When undertaking my first ever book project, I wondered if I was biting off more than I could chew. I had never done more than two or three paintings in a series, most of which featured buildings with figures sprinkled throughout the scenes to provide life, movement and humanity but seldom were the people the focus of attention. My paintings tend to capture places as they are (or were when I experienced them) and allow the user to generate their own mood and meaning or create their own story by placing themselves into those settings. This assignment was a total different task. I would need to create roughly twenty-two full page illustrations, set them in a late 1930s/early 1940s Brooklyn I had never directly experienced, and in each image, the main characters and the story had to take center stage. The background details only provided to support and enhance that story telling. I also felt a deep responsibility to translate author Myron Uhlberg's autobiographical story into images that would enhance and not simply illustrate his wonderful heartfelt words. It was definitely going to be a challenge.
Throughout the duration of the project, it had sometimes seemed as if the book would exist only in my studio as an endless series of images under development. But, after a few years that included the birth of my two daughters, a move from Brooklyn out to Montclair, NJ and the death of my father among even more major life events, the final book was released in March of 2016. Having never before released a children's picture book, I was very curious to see how The Sound of All Things would be received. As long as Myron was happy, I would be too, but it's natural after pouring yourself into a project of this sort, to hope it will be enjoyed by many. So, when the first review from Kirkus came in and was unequivocally positive, I was thrilled.
Now, in 2017, I have just learned that The Sound of All Things has been named to this years list of Notable Books for a Global Society. I am humbled and happy to see the book honored in this way. The majority of the credit goes to Myron, who lived and then crafted his true-life story of growing up as the hearing child of two deaf parents into a moving picture book, but I'm happy to have been able to translate those words into paintings. And hopefully, this honor will add some attention and introduce this unique story to a wider audience and allow those who lack hearing to see themselves within the pages of this uplifting story.
PS Additionally, I also just found out it has been named to:
CCBC Choices 2017, the annual best-of-the-year list of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center!
The 2017 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People list, a cooperative project of the National Council for the Social Studies and the Children’s Book Council.