New Writer Illustrator
Hyewon Yum: Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten!
Interviewed by Margot Abel, Associate Director, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! is your fourth book. It seems very personal. Was writing and illustrating this book different from working on your previous books?
It is actually from my own experience with my son. When my first child went to kindergarten I was so worried, like the mom in the book. I always fear what is unknown, behind the door. (Sadly, being a mother doesn’t help at all.) But my five-year-old was so confident. That was the start of the story, so I wrote the story as a mother.
As both a writer and an illustrator, how do the text and images come together for you?
The text and images are inseparable for me. When I come up with a story, I always start to work on the dummy [a rough mock-up of story and pictures] first. In a scene, some things are better told in words and other things are better as a drawing, like the small, blue mommy.
It is widely understood that reading and being read to are important for children. Were you a big reader as a girl?
Yes, I was a big reader. I loved fairy tales as a young girl. And my mom read books to me all the time. My mom still has the recording of her reading The Ugly Duckling and me and my sister asking silly questions.
How important do you think drawing and painting are for children in developing literacy?
Reading the images is as important a skill in developing literacy as the reading the text.