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118: Big Emotions in Creative Living with Lisa Anchin, Picture Book Author & Artist

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

In this last episode of this three-part miniseries all about big emotions in creative living, I sit down with Lisa Anchin, children’s book author and illustrator.

Several months ago I was at my local library with my kids after it had fully re-opened, closed for years because of the pandemic. Get me in the picture book section of a library and I am like a kid in a candy store, picking up and leafing through everything I can get my hands on.

I love children’s books for many reasons and one of which Is that they are a fun and accessible entry point into exploring deep and challenging topics. I love using them in my university classroom for exactly this purpose. During this particular visit to the library, I was deep into planning my forthcoming Domestika course about boosting creative confidence and I was trying to figure out how to incorporate kids’ books into the lessons. I was browsing through the stack and came across a number of books that happened to directly relate to the topic of creative confidence. One in particular that stood out was called The Paper Bird and it was a newly released book; I may have actually been the first person to read this particular copy at my library. As I read and read the story resonated deeply. It’s about a little girl who is passionate about expressing herself creatively, but when the other kids laugh at her work she feels discouraged and has self-doubt to the point that colour begins to fade from her life, eventually resulting in a greyscale world. It’s through a moment of solitude and the gritty act of creating that colour re-enters her world.

So after checking it out of the library, I did what I know how to do best and I reached out to the author, Lisa Anchin, to thank her for the work she had created and to ask her if she’d like to chat and be part of the series.

And as for incorporating kids books into the Domestika of course, I decided to include a resource containing a list of children’s books that focus on various topics in the emotional realities of creative living, for students who are young or students who are young at heart. I’ve included the same resource in the show notes for today’s episode.

In this conversation, you will hear Lisa talk about how the final story of The Paper Bird is very different from her original idea (7 years and 17 drafts in the making!). Lisa sheds light on how book making is a hugely collaborative process and the way she works with her publishing team. Lisa speaks to the role that self-doubt plays in her creative process and her approach to break out of the cycle of self-doubt (hint: make more stuff!). Lisa ends this episode by reading The Paper Bird and purely by coincidence, actual birds arrived as she began reciting her story and offered their sing-song gifts to the recording. Magical! Enjoy!

A spread from The Paper Bird, as well as in-progress images. :)

Children's Books Exploring Creative Confidence Resource

(from Diana's soon-to-be-release Domestika course about creative confidence)

4543 - Unit 1 - Childrens Books
Download PDF • 2.87MB

About Our Guest:

Lisa Anchin (she/her) has been drawing since she could hold a pencil and making up stories since she could speak. She received her BA from Smith College and took a long circuitous route to an MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is often holed up in her studio stringing words together and compulsively doodling, but she also loves meeting other kidlit folks and volunteers as the Illustration Coordinator for SCBWI’s Metro NY Chapter.

She is the author/illustrator of THE LITTLE GREEN GIRL (Dial Books for Young Readers 2019), a 2020 Crystal Kite award winner, and THE PAPER BIRD (Dial Books for Young Readers 2022). She is the illustrator of THE POLIO PIONEER (Knopf Books for Young Readers 2020), a Sydney Taylor 2021 Notable Book; A PENGUIN NAMED PATIENCE by Suzanne Lewis (Sleeping Bear Press 2015); and I WILL LOVE YOU by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (Scholastic 2017).

Lisa lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two daughters, and two studio cats.

Lisa also blogs on Notable19s and KidLitArtists, home of the SCBWI LA Illustration Portfolio Mentorship Program Winners.

Music: You Vintage by Ketsa, licensed with permission from the Independent Music Licensing Collective -

Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle

Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash


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