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  • Ratha Tep

Interview with Marta Bartolj, EVERY LITTLE KINDNESS

As a girl searches for her lost dog, a simple act of generosity ripples into a wave of good deeds. In the course of a single day, each considerate action weaves lives together and transforms a neighborhood for the better.

Max's Boat Pick:


By Marta Bartolj

Publisher: Chronicle Books (October 12, 2021)

What inspired Every Little KindnessMB: "I’m very touched by simple acts of kindness—little actions that anyone can do. It’s something I've found important since my childhood. One small kindness can make a change, even though we might not always see it. This was my inspiration for the story. The main character, the dog Brko, is my friend Andrea's dog. He was rescued from a shelter, and avoided having to be put to sleep. Andrea offered him a home. This and his whole story really moved me. I truly believe that kindness is a great way to make the world brighter and can help to build a friendly community where anyone is accepted and has a place to stay and to be. And in a subtle way, maybe it raises the question of what it really means to be human."

You convey so much without words. What are some of your favorite wordless (or nearly wordless) picture books? "There are so many beautiful wordless books. The first that really moved me was Wave by Suzy Lee. Another very precious one is The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. I love it as an animated film, too! Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Larsen and Sydney Smith is another one that stands out for me. I also love Pool by JiHyeon Lee and The Arrival by Shaun Tan. Moletown by Torben Kuhlmann is almost wordless. It has a few lines at the beginning and at the end. Moletown is a great representation of our time and it opens many questions about the current way of living, values and future."

You have such a distinctive visual style. Who are some other illustrators you admire? "There are so many great illustrators! The first ones that come to mind are Lisbeth Zwerger and Beatrix Potter. But Rebecca Dautremer's illustrations are the ones that opened up for me a whole new world of how to express and create an atmosphere through illustration. I enjoy observing works by great artists. But what's most important is to express from 'your own creative seat,' I think, freely and in your own visual language. It’s not always easy, and sometimes it feels like being vulnerable, so I need a lot of courage."

What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time? "I think it would be The Secret Lives of Princesses by Philippe Lechermeier and Rebecca Dautremer. It was the first picture book that pulled the rug from under my feet so to speak. The illustration is stunning. And the way the text communicates with the illustrations is amazing. I’m in love with the color palette. The design is playful and not over the top at the same time. The book really is an art piece."


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