Creator Corner: What to Bring illustrator Ellen Rooney


Welcome to Creator Corner! Each month, we interview the creators of one of our recent books. This month, we interviewed What to Bring illustrator Ellen Rooney.

Owlkids Books: When did you know that you wanted to be an illustrator?

Ellen Rooney: I have wanted to illustrate books since I could read and write. In first grade, I stapled a stack of paper together and illustrated a book about a girl who was lost in the woods. Don’t worry, it had a happy ending!

OKB: Which spread did you most enjoy illustrating and why?

ER: I really liked creating the family house, especially the outside views of it. We wanted it to really feel homey. I loved that we could set this story in an area similar to where I currently live, because I could find a lot of inspiration just while walking the dog. I love seeing how people personalize their homes and their gardens, especially some of the smaller, older homes in our area which have a lot of personality.

OKB: Which spread was the most challenging to illustrate and why?

ER: The final illustration was definitely high stakes. The artwork really had to deliver the idea that Malia’s family is what is really important. I think it also needed to be reassuring. It is a pretty simple scene and I worried about whether the idea would be clear enough.

OKB: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

ER: Illustrating a story about a scary or serious topic was intimidating at first, but I’m so happy I had the chance to work on it. I think the idea of disasters can be very scary for kids and adults. Fire is a very real threat where I live, but the story could be applied to many situations. I hope the book can help families with young children talk about emergency situations and give them some reassurance. And for a family that experiences something like this, I hope it can make things a little less scary.

OKB: What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?

ER: Long before my first picture book was published, my illustrations appeared in a book of haiku about SPAM (the luncheon meat).

Watch a video interview with author Lorna Schultz Nicholson and illustrator Ellen Rooney about What to Bring below!

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