Welcome to a very special post, everyone! A sparkling, all-new spotlight post featuring an interview with children’s author and illustrator Maddie Frost! You may know Maddie Frost as the author and/or illustrator behind a number of wonderful board books, picture books, and children’s non-fiction titles: Smug Seagull, Once Upon a Zzzz, Wakey Birds, Animobiles: Animals on the Mooove (one of my three year-old’s favourite read alouds!), Everybody Needs a Buddy (written by Ellen Jackson), So You Want to Be an Owl (written by Jane Porter), and many, many more. Today is also an extra-special day for this spotlight as Maddie has a brand-new picture book out in the world called Just Be Jelly! I hope you read on for our interview, a bit about Just Be Jelly, a peak at a delightful YouTube Channel called “Let’s Draw with Maddie Frost”, and a look at some of Maddie’s books. Please enjoy!
It’s Interview Time!
Hello Maddie! How did you first get into illustration, and how did you first get into illustrating for picture books and board books?
I got into illustration because of animation. I went to art school in Boston and majored in Animation because I loved characters and storytelling.
I got into picture books sort of by accident when I won this freelance project my senior year of college. A Boston-based hotel was looking for an artist to illustrate a bedtime picture book that took place in their hotel to give to families that stayed there. I have no memory of ever submitting my work but apparently I did. And it changed my entire career path.
I worked as an elementary art teacher for a while until I built up a portfolio to get an agent.
I did a lot of board book work and educational books in the beginning of my illustration career. I said yes to anything that came into my inbox. I threw myself into the fire to learn as much as I could to get better. And to eventually have the skill to write and illustrate my own books. I didn’t know what my “voice” was as a storyteller but I had a feeling I would figure it out along the way, I just needed to do the work first.
What’s your favourite thing to draw? And is it the same or different than the most FUN thing to draw?
Animals. I would say it’s my favorite and most fun. Except if I have to draw realistic horses, camels, giraffes or anything with weird legs. (No offense to horses, camels and giraffes).
Can you tell readers a little bit about your new picture book JUST BE JELLY, which is coming out this month? [Note: released today, June 22, 2021!]
Yes! Just Be Jelly came from a very relaxed jellyfish I drew in my sketchbook. As a person who struggles with anxiety I could hear him telling me I needed to chill out. Hey girl, just be jelly. Then I thought of sardines. Sardines must be scared of everything, I mean there could be ANYTHING around the next reef. Sometimes I feel like a sardine! What sardines need are JELLY VIBES. I need JELLY VIBES! And the story evolved from there.
I wrote and did the art for this book the year before the pandemic started, in 2019. It’s all kind of ironic how much “just be jelly” became a mantra for me in 2020 and now. My anxiety was at an all-time high and I had a hard time focusing on anything. Jellyfish was there to remind me to relax, go with the flow, and that everything would be fine. This book is coming out at such a perfect time and I hope it makes readers laugh and feel comforted: to “wiggle your worries away,” as Jellyfish would say.
Can you talk about any future/upcoming projects you are working on? Sometimes authors and artists talk about a ‘dream project’ they would like to work on: do you have a ‘dream project’ in terms of a children’s book or illustration project?
Right now I’m working on a step-by-step drawing book called Let’s Draw Fun Animals (in 7 simple steps!). If you’ve seen my smash hit YouTube channel called, “Let’s Draw with Maddie Frost,” it’s in that style of simple, shape-based drawing. It also has bonus activities AND fun animal facts. I love this project so much and I can’t wait for kids to dive into the book. It comes out next year with HarperCollins. [Be sure to check out two videos from season one of “Let’s Draw with Maddie Frost” below!].
I’m also working on art for a picture book I wrote called Iguana Be a Dragon. It’s about an iguana that doesn’t feel amazing enough to go to a party and tries to disguise himself as a dragon instead, thus leading to a fireball of trouble. It will be out next year with Bloomsbury.
A picture book called Capybara is Friends with Everyone written and illustrated by me comes out next year with HarperCollins. All I will say about this is it’s about a CAPYBARA! And also this book is so funny!
I have a few more projects in the works that I can’t talk about JUST YET. But hopefully soon! One of them IS a dream project and I still can’t believe it. It rhymes with Shmafic Bovel.
If you could give aspiring artists- of ANY age!- one nugget of wisdom, what would that be?
Create stuff that YOU love and that’s in YOUR heart. There’s a lot of people doing a lot of things and that’s great. But invest in your OWN thing and be brave enough to share that with the world.
Thank you so much for your time, Maddie!
Here’s Looking At Just Be Jelly!
A groovy jellyfish helps a scared-of-everything sardine learn to take its problems in stride in this humorous picture book about wiggling your worries away. When a sardine who’s scared of everything loses its handbook for staying safe in the sea, it goes into total panic mode. But right as big, scary shadows are surrounding it, the sardine runs into a jellyfish preaching the wisdom of wiggling your worries away. Try it! Wiggle up…wiggle down …wiggle all around! When you’re done, your problems might not seem so enormous—and those scary shadows might turn out to be friends! From the creator of Smug Seagull comes a funny, feel-good story about facing your fears (with the help of a few awesome dance moves).
Here are a few videos from Maddie’s YouTube Channel “Let’s Draw with Maddie Frost”, which just wrapped up its first season of ten episodes. There are so many delightful, adorable creatures and animal friends you (and kids of all ages) can learn how to draw:
Not sure what to share for read aloud? For a storytime? For a bedtime read? Or maybe you are looking for something absolutely fun or totally charming to read? Let’s take a look at just some of the children’s books Maddie Frost has authored-and-illustrated and illustrated- there is something for every reader:
- Smug Seagull written and illustrated by Maddie Frost
- Everybody Needs a Buddy written by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Maddie Frost
- Animobiles: Animals on the Mooove written and illustrated by Maddie Frost
- Stir, Crack, Whisk, Bake: A Little Book About Little Cakes! from America’s Test Kitchen, illustrated by Maddie Frost
- The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs written by Mark Sperring, illustrated by Maddie Frost
- Once Upon a Zzzz written and illustrated by Maddie Frost
- So You Want to Be an Owl written by Jane Porter, illustrated by Maddie Frost
- Wakey Birds written and illustrated by Maddie Frost
- A Is for Artichoke: A Foodie Alphabet from Artichoke to Zest! from America’s Test Kitchen, illustrated by Maddie Frost
Thank you to Maddie Frost for her time and generosity.