Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
Today we have an extra special illustrator guest, Nusha Ashjaee, the illustrator of “Don’t Stop” with lyrics by Christine McVie. The song you know and love can now be shared with the kids in your life! And if you haven’t heard the song, you’ll find out why this song was chosen to be illustrated for kids–it has such a wonderful message!
“Don’t Stop” song lyrics by Christine McVie, illustrated by Nusha Ashjaee
Published by Akashic Books
Don’t Stop is the latest from LyricPop, a children’s picture book collection by LyricVerse and Akashic Books.
“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone . . .”
Don’t Stop is a beautifully illustrated picture book based on Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac’s enduring anthem to optimism and patience. The song was one of the singles on Fleetwood Mac’s megahit album Rumours, which spent thirty-one weeks at number one on the Billboard charts and went on to sell over forty million copies worldwide.
With lyrics by Christine McVie and illustrations by Nusha Ashjaee, this touching picture book imagines a rabbit willing her hibernating friends out of a long and dark winter and into joyous spring. Don’t Stop is a great opportunity for fans of Christine McVie and Fleetwood Mac to introduce their favorite band to their young children, and for parents looking to share a bright message in song.
- Debuting in 1977, this song is one of the most identifiable of that decade
- A classic rock radio staple
- A top-five single in the US, and one of the band’s most enduring hits
- Written by band keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie
- Sung as duet between Christine McVie and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham
- Appears on the Grammy-winning album Rumours, which as of 2019 is the RIAA-certified tenth all-time best-selling album in the US
- It was the theme song for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign
Kaitlyn: Hi, Nusha, thank you for joining us today!
Nusha: Thanks for having me!
Kaitlyn: How were you approached/selected for this project? And what prompted you to accept?
Nusha: I actually used to work at Akashic Books, first as their intern then as an assistant. I had mentioned to Johnny, the head publisher, that I was starting to pursue a new career path as an illustrator, so when this book series came along, he contacted me and asked if I’d be interested. I had been wanting to do picture books for awhile at that point–my goal was to have my first published book before I turned 30–so I was pretty excited to have one offered to me and to work with people that I already knew and trusted.
Kaitlyn: Isn’t it lovely when dreams come true? Did you get to choose the song you illustrated or did your style match what the publisher wanted for this particular song?
Nusha: I was given a list of songs to choose from. I remember being stuck between two of them, but we ultimately decided I was best suited for “Don’t Stop”.
Kaitlyn: That sounds like a fun job, choosing a song to illustrate! Did you immediately know what story you were going to draw? Were there any edits that you didn’t expect?
Nusha: There was a bit of back and forth on that. The initial story idea I had was a bit too heavy (I have a tendency to go pretty dark, haha), so I had to think of something that was easier to sell to children. The song is about feeling hopeful about the future while going through something difficult, so I tried to think about small things I always look forward to. Spring and sunshine after rough winters is always one and I wrote the story from there.
Kaitlyn: I love that! I go way dark sometimes too, maybe it balances out our fun, kid side! I see some beautiful undertones about perceptions changing, ie smaller animals are usually afraid of bears but after the initial fright, the other animals realize that the bear is friendly. Were you meaning this to be taken as things can change for the better as we progress or is that a happy accidental takeaway for me? Is there anything else you put in there that you hope people get from this story?
Nusha: Yes, there was definitely some intention behind that! I kind of like to think about the story as the steps you take to try to heal after difficult times. There’s finding the solace in small things (the rabbit seeing a flower bloom from the snow), leaning on your support network (the turtle helping the rabbit out of the snow; all the critters climbing and sliding down the hill together), and, eventually, having a new outlook on the things that scared or hurt you (the scary/friendly bear).
Kaitlyn: WOW! You’ve put in many wonderful undertones! Did this song have meaning to you before you drew the story? If not, please explain how you feel about it now, if so, does it mean even more to you now and why?
Nusha: It didn’t before, but once I started researching the song and getting into it’s meaning, I definitely realized it is the way I try to cope in stressful situations.
It’s especially relevant to me now because I’m in the middle of something difficult now. Right before the publication of this book, my father passed away suddenly. My whole family is on the opposite side of the coast and, because of the virus, I can’t travel to see them. Dealing with this on top of a pandemic and civil unrest (solidarity with BLM) has maybe been the most challenging thing I’ve ever gone through. There’s not a lot of control I have over this right now other than to tell myself that I will come out on the other side of this as a survivor. It’s something to at least look forward to.
Kaitlyn: Nusha, I am so sorry…and absolutely amazed at your strength (and, agreed, solidarity with BLM). What do you hope people get out of this story?
Nusha: No matter how bad things are or how low and sad you are at the moment, just know that the feeling is temporary and that good days and joy will come again. While you may not completely get “over” your hardships, you’ll be able to know how to live with it and even appreciate the way it has shaped you.
Kaitlyn: I’m hoping your joy will come sooner than you think, Nusha. I’m curious. Why did you choose animal characters for this song?
Nusha: I wanted the book to have some other learning moments for kids, too. Once I decided that it would be about looking forward to spring, I thought it would be a good way to teach kids what kind of animals hibernate during the winter.
Kaitlyn: I love that! Finally, if you were able to spend the day with your favorite author or illustrator, would you rather drink tea by the fireside or go fly a kite?
Nusha: Definitely tea. I’m a homebody, haha.
Kaitlyn: Haha, I used to not be a homebody, but my homebody husband rubbed off on me, so I am too! Thank you so much for sharing and for creating such a beautiful story to go along with these lovely lyrics.
Nusha: Thanks so much, Kaitlyn!
Kaitlyn: The pleasure was all mine!
Nusha Ashjaee is an illustrator originally from the Bay Area, now based in Brooklyn. She received her BA from California College of the Arts in writing and literature.
“Don’t Stop” is her first picture book. Find out more at her website or follower on her on Instagram and Twitter.
Kaitlyn’s Review of Don’t Stop
This beautiful picture book gives adults a wonderful way to share an important song (and great lessons) with kids. Don’t Stop is a beautifully illustrated way to show kids that even when times get tough, there’s a way through, with the people supporting them and passage of time, everything will get better someday.
Would you like to win a set of all 4 LyricPop books?
You have five ways to enter (each one will get you one entry into the drawing, so feel free to do them all):
- Comment on this post
- Share in the comments below that you did a purchase request for all four books (each will give you an extra entry) at your library
- Share in the comments below that you added all four books to your “Want to Read” on Goodreads: Don’t Stop, African, Good Vibrations, We’re Not Gonna Take It, list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share in the comments that you ordered a copy of any of the four books
- Retweet this tweet about this blog post on Twitter (gold star if you tag Nusha: @nushma)
Thanks so much, readers, for reading, sharing, and supporting illustrators in any way you can. Buy books, read, review, and share, share, share!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez
PS. If you’re querying me, remember to follow the submission instructions and get it in by Wednesday before midnight PST