Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
I hope you’re all doing well in these times, and I’m delighted today to take you on a lovely adventure with talented creator, Benson Shum, to talk about his newly released author-illustrated book, ANZU THE GREAT KAIJU, which just released by Macmillan on January 11th!
Book description from Macmillan:
An adorable picture book about a tiny monster with a big heart trying to follow in his family’s footsteps.
All great Kaiju are born with a super power to strike fear in the heart of the city.
But Anzu is different.
Instead of mayhem, he likes May flowers.
Instead of striking fear, he prefers to be sincere.
Can Anzu find a way to make his family proud and stay true to his kind self?
From Disney animator and illustrator Bensom Shum comes an adorable and heartwarming picture book about making your own way and the unexpected power of gentleness—perfect for fans of Ferdinand the Bull.
Kaitlyn: Hi, Benson, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing about your beautiful book!
Benson: Hi Kaitlyn, thank YOU for having me here and sharing Anzu the Great Kaiju with your readers!
Kaitlyn: It’s my absolute pleasure; Anzu is such a wonderful character! To start, can you share the journey of how this beautiful flower power book came into the world?
Benson: Sure! I grew up loving the world of Godzilla and King Kong. Kaiju is a Japanese term for giant monsters. And I was fascinated by the idea of these beautiful creatures towering over skyscrapers. And I wondered, how do they feel about towering over cities and destroying what they see below. That was the seed that led to Anzu the Great Kaiju.
Kaitlyn: I love your way of seeing the beauty in things that others find scary, Benson. Thank you for you sharing that with the world. Can you share why you think stories like these are so important for our little ones?
Benson: I think Anzu story is relatable for little ones and big ones because we all at some point feel like we don’t belong or are outcasts. We feel different from everyone around us. Anzu wants to be like his family, who are great kaijus that cause mayhem, but Anzu doesn’t like to destroy. Anzu prefers to create flowers and bring kindness. So Anzu learns he can be true to himself and still make his family proud.
Kaitlyn: YES YES YES! So well said; definitely wonderful messages for our little ones, but also us big ones – though at just under 5 feet tall, I could maybe still be considered a little one LOL. If you had to pick, what’s your favorite spread in this story and why?
Benson: My favorite spread is the pages with his Grandma. I grew up close with my Grandmother, and I love the idea of them together having a moment.
Kaitlyn: Awww, that’s the sweetest! Grandmas are definitely the best for sweet moments. Can you share who your editor was for this book, and what you enjoyed about working with this editor?
Benson: Yes! My editor on this book is Mekisha Telfer. She’s amazing and she got Anzu right away.
Kaitlyn: An editor getting your character is exactly what you want; I’m so glad the wonderful Mekisha got Anzu right away! Can you share who your agent is and why you enjoy working with this agent so much?
Benson: My wonderful agent is Teresa Kietlinski at Bookmark Literary. Teresa is so supportive and encouraging with my stories. And she answers a lot of my random publishing questions, because I’m so curious about how things work!
Kaitlyn: Oh, you and Teresa sound like my kind of people; I’m SO curious about how everything works, too, and love sharing what I know with my clients and learning from my agency as well. Can you share how you got into author-illustrating picture books and some advice for new author-illustrators on how to be successful in this industry?
Benson: I didn’t get into publishing the traditional way, I got my start when I heard of a program called the “Walt Disney Artist Showcase” at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, where I work as an Animator. When my book was selected for the program. I created the book with Disney-Hyperion. After the book came out, I researched more about the industry and learned of SCBWI. And from there met so many amazing creative kidlit folks. Like yourself, Kaitlyn!
Reading lots of picture books or any books for children will help you with your writing AND illustration. I learned a lot through that. Plus it's fun!
Kaitlyn: Benson, you are too kind! I’m so glad you found your way into children’s books because you’re amazing as well! Can you please share with us what’s next for you or what you’re working on now?
Benson: Sure! I’m just wrapping up on an Anzu Book 2! Which I’m super excited about. I have a board book coming out February 22nd, 2022. Which I wrote and illustrated called Little Seed (Simon & Schuster). And I’m working on a new picture book project that hasn’t been announced yet.
Kaitlyn: AH! Those all sound amazing, and I can’t wait to find out about the unannounced book when you get to share, too! Finally, if you could meet your favorite author, illustrator, scientist, or mathematician would you chat by a fireside or go on an adventure?
Benson: I would love to meet Quentin Blake. I’m a big fan of his work. Quentin’s art gives so much emotion with just a few lines. He definitely inspires my work.
Kaitlyn: I hope you get him someday, Benson! Thank you so much again for sharing and for joining us today!
Benson: Thank you, Kaitlyn!!
Kaitlyn: My absolute pleasure!
Pre-order your signed copy at Once Upon a Time Bookstore (includes an Anzu art print) last): https://www.shoponceuponatime.com/autographed-books-benson-shum
Author Bio and links
Benson Shum is a children’s book author and illustrator. The idea that an image or painting can evoke emotions and movement is what brought him to the world of picture books and animation. Benson uses watercolor, ink and digital tools to create his illustrations. His newest book, Anzu the Great Kaiju (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan) was selected for the Kid’s Indie Next List recommend for Jan/Feb 2022 by ABA, American Booksellers Association. And his book with Adam Lehrhaupt Sloth Went (Bloomsbury) received a starred review from Booklist.
Benson is also an Animator at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he was a part of such films as Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana, Frozen 2, Raya and the Last Dragon and Encanto. Originally from Vancouver, BC, Benson now lives in sunny southern California.
ANZU THE GREAT KAIJU is one of the most adorable books I’ve read! I hope many children and adults will fall in love with this sweet monster as much as I did. From finding yourself to flower power to family love, there’s something for everyone in this sweet story.
One person will win a SIGNED copy of this beautiful book (US ONLY please) and it will come with art print and sticker!
To enter the random drawing, do any/all of the following options, then come back and write all of the things you did in ONE blog comment. (If you forget something, feel free to reply to your first comment ;))
- Share that you added ANZU THE GREAT KAIJU to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share that you ordered a copy of ANZU THE GREAT KAIJU
- Share that you did a purchase request for ANZU THE GREAT KAIJU at your library
- Share that you left a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble
- Share that you retweeted or quote retweeted my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tagged some friends.
Thank you all for supporting such wonderful creators, and STAY TUNED for Monday; we have a special Team Sanchez post that I hope you will LOVE as much as I do!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez