Isabelle Arsenault is an internationally renowned children’s book illustrator whose work has won numerous awards and praise from critics. Cloth Lullaby—featured in Club Nova—won the Bologna Ragazzi Award in 2017. She has won the prestigious Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature three times, and two of her picture books were named as New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year.
The poetry expressed through Isabelle’s graphic universe, the gentle flow of her lines and the overall charm of her books have made her one of Quebec’s best-known and esteemed illustrators. Her books, both in English and French, are doorways to this universe.
Of the books which you both wrote the words and illustrated, did you start with imagery or the language?
On the whole, my ideas are mostly visual. Once I get an idea for a book, I tend to develop the scenario first, as the visual is somehow already there, in my mind. Developing the scenario and dialogs helps structuring the story on paper, so my editor can understand the general idea. Then I take the script and unfold it into pages, creating rhythm, silences, playing with panels, infusing the story with my visual interpretation.
What’s been your favorite interaction with a child about one of your books?
I’m always touched when I meet young readers in book fairs who tell me that Jane, the Fox and me (with Fanny Britt) has been an important book for them. I recognize myself as a child in these shy and introverted kids, mustering all their courage to express their feelings.
Isabelle was just one brilliant aspect of our November 2018 Great Minds experience. In our most ambitious project yet, we spoke to fourteen of the brightest folks we could think of — entrepreneurs, artists, writers, athletes, educators — and asked them to recommend a book for our members. Boy, did they ever deliver, and the result is a curated collection we’re incredibly proud of.
A recent profile in Fast Company details all the recommendations we gathered and from whom, as well as a little background on Literati as a company and our CEO (for those of you who are just joining us and might now have had the chance to check out our website for all the deets).
Long story short: We’re super proud of the Great Minds experience, and can hardly begin to express our gratitude at everyone who helped make it a reality. From Isabelle’s stunning work to the thoughtful recommendations from each of books that came from the great brains we got to pick, we hope you love this experience as much as we do.