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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Welcome Barbara Reid - Fox Walked Alone













Barbara Reid is the author/illustrator of FOX WALKED AONE (Albert Whitman and Company) a visually stunning story of Noah’s ark. FOX WALKED ALONE is a Sydney Taylor Notable book for 2010. Barbara’s unique Plasticine art provides wonderful visual images for her stories. I’m delighted that Barbara could chat with me about her work. Barbara lives with her family in Toronto

What was your inspiration for Fox Walked Alone?

I find the possibilities for interpretation of the story or the ark almost limitless. One day I was daydreaming about what motivates animal behaviour in general, and the question flashed through my mind: whatever possessed the animals to get on the ark? I pictured individual animals all over the world, pricking up their ears and sniffing the breeze to receive the urgent message-get going! I settled on the Fox as the main character because he is a skeptic, and an outsider and had the most potential for growth during the story. Also his orange coat, white whiskers and elegant black stockings gave him star power!

As an author/illustrator do you have a story idea first or do ideas come as visual images?

As an author/illustrator my first ideas are generally images or pivotal scenes that are the inspiration for the book. After that, I write the manuscript to go with the little movie in my head. For Fox Walked Alone, as the story followed the animals on their journey I made sketches and storyboards of various characters and scenery. Once the manuscript is finished, I draw the final roughs. From the roughs I construct the plasticine art.

The use of Plasticine in unusual for children's book illustrations. Can you explain the process and why you chose this medium for Fox Walked Alone?

I have been creating picture book illustrations with plasticine for more that 25 years, and playing with it since I was a child. It is an extremely expressive medium, perfect for detail, and every book creates new ways of working with it and new problems to solve. And it is FUN! For Fox, it was a joy to create the desert colours, the changing sky and the textures and expressions of the animals, and especially creating the bird's eye view of the ruined city. I meet hundreds of fellow plasticine artists when I visit schools, and many students send me pictures of their artwork in this medium. I share some of their inspiring work on my website.

What is the best thing about being an author/illustrator?

The best thing about being a children's author/illustrator is visiting a library and finding one of my books sharing a shelf with books that I loved as a child, as well as new books by authors I admire. It's an honour and a thrill to be in such good company.

What is one fun fact about you?

I do most of my thinking while walking our dog, Ruby. She is a terrier, and some of her large ego shows up in the personality of Fox.

Barbara, thank you so much for sharing your creative process! For more information, as well as some how-to videos, please visit Barbara’s amazing website: www.barbarareid.ca

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