I'm so happy to feature my friend, author/illustrator Miri Leshem-Pelly, on the blog today. Miri's new book, PENNY AND THE PLAIN PIECE OF PAPER, is incredibly creative, and when I finished reading, I immediately wanted to read it again! Scroll down for Miri's thoughts about inspiration, as well as stories . . . creativity . . . and connection. Welcome, Miri!
STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.
Nature is one of my biggest sources for inspiration. I love going on hikes and look for interesting plants and wild animals. I also love reading nature books and watching wildlife documentaries. Many ideas for stories come to me from these resources. I have several nature-theme books and these days I’m working on two new manuscripts about nature.
Another major interest I have is creativity. I think about this subject a lot: How can we encourage creativity? What is art? These kind of questions led me to create my new book, Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper.
A plain piece of paper is the starting point for almost any creation. The plain and empty space on the paper, gives us the freedom for creativity and imagination.
That’s exactly the journey that Penny takes in this book. She lives inside a plain piece of paper and complains it is boring because there’s nothing on it. She decides to leave it and search for more interesting pieces of paper. She visits a newspaper, a map, a wrapping paper, a coloring book and more. She goes through adventures and meet new friends, but eventually discovers why the simple, plain paper is actually the most interesting place, where she could feel at home.
I was delighted when Philomel/Penguin published the book and I hope it will inspire young readers and encourage them to create their own art works, just like Penny.
CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
Ever since I remember myself I’m creating - drawing, writing, sculpting . . . creativity is a way of life for me. I also love leading creative workshops for kids and I’m always surprised by their imagination and creative freedom.
I enjoy playing with new story ideas, forming them into a plot. This is always exciting and challenging.
Outside the world of books, I also like to draw in nature when I’m traveling.
CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
I connect with children through my author visits, in-person or virtual. It’s important for me as a children’s writer to be close to kids, hear them talk, see their reactions to my stories, and listen to their questions. And it is so much fun!
It is also important for me to stay connected to the KidLit community. I was the regional advisor of the Israeli chapter of SCBWI for over ten years, and now I continue to stay active as an RAE (regional advisor emerita). I participated in several in-person SCBWI conferences in the US, and I really hope that soon this kind of conference will be possible again. I really miss meeting authors and illustrators outside of the Zoom screen.
Another way I’m connecting with book creators is critique groups. I’m in two groups - one for picture book writers and one for writers-illustrators. Both groups are online, through email and Zoom meetings. These two groups are very valuable for me, both for the feedback I get for my stories and as support groups for all the challenges we all experience in our careers. Another benefit is the deadline that these groups create. Whenever my turn to submit gets close it pushes me to create something new or revise one of my WIP.
And one more author group I love is my literary agent’s clients. We have an email group that we turn to for advice, support and to promote one another.
Miri Leshem-Pelly’s publications include 15 picture books as author-illustrator, plus 16 picture books as an illustrator. Her latest book, Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper (Philomel/Penguin Random House) was translated to Korean, and her book Scribble & Author (Kane Miller/EDC Publishing) was translated into 8 languages.
Miri does more than 100 school visits per year. She is an SCBWI RAE (Regional Advisor Emerita) after serving more than ten years as a regional advisor of SCBWI in Israel.
Miri is represented by literary agent Anna Olswanger.
CONNECT WITH MIRI:
Buy Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/600384/penny-and-the-plain-piece-of-paper-by-miri-leshem-pelly-illustrated-by-miri-leshem-pelly/
Free Teacher’s Guide: https://penguinclassroom.com/books/penny-and-the-plain-piece-of-paper/
Miri’s website: http://mirileshembooks.com/