I have never met Madeleine Robinson in person, although she lives only 35 minutes away in North Little Rock (Arkansas), and we collaborated on my children's book, The Power of Bread, for 6 months. She and I connected as author and illustrator, through editor James Matthews, before COVID-19 officially became a pandemic. And like everyone else, Zoom became our primary means of seeing each other, at least from the shoulders up.
It took just one meeting, seeing sample sketches for the book's first pages and hearing Madeleine's imagination take flight on the rest, that I knew she was the one. It was like the images, which had been floating around in my head for years, were all of a sudden alive through her illustrations. In a word, I was "Wowed!"
I envisioned my characters in watercolor tones of clay and desert, palm tree and bougainvillea – the Middle East, where the power of the bread weaves its magic. Madeleine, who works most often in watercolor, imagined the scenes first in pencil sketches, then brought them into brilliant life with her paintbrush.
The Power of Bread is a first for Madeleine and me, my first children's book to write and hers to illustrate. As a recent college graduate with a major in Studio Art Illustration and an abundance of creative talents, her career is just beginning. I assure Madeleine that when she's a famous, sought-after children's book illustrator, I will proudly proclaim, "She illustrated my book FIRST!"
Madeleine leaves for Los Angeles at the end of July.
"Hopefully, with a lot of hard work, I will begin to make music and illustration my full-time careers," she wrote in a recent email. (She also writes music and performs with her band, Sleepover.)
"It's one of the most exciting and scary prospects to me, and I can't wait to have such a big change in my life."
The voice of a young woman following her dreams.
We will meet soon for a long-awaited lunch and a chance for me to thank Madeleine personally for her exceptional work. It will be a time to celebrate a connection which brought a book to life, and sent a message of peace into the world.
Madeleine's covers for The Power of Bread