The BiblioFiles Presents: Christine Day

Just posted! An interview with Christine Day, author of middle grade novels I Can Make this Promise, and her most recent release, The Sea in Winter. She was also a featured writer for Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted series, specifically writing about Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina and citizen of the Osage Nation.

In I Can Make this Promise, we meet twelve year-old Edie, whose creative project with two friends leads to the discovery of a box in the attic of her house. Inside the box are photographs, postcards, a notebook, and letters that make her realize that her family has been hiding something major from her. The more she investigates, the more she learns about her mother’s past, and the complicated history of her family tree. I Can Make This Promise was listed as a best book of the year by NPR, and was a Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book, as well as an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book.

The Sea in Winter is a story about Maise, who is devastated after she injures herself in ballet class. Ballet is her life, and she grapples with not only the pain of her injury, but the loss of the joy dancing brings her, as well as her connection to her friends. When Maise’s family takes a road trip, she finds herself confronting what her identity, both ballet and beyond, really means to her.

Day’s work has many layers. One layer is the story of her main characters as they struggle and overcome difficult and emotional experiences. Another layer is how these characters connect to their families for support and guidance. Yet another layer is how her characters connect to their identities as Native people. Day blends these layers together flawlessly and compassionately, allowing the reader to deeply engage and empathize. There are difficult truths in these books, but in Day’s talented hands, the reader gets through them, and, like the characters, emerges in a better, stronger place.

In addition to her novels, Day has contributed her work to two collections, Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, and Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America.

Follow this link to the BiblioFiles interview


Image courtesy of Christine Day

The Professor of Shadowology

vincent bal 2It began with a spontaneous teacup doodle, and has steadily grown into printed postcards, calendars, two excellent books (Shadowology and Shadow World), and a dedicated Instagram following! Today, we’re delighted to chat with Belgian artist Vincent Bal, who has an extraordinarily playful and unique eye for life, light, objects, and shadows.

When did your relationship with shadows first begin?

It started by accident in the spring of 2016. I was working at my desk and noticed how the shadow of a teacup looked quite like an elephant. So, I completed the image by drawing some legs and ayes and took a picture. When I shared it on social media, people reacted very enthusiastic.I thought it was funny too, so I decided to try and make 100 of these ‘shadow doodles’, I have not stopped since.

How have your interactions with light, shadow and objects changed over the past five years?

In the beginning I was happy with every image I could extract from the shadows. I was constantly looking through the drawers in the house to find new objects to work with. At this point I think I have exhausted the supplies in my own house. I must have tried everything. Also, I set the bar higher. I don’t want to repeat myself, so sometimes it takes me longer to come up with something new.

Also, I have developed little videos a bit more. It can be satisfying to see the image created before your eyes and it is fun to add an extra layer with sound effects and music.

Is there an unusual story or connection behind one particular drawing?

They are all special to me. But I remember the first time I discovered I could use the shadow as a setting for a scene. So not really use the outer shape of the shadow, but rather the nuances in the grey inside. I was sitting on a terrace of a house we rented in Italy. Every morning around seven the sun would shine on that specific place and give beautiful long shadows.

So I went there and starting experimenting with some of the glasses from the cupboard of the rental house. And suddenly I saw a beach. I just added two small silhouettes and some seagulls, and it came to life. The image was called ‘Love On Shadow Beach’. That was a wonderful discovery, and I have made a few beach scenes since then.

Many of your illustrations use natural light. But others appear to use artificial light as well. Do you also have a set of particular lamps and lights you use…similar to a painter using different types of brushes?

The Sun is definitely the best light source, she gives wonderfully crisp shadows. So in the first months I always drew with sunlight. But that has a few disadvantages as well. The sun moves, and so you must draw quick, because the shadows really change in the course of one minute. That way I could never do drawings that were a bit more elaborate.
And I live in Belgium, we don’t have a lot of sunshine here. I should have invented some way to draw with rain!

So I started working with lights, and it was quite a search to come up with the perfect light source. It had to be a very small source, so the shadows are sharp. The bigger the light source, the less focused the shadows are.

In the beginning I used a clear light bulb, but they get very hot, and I once almost burnt some cushions that way. Now I have a little LED light standing on a flexible arm and that works well. But whenever the sun shines into my office, I feel the urge to see what I can do with that light.

Is there one object you have that you can’t quite capture the shadow/concept of yet?

Maybe in the future I would like to make something bigger, but the logistics scare me a little.There is practically no planning in my work now. I discover and create at the same time, and with bigger objects and shadows that might be more difficult, but who knows?


Images courtesy of Vincent Bal

Pop’s Top 10: Our Favorite Posts of 2021

12 month 46 hour library 4Wow wowzers wowie WOW are we looking forward to turning the page to 2022! But before we put a lid on 2021, we thought we would revisit some of our favorite posts! Here they are, in no particular order, our Top 10 posts of 2021!


#1 TOTALLY RANDOM

Never in a million years did I think a recycled pasta box would go viral, but this was one of our most popular projects! It’s a simple writing prompt machine, inspired by an arcade claw machine from summer vacations past.


#2 LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND NOBLE

Medieval Vogue front 1

Katie and I had a good time revisiting this fashion-parody-but-it’s-actually-historically-factual magazine. Medieval Vogue was part of a massive 2012 Robin Hood event. You can read more about the event fun here.


#3 DESTINATION: SLEEPY HOLLOW

It’s not everyday you get to check a box on the life list! Visiting Sleepy Hollow, NY has been something I’ve always dreamed of….and our 2021 trip will always be something to remember.


#4 BRINGING LITERATURE TO LIFE

Katie was delighted to interview Australian blogger Bryton Taylor, whose amazing literary parties and original recipes give us much inspiration!


#5 LITERARY AMUSEMENT PARK RIDES

moby dick ride_2

A Top 10 list in a Top 10 list? We couldn’t resist including this one because it was pure joy to research.


#6 FLOWERS FOR FERDINAND

In addition to featuring one of Katie’s favorite picture books, this post was full of hope, spring, and a fantastic wildflower identification app!


#7 FROM FOLKLORE TO FANTASY

Co-hosted with Vineet Chander from Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life, Hindu Life Program, this live Zoom webinar with talented authors Sanyantani DasGupta and Roshani Chokshi was just magical. And the Q&A with the kids was epic! You can find the entire event here.


#8 SPLASHY SPELLING

This one made the list because it was almost a huge fail and it turned my hand pink. Yes, PINK! Though I ultimately managed to produce a cute bath time spelling craft, my digits were blush for days!


#9 PUPPY POST

more puppy post 1Of course we’re going to include the post that introduced Finley, the newest addition to Katie’s family! Look at him, rocking that doggie delivery mailbox! Awwwww!


#10 THE 12 MONTH, 46 HOUR LIBRARY

12 month 46 hour library 4 Otherwise known as the craft kit that almost took Katie down. It might have taken a year, but now we have an adorable physical representation of Katie’s persistence and perseverance (and just look at that cute library ladder)!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! HERE’S TO 2022!