On Thursday, May 19, pionier press holds a panel discussion about non-fiction books for children at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Stockholm. Why are these books important, and what, exactly, is »an illustration in a jar«? Arina Stoenescu is joined by Cecilia Strömberg, author of »Sömn Somnul« (Sleep), a bilingual children's book in Swedish-Romanian, and Doina Rosu, the book's illustrator.
Illustrator Doina Rosu (left), author Cecilia Strömberg (right). Photo: Malin Bohman.
Author Cecilia Strömberg has always been fascinated by science and the mysterious workings of the human body. She wrote »Sömn Somnul« when her children were young (and a good night's sleep was far from a guarantee!), with the intention of reading it with them. Illustrator Doina Rosu, also a parent of young children, related to the book's universal theme and added her playful illustrations of clay figures in a jar to the project. The end product is a colorful book filled with humor, quirky figurines, and fun facts about sleep!
Doina Rosu (left), Arina Stoenescu (center), Cecilia Strömberg (right). Arina Stoenescu. Photo: Malin Bohman.
But why are non-fiction books for children so important? According to Cecilia, understanding how things work is a gateway to understanding and enjoying life. »It's a life strategy.« Illustrations are called on to add another layer to the text and make it more accessible. The illustrator's job, says Doina, is to reach children through the visual medium by interpreting the written word. Illustrations are the bridge between text and reader, and also between languages and cultures.
Doina Rosu. Photo: Malin Bohman (left). Arina Stoenescu. Photo: Ninni Nylén (left center). Cecilia Strömberg. Photo: Arina Stoenescu (right center). Photo: Malin Bohman (right).
The panel discussion ends with some reading from »Sömn Somnul«, followed by the author, illustrator, and publisher signing the books of the children in attendance. When asked what they would like to read about, the children say »space and gravity« and »the human body and the evolution of DNA.« Perhaps a future project? No one in the panel rules it out!
The children ask author Cecilia Strömberg why the topic of sleep interests her. »So many things happen when we're sleeping«, she says. »You may feel like it's time wasted, but it's really not.«