Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
Today we have a special interview with Nicholas Solis about the stunning picture book he wrote, illustrated by Renia Metallinou that releases tomorrow: The Color Collector.
The Color Collector is a poignant story about newness, friendship, and common ground. When a boy notices the new girl picking up all manner of debris and litter on their walks home from school he wants to know why. So she shows him the huge mural she’s created in her room that reminds her of the home she left behind. He learns all about where she’s come from and they both find how wonderful it is to make a new friend.
Kaitlyn: Hi Nick, thanks so much for being here today to talk about this absolutely gorgeous book!
Nick: Thank you Kaitlyn! I’m excited to be here with you and the Math is Everywhere Readers!
Kaitlyn: Aw, that’s so kind, Nick! To start off, can you share what inspired this beautiful book?
Nick: There is an art gallery in Austin, TX appropriately named the Austin Art Garage. The artists are all local and they are super talented. I like to go there and just walk around looking for inspiration. One day I came upon a painting of a little girl wearing all black and white. She had the saddest eyes in the world, and she was reaching out and grabbing colorful leaves as they fell. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, so I began to write this story.
Kaitlyn: Oh, I love that. You can find stories anywhere, but the best is when they find you. Can you share why you think this book is so important to share with our little ones?
Nick: One of the reasons I couldn’t stop thinking about the lonely little girl with the sad eyes was because I felt connected to her. My parents divorced when I was younger, so I moved around a lot. That meant starting new schools as well. 7th grade was especially tough for me because I moved in the middle of the school year. I was miserable. But then one day, this kid named Dylan said hello to me. That’s it. He saw a quiet kid sitting alone and he said hi. But that one little action completely changed my world. We became friends and then I became friends with his friends. That led to me coming out of my shell and making more even friends. It was this ripple effect that completely changed the trajectory of my life. This book is about empathy and finding beauty in the things people toss aside. My greatest joy would be to know that this book inspired someone to simply say hi to a new kid in class.
Kaitlyn: I’m not going to lie, I’m tearing up. My husband had a similar experience in middle school; I’m so inspired by the wonderful people who help make the world such a better place. In this book, there are so many stunning things, but one thing that really stood out that I just have to ask is about Violet, did you intentionally name her Violet? Also, did you have any hand in the violet color pops on the pages?
Nick: I did intentionally name her Violet. I liked the connection to color that her name evoked. But that’s as far as I went. Renia, the illustrator, is the sole genius with regards to how beautiful the book looks. I absolutely love how sparse the pages are at the beginning and how the color grows throughout the book until the big reveal! She is amazing!
Kaitlyn: Oh, that’s just beautiful! You and Renia were meant to work together; your editorial team did such a wonderful job connecting you! Speaking of editorial, can you share who your editor is and what you enjoyed about working with this editor?
Nick: My editor is Sarah Rockett. Not only does she have the coolest name, she is also such an amazing editor and person! Every note she gave made the story stronger and when I had additional input, she was there to listen and help make changes. For instance, after the first sketches were submitted she asked if I had any notes. Originally the narrator had blond hair and blue eyes, with the logic being that he would look completely different than Violet. I asked if we could make him look more like me, brown hair with tan skin. I stand by the idea that representation matters and Sarah was super supportive. Now the narrator looks like me and it’s one of the things I’m proudest of in the book.
Kaitlyn: Hahaha! I bet Sarah would love to read this, and it’s so wonderful that you found such a great team for this story. Can you share who your literary agent is and why you enjoy working with this agent?
Nick: Erzsi Deak, with Hen & Ink Literary Studio, is my agent and I love working with her. She is extremely supportive of my work, gives great notes, and is very matter of fact which I appreciate. I want to produce the very best work I can, and Erzsi is always there to tell me how I can make it stronger and when it is ready to submit. Plus she lives in France and always posts amazing photos of her hikes in the French countryside, so I get to live vicariously through her.
Kaitlyn: I’ll definitely need to start following Erzsi’s posts more closely now. I think very fondly on my exchange to France from when I was 18 and still chat with my exchange sister often. It’s a amazing place! Speaking of amazing, you have earned some amazing grants and awards, can you share a bit about them?
Nick: The best award that I have won was the Walter Grant from We Need Diverse Books. The work that We Need Diverse Books is doing is amazing, so to win the Walter Grant from them was a huge honor! I remember I was eating out with some teacher friends. It had been a really long week, especially by teacher standards, and I was exhausted. I opened my email just to check to see if I had any new messages and found an email telling me I had won! I was so excited, I had to read it a few times just to make sure it was real. It definitely made the end of my week so much better.
