AN INTERVIEW WITH
(Orchard Books; $18.99, Ages 4 to 8)
“Trumpets, trombones, tubas, and saxophones sing louder, faster, faster, louder!
With help from her bisa (great-grandma), a young girl in Brazil prepares for Carnaval: bright costumes, feathers, flowers, and plenty of glitter. But bisa must stay home. As the girl hugs bisa goodbye, the music pulls her in. Excitement is everywhere, on every sight, sound and scent. But…
Carnaval isn’t the same without bisa.
With the blow of a whistle and lots of love, the girl will make sure BISA’S CARNAVAL is the best one ever!
Colleen Paeff: Hi Joana! Congratulations on the starred Kirkus review for Bisa’s Carnaval! This book is receiving such a warm welcome. That’s got to feel good. What are you doing to celebrate the launch of your second picture book?
Joana Pastro: It’s so nerve-wracking sending our book babies out in the world. We never know how they’ll be received, so when we see an enthusiastic response from readers and from reviewers it’s a huge relief. And if it has a star next to it? Even better! To celebrate, today (Tuesday, 12/7 at 12noon EST) I’m having an Instagram live event with Carolina Coroa, where we’ll chat about BISA’S CARNAVAL and answer questions from whoever shows up. Then tomorrow (Weds., 12/8), I’ll be on Scholastic’s #BookParty on Instagram at 7pm EST. It’ll be fun! (See Instagram links below)
CP: That sounds great! Your debut picture book Lillybelle, a Damsel NOT in Distress was one of my favorite books of 2020. Does the launch process feel any different this time around?
JP: Awwww That’s so great to hear! I love my little LillyBelle!
The launch process feels different, but still not what I had dreamed it’d be. I had hoped to do both launches in person at a bookstore, but it wasn’t possible. Last year, I chose not to have a launch event, but because we were home, I was able to plan a three-month pre-order campaign, and I was a lot more active on social media.
This year, with kids back to in-person learning, and a lot of driving around, I didn’t have as much time on my hands. Like I mentioned before, we’re doing Instagram live. Having a virtual launch is great because I can have it with Carolina, my family, and friends from Brazil and all over the world, but I miss interacting in person. I hope my next launch will have the best of both worlds: virtual and in-person.
CP: When did you get your first glimpse of Carolina Coroa’s wonderfully vibrant illustrations for Bisa’s Carnaval? Did anything about the illustrations surprise you?
JP: The first glimpse was when my editor shared Carolina’s color palette research and character studies. I was in awe. I knew then and there that we had hit the jackpot when she accepted the job!
There’s so much to love in her work! I was surprised by her attention to detail on every spread: the costumes, the buildings, the Portuguese words . . . a guy playing harmonica on his balcony! So amazing. Oh, and she even named the whole family on her character studies. So cool!
CP: I love that! I really liked how, in the story, you mention that carnaval is a time when people can forget their troubles and you go on to list some of the troubles people might have. Was that part of the book from the beginning or did it develop over time?
JP: That was a suggestion I received from an editor who requested a revise and resubmit. She wanted the story to expand on the social-economic aspects. I believe her note truly helped elevate the story, and make it much better.
CP: What do you hope young readers take away from Bisa’s Carnival?
JP: From the cultural aspect, I hope readers will want to expand their horizons by learning more about Brazil and about other countries too, and that Brazilian-American children will see themselves in it, be proud of their heritage, and want to share this story with their friends.
From the family aspect, I hope both children and adults will be inspired to put their electronic devices aside, and spend quality time, and create new memories with their loved ones, especially the older ones.
CP: You were an architect before you started writing for children. Have you discovered any crossover between architecture and writing?
JP: Definitely! The creative process is very much the same. In both you get some sort of prompt, then you do a bit of research, you let it simmer for some time, and start drafting. Then you revise a thousand times because there’s always something you can make better. In the future, once it becomes a book or a building, you’ll probably find something that you would have done differently. I imagine this to be true in all creative areas.
CP: Do you have any favorite productivity tricks or anything you do that helps you to stay focused on your writing work?
JP: Whenever I notice that I’m not being productive and that I’m becoming frustrated with a project, I leave it alone. Allowing myself to rest, work on something else, or doing other unrelated activities is the best way to get the creative juices flowing again. The brain will be doing the work even when we’re not paying attention! When I finally go back to it, the roadblock is usually gone.
CP: What’s next for you?
JP: The Spanish version of BISA’S CARNAVAL comes out in 2022. I have two picture books that haven’t been announced yet, but I believe will publish in 2023 and 2024.
I’ve been focusing on writing chapter books, and I’m out on submission with a board book series that I absolutely love writing. Hint: I get to travel the world without leaving my desk! Fingers crossed!
CP: How exciting! Thank you so much for chatting with me, Joana. Happy book birthday!
JP: My pleasure! Thank you so much for having me, Colleen!
BUY THE BOOK
Lillybelle, a Damsel NOT in Distress: www.joanapastro.com/lillybelle-a-damsel-not-in-distress.html
Bisa’s Carnaval: www.joanapastro.com/bisas-carnaval.html
Joana Pastro is an architect who became a children’s book author. Her debut picture book, LILLYBELLE, A DAMSEL NOT IN DISTRESS, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz, was published by Boyds Mills Press (now Astra Kids), in 2020. Her second book, BISA’S CARNAVAL, illustrated by Carolina Coroa, will be published by Orchard Books on December 7th, 2021. Originally from Brazil, Joana lives in Florida with her husband, her three extremely creative children, a rambunctious Morkie, and a needy Maltipoo. You can find her on Twitter @jopastro, Instagram on @joanapastro, on her website at www.joanapastro.com
Scholastic on Instagram: @scholasticinc
Website: carolina coroa illustration
ABOUT INTERVIEWER COLLEEN PAEFF
Colleen Paeff is the author of Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection The Great Stink: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London’s Poop Pollution Problem, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021) and the forthcoming Rainbow Truck, co-authored with Hina Abidi and illustrated by Saffa Khan (Chronicle Books, 2023). Find her online at www.colleenpaeff.com or on Twitter or Instagram @ColleenPaeff.