can even help children understand first emotions, from the happy light of a yellow sun to the contemplative starkness of grey rock.
Highly recommended for children ages 1 to 3 years old.
Five stars for Black Bird on a Black Night.
Interview with Steve Light
Steve Light is the author-illustrator of many picture books, including Have You Seen My Dragon?, Have You Seen My Monster?, Lucky Lazlo, Swap!, and Have You Seen My Lunch Box? He lives with his family in New York City.
I enjoyed Black Bird Yellow Sun so much! Where did your inspiration come from for this charming book?
I wanted to make a very impactful book visually but explore a very simple concept. I was inspired by the artist Ellsworth Kelly and his bold paintings featuring flat exciting colored shapes, so that led me to a color concept book. The Blackbird as the main character came from listening to the Beatles and the idea of this black dense shape against bold colors appealed to me artistically.
I love the different colors and textures in Black Bird Yellow Sun. My favorite scene is Black Bird Green Grass. Which illustration did you enjoy creating the most and were there any scenes that didn’t make it into the final draft of the book?
I enjoyed creating the Grey Rocks page because at first I was very worried that grey would be very boring. Then I discovered how to print the rocks with a splotchy texture and mixed some beautiful purple and pink greys. I also love that spread cause it conveys an emotion of the bird being lonely and scared after his confrontation with the snake.
Which of your books did you enjoy writing or illustrating the most?
Oh that is like asking to pick your favorite child. I loved working on Have You Seen My Dragon? Because it was the first book where I was drawing to illustrate just like I draw in my sketchbook. Swap! was fun because it was pirates! Lucky Lazlo was fun because it had the theatre, Alice in wonderland characters and a new kind of line work. And Black Bird Yellow Sun was a lot of fun because it was a different process of printing the artwork.
Did you always aspire to be a children’s book author, and what was your path to publication like?
I always knew I wanted to do something with my art. I was doing corporate illustration for a while and hated it. I was a storyteller for a while (still am) and remembered all the stories I loved growing up and said let me try children’s books. After being rejected by every publisher in NYC I finally got published. To create these works of art that children read is a joy. I really feel I have found my calling.
What are some hobbies you enjoy outside of writing?
I collect old fountain pens and fix them up. I also modify the nibs of fountain pens so they make different kinds of lines to draw with. I also love visiting the museums in NYC and just being a tourist here, even though I have lived here many years.
Who has had the greatest influence on your writing and your career?
My teacher David Passalacqua has an incredible influence on my life and art. I was blessed to know him and have him as a mentor. He taught me how to draw, think and live. My wife is also a huge supporter of mine. She encourages me and takes care of me. I would have given up a long time ago if not for her love and guidance. Also teaching, being around children ages 3-5 everyday seeing which books and stories they respond to is a great gift to my writing.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your books or yourself?
Well, we did not talk about how the artwork in Black Bird Yellow Sun was created. It was all done by printing pieces of cardboard (chipboard actually like on the back of a legal pad). I simply cut out the shape of the sun etc. and inked it with printing ink and then stamped it onto the paper. The bird and worm were cut pieces of colored paper that I then collaged onto the printed artwork.
Thank you so much Steve for taking the time to visit with me and share about your life as an author/illustrator!
Candlewick Press is giving away one copy of Black Bird Yellow Sun to one lucky reader of my blog!
To enter, simply comment below. What book do you first remember reading or having read to you as a child? Or comment on something else 🙂
And don’t forget to subscribe via email so you won’t miss out on future reviews, interviews or giveaways!
-Giveaway ends at 11:59pm CDT on Saturday, March 10.
– You must be 18 or older to enter.
-Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
-Only one entry per household.
-Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner will be chosen.
-Winner agrees to provide their preferred mailing address, to be forwarded to Candlewick Press for shipment of prize.
Stay tuned next week for another exclusive interview, this time with illustrator Will Hillenbrand and a giveaway of his new book, I’m a Duck.
Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.