Interview with Daniel Miyares, MIDNIGHT & MOON
Moon cannot see but he hears sounds that other horses ignore: the eggshell crack of a meadow lark hatching. Clara does not speak but she hears sounds that other children ignore: the hum of the oven when her mother bakes muffins. Both the foal and the little girl live with challenges. Both also have special qualities, which are recognized by friends who are open to seeing them.
Max's Boat Pick:
MIDNIGHT & MOON
Written by Kelly Cooper and illustrated by Daniel Miyares
Publisher: Tundra Books (February 8, 2022)
The illustrations for Midnight & Moon are so lush and breathtaking. What was your starting point and / or inspirations? "That’s so kind of you! Thank you so much! To begin with I needed to do a lot of background research. There’s a tenderness to the story and such an emphasis on the friendships. I wanted to be clear about where the characters were coming from. Also, the horses! I spent time going to horse barns and watching riders and their horses before Covid shut most things down. Then I would drive around the area I live and spot horses in pastures to observe and photograph from the road.
When it came to making the art, I started with some ink, a brush, and newsprint paper. I started sketching out the book with these materials in a gestural way. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make the finished paintings, but I suspected that the ink and brush would give me an emotional quality that felt right. Once I had my sketches I just inched towards incorporating color. Then I tried some gouaches for my finished art experiments and that was where I landed. The book has sweeping landscapes, close in intimate moments, changes of season and time of day. I wanted an approach that would preserve the energy and movement of horses through all of those scenarios. I hope that comes through in the finished book."
For those who love Midnight & Moon, can you recommend a few other titles you think they might also enjoy? "Sure thing! A couple of titles that I love that might have connection points are: A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by Cátia Chien and The Silver Pony by Lynd Ward. A Boy and a Jaguar is based on Alan’s life and how his deep connection to animals helped him navigate his stuttering. Alan’s dedication to wildlife conservation and his journey are so inspiring, but also Cátia’s artwork is magical as usual.
The Silver Pony is an oldie but a classic on my shelves. It’s about 175 pages long and it’s a wordless book. It tells the story of a boy who befriends a majestic winged horse on his farm. They have adventures all over the world and form a sweet bond. It was published in 1973 I believe so it’s got some quirks to it, but it’s still wonderful."
What did you love reading to your kids at age 3? At age 5? "My children are now 13 and 10 years old. For my daughter her all time favorite was Antoinette Portis’s Not A Box. We’d read it every night before bed for years. She also loved Chloe, instead by Micah Player. For my son it was a book illustrated by my friend Bob Kolar and written by Margery Cuyler called The Little Dump Truck. They also both loved Paola Opal’s books, Saffy, Ollie, and Totty when they were real young. Oh, and also anything by Sian Tucker. We had The Little Boat, Going Out, and The Little Train."
What contemporary picture books do you think will be the new classics of the future? "This is a really tough question for me to answer. I spend most of my time trying not to worry about picture book rankings. It seems like the books that have gotten major book awards are going to be in print for quite a while. So does that make them classic? Then there are the books that are on the bestseller lists week after week. Is a classic made by how many copies have sold? I’m not sure.
Some books that I have on my shelf that I consider classics are King Mouse by Cary Fagan and Dena Seiferling, Ocean Meets Sky by Terry and Eric Fan, The Last Resort by J. Patrick Lewis and Roberto Innocenti, and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. Maybe what’s classic is specific to each reader? I’ll go with that."
What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time? "Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats would be one I’d put on my 100 best list."