Kaitlyn: Oh wow, that sounds amazing! I definitely can relate to the end of a long teaching week, and news like that can totally bring you up! You’ve been writing since elementary school, can you share what you think your 8-year-old self would think of your books and/or your success in writing now?
Nick: I think 8-year-old Nick would be excited about the books and about the success that comes with it, but secretly he would know that we were always going to be a writer. That kid had so much confidence back then. What I would really love to do is talk to 12-year-old Nick and show him that everything turned out alright in the end. That some of the trials and tribulations he had to go through would someday be expressed in the pages of a book. And that those challenges hopefully made the world a more kind and empathetic place.
Kaitlyn: That’s absolutely beautiful, Nick. Thank you for sharing. Can you share just a bit more? Some advice for up-and-coming writers?
Nick: Surround yourself with writers. Go to SCBWI events, take as many writing courses as you can, join critique groups, and go to conferences. I’m only here because of the knowledge I gained from the writers that I’ve met, studied under, or listened to. My work is stronger because of the critique groups I’ve been involved with. Without my writing community, I’m not sure where I would be.
Kaitlyn: Yes, yes, yes! The support and growth you get from this community is invaluable! Can you each share a bit about your next book(s) and/or projects you’re working on now?
Nick: I’m extremely excited about my next book, My Town, Mi Pueblo. It is with Nancy Paulsen Books and will be coming out late summer, early fall. Two kids, from opposite sides of the border, decide to visit the town on the other side of the bridge. As they spend time in the other’s town, they marvel at the different sights and sounds. But they soon discover that they have more in common than they do differences. It is in both English and Spanish, and I’m excited to see it in kids’ hands!
Kaitlyn: Wow! I can see why you’re excited for that, it sounds just as beautiful as The Color Collector! I can’t wait to read My Town, Mi Pueblo! Finally, if you could spend a day with your favorite author or illustrator, would you sit by a fireside and chat or go out on an adventure together?
Nick: That is so tough. I love hiking and camping, so the obvious answer would be to go on an adventure. But my favorite author is Shel Silverstein, and he seemed more like a fireside guy. He grew up poor and lonely, so when he was older he would purchase houses and fill them with books. I think hanging in his backyard next to a fire talking about books would be a great way to spend the day.
Kaitlyn: Oh, very good choice! Thanks so much again for joining us and sharing such wonderful insights today!
Nick: Thank you Kaitlyn! This was a blast!
Links to buy The Color Collector:
Check out all the place you can buy this beautiful book using Goodreads.com!
Nicholas Solis is an award-winning elementary teacher and author. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Grant from We Need Diverse Books. Growing up, he didn’t have a lot of friends. He moved around a lot and being the new kid at school wasn’t always easy. But in junior high, one kid reached out and was simply nice to him. That gesture of friendship has shaped Nicholas’s entire life. He regularly brings up that story with his students in the hopes of motivating them to reach out to others whenever they can. He lives with his wife, Morgan, their dog, Charlie, and their amazing son, Leo, in Austin, Texas. Learn more about Nicholas at nicholassolis.com
Kaitlyn’s review of The Color Collector
The Color Collector is a beautiful and inspiring picture book that everyone should read and share with others. I fell in love immediately with the black and white images against some wonderful color pops, and the story will blow you away!
Do you want to get in on the giveaway of this beautiful book? (U.S. residents only and no P.O. boxes, please).
Here are all the ways to get into the giveaway (each one is an extra entry):
- Comment on this post
- Share in the comments below that you added The Color Collector to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share in the comments that you ordered a copy of The Color Collector
- Share in the comments that you did a purchase request for The Color Collector at your library
- Quote retweet my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tag three friends.
Thank you all for joining us today and for always supporting wonderful creators like Nick!
Ciara O’Neal and I are having such a lovely time reading through the Spring Fling Kidlit Entries, and we’re having such a blast chatting with you all via your blogs and Twitter. Thank you all for your patience while we read and deliberate. We know how much time and energy it takes to create a story and what guts it takes to share it with the world; we are so thankful for all of you and want to make sure we do our absolute best in selecting winners (though, of course, you’re all winners for writing, sharing, connecting, and creating such a beautiful community).
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez