0 item(s) / Total: $0  view cart

Long Distance Correspondence Between Creatives

Posted by Kar-Ben Editors on 8/24/2018 to Meet a Kar-Ben Author

Most often, despite the seeming collaboration, authors and illustrators of childrenís books never meet or work directly with each other. Even so, results that seem almost magical can be achieved in the final product. One very special book is An Unlikely Ballerina by Krystyna Poray Goddu (who is based in New York) and illustrated by Cosei Kawa (who is based in Japan), a great example of the interplay between story and image. Krystyna was curious about a unique element of Coseiís art, and wrote to him to ask about it:

Krystyna: I am very curious about the miniature elements that appear like streams of sparkles on every page. At first glance they seem like a mix of vague shapes,  but when I look closer I see they are made up of very specific items: clock, tutu, stool, chairÖ.I wonder about the significance of this artistic element.

Why do you choose to include these as part of every illustration? Do you draw each tiny image yourself and then repeat them? Or how do you create them? Do you choose specific items, or is it a random selection? They are so evocative and give such a distinctive look to the book. I am sure that someday soon a child will ask me about this aspect of your work, and Iíll love to have some kind of intelligent response!

And Cosei wrote back with a fascinating reply:

Cosei: Some people mentioned those tiny floating objects since now, but nobody asked about them. I am happy to answer your question. I call them "confetti."


Before illustrating the spreads, I drew lots of sketches of scene-properties in the background like flowers, furniture, clothes, sweets, accessories, and so on... Through those relaxing sketches, I start exploring the story and building the visual imaginary world. Most of them are not used in the main scenes and just a few survive. I micrify the buried idea-sketches and blow them off in the air. In the first spread, you may find a theatre, flowers, a table, an Arabian Lamp, a stature of Buddha, a door, a dress, a cat, and lots of other objects around the spinning Lily. They are alternatives of The Unlikely Ballerina. I think the confetti makes the book rich and unifies the spreads. I hope it helps your understanding.

See the images up close:

You may recognize Cosei's work in another Kar-Ben book, Rifka Takes a Bow, a fun book about a girl whose parents were actors in the Yiddish Theater in New York in the early 20th century. Cosei employed the same magical-seeming "confetti" technique.

Welcome to Kar-Ben's blog, a place for ideas and activities to inspire, entertain and educate young readers and their families. 

 Meet a Kar-Ben Author
 High Holidays
 Sukkot & Simchat Torah
 Tu B'Shevat
 Jewish Values

 It's Purim! So you see what I see?
 A Soup by Any Other Name Would Taste as Good
 Whoever Saves a Life
 The Most Famous Jewish Philanthropist You Never Heard Of
 Putting Down Roots on Tu B'Shevat

 February 2021
 January 2021
 December 2020
 November 2020
 October 2020
 September 2020
 August 2020
 June 2020
 May 2020
 April 2020
 March 2020
 February 2020
 January 2020
 December 2019
 September 2019
 August 2019
 July 2019
 April 2019
 February 2019
 January 2019
 November 2018
 October 2018
 September 2018
 August 2018
 July 2018
 June 2018
 April 2018
 January 2018
 December 2017
 November 2017
 October 2017
 September 2017
 August 2017
 July 2017
 December 2016
 November 2015
 December 2014
 November 2013
 October 2013