In the second half of Miri Leshem-Pelly's generous interview, she describes the process of designing a story, both in general and in the specific case of Scribble & Author, offers advice to children who themselves aspire to create books, and discusses the imporance of childhood reading. Enjoy! And don't forget to check out part one here.
Take us through the process of working on a project such as Scribble & Author. Did you come to the text first, or was it an initial illustration that then inspired the story?
Miri Leshem-Pelly: The starting point in this project was--what else--scribbles! :-) I scribbled on the page, looking for a new character, not knowing where it would take me. When I saw Scribble, I immediately fell in love with her and knew I’d found my new character. I wondered, What was Scribble looking for? What does she want? So I decided to ask her and guess what--Scribble answered! And so the story began to unfold. But it wasn’t that simple. Creating this book took me two years! I sent Scribble on many different adventures, over and over again, until the final story started to get its shape.
ML: I agree with your analysis. I wanted the book to be inspiring and empowering for the readers. It talks about overcoming fears and challenges, believing in yourself, making the efforts needed to achieve your goals. It also demonstrates the use of creativity and positive thinking to find solutions, even when the situation seems impossible.
ML: I loved writing and illustrating when I was a child. I think this is a very satisfying hobby. First of all, I suggest reading a lot. Then, if you don’t know where to start, you can create an “ideas page,” where you write (or draw) all the things you love and pick one as a subject for your story. Next, draw the main character--person, animal or imaginary creature--and start talking with him--just like in Scribble & Author. This way you’ll get to know your character, his dreams and fears, problems and ambitions, and then I believe your story will arrive very quickly.
Finally, what to you is the value of early childhood reading?
ML: Books can open up both the mind and the heart of the young reader and enrich his life in many ways. Children have natural curiosity and a sense of wonder, and good books can satisfy these needs and deepen their understanding of the world around them, of other people, and of themselves.