Tina Kügler, a Postcard Post alum, is helping Sub It Club celebrate its 2-year anniversary! But Tina has a lot to celebrate too―
IN MARY’S GARDEN comes out March 17th, written and illustrated by Tina and Carson Kügler, published by Houghton Mifflin.
Tina tells us a little about this new picture book:
It is the story of a Wisconsin artist who made extraordinary art out of the humblest of materials. Mary Nohl lived in the house she helped her father build on the shore of Lake Michigan, and using sand, cement, beach rocks, and cast-off materials, she transformed her property into a wonderland populated by marvelous creatures. To this day her art is misunderstood and endangered, it is known locally as the Witch’s House, and even the continued existence of her property is a hot-button issue: a handful of affluent neighbors are bothered by the on-lookers, so there are plans to dismantle Mary’s work and remove it from her Milwaukee home. Mary’s garden is one of very few remaining art environments built by a woman, in the entire world, and it a deeply ingrained part of Milwaukee’s history.*
*Is there a petition? Where do I sign?
Where did the idea to write and illustrate a non-fiction picture book come from?
Carson and I both have memories of visiting Mary’s yard as children, completely amazed that a place like this could possibly exist. When we returned to Wisconsin from California in 2002, we took our son there to show him her sculptures. While we were there, we thought, “This should be a picture book!” and went from there. We did loads of research at the Milwaukee Public Library, combing through newspaper articles going back decades. However, our manuscript was boring– all facts, no story, not a picture book– so we worked on it off and on, but ultimately shelved it. After we moved back to L.A., I attended the SCBWI Summer Conference in 2010, and during a presentation about nonfiction picture books, the speaker pointed out that you need a hook to get kids interested, for example, animals.* Mary loved dogs and kept them as companions her whole life– and suddenly everything clicked. We completely rewrote the manuscript, my agent Teresa Kietlinski loved it, and after some tweaks and revisions, she sold it to the amazing Kate O’Sullivan at Houghton Mifflin. And our original factual draft made it in as the author’s note!**
*Great lesson about non-fiction picture books.
**Just like Mary, you recycled!
Tina collaborated with her husband, Carson on IN MARY’S GARDEN. She continues:
Our other major stumbling block was how to collaborate on the illustrations since Carson and I are both artists with very different styles. We took a cue from Mary’s method of using found objects in her art, and after experimentation we settled on a method of digital collage using Carson’s traditional watercolors, found vintage papers, and my digital drawing/painting technique.
To read more about Tina and Carson’s illustration collaboration, click here. This is a very interesting process post.
And if you’re lucky enough to be in Wisconsin or California in March, check out these book launch events:
Book launch, and celebration of the life and work of Mary Nohl:
Saturday, March 21st at Milwaukee Public Museum
Presentation and book signing:
Saturday, March 28th at Once Upon A Time in Montrose, California
Get your own copy of IN MARY’S GARDEN:
Once Upon A Time will ship signed copies, call 818-248-9668 or email them to purchase (see website). If you want to order a personalized copy, please contact them before the event.
And the gorgeous book trailer:
To enter for a chance at winning a signed copy of IN MARY’S GARDEN, leave a comment below. For mores chances, tweet (@SubItClub) this post or share it on Facebook and let us know in the comments here.
***The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Caroline Twomey!***
If you missed Tina’s Postcard Post interview, click here.