Every once in a while, a picture book comes along that truly makes a difference in the spectrum of children’s literature and all of those who read it. We are lucky enough to be privy to the artist of one such book: Red Cap artist, CHRISTIAN ROBINSON, half of the dream team that created 2016 Newbery Medal winner, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET. Christian Robinson and the book’s author, Matt de la Peña, were recently interviewed on MPR (MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO) about the importance of diversity in children’s books. If you’ve got 45 free minutes, you should most definitely settle down with a cup of tea and listen to the show. Matt and Christian chat with MPR about what it means to create a diverse books in terms of both class and race, and what books have dealt with these subjects well in the past.
While a moralistic story like this runs the risk of being heavy-handed, especially when written for children, this one is not. The writing remains subtle and relies on Christian’s light-hearted illustration. With minimalist and colorful drawings and papercuts (he even references them as “lego faces,” ha!) the book accomplishes its objective while remaining soft. “I love this idea that a drawing has a life of it’s own, has integrity and should be respected, and I try to put that same spirit into my illustration,” says Christian.
And on a quirky note, he talks about injecting a bit more fun into the text with the use of dog illustrations: “any opportunity to make the world more colorful, more exciting, more fun!”
Make sure you take the time to listen to this show on MPR. It’s a delight. Great work, Matt and Christian! To view Christian’s work for Red Cap, click HERE.