The Bellevue Public Library welcomed author and illustrator Bruce Arant on Thursday, March 6, 2014. His presentation was featured at the library's monthly Momaha/Bellevue Storytime.
Bruce's new book, "Simpson's Sheep Won't Go to Sleep" was published in August, 2013.
"The rhyming text begs to be read aloud, and the stylized pictures perfectly capture the tired farmer and his sleep-resistant flock. Arant's creatures, with their big eyes reminiscent of Shaun the Sheep's, are adorable, and the clutter-free illustrations are great for storytime or individual sharing. Parents will sympathize with Farmer Simpson, and children will totally understand where the sheep are coming from. Great fun for everyone." - School Library JournalBruce began his presentation by telling us about his childhood, when his interest in art was first piqued by his first grade teacher. He drew some simple pictures for us, including the sheep that are featured in his new book.
"Simpson's Sheep Won't Go to Sleep" being read by the author.
Time for some creative audience participation!
Children were encouraged to think of animals to include in Bruce's drawing of an unnamed, never-before-seen creature!
What would YOU call a creature with the head of a monkey, the neck of a giraffe, and the body of a turkey?!
What other parts of animals do you see in Bruce's drawing?
A hot dog-eating, bespectacled, monk-drag-turk-deer-frog-ephant??
For those who lingered after the presentation, there were cookies and milk provided by Drizzles in Olde Towne Bellevue.
Bruce also showed us some of his other drawings. See more of Bruce's drawings here!
Perhaps some of these will make their way into an upcoming book!
Bruce posed for pictures and signed copies of his book.
~ My conversation with Bruce Arant ~
During your presentation you mentioned a teacher who had quite an impact on your life. Could you share the story again, for my blog readers?I went to Sunny Slope School, which at that time was on the outskirts of Omaha and had only a small number of students in grades 1-4. My first grade teacher was Rebecca Landman. I thought she was the best thing ever, because each morning, Mrs. Landman started our school day with art class. I can remember her being enthusiastic about art in general, and specifically, about my artwork. Creating art can be very intimidating, but I believe she instilled a foundation of artistic confidence in me, which has been an invaluable gift throughout my life. I have no idea what ever became of Mrs. Landman, but I'll always be grateful to her for that.
What formal training have you received?I took a couple of drawing classes in college, but outside of that, I am self taught. (Lots of doodling in school, church and business meetings) I would have loved to have had a formal art education. There's so much more to learn. Who knows...maybe someday.
Does one aspect of authoring a book (writing versus illustrating) come easier for you?I would have to say art usually comes easier -- it just sort of happens with me -- but I also love to write. Either can be very satisfying from a creative standpoint.
Any anecdotes on writing "Simpson's Sheep Won't Go to Sleep"? How did you pick the farmer's, and his wife's, names?The story came to me pretty quickly. I think I wrote it in about two or three hours one afternoon and it was making me laugh (on the inside, at least), so I thought it might possibly do the same for others. I'm not sure how Simpson got his name. It just seemed to roll off the tongue easily. When it came to Bernice, I needed a woman's name that rhymed with "fleece." She could have been Clarice, Elise or Denise, but the mother of one of my friends is named Bernice, so I decided to give her the nod.
Did you have a favorite book when you were a child?I always liked Dr. Seuss -- for the funny rhyming and the funny pictures. That might have something to do with the fact that I like to write in rhyme -- and draw funny pictures.
What are some of your favorite authors and illustrators today?There are so many great illustrators out there. I could go on and on, but my top 10 favorites are Chris Van Allsburg, Shaun Tan, Loren Long, David Wiesner, Preston McDaniels, Raul Colon, Zachary Pullen, David Shannon and Bruce Whatley and C.F. Payne -- not necessarily in that order.
Do you have children/grandchildren who read your stories and give feed-back?Yes, actually I have both. Three children -- two girls and a boy -- who aren't little kids anymore. My oldest daughter has three little ones: Norah, 4; Pippa, 2; Henry, 5 months. They're all brilliant, of course, and are big fans of Farmer Simpson and his flock.
Any encouragement for parents whose children are showing interest in writing/drawing?I would say that if you have a child who shows an interest in writing and/or art, one of the greatest life-long gifts you can give them is the freedom to exercise their talents. If possible, get them involved in art classes or creative writing groups, take them to art museums, buy them picture books with quality illustrations. In short, do what you can to help them scratch their creative itch.
Anything else you'd like our readers to know about you?Hmmm.... I suppose one thing that people might find interesting is that I am a volunteer teacher of art and guitar in a maximum security prison facility for young men between the ages of 16 -21. It's been an interesting experience -- and very different from the colorful, happy world of children's picture books.
It was a pleasure to meet Bruce and welcome him to the Bellevue Public Library. I hope we can have him back again soon!
~ Mrs. B.