Beatrice Alemagna is one of my favourite illustrators, so it was an absolute honour to get the chance to ask her some questions about her work, life and latest book Little Big Boubo.
Beatrice was born in Bologna, Italy, in 1973. When she was a child her biggest heroes were Pippi Longstocking, Marcovaldo, Karlsson on the roof, Silvester and Meffi. At eight she decided that, whatever the cost, once grown up she would become a "painter and writer of novels". Beatrice has had 29 books published so far and these have been translated into over 14 languages. She currently lives in Paris.
BWB: What inspired you to write Little Big Boubo?
BA: Since I became a mother (almost four years ago) the child took a central position in my work.
I feel like exploring his issues and the phases he is going through. Obviously my daughter has inspired the book. During this delicate period between two and three years, in which children don't know whether they should define themselves as "little" (like a baby) or already claim to be "big" (like a grown up person). During this time, what it's surprising is that they, by themselves, change their perception respect to their interest. One is "big" or "little" respect to what he desires, at a certain time.
BWB: I love the size of the book for Little Big Boubo. Was this purposely designed for little hands?
BA: Absolutely. As you can see in the little movie I made to present the book, it's easy and pleasant to manipulate the book with tiny hands.
Little big Boubo from Beatrice Alemagna on Vimeo.
BWB: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
BA: I have lived a lot of beautiful moments. One of them was to receive a letter from Tomi Ungerer telling me that he would love to meet me because he loved my work.
BWB: A Lion in Paris is one of my favourite books of yours. Which title are you most proud of?
BA: Besides the Lion in Paris (which is not only the story of a stranger in the unknown town, but also my own autobiography), currently my favorite books (and for different purpose) are : Jo singe garçon, The five Misfits (to be released in 2015 by wide eyed Editions) and the Marvelous Fluffy squishy itty bitty (provisional title, 2015 Thames & Hudson).
BWB: You use collage a lot in your work, what inspired this love?
BA: Collage allows to get out of your own stereotype, to draw with the obstacle of scissors, and this is very inspiring, for me.
BWB: You're originally from Italy but now live in Paris. Would you say that Paris is now your home forever?
BA: I really cannot answer to this question! Only life will tell.
BWB: A lot of your books feature animals, do you prefer to draw these over people?
BA: I don't have any preferences, in fact I have always loved to tell stories of children, directly related to reality, it's been only a few years since I started to use the animal as a way to talk about the child. And it is a very new and pleasant thing.
BWB: What usually fuels your next book or illustration?
BA: The love of discovery and change.
Thank you to Beatrice for taking the time to answer my questions - a lovely insight to what inspires you and your wonderful work. Also thank you to Hester for making it possible. If you'd like to see more of Beatrice's work visit her website at beatricealemagna.com