This past summer my friend Kevin took an epic trip to Asia, 45 days traveling through China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Korea. He had plenty of stories to share when he came back about the culture, food, and all the pretty girls (Kevin is single). I actually found his stories about the pretty girls fascinating, because in Korea Kevin saw a lot of them wearing surgical-like masks to cover up healing wounds. Apparently it is really common in Korea for young girls to get cosmetic surgery. We’re talking about girls in their early teens encouraged by their parents to get their eyes enlarged, or a double-eyelid operation, or change any other features they deem unattractive. I’m not sure what their standard of beauty is, but I am very sure there was nothing wrong with these girls’ features to begin with despite the judgment of others. Keep reading…
Love the skin you’re in (as the ad says, but it’s still good advice). It’s never too early to begin teaching the beauty of acceptance, and you can’t repeat it enough, particularly in this age of media scrutiny and influence. Freckleface Strawberry, written by Julianne Moore and illustrated by LeUyen Pham, tackles this important lesson using humor and charm. Nick-named Freckleface Strawberry for her red hair and freckles, a little girl tries desperately to cover them and scrub them off; in fact, she tries just about everything to make her freckles disappear. With the help of her schoolmates, Freckleface Strawberry learns that being different is what makes her (and all of us) special.
It’s hard not to be charmed by the characters created by LeUyen Pham. Previously profiled when B is for Books reviewed Big Sister, Little Sister, Pham’s characters have so much life in them. In Freckleface Strawberry, Pham gives us more of what we love best, her animated ink drawings with vibrant colours digitally added. Each line of the Japanese brush pen and ink she uses portrays movement; you can practically feel the boundless energy of all the school kids as they run and play on a page. With a stroke here and a stroke there, she is able to capture a mood with facial expressions or body language. She has an amazing ability to tell a story without using words.
Freckleface Strawberry, a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author Julianne Moore
Best-known as a four-time Academy Award-nominated actress, Julianne Moore makes her literary debut with Freckleface Strawberry. Moore, a red-headed freckle-face herself (she mined memories from her childhood for her story), routinely moved throughout her childhood; her father’s position as a military judge meant the family ended up living in 23 different places across America and Germany. Born on December 3rd, 1960, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Moore received her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Boston University. Upon graduation she began her career on stage, and later turned to television and movies.
Illustrator LeUyen Pham
I am a BIG FAN of LeUyen Pham (pronounced “LeWin” for those of you who were wondering) – she is super duper talented. She began drawing at an early age, and later graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California with a degree in illustration and began working at Dreamworks Feature Animation. She has been pursuing her career as a children’s book illustrator since she left Dreamworks in 1999.
I am always tickled pink when an author or an illustrator, takes time out of their busy schedule to reply to a fan mail.
“When I first got contacted to illustrate “Freckleface Strawberry”, I was told that it had been written by a “celebrity”. In this publishing world, celebrity books are a funny thing — although it’s great exposure, more often than not the artist gets overpowered by the might of the celebrity. But when I heard who the author was, I have to admit I was star-struck. I mean, this woman is not just a real actress, she’s one of the best actresses of our time. And when I got to meet her, I found her to be an amazing person in real life, entirely humble and genuinely excited that I chose to work with her. “You were my first choice, I just hoped you’d do it!” she gushed when she first met me. Which, as any artist will tell you, feel GREAT to hear from anybody, much less a movie star like Julie. But to be honest, the real clincher for me was how both she and my publishers treated the project: it was first and foremost a picture book, following the standards of any other. In this vein, they allowed me to do as I pleased with the story, design the characters as I wanted, with little feedback from Julie until the end product was turned out. Which is, of course, as it should be, and which was why I so enjoyed doing the book. Julie even insisted on down-sizing her name, so that we had equal billing on the cover, and in every interview referring to the book, she constantly mentions my work. And of course, besides all this, the story was just fun to illustrate! I mean, c’mon, every body has something that they don’t like about themselves. My sister “suffers” from freckles, she’s spent her entire life trying to get rid of them. I, on the other hand, really love freckles.”
– LeUyen Pham –
Being a big fan I have been e-stalking LeUyen (I’m just kidding, it’s all in the name of research). I found this really great article written by Olivia Boler for The Noe Valley Voice, chronicling LeUyen’s life and career, a must read for any fan: www.noevalleyvoice.com
Publisher Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books; 1st edition (October 16, 2007)