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SCBWI-L.A. blossomed with ‘firsts’ this Spring with the launching of a new Regional Mentorship Program with the fabulous Deborah Nourse Lattimore. Our first ever SCBWI-L.A. representation at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books takes place April 18th/19th. Please visit our booth #834 and show your support for our signing authors and illustrators – this could be you next year!

Our 2015 Writer’s Days was held for the first time at the beautiful Skirball Cultural Center. According to member surveys, you loved it! Most compliments were about the generous Faculty, the professional setting, amazingly comfy seats and serene surroundings – and the food!

Of course we have to mention how proud we are of SCBWI-L.A. member Dan Santat – read Mary Peterson’s interview below to find out why! You’ll be able to meet Dan in person at Illustrator’s Day this Fall.

Down the Rabbit Hole is on hiatus for the first time this year but look out for dates for Critiquenic, our free group critique event, coming soon – just in time for that essential feedback needed for your summer projects.

Here’s hoping for some successful firsts for you, our members, this year!


Sally and Sarah



Interview with Caldecott Winner, Dan Santat

By Mary Peterson

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Q: Your books are well known for their energetic characters and expressive sense of humor. Beekle is a tender, thoughtful book. What can you tell us about making the shift to quieter emotional terrain?

I think I’ve always been capable of doing those type of stories, but you can sometimes get type casted as one particular type of artist. I’ve been best known for doing funny books or action based books but no one really has ever offered me to illustrate a manuscript that is more sentimental. This seems to be changing slowly, though. I look forward to seeing what lies ahead.


Q: What tools did you use to help create the mood changes within the book?

Color is a big part of the story. Things that are imaginative and playful are filled with color. Things that aren’t are very desaturated and lacking in color. A little thing like a piece of cake can be made artistically with love and so it has color, but it may be surrounded by a world of adults who don’t have time to play or be imaginative. Symbolism is also another tool I use in the book. Each imaginary friend is unique to the interests of a child they are friends with. A boy who flies a kite is friends with a cloud that blows the wind, etc. This way, you can actually know a lot about a child who isn’t a major part of the story. The imagination of Alice is foreshadowed when you walk across the playground and notice elements from the story which are echoed. The sandbox looks like the island of imaginary creatures, the rainbow dragon, the ship on the back of the whale, etc. and lastly, the leaves in the tree which resemble the stars in the sky, and Beekle climbs down to meet his child for the first time.

Q: What was your inspiration for Beekle’s home island — a setting that has no context?

I actually struggled quite a bit with the home island. There was this feeling of pressure that I had to fulfill the look of a magical place where imagination came from. I tried all these rather cliche’ approaches and in conclusion I kept it relatively minimal just covering the birth of Beekle from a rainbow.

Q: Can we look forward to a book for especially for your younger son? If so, how will it be different? and/or how will it be the same?

I’m actually wrapping it up right now, it’s called “Are We There Yet?” and it’s about a kid who goes on a road trip with his family. The kid gets so bored that time slows down and eventually they start going back in time. I don’t want to spoil the whole thing but I wanted to play with the properties of the book and try to explore different ways in using it. It took a little convincing with the publisher but now they’re really excited about what we’ve done.

Q: Is there a question about Beekle you are surprised no one has asked you?

No one, until recently, asked me why the name of a ship in the book was called the Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first man to climb the Matterhorn. He said a great quote which I thought symbolized the book rather well, “People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”

Q: Is there a question about Beekle you’d like to ask yourself?

The question I ask myself was a question a little girl from a 2nd grade class asked me, “If Beekle is Alice’s imaginary friend, and they wrote the book together, then did everything else in the book actually happen or was it all in Alice’s mind?” My mind is blown and I don’t know how to answer that.

Q: Winning the Caldecott must bring with it loads of surprises. What’s the most surprising surprise?

Many folks have reached out to congratulate me via email and phone calls. I was always worried that people would hear that I won, roll their eyes, and say, “Ugh. That guy?” The outpouring of sincere happiness for me has been overwhelming.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What form does it take? How many do you have?

I do. I typically use a MoleSkine Japanese blind oriented 6 by 4 inch booklet that I can keep in my pocket. I’ve filled up about 6 or seven of them.

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(Dan’s sketchbook)

Mary Peterson is illustrator of numerous picture books including the forthcoming DIG IN! from Beach Lane B