We are excited to welcome Chantal — winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards gold Medal — back to the Highlighted Author. As the proud parent of three children, I have often searched for books to help my children better understand the world around them and its many challenges. (Everything from potty training to having that all-important birds and bees conversation.) I love how Chantal has created a heart-warming story and coping mechanism in Silent Words to assist children in making sense of grief. Please be sure to read the excerpt. What parent cannot relate to a talkative kiddo? I love the beautiful cadence of this book. It reads almost like poetry. Enjoy the feature! –Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess
A Special Message From Chantal
Welcome! My name is Chantal Fournier and I am extremely honoured to be the highlighted author this week on highlightedauthor.com. I am still pretty new at this and well…a bit shy when it comes to putting myself “out there”, so this is a great opportunity for me to talk about my children’s book and my other upcoming projects, and to share about my life as a Canadian author and literacy enthusiast.
I currently live in Toronto, Canada, with my partner Nicolas Lajeunesse and our two teenagers after a long stint on the beautiful Canadian West Coast. As I was growing up, my head was full of stories – but I never took the time to write them down. My partner’s amazing art and generous encouragement convinced me to finally put pen to paper or rather, fingers to keyboard! When I am not writing, I work as an analyst for French literacy programs and I enjoy reading murder-mystery novels.
My partner and I are very proud of our first published book, Silent Words, winner of a Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Medal. Silent Words tells the story of Zelda, a little girl who loves to talk. She always asks a million questions and her head is full of words like apple, bunny, cartwheel and dwizzledoodle. But when a sudden storm turns Zelda’s world upside down, all her words go silent. Zelda must embark on a quest across mountains, forests and oceans to find her parents—and her voice.
This tale of loss and hope is suitable for children 5 to 9 years old, and can be a valuable tool to help children grieving a loved one. Silent Words, written by Chantal Fournier and illustrated by Nicolas Lajeunesse, is published by Evolved Publishing.
Illustrating Children’s Books Is Grown Up Work!
I tend to judge a book by its cover, especially when it comes to children’s books. Whether I’m browsing in a bookstore or online, if the cover illustration doesn’t grab my attention, I’ll usually move on to another title. A few months ago, a marketing director from a major children’s books publisher told me that minimalist covers are “in” at the moment. Monochromatic backgrounds with a large image and a simple colour palette are my favourites.
My partner, Nicolas Lajeunesse, is an incredibly gifted artist – in my eyes, he’s the best! After sharing a few ideas with him about our main character, Zelda, I eagerly anticipated his first drafts. I wasn’t disappointed. Seeing my words come alive through his illustrations has been nothing short of amazing.
Illustrating a children’s book is a long process. After reading the script for Silent Words, Nicolas drew rough sketches of all the characters and the key backdrops. He then spent countless hours creating storyboards. Together, we had to decide which parts of the story would be shown through illustrations, and which ones had to be left to the imagination. This is not as easy as it sounds. He drew enough illustrations to create a 50-page book, so he had to scale it back until the story could fit into about 30 pages – quite a long children’s books by the industry’s standards!
The next step was to create the characters using Photoshop. Nicolas tested different proportions, colours, textures and features until he was satisfied. He then created each illustration based on the original storyboards. Nicolas felt the colours should reflect Zelda’s moods, so he opted for yellow and golden backgrounds when she was happy. When she reaches the turning point of the story, each page is drawn with dark greens and browns. The return of yellow and golden hues highlights Zelda’s happiness at the end.
Illustrating Silent Words required over 100 hours of work, most of them spent in front of the computer. I believe the illustrations are phenomenal and I am looking forward to the day when I can see our next book project, A Very Beary Sweater, come to life through Nicolas’ drawings.
Purchase now at Evolved Publishing or Amazon!
Silent Words Excerpt
Apple, bunny, cartwheel, dwizzledoodle.
If she can’t find the word she needs, she makes one up and keeps on talking. She talks and talks and asks a million questions until she runs out of breath. Then she fills up her lungs, counts to three, opens her mouth, and starts talking again.
5 Stars for Silent Words
It has been a privilege to read “Silent Words”. This book will benefit in a multitude of settings. It could be used for children when they lose a loved one, but could also be used to help them in the trials and long road to recovery when they have been abused in some way. I could see it be put to use for a bullying situation as well.
The way Chantal Fournier was able to capture the delicate innocent mind of a young child in a situation of shock is stunning. For any parent this is the type of book you will want to reach for if ever your child encounters a situation that emotionally stunts them.
I also believe it would help teachers to use this book as a teaching tool to help students at a middle elementary level age to understand how to speak out when they have already been scarred, i.e. in a bullying situation when children have not been taught they should not say cruel things that hurt. Or can help prepare children for future hurt as they grow up… –Donna/Book Tiger