I’ve been an admirer of R. Gregory Christie for years, and that appreciation only grew when he provided the art for Don Tate’s debut as an author, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw. With that book about one artist written by yet another artist, Gregory was literally an illustrator’s illustrator. But he’s got lots else going on as well.
In addition to his work as an author and illustrator (including two appearances on the New York Times‘ list of the 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year, and for which he’s won three Coretta Scott King Honor awards), Gregory operates a Decatur, Georgia, children’s bookstore named GAS-ART GIFTS. The store specializes in artwork and autographed books, and through the store Gregory also offers art classes to both children and adults.
His newest book is Mousetropolis (Holiday House), a retelling of Aesop’s fable “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” that received a starred review from School Library Journal. Gregory was kind enough to answer a couple of questions I had about the book, and you can find that exchange below.
One of the subscribers to my Bartography Express newsletter (you can sign up here) will win a copy of Mousetropolis. But in the meantime, here’s my chat with Gregory.
Me: What drew you toward the story you tell in Mousetropolis?
Gregory: I knew that this story is loved by so many generations. It’s my hope that it can bring back memories for adults, spark wonderment in young children and become a future classic for the generations that are not even born yet.In short I want the book to bring people together with nostalgic conversations. I guess the previous statement was my ambition on a more altruistic level. In general my motivation is to bring ethnic groups together and in some ways to bring balance to historical lesson plans. This however , goes beyond ethnicity and is my attempt to capture endearment, to bring my readers in to a an imagined world that takes from my own real life aesthetics and sensible fables from the ancient world.
Me: What kind of kid do you see Mousetropolis appealing to the most?
Gregory: The one with imagination, the child who thinks it’d be cool to go on a journey, to fly or that animals can really talk but only to the special few who truly believe that.