Interview with Antwan Eady, NIGEL AND THE MOON
When Nigel looks up at the moon, his future is bright. He imagines himself as…an astronaut, a dancer, a superhero, too! But it’s Career Week at school, and Nigel can’t find the courage to share his dreams. It’s easy to whisper them to the moon, but not to his classmates—especially when he already feels out of place.
Max's Boat Pick:
NIGEL AND THE MOON
Written by Antwan Eady and illustrated by Gracey Zhang
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (February 15, 2022)
Can you tell me the origin story behind Nigel and the Moon?
AE: "Thank you for this question. Nigel's a story about a young boy who's afraid to tell the world his dreams, so he shares them with the moon at night. I was inspired by my childhood and my love for the moon. The distance between myself and the moon felt like a safe space. I didn't have the language for it in my younger years, but looking back, I realize that's what drew me to it. So, I built upon that. I also used this story to process grief. In the story, Nigel's parents have the same jobs that my parents once had. This was my way of honoring my late parents. But I also wanted to highlight our everyday heroes...ordinary people doing extraordinary things."
What contemporary picture books do you hope will become the classics of the future? "Love this question! Off the top of my head, here are a few that instantly come to mind...books that I've sat with, revisited, and studied. The Old Truck by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey, Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat, I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith, The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López, The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan, Watercress by Andrea Wang and Jason Chin. A recent book that I love, and I’m certain I’ll study one day, is Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham and C.G. Esperanza."
What picture books coming out in 2022 are you most looking forward to reading? Big and Small and In-Between by Carter Higgins and Daniel Miyares, The Blur by Minh Lê and Dan Santat, Lizzy and the Cloud by The Fan Brothers, and John's Turn by Mac Barnett and Kate Berube."
Do you have a favorite bookstore and / or library? "Bookstore - The Storybook Shoppe in downtown Bluffton, South Carolina. This bookstore has everything I love about children's books, and you can feel it as soon as you walk through those doors. It's magical. They only carry children's books too.
I also love Live Oak Public Libraries in Savannah, Georgia. Years ago, when I was starting out, I researched picture books at these libraries. The librarians there were always so helpful. They believed in me, too. Sometimes they'd give me books straight from the cart before they were shelved. haha."