Just released last month, our newest picture book, King For a Day, takes readers on a colorful journey through the spring kite festival Basant. From a rooftop in Lahore, Pakistan, Malik is determined to take his kite Falcon out and win the most kite battles to earn the title of “King of Basant.”
Illustrator Christiane Krömer used paper and fabric collage to create the gorgeous illustrations you see below:
I always take photos of the many stages. That way I can see what a picture looked like earlier on, experiment with many choices and then maybe go back to an earlier option. The fun with collage is that you can always push all the paper pieces and fabrics around until they are in the right spot. But there is also a big danger that all the 1000 loose pieces go flying, so it’s a good idea to have a photo that tells you exactly how it was when it looked good. I always have real fun to look at all the stages once the illustrations are finished. I hope you do, too.
I was influenced by Pakistan’s vivid colors, patterns, and design in folk art, street life, dance, and festivals.
Visits to Brooklyn’s Pakistani neighborhood on Coney Island Avenue and to Jackson Heights, Queens, added color and spice to my imagination. The displays of Shalwar & Kameez sets in the show windows taught me a lot about how Pakistani cloths are worn and which color combinations Pakistani people prefer. (Turquoise + Fuchsia + Gold seemed to be a favorite- I chose it for the sister’s dress.)
The Badshahi Mosque, which was built by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1673 and resembles the Taj Mahal, is located in Lahore, where our story takes place, and it was an important center of Mughal culture. I tried to incorporate this in my illustrations, for instance in the use of Mughal style arches as a design element.
I went to buy the Indian and Pakistani fabric swatches I used in Manhattan’s garment district around West 39th Street. Many of the shop owners were from these regions, and when I told them what I needed the fabric for, they started to break out into smiles and tell me passionate stories about their own kite flying experiences. “It can become kind of an addiction,” said one. He even gave me a little discount.
To read more about her creative process, check out this interview she did with Rukhsana Khan, author of King For a Day.