IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Sleeping in Mexico City
This illustration is part of my picture book While You Are Sleeping: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Time Around the World. This book was published in 2011. It came about as a result of a long-ago conversation with an elementary school teacher who told me there were “no good books out there” that teach kids about time zones.
What, no time zone books? In this global world? As a multicultural author and illustrator, I immediately saw a niche that needed to be filled – and I knew how to do it. While You Are Sleeping portrays one moment in time all around the world. Flaps lift to reveal clocks showing what time it is on each page – and what’s happening on another page, in another country, at the same time.
Kids get a kick out of this book. In addition to peeking under flaps, they get to learn about how time zones work – a curious, man-made, intangible invention that shapes our daily lives in so many ways.
I drew heavily on interlibrary loans to research the illustrations for this book. Alas, children’s books do not pay enough to travel to each location! Yet there were aspects of these children’s lives that were familiar to me, either from my own travels or my friends’. With so many books and the internet at my fingertips, I found the resources I needed. This was an opportunity to show how children live in diverse cultures – how we are “all the same, in all different ways”. I wanted to show activities in children’s lives that are unfamiliar to most children growing up in America: a girl in England milking a goat before school; a boy in Brazil setting out on a fishing boat with his father; a girl in Nigeria carrying fruit on her head; a boy being bathed from a public water pump in India. The girl pictured above is asleep among late-night city noises, with a lovely statue of the Virgin Mary de Guadalupe watching over her. I was intrigued by these common Mexican statues, and could imagine what they might mean to a child. I wanted a soft, cozy feeling to infuse this illustration. What do you think, did I do it?
While You Are Sleeping (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2011) is available in my webstore. Signed hardcover copies are $18.95 including shipping. You can also find it on Amazon, or maybe even at your local library.