Q: Raven and Carina, first tell us something about yourselves.
Raven: Hi! Thanks so much for having us! I’m a children’s author and poet, and Carina and I are happy to share our new book, A Colorful Beginning. It’s been a long time coming – meaning, we spent a few years trying to have it placed with a publishing house and we’re thrilled to have it finally be available to the reading and children’s community.
I am a New Yorker (U.S.A.) and live with my family and our fluffy black cat, Lilac. I write full-time and delight in visiting schools and libraries with my books to meet with students. So far, the children have enjoyed my A Colorful Beginning story time and corresponding activities. Who doesn’t want to know they’re not the only one who may be nervous about starting something new like the first day of school (the theme of our book)?
Carina: Hello, happy to be here! I’m a children’s illustrator from Argentina, living in a small city at the state of Mendoza where wine is produced. I wish it was the capital of chocolate, but it is, instead, the capital of wine (I don’t drink alcohol, but I know a lot of grown-ups would love that anyway). I teach Python programming at university, alongside with illustrating. They may seem like different things, but both are creative.
Q: Raven, how and when did your journey start as a writer? When did you write your first story?
Raven: I’ve been writing and creating stories, plays, poems, and songs since I can remember. Before I began kindergarten, my grandmother would jot down my words and thoughts for me since I couldn’t write yet. I wrote songs for many years in my youth and worked in several record companies in New York City. After I had children of my own, I transitioned to writing verse for greeting cards, then to composing verse for children’s magazines, and finally having my books published.
Q: Raven, tell us something more about your books.
Raven: I’ve written and have published a variety of children’s books. A Colorful Beginning was on my bucket list as a “first day of school” book I’ve been interested in coming up with. In addition, our book explores and teaches colors and how mixing colors together creates a new color. But Carina can tell you more about that being an artist herself!
Q: Carina, why do you choose children’s books as your genre? Can you tell us about the color teaching theme of A Colorful Beginning and why you think it’s important to children?
Carina: Kids are so easy to have fun with. They love imagination, and they play all the time. It’s the most fun area for me as I can come up with an idea that goes beyond any reality, whimsical, full of fantasy, and get kids enthusiastic about it. That’s heaven for me. Of course, I dream someday of reaching a level of craft that puts me among that kind of illustrators that inspired me as a child. No idea if I’ll reach that place or not, but it is a deep motivational goal to keep in my heart I believe.
As an always-in-development artist, let me tell you, color is one of the most fascinating and tough things to really come to understand and manipulate. Plus, they are amazing. And how we managed to make colors in tubes… think about it, we can put a color in a plate, grab a brush and start putting one specific color in the paper. It really is a wow moment for me. That’s why I think it is super important to have children come to realize the soonest possible how colors are formed, they need to have all those wow moments too.
Q: Carina, how did A Colorful Beginning’s characters and other illustrations come to your mind?
Carina: thru lots of sketching and immersing myself in the story itself, doing research for the real animals, and having usually, one vision of what I and the author wants, sometimes this vision has to do with style (among my illustrating styles, I do have some subtle differences, I can go more realistic, or I can go more whimsical and bold like in A Colorful Beginning) and sometimes the vision has to do with a general vibe for the story. But lots of sketching and thinking goes into the process. Sometimes you get an idea right from the start, but often, you need to make it evolve thru lots of intentional attempts. I love the process of coming up with each illustration for a picture book.
Q: Raven and Carina, do you want to leave any message for your readers?
Raven: I want our message to be about inclusion and kindness and sharing. If children can recognize they are not alone in their feelings, and that even though we may be different on the outside, we are the same on the inside. And, as Mr. Mole, the teacher in the book demonstrates, there’s always a way we can work together in peace.
Carina: Nothing as valuable as children realizing the importance of kindness and sharing, for sure I believe that helps them growing into kind and loving grownups.