Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast » Blog Archive » A Wealth of Water Before Breakfast

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Blog Archive A

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1703396830 588 Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Blog Archive AHere is illustrator Katherine Tillotson, getting ready to make some art. Her most recent illustrated title, written by poet, novelist, and teacher George Ella Lyon, involved paste paper, and so to the stove Katherine headed. I failed to ask Katherine (I blame not-enough-coffee that day) what it was like to read Lyon’s text for the first time and how exciting it must have been to be the illustrator assigned to it. I like Lyon’s work; she had me at this title (for grown-ups) from 1997, and she’s penned many picture books, including last year’s Schneider Family Book Award winner, The Pirate of Kindergarten, illustrated by Lynne Avril.

Described by Publishers Weekly as a “lyrical and bighearted outpouring,” this new title—All the Water in the World, released in March from Atheneum—takes a look at where water comes from and how vital it is, taking a pit stop in “far away / …a different day,” a place with dry grasses, dirt, and dust, a place waiting for “an open gate / in a wall of clouds / for rain sweet and loud / to fill the well / and start the stream.” In fact, it’s the vigorous spread opening this post that follows those two parched, brown spreads. If that doesn’t wake you up impossibly before breakfast, I don’t know what will.

With warmth and a bit of a drawl (a “honey” here and a “honey” there, directly addressed at the reader, ’cause, hey, Lyon is from Kentucky), readers not only learn about the water cycle, but are also reminded not to waste it: “Keep it clear, keep it clean…” Booklist writes in their starred review, “Lots of picture books introduce young children to the water cycle, but few have such an infectious beat and eye-catching illustrations as this title, which begs to be read aloud,” adding that Tillotson’s “beautifully composed, atmospheric digital illustrations” have a kinetic energy about them.

Booklist also noted that Tillotson’s spreads in this book have the “richly patterned and textured look of paint-and-paper collage.” That would be because, as Katherine shows me below, she started out with collage. Here she is for a brief visit to share a bit more about how she rendered these illustrations. I thank her for stopping by.

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Katherine: The final art for All the Water was collaged from hand-patterned papers. Among these are patterned paste papers. Paste paper is a 400-year-old technique for hand-patterning paper. Over the years these papers were most often used as endpapers. I cook up a recipe of flour and water and then add color. Once applied to the paper you can stamp, drag, sponge and comb patterns into the paste. Very messy and very fun.

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Many of the other papers in the collages were hand-splattered. More fun making messes!

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All this came together in the computer, where I cut and pasted and arranged until we were all happy with the compositions.

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(Cover art)

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“This wet wonder / means grow / means life will flow / through tigers / through trees.”
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ALL THE WATER IN THE WORLD. Text copyright © 2011 by George Ella Lyon. Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Katherine Tillotson. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York. All images reproduced by permission of the illustrator.

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