Interview with Aimée Sicuro, IF YOU FIND A LEAF
Every year, gusts of wind blow colorful autumn leaves to the ground. Some leaves make a crunch under foot, and others are so beautiful they deserve to be saved.
Pick by Mags DeRoma, To Make:
IF YOU FIND A LEAF
By Aimée Sicuro
Publisher: Random House Studio (July 12, 2022)
Can you tell me the origin story behind If You Find a Leaf?
AS: "In 2015, I started making these collages with leaves that I found for the online project Inktober. Every year I looked forward to finding fall leaves and seeing what I could make with each different shape and colorful leaf I found.
In the fall of 2019 Rachael Cole, who is an author, artist, and art director at Random House reached out to me and asked me if I had ever thought about creating a story around these collages. It seemed unbelievable to be able to make a book out of the personal work that I loved creating."
Aimée Sicuro's early sketches for If You Find a Leaf:
What a great origin story! And what a phenomenal collection of leaves you have in your end pages! Did you collect every single one yourself? Where did you find them? There must be some fun stories behind them. "Yes, I did find all of the leaves in the book. Because I made this book during the darker days of the pandemic, I spent a lot of early mornings on a walk or run just to clear my head. I found a lot of leaves on those solo walks all around Brooklyn. My kids also helped me collect leaves when we went to Prospect Park and anytime we were out for a walk. My daughter came home from Pre-K last fall with a backpack full of leaves that she collected on their class nature walk. She explained to her teachers that she needed to collect them for me so I could make a book out of leaves. This made me laugh and wonder what her teacher must have imagined I was doing. It definitely became a family affair."
Interior spreads of If You Find a Leaf:
I love how you included your glycerin bath technique as backmatter. How did you come across this technique? "Originally when I was doing these drawings as a fun personal project, I would glue the leaf to the page, and inevitably it would become brown and brittle. I started experimenting with modge podge and leaf pressing techniques until I found the glycerin bath recipe online. This was the best solution for keeping the leaves soft, dimensional, and colorful. For the art in the book, I photographed the leaves when they were fresh to get the most vibrant version of the leaf. But it's helpful to preserve them for framed original art and to make crafts with kids throughout the year. For school visits, I've been collecting and preserving leaves for a collage activity I do with the students. This prevents the leaves from drying out and crumbling off the art that they've made."
For those who love If You Find a Leaf, can you recommend a few other titles that you think they might also enjoy?
"Lawrence in the Fall by Matthew Farina and Doug Salati. There are so many reasons to love this book. Farina captures the range of emotions so perfectly and the bond between Lawrence and his father is felt throughout the text. You can feel the texture of the beautiful illustrations on every page and the soft muted colors give this book a warm inviting feeling. The perspective and the details on every page are wonderful.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. The collage style is a wonderfully tactile imaginative journey of the man made of real leaves and is a book that I could read over and over with my kids.
Leaves by David Ezra Stein. The fluid linear illustration style in this book has a whimsical joyful feeling. The lovable bear tries to understand why the leaves are falling from the tree and if the trees need his help. It's a great way to talk about the seasons with kids and why leaves fall in Autumn."
What are some other fall picture books you love?
"Sweep by Louise Greig and Júlia Sardà
Storm by Sam Usher
Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer"
What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time?
"The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard and James Marshall
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal
If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall"
What forthcoming picture books are you most looking forward to reading?
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Beatrice Alemagna
Fireworks by Matthew Burgess and Cátia Chien
Tap! Tap! Tap! by Hervé Tullet
You Rule by Rilla Alexander"