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  • Ratha Tep

Interview with Corey R. Tabor, MEL FELL

One day, when Mama was away, Mel decided it was time to learn to fly. She had been in the nest for long enough. She was scared, but that wasn't going to stop her.

Max's Boat Pick:


By Corey R. Tabor

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (February 2, 2021)

Can you tell me the origin story behind Mel Fell? CT: "I had the idea for Mel Fell at Green Lake Park in Seattle. I was sitting on a bench by the lake, looking up at a tree growing by the water and wondering about all the animals who called the tree home. I thought it would be fun to make a vertical picture book where you flip up and down the tree, seeing all the different animals, as you turn the pages. I knew I needed a character who would give the reader a reason to travel up and down the tree (a good idea for a picture book isn’t worth much if you don’t have a story to go with it) and that’s how I thought up Mel, the bold little bird ready to leap from her nest."

What have been your favorite picture books of 2021? "I absolutely love The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld. And On the Day the Horse Got Out by Audrey Helen Weber is just as great as its title."

What do you love reading to your son? "My wife and I have a three-year-old and he loves picture books. When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano and Christian Robinson is a favorite. (I’ll happily read anything by Julie Fogliano and/or Christian Robinson.) We also read a lot of Taro Gomi, one of my all-time favorite picture book makers. Another favorite is I Know a Lot of Things by Ann and Paul Rand which is always fun to read aloud. I’ve learned to appreciate great read-alouds a lot more since having a kid."

What contemporary picture books do you hope will become the classics of the future? "Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis, Small in the City by Sydney Smith, This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen, A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead, to name just a few of many."

What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time? "I’d have a hard time narrowing it down to 100. And it would probably be a different list from one day to the next. But a few books that would always be near the top are The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel, and Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni."


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