“My mother struggled with addiction and mental health and was in and out of prison most of my childhood,” Robinson says. His father was additionally absent.
Robinson’s grandmother raised him — alongside together with his brother, two cousins, and an aunt — in a one-bed room house in Los Angeles.
“Making pictures was certainly my way of having some say over the world and what things could look like,” he says. “It was a way to have some control over my circumstances.”
He remembers that “shook-up soda” feeling that Milo has on the subway. “You’re just feeling anxiety and nerves. You feel as a kid, even though it’s your parent who’s being punished, you feel punished. You know, when someone you love is serving time, you’re serving time along with them. I just remember a lot of pain, embarrassment, guilt and shame.”
De la Peña related with the thought of a toddler who is consistently imagining and reimagining the world round him. In the newest installment of our “Picture This” collection, we introduced the writer and illustrator collectively to debate their collaboration — beneath are excerpts from their dialog.
De la Peña: You have two audiences for an image e-book. You have the mum or dad and you’ve got the youngster. And I’m actually acutely aware proper now about leaning towards the youngster and the psychology of a toddler. This is kind of one thing I took from Where the Wild Things Are, when Max goes into his dreamspace, we actually see his psychology.
Robinson: For me, the course of of truly illustrating this e-book was I used to be virtually like changing into Milo. I had to return to all the occasions that I used to be on the bus or the subway. And once I was trying round in any respect the folks round me, what was I imagining about them? What had been the issues that they had been doing? …
Milo is an observer. So I believed, why not give him glasses? I needed to present emphasis to his eyes as a result of that’s what he’s utilizing to view the world. And however I additionally needed to make him really feel like small and little and never seen … so he is like lined and bundled in all these garments, however his sister is a little more outgoing and vivid. She has this actually vivid pink jacket … very trendy.
I used to be additionally excited about, like, how typically occasions are folks going by sure experiences, however you’ll by no means know they had been going by that as a result of on the outdoors they simply look so put collectively and like all the pieces’s going for them.
De la Peña: What this e-book is basically making an attempt to do is dismantle the idea of stereotypes. So I feel Milo has this epiphany in the story that he is seen a sure method and that does not really feel good. And so he has to sq. that he is doing the similar factor to different folks. He’s taking small bits of data and making judgments. …
What I really like about working with Christian … [is] I take some of these heavier concepts, I give them to Christian, and I really feel like he is the one who makes them an image e-book. He provides whimsy and there is simply a component of enjoyable that sort of undercuts some of the seriousness I give to him in manuscript kind.
Robinson: In this story and … many of the books that me and Matt have labored on, we’re coping with, you already know, actual world conditions. In Carmela Full of Wishes, it is a daughter who has a mum or dad who’s been deported. And in Last Stop [on Market Street], at the finish of the journey is a soup kitchen.
And so I assume Matt is like giving us a style of the actual world. And all I’m doing is simply reminding … that, yeah, there’s challenges, there’s greediness, however there’s additionally magnificence. And there’s pleasure in all these experiences. And I feel that is what we’re making an attempt to do, is simply honor the lives of on a regular basis folks, working class folks.
De la Peña: Traditionally, a e-book like Milo Imagines the World is perhaps kind of put aside for, you already know, youngsters in underprivileged faculties or youngsters who’ve incarcerated mother and father. But I simply hope an increasing number of that this can be a e-book that’s shared with youngsters who do not have that have to allow them to perceive that Milo is a fancy younger boy. And this is only one half of his background.
Robinson: I really feel like proper now particularly, it is so essential that we’re telling tales that ask one another to take a re-examination and to not make these simple, fast judgments about one another. …
As a child, of course, not having my my mom there was painful, actually, however in all probability much more painful factor was holding on to that have myself and internalizing it and feeling disconnected, not having that reference to others. So I feel this e-book has the potential to be therapeutic, to create conversations, to create empathy and compassion.