Friday, March 19, 2021

Experience WILD PEACE with Il Sung Na... and a Cover Reveal!

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Linda at TeacherDance for Roundup. You can find my latest ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem "Saying Goodbye to Winter" here.

Today I am happy to welcome children's book illustrator Il Sung Na to talk about our new book WILD PEACE, which will be released Oct. 18 by Roaring Brook Press. 

WILD PEACE was inspired by a poem: "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry, and the text is a long poem that celebrates peace, and explores what wild animals can teach us about peace.

To celebrate the cover reveal (below! keep reading!), I invited Il Sung to respond to a few prompts, specifically about WILD PEACE. 

But before we get to that, I have to share something else about Il Sung: when I contact him with my request to purchase a piece of the original art, Il Sung let me know that the work was created digitally, so there was no original art, per say. Instead he offered to send me a print of my requested spread... which was the "rabbit" spread, since we call our home the Happy Rabbit Hideaway! Only I didn't tell Il Sung that. So imagine my surprise and delight when along with the rabbit spread, he included a small original piece... of a RABBIT!! Oh, the serendipity! And the kindness of one Il Sung Na. Thank you thank you thank you!

what I got in the mail!

And now, please join me in welcoming Il Sung to Live Your Poem!

IL: What was the delicious/best/most enjoyable thing about working on WILD PEACE?

ISN: My all time favorite thing about working on this book and other books is always coloring. When I do colors, I don’t have to worry about composition and layout anymore but just enjoying.

Sometimes it takes a while to find the right colors to convey the mood, sometimes it comes once.

I typically have some color palettes in mind but it can change as I adding colors.

working on endpaper

IL: What was the most difficult thing about working on WILD PEACE?

ISN: The most difficult part was thumbnail sketches, the first idea sketches for the story. When I first got the manuscript and read it multiple times, I had two different ideas for images. The first idea was the girl finds a butterfly and follows, and steps into a wall where she drew some greens. Then all her journey starts in her imagination.

very first thumbnail sketches that the girl
goes through a wall using the gutter

The second idea was more literal. The girl begins her journey away from all noises that other kids make by simply walk out to a door.

This first one's more imaginative, and I wasn’t sure whether the publisher would agree with this concept. But luckily they did!

revised sketches

more revisions

final color spread

I wanted to bring the girl back to the real world somehow and it was a challenge for me to figure out. As I used a butterfly (red) to lead her to a forest, I used a fox (red) to be the one who guides her to come back home. I tried to show a fox stuffed toy as well as a fox drawing on her sketchpad in the beginning of the story, so all visual story connects seamlessly. 

My favorite spread is the one which all three visual elements, the girl, a butterfly and a fox, meet in one place. [below]

Il Sung's favorite spread!

IL: What was something unexpected/fresh (or something that you learned) while working on WILD PEACE?

ISN: It is the story itself. Every project/book I have worked on brings new/unexpected/fresh learning.

There are always struggles and Eureka moments. Understanding the main character’s emotions and finding visual flows is a part of struggles. Each book has a different approach and different struggles.

This book was no different. It was a new challenge from the time I received the manuscript. I wanted to understand this girl’s emotion and how it changes throughout the story. I wanted to capture the moment to convey the right mood. But also I wanted to find the right visual language to show it.

I typically do cover sketches in the end after all inside spreads are done—because I want to know and understand the story more before I work on cover ideas.

cover sketch ideas

revised cover sketch

... and drumroll please...... here's the final cover image:

Aside from Irene: Isn't it dreamy?!!

IL: Where do you find peace?

ISN: There are a few things I do. 


ONE: I find peace while I drink a GOOD hot chocolate or eat GOOD dark chocolate. I have found one place in London where they make REAL hot chocolate. Back when I lived there. I used to visit quite often. (It is a loooooong time ago already!) 

TWO: Being alone in my studio and not working on any books but just doodling. This makes me feel calm and forget about other things.

THREE: Short walk with my wife and Pippi (a little dog, 2yrs old).

IL: Thank you, Il Sung! And thank you, readers, for celebrating WILD PEACE with us. 

Pippi says, "Goodbye! Hope your
day is as happy as mine!"


  1. Congratulations to you both on the new book. Can't wait to see Wild Peace!! Enjoyed learning more from Il Sung -- the art is gorgeous. And lucky you, Irene, to receive that special print and bunny drawing. :)

  2. Beautiful post and cover -- thank you, Irene and Il Sung! (Pippi's ears are also a work of art!)

  3. Congratulations to you and Il Sung on this beautiful collaboration! The cover art is gorgeous as are the spreads shared. But I think I might be a bit smitten with Pippi - that running smile! (don't tell my Smidgey)

  4. I enjoyed this post, learning about Il Sung's process and learning that you have yet another new book! Wonderful! And I also love the rabbit synchronicity. :-)

  5. Congratulations to you both, Irene and Il Sung. The book looks and sound lovely, a way for us all to find that 'wild peace', to be outside! I love your special art, too, Irene.

  6. Hooray! A new book to celebrate. Please let us know how we can promote. And, yes--this book looks absolutely dreamy. I can't wait! I love learning back story to works of art. I appreciate the work so much more after hearing the details. Thank you so much for visiting with Il Sung Na and sharing his responses to questions. It was a lovely visit.

  7. I LOVE process posts, and Il Sung's artistic process was such fun! This is going to be yet another favorite Irene Latham book!

  8. What a gorgeous book, I loved the idea of the girl traveling through the gutter, I'm so happy that is part of the journey. And the linking of the red butterfly, wolf, and the girl works well to carry us through. Congratulations to you both! I enjoyed immensely seeing Il Sung's sketches and creative process, and am looking forward to this special book, thanks Irene.

  9. Congratulations on the new book! That cover is gorgeous. I enjoyed learning about Il Sung's process for creating the art.

  10. Wow, congratulations! This cover is stunning, and I love seeing all the sketches and revisions. His Welcome Home, Bear is for me one of the most beautiful picture books of all time. I just adore his art. I can't wait to see and read this beautiful new picture book!

  11. Congratulations to you and Il Sung on this amazing project. The cover art is beautiful and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

  12. I love this interview, seeing the process of thought from the illustrator is fascinating. Congratulations on this amazing collaboration!

  13. I can't wait for this to come out! It looks beautiful!!!

  14. Loved reading this. Can't wait for the book. Off to request Il Sung's books. How can I have missed him?


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