In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
Recently, I came to the realization that I was impressed multiple times by a specific illustrator. Since I’m not as fantastic about slowing down to appreciate illustrators of novels, I was thrilled to notice that I’d appreciated Abigail Halpin‘s work over and over. A few years ago I adored reading Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis, illustrated by Abigail Halpin! Then I was lost in Laurel Snyder’s book Penny Dreadful, illustrated by Abigail Halpin! Recently I read The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Abigail Halpin! Then I also read both of Uma Krishnaswami’s books The Grand Plan to Fix Everything and The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin! I knew I had to write and tell Abigail how much I admired her work and ask if I might interview her on this blog… Abigail was kind enough to say “yes” to an interview when I wrote to her about my admiration and appreciation of her creations… I’ve grabbed a few beautiful pictures from her blog and embedded them there, one click will bring you to her site!
My favorite childhood book memory would be my parents reading to my sisters and I. They read to us every night from the time we were infants until our teen years and I know that had a colossal, positive impact on us.
John Bellairs and Ellen Raskin are two authors I loved as a child and still enjoy as an adult. And Tasha Tudor’s and Irene Haas’s illustrations captivate me as much today as they did during my childhood.
Have you read any children’s literature books recently?
Speaking of John Bellairs, I’m actually rereading some of the Johnny Dixon mysteries. And for the record, they still scare the living daylights out of me now as much as they did as a kid.
Growing up, I was a mystery nut (I inhaled Nancy Drew books, “The Great Brain” series and was infatuated with “The Egypt Game). I ended up moving on to Agatha Christie as a teenager and she’s still my go-to when I want a good whodunnit. And I’m dying to read Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” so I guess my taste for the mysterious hasn’t changed too much!
*I always enjoy mysteries, from childhood up as well! I’m beginning the audiobook of “The Goldfinch” presently.
Do you still have any of your books from when you were a child?
Absolutely — my copy of “The Random House Book of Fairy Tales” is falling apart, but I was so mesmerized by Diane Goode’s illustrations that I’ll never part with it. The same goes for the copy of “Anne of Green Gables” that I got the summer I turned eight (it’s illustrated by Jody Lee and it’s gorgeous). And I have a copy of “Oor Wullie” in my studio because kid me and adult me both think it’s pretty darn hilarious.
Do you have a new book being released in the next year?
The third installment in the Oh My Godmother series, “The Magic Mistake” comes out this month, written by Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson. It was a delight to illustrate and I can’t wait for readers to discover Lacey Unger-Ware’s latest adventures in fairy godmother-ing.
Did you always plan on an illustrating career or if not…?
I’ve wanted to illustrate books since I can remember and feel incredibly lucky to do this as a job.
At the end of the day, my biggest influence are the readers. Ultimately, I want to make illustrations that bring joy and a love of reading to children.
If you weren’t an illustrator, what occupation would you be working in?
Music reviewer and/or coffeeshop owner.
I owe a lot to two of my design teachers in college, Libby Chase and Nathan Gams. I’m 110% positive I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today without their influence.
*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza?
It’s a toss up between black olives and hamburger.
Sentences to finish if you don’t mind:
Don’t miss a deadline. Ever.
The habit I never break for my writing/illustrating practice is…
Saving all of my old work, even the horrible stuff. It helps to see where you’ve been in order to get a better sense of where you’re going.
…writing for children is easy? I’m working on a picture book dummy right now and I can officially say WRITING IS HARD. Seriously authors, my hat’s off to you. Writing for children looks simplistic, but is anything but.
I’d die happy to illustrate a collection of Russian folktales. Or Irish folktales. I think illustrating “The Westing Game” would be a dream come true. And secretly I fantasize about writing a YA graphic novel about Flannery O’Connor. Because really, at the end of the day I just want to draw peacocks and Spanish Moss crazy bad.
*WOW. I would love to see a newly illustrated version of “The Westing Game”, it is such a special book packed with suspense and mystery, I can see your illustrations bringing this to life already! Woud love to see some of your peacocks and Spanish moss as well…
Ready to enjoy more of Abigail Halpin’s creations? Visit her at these sites:
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