Suzanne has the warmest smile and biggest heart and it is an honor to know her. Her newest book, All Are Welcome, (Penguin Random House) is illustrated by Suzanne, with text by Alexandra Penfold. As an example of Suzanne’s generosity, she has offered to giveaway one of her prints (pictured just below.)! To enter please click on this Rafflecopter link.
Thank you inviting me to share a bit about the inspiration behind All Are Welcome on Friend Friday. It’s an honor to be included. On the plus side, my youngest thinks I am slightly cooler since you are one of her favorite authors. Now that she is in middle school I will take any cool points I can get.
From sadness came inspiration.
Like many others, I felt helpless after the travel restrictions announcement. My daughters’ school Kimball Elementary is comprised predominately of immigrant families from all over the world, from many different religious backgrounds. That night I couldn’t sleep.
So, I decided to do something with the one thing I could freely give, and that was my art.
That night I stayed up and made a poster to welcome all the kids to the school the next morning.
It still didn’t feel enough….
The next day I posted it on social media and it went viral. At the same time my agent Alexandra Penfold was going through the same kind of feelings. She also lives in a wonderful diverse community.
One night she saw my poster on social media. It was one of the last things she peeked at before going to bed. She woke up in the middle of the night and felt a strong urge to put something out there that reassure these same kids and wrote what would become ALL ARE WELCOME. And the poster went full circle and now is a free poster on the back of the cover.
I was deeply inspired about all the good I saw in my community.
I first looked at my daughters’ school for inspiration, where it wasn’t uncommon to see girls wearing hijabs or a kid being picked up from school in their father’s taxi.
A school that had the feel of a mini-United Nations. I wanted to make sure every kid could find themselves in this book. I wanted to celebrate these kids that never see themselves in books just being kids.
I was inspired by small acts of kindness by kids.
I loved these beautiful yarn hearts that students made to greet other students at the author Alexandra Penfold children’s school.
I was inspired by my favorite author.
I saw this quote by Maya Angelou and knew she needed to play the librarian in the book.
This is a small sample of what inspired All Are Welcome. Almost every kid and family were based on people I know. I am excited to keep sharing their story this fall at school visits, that no matter what All Are Welcome.
Thanks Kirby for letting me share a little bit of my world.
Suzanne Kaufman is the Illustrator of the New York Times best-selling picture book All Are Welcome. She is an author, illustrator, animator and lover of school potlucks. She has written and illustrated her own books Confiscated and I Love Monkey. Her previously illustration work includes books: Take Your Pets to School Day, 100 Bugs, Naughty Claudine Christmas, and Samanthasaurus Rex. She has been awarded portfolio honors at Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in NYC and the Summer Conference Mentorship. Over the years, she’s done everything from animating special effects for Universal and Discovery, to be an animation lead on games that were awarded the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences “Innovation in Art Direction”, “Innovation in Animation” and “Children’s Title of the Year”. She has lectured and taught illustration an animation around the US, England, Japan and Peru. When not tramping through the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, you will find her teaching animation or working in her studio. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two creative daughters of her own. Visit her at www.suzannekaufman.com.
Two-part podcast with the author/editor and illustrator/art director of All Are Welcome
A lively city school celebrates its diversity.
Front endpapers show adult caregivers walking their charges to school, the families a delightful mix that includes interracial, same-sex, and heterosexual couples as well as single caregivers; the rear endpapers assemble them again at the conclusion of a successful schoolwide evening potluck. In between, the rhyming verses focus on aspects of a typical school day, always ending with the titular phrase: “Time for lunch—what a spread! / A dozen different kinds of bread. / Pass it around till everyone’s fed. / All are welcome here.” Indeed, this school is diversity exemplified. Several kids point to their home countries on a world map, and some wear markers of their cultural or religious groups: There’s a girl in hijab, a boy wearing a Sikh patka, and a boy in a kippah. A rainbow of hair colors and skin tones is in evidence, and children with disabilities are also included: a blind boy, a girl in a wheelchair, and several kids with glasses. What is most wonderful, though, is the way they interact with one another without regard to their many differences. Kaufman’s acrylic, ink, crayon, collage, and Photoshop illustrations bring the many personalities in this school community to life. “You have a place here. / You have a space here. / You are welcome here.”
Penfold and Kaufman have outdone themselves in delivering a vital message in today’s political climate. Let’s hope more people, starting with this picture book’s audience, embrace it. (Picture book. 3-8)