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News from Deborah Freedman, 
author & illustrator.
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Hello, friends,
 
Welcome to November! It seems like most days, lately, the ground won’t stop moving, but somehow, writers keep on building new worlds, constructing new stories…  
 
“Build” and “construct.” I use these words deliberately, because I am, as many of you know, an architect by training. I completely lost interest in in the day-to-day practice of architecture not long after having kids, but still, I’ve never really stopped thinking like an architect.
 
You might be able to see the influence of that design training in the interior scenes in Scribble or Blue Chicken, the literal stacks of books like buildings that appear in The Story of Fish & Snail and in Shy, or in, most obviously, This House, Once. But there’s more to it than just the precise way those scenes or details are drawn. When I make a picturebook, I always think of the whole book as one big design project — except that my site lies between two covers instead of a spot of earth somewhere, and the site’s context is a 3/8” slot on a bookshelf in a home or library or classroom. My client is a child full of wonder, without rigid expectations of what a book is or should be. And the program for my project is to tease out that child’s curiosity or imagination…
 
Over the years, I’ve reflected a lot about books and buildings or books as buildings, and, prompted by a message from a fellow former-architect, I finally wrote down some of those thoughts on Twitter. I’ve transcribed the thread below—
@DeborahFreedman
10/13/18

 
Did you know there are a bunch of us #kidlitwomen who started out in the world of architecture? More #kidlitarchwomen than I realized, actually. “Once an architect, always an architect,” @minajuna said. So true.
 
We just happen to be architects who build stories and books.
 
Picturebooks are like buildings, buildings that talk.
 
The cover is the book’s façade. It says, “here I am! Come on in!”
 
The front flap, endpaper, title page — those make up the entryway, inviting readers to take off their coats, wipe feet. Will you stay a while?
 
Each spread is a room. A separate place of its own and also part of a whole, connected by page turns, each one a door. Turn/open and wander from one space to another at whatever pace you like—
 
You could object and say that books are linear and buildings are not but… really? How long has it been since you read a picturebook with a young child? Remember all the flipping back and forth, revisiting spots and favorite details—
 
Until you finally finish and are ready to go out—through the back endpapers, close the back cover, the back door. “Goodbye! Come visit me again?” whispers the picturebook, hoping hard that you will turn it over and enter again…. and again… 
 
An open picturebook connects people—author and reader, reader and read-to—and its two covers form the hinged corner of a space between story and reader. It is a most intimate space.
 
This intimacy is, in part, what makes the best picturebooks feel like home.
 
So that’s my thread. I have lots more to say about books and design and the important role that design plays — not just how good design makes things look spiffy, but how it helps illustrators guide readers, enhance emotion, tell a story…. 
 

But I’ll save that for another day! Next time, I’d love to tell you about my spring book about a worm named Carl, to be released by Viking in time for Earth Day 2019. Until then,

 
All my best,
Deborah
Art, from top:
The Story of Fish & Snail, Viking 2013, final spread, pencil & watercolor
This House Once, Atheneum 2017, final pencil drawing
Scribble, Knopf 2007, final pencil drawing
Blue Chicken, Viking 2011, endpapers, watercolor
Blue Chicken, Viking 2011, watercolor

By Mouse & Frog, Viking 2015, endpapers, pencil & watercolor
Shy, Viking 2016, detail
Related Blog Post
Have you seen my list of 10 favorite books about "House and Home"?
NEWS

Interview - 2018

"Story Structures" — an interview with Kathy Leonard Czepiel at the Daily Nutmeg

Kudos - 2018
SCBWI New England's Crystal Kite Award for This House, Once
CT Center for the Books, CT Book Award Finalist for This House, Once 

 
Coming soon!
CARL and the Meaning of Life

Viking Children's Books, April 2, 2019
Pre-order CARL—
online, or from your favorite independent bookseller!
www.deborahfreedman.net

all illustrations © Deborah Freedman
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Copyright © 2018 Deborah Freedman, Author & Illustrator, All rights reserved.





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