Monday, July 8, 2013


A while back the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art interviewed me but never published the interview on their blog. I've decided to post it here.

1. What's your favorite thing that you've ever seen in a museum?

MHG: Botticelli's art in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence Italy. I've been loving the art and only seeing small copies of the originals in books for many years. The real art was electric, memorable, and overwhelming to drink in.

                Detail from Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus"

2. What book have you recently given to a child and what made you pick it?

MHG: Whenever I've judged a picture book award, the Cybils Awards or the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, I received the many books in the competition. When it's all over, the books are given to school libraries so that many children have the pleasure of reading these books.

3. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to while you work? OR what does the view look like from where you work?

Part One: I listen to jazz, rock, pop, local bands, alt country, and folk. I listen to the news or radio shows that feature the arts or something that I can learn from.

Part Two: I live on the top floor of a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. I have a wonderful view of open sky, back yard gardens, buildings from the 1800's, and there are glorious birds and bird song.

4. Give us five adjectives that describe your work.
a) brightly colored
b) child-friendly
c) detailed
d) stylized
e) prolific

5. If you ever find yourself with writer's block or in an artistic funk, what do you do to get yourself out?

MHG: Take a break. Work on other things until the muse returns. Go inside myself to see if the answers lie deeper. Go out and forget about art and be around others. Clean my studio, that old idea put away in a draw can look great again.

6. Tell us a secret about how you work. (Promise we won't tell). 

MHG: I love to research my books. Most of the information I find doesn't make it into a story or is described in the art. However, I know my research is part of the layers which created the book.

7. Have you dabbled in any other careers before finding children's books?

MHG: I started out designing custom framing for works of art. After that, I was a graphic artist for audio visual studios, magazines, and newspapers. I've illustrated for magazines and had over 200 greeting cards published with my art. I've also illustrated posters, coffee mugs, games and housewares. Last but not least, I've been a professional Tarot Card reader since 1988.

8. You must get a lot of fan letters. Let's hear one of your own. Please write a 3-sentence fan letter from your 8-year-old self to your favorite author or illustrator.

MHG: Dear Anna Elizabeth Bennett, Thanks for writing "Little Witch". I love your book. I've read it over and over and the pictures are beautiful. I like how the little witch refused to be mean and she helped others.

9. Could you send us a favorite doodle or sketch?  

MHG: Sketch of Cecilia Yung, the MERMAIDS ON PARADE Art Director from Putnam/ Penguin 

10. What do you see as the most exciting thing on the horizon for picture book publishing?

MHG: Paper books are not going away. They remain strong in the public eye, in a child's development, and in sales.

We'd also be grateful to receive following images, if you have them:

* A photo of you or self-portrait

                  Signing my book at the Brooklyn Museum 

* A photo of your studio/workplace 

* A photo of you as a child or a drawing done when you were a kid 

                  From my 16 year old hands, still love it.

* An early draft of an image and an image of the finished piece

                        Sketch and Finish from A CITY IS 

Thanks Eric Carle Museum!! xoxo

Images and photos are copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg (except Botticelli)