Recently, the lovely children’s book author and illustrator Mrs. Antoinette Portis graciously paid a visit to BCIS, spending time with the children at the Early Childhood Center. She is known for her many wonderful works, which include the highly praised “Not a Box,” “Not a Stick,” “A Penguin Story,” “Wait,” and more. She spent two days reading some of these books to the young students, providing invaluable artistic advice, and talking with them about various topics. She grabbed their attention by utilizing funny voices, making grand gestures, and simply reading the stories that were easy (and enjoyable) for the children to follow and understand. We were able to ask her some questions on certain topics. Please read further for some of her answers.
On being an author and illustrator for stories:
“I don’t’ think of myself as an “Illustrator” as much as I think of myself as a person who makes picture books. Putting a picture and words together and meshing them into a whole is different than just illustrating. If you look at “Wait,” there’s only three words. But there is this narrative and tension that builds through the pictures. The words don’t say, “Mom is rushing faster.” The type only gets bigger, so you understand she is getting louder, more tense. And children are amazing at reading pictures because they are always looking and trying to figure out what everything means.”
On sources of inspiration for her books:
“Some things are my experiences and some are my daughter’s. In other things, I observe. For example, “Wait.” There was an incident that occurred while I was sitting in a restaurant. A little boy went by to see a bug that was sitting at a window sill. He broke away from his mom and came over right beside me to look at this bug. And his mom came rushing, grabbed his arm and kind of yanked him down the street. He could barely reach her hand, so he was walking and tip-toeing after her as she was rushing down the street. Immediately, I went, ‘That’s a picture book.’ And that has happened a million times everywhere in the world. Parents are always rushing and kids are trying to see something.”
On advice for parents of young children:
“I’m a strong believer that children shouldn’t be scheduled every minute in their life. They need time to explore for themselves, explore their environment, and figure out how to entertain themselves. If we entertain them every second and cut them off from their own imaginations, then they are not using this amazing tool that humans have.”
At BCIS, a great number of authors, illustrators, and outstanding creative minds from various industries visit us throughout each year, demonstrating their unique talents and skills to our students. Some authors periodically give lectures to our kids to help enrich their learning. We believe that reading is beneficial to helping students become lifelong learners and inquirers, sparing no efforts in arousing their interests in books, as well as inspiring and empowering them to gain more knowledge and capabilities. So please remember to keep imagining!