Get to know Liz Starin, author and illustrator of Splashdance who was a book reviewer for Junior Library Guild before she turned her focus to the creative side of children’s books…
What author or book inspires you most, now and/or at any time in your career?
Author/illustrator William Steig. He’s a master of expressive line, color, and pattern.
What is your favorite part of participating in book festivals?
That’s easy: meeting readers!
Splashdance started as a simple illustration exercise involving randomly chosen subject matter, from which the opening sequence flowed quite naturally (and remains in the book, nearly in its original form). The heart of the story, in which bears are banned from the local swimming pool, came later. I had this character, a bear who was passionate about water ballet, and I thought, “How can I make her life difficult?”
Which part of the book are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the book’s social justice themes, although I didn’t set out to write a purposeful book. Desegregation and collective action are things I care about, so they came out naturally in my storytelling. But a message is worthless without a good story and characters that (I hope) are emotionally resonant.
What are you working on next?
My next book (illustrated by me, written by Jennifer Mook-Sang) is called Captain Monty Takes the Plunge, about a pirate who is afraid of the water. More swimming animals!
In the 2017 Virginia Festival of the Book, Liz Starin will be participating in a variety of school visits as well as Storytime Marathon on Saturday, March 25 with many other children’s authors and illustrators.