Today is a special day on the blog because I’m gushing about The Green Umbrella, a darling picture book written by Jackie Azua Kramer and illustrated by Maral Sassouni!
I was given an opportunity to read it last fall and I instantly tumbled head over heels for this story about imagination. The language is gorgeous, and the texture and intricacies of the illustrations had me finding new details each time I read. I COULD NOT put this book down.
As Elephant strolls along in the rain with his green umbrella, he’s stopped by Hedgehog, Cat, Bear, and Rabbit, each insisting the umbrella is theirs. But it’s no umbrella to them. Instead, it’s a boat, tent, flying machine, and cane. But how could that be?
When you read this beautifully written and illustrated story, you’ll find that the characters have traveled far and wide, each with the help of the green umbrella. To give you a taste of their daring adventures, I’ve interviewed Hedgehog, Cat, Bear, Elephant, Rabbit, and Jackie.
Hedgehog, what is your most memorable adventure on the open sea?
While in the Mediterranean, I encountered colorful sea horses. In lonely times, they cheered me up with their rainbow colors. So much so, that I jumped in the water and enjoyed a relaxing swim. But there’s no doubt, dolphins hold a special place in my heart.
Hedgehog’s favorite book: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Cat, what is your favorite kind of tea?
As a botanist, I had just returned from a trip to India. Darjeeling tea is sublime. Tea, I’m sure, is the great connector! All one needs is a pot of hot water and the world is your friend. Imagine me a cat, and some of my dearest friends are mice I met all over the world.
Cat’s favorite book: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot
Bear, your flying contraption is quite impressive. How did you think of it?
My experience as a pilot and years of tinkering with my inventions. Trust me, I had some bad landings! My flying machine also plays music as I peddle …it’s one of a kind!
Bear’s favorite book: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Elephant, how many pirates did you fight off with your umbrella?
There was Blackbeard and Long John Silver. But my most challenging dueling enemy was the Spaniard, Inigo Montoya!
Elephant’s favorite book: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Old Rabbit, how did you pass time on your hikes from once ancient ruin to the next?
I keep a journal. I’ve spent many years exploring and studying ancient cultures. My journal is filled with close encounters, watercolors of unique creatures and detailed maps. There’s a pretty funny story in here about a tribe in South America who tried to use my cane as an umbrella!
Old Rabbit’s favorite book: Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Jackie, what does the green umbrella mean to you? Where does it take you?
The umbrella is a metaphor for one’s imagination, creativity and dreams. And where does my imagination take me? Everywhere and anywhere! Who will I meet and what will I experience? The possibilities are endless.
Jackie’s favorite book: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Green Umbrella shows us that no adventure or dream is too big to imagine, especially when you’re in the company of friends.
Jackie is giving away a copy of The Green Umbrella to one lucky friend! To enter, simply leave a comment telling us which character you’d love to spend an afternoon with and why. We’ll pick the winner at random on Monday, February 13.
Jackie earned her Masters of Education from Queens College. She is a member of SCBWI and has written for the SCBWI Bulletin. In 2014, she was invited to be a member of the Bank Street Writers Lab, Bank Street College. In 2015 Jackie was a presenter at the 1st nErDyCamp Long Island. Her picture book, The Green Umbrella (North South Books) debuts February 1st 2017 in English/German. Out soon –The Boy and the Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla (Candlewick Press, TBD) and If You Want to Fall Asleep (Clavis Books, Spring 2018) in English/Dutch. Visit her jackieazuakramer.comTwitter @jackiekramer 422