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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview w/ Kim Fleming and Review of My Mummy is a Unicorn

Kim Fleming is a Canadian-born illustrator, currently calling Providence, RI, USA home.

She’s an established illustrator and emerging author. Excited to be a part of the kidlit community, putting out inspirational and aspirational picture books and board books for the world’s youngest bookworms.

Kim’s the illustrator of 12 books, including Feathers by Karen Henricks (2020), Egg Hunting We Will Go by Jay Laga'aia (2016), and Mummy You’re Special To Me by Laine Mitchell (2014).


Her newest picture book, My Mummy is a Unicorn, released this March.


Welcome Kim, tell us a little about yourself. (Where/when do you write/illustrate? How long have you been writing/illustrating? What is your favorite type of book to write or illustrate?)


I’ve been illustrating for quite some time now! I love illustrating picture books and started my career over a decade ago now. I’ve always held other jobs at the same time, but illustration is my passion. Because I have a “day job,” I work mostly at nights, out of a bedroom in my home. I really like the commute and the dress code.

*Smiling* What is one of the most fun or unusual places where you’ve illustrated?

I used to illustrate completely traditionally using watercolors, which meant that I really had to be in my Studio to illustrate anything. Now I have a hybrid workflow where I do some traditionally and some digitally, so I have been known to take my iPad on holiday to the White Mountains in New Hampshire or to my son’s soccer practice 😉

Sounds like a fun holiday. Who was your favorite author, illustrator, and/or favorite book as a child?

One of my favorite books as a child was Chicken soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak. I just loved the rhyme and I can still remember the limited palette illustrations.


What about the My Mummy is a Unicorn manuscript appealed to you as an illustrator?


I loved that this manuscript was filled to the brim with whimsy and wild imagination. Also the fact that I got to draw so many different fantastical creatures and environments was really a treat!

You did a great job playing with and expanding the whimsical elements. What's something you want your readers to know about My Mummy is a Unicorn?

My Mummy is a Unicorn is a super fun read that celebrates all of the wonderful things that mothers do for their children every day. It features a non gender-specific child who is mixed race, so I do hope that all children will be able to see themselves in this book.

Perfect as a gift for the upcoming Mother's Day. Many illustrators leave treasures or weave their own story (or elements) throughout the illustrations. Did you do this in My Mummy is a Unicorn? Could you share one or more with us?

Yes! I added in a little sidekick to the main character — a cute little mouse. The mouse is not in the text at all. I think young readers will enjoy spotting him on every page and seeing what antics he is getting up to 😊.

I love the mouse! How many revisions did the illustrations take? What was the hardest part about illustrating My Mummy is a Unicorn? Or illustrating in general?


It was actually a very smooth process (which was a dream!) — The team at Scholastic Australia like to see thumbnail sketches first, before sending in full rough sketches. I love this because it’s how I work anyway, and then getting thumbnails approved before continuing means I know I’m going in the right direction.

As it happened, the timeline got compressed just after I submitted my thumbs, but they felt that the thumbs were detailed enough that I was able to go straight to color! This meant I was able to hit the final deadline with no problem. Luckily, I had very few revisions after submitting color.

That is a dream! Is there a spread that you were especially excited about or proud of? Which is your favorite spread?

Text © Laine Mitchell, 2023. Image © Kim Fleming, 2023.


My favorite spread is without a doubt the Dragon spread. I’m really happy with the palette and composition. Also I loved that the Art Director pushed me on this one. Initially, the buildings had an Asian look to them, something akin to a Thai Temple, but they asked for them to be more fantastical. So I was able to pull in some Dr. Seuss and Gaudi influences to pump up the fun factor 😉

They really are fun and whimsical. Are there any new projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?


I can’t say much, but I do have a picture book which I’ve written and illustrated as well has some board book concept books out on submission at the moment. Hopefully, I’ll have more news soon!

Good luck with these! What is your favorite National Park or Forest, regional park, or city park? Or the one you’re longing to visit. Why?

I absolutely love Lincoln Woods State Park which is only 10 minutes from my house. I don’t get there enough, but whenever I do, it’s heart- and soul-filling.

© AllTrails


Thank you Kim for coming to share with us about yourself and your fun picture book.


Thank you so much Maria! I really appreciate the interview!

To find out more about Kim Fleming, or contact her:


Review of My Mummy is a Unicorn


This is a sweet, rhyming celebration of Moms and their ability to create whimsical adventures.

My Mummy is a Unicorn


Author: Laine Mitchell


Illustrator: Kim Fleming


Publisher: Scholastic Australia (2023)


Ages: 3-7


Fiction


Themes:

Family fun, imagination, and Moms.


Synopsis:

Join in the fun as mother and child use their imaginations to create a magical day full of fantastical adventures.


Opening Lines:

My mummy is a unicorn!

She makes magic every day

when she takes me on a rainbow road

to school, and then we play.


What I LIKED about this book:

With a rhyming text, a young child imagines his mother as nine fun or magical entities, including a unicorn travelling on a rainbow, a tickle monster, and a robot able to fix anything. Tying them all together, each of these whimsical characters sports a purple swoosh of hair - yep, even the robot and the dragon.


Kim Fleming added a fun and adorable mouse sidekick who actively engages in each imagined adventure - snorkeling, dancing, and helping hold back the "tickle monster." Kids will enjoy watching the mouse's antics in each spread.

Text © Laine Mitchell, 2023. Image © Kim Fleming, 2023.


My mummy is a MONSTER

with lots of arms and slimy skin.

She’ll tickle me for hours . . .

if I let her in!


One of my favorites spreads is Mom as "a BALLERINA, dancing circles in the light." I love how Kim's dressed Mom in a colorful peacock costume, magically swooping through a shimmering, golden spotlight, while the child and mouse - also in tutus - dance in their own magical spotlight. It's such a wonderful celebration of music, movement, and time together.

Text © Laine Mitchell, 2023. Image © Kim Fleming, 2023.


My mummy is a BALLERINA,

dancing circles in the light.

We prance and leap to music,

together through the night.


A tender moment at the end, acknowledges both the child's imagination and his belief that his Mom's "magic’s still the BEST." This is a colorful and imaginative story to read with a young child. Especially on an icky, home-bound day; when a touch of imagination and magic would be very welcome. As a sweet celebration of a special relationship, it would make a great gift for Mother's Day.


Resources:

- make your own flying unicorn, unicorn bookmarks, a card, or some of the other 25 unicorn crafts.


- what would you imagine your mom, aunt, grandma, or even a big sister to be? What adventures would you have?


- if you have a big box, special space (closet?), or can make a blanket fort take your mom or special someone on your own adventure.

Comments


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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