Welcome to the World, Penny & Jelly: A Talk with Illustrator Thyra Heder!

Happy Launch Week, Penny & Jelly!!


I have always been fascinated by art and artists. People who can draw are, to me, the world’s greatest geniuses! Art (particularly painting) was one of my first loves. Sadly, I have no talent for drawing at all. For example, this was my attempt to draw an alien rock monster:   AlienSee what I mean?   At least I have the good fortune of getting to converse with many people who can turn paper and lines and shapes and colors into something amazing. When we started planning the launch party for Maria Gianferrari’s delightful Penny & Jelly, I jumped at the chance to interview illustrator Thyra Heder.


Tell us a bit about how you began your career as an artist, and found your way to illustrating picture books. While I was in college, my sister needed storyboards for a short film she was making. I thought I had read enough comics as aJelly_sketches kid that I could do it, and I was sort of right. I was not great, but my drawings looked proficient enough to get another job from that production. By word of mouth, I started storyboarding other films, tv shows, and ad campaigns. Storyboarding lead to other design and illustration work, which forced me to scramble and teach myself styles, mediums and explore aesthetics. So I guess that’s how I learned my skill…though I must admit I’m still teaching myself.     PennyJelly_sketch3I got into picture books because I’ve always loved them and collected them and one day I had an idea for one. After finding an agent who would take me on and revising my book for what felt like eons I got a book deal. That book, Fraidyzoo, gave my drawings exposure that could lead to other book opportunities like Penny and Jelly. I think the reason I finally took the leap into pursuing picture books was that I was aching to make things that people actually saw. Also I’ve always felt there is nothing more special than a moment reading a book to a kid, and I wanted to be a part of that.


What did you love most about Penny and Jelly? I loved that she allowed me to draw action, and I loved the chance to draw a relationship between a girl and her dog. I’ve got 0209_PennyandJellyStyleboardmy own dog, Toby, in the studio with me everyday, so I was excited to draw Jelly in his many states. My favorite thing about painting her is that I find myself making her expressions.


Where can readers see more about you on-line? Are you working on any new projects? Well I just finished Penny and Jelly 2 which was fun to paint (proofs look great!) and I’ve got my 2nd book that I wrote and illustrated coming out in October called The Bear Report. I’m also working on a screenplay with a friend for an animation at the moment so that will be filling my brain for the rest of the summer! I’ve got a non picture book drawing blog: uniqueyounork.tumblr.com and my website: thyraheder.com. thumbs_layered_1217_06-70219Spreadwalkhome









Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win a copy of this heartwarming book. You can purchase it for yourself and everyone you know by going to Penny & Jelly’s website and choosing the buying link that’s best for you!  A second winner will receive some Penny & Jelly swag!    ____________________________________________________

Susan Vaught Susan Vaught is the author of many books for young adults, such as TRIGGER, BIG FAT MANIFESTO, and FREAKS LIKE US. Her debut novel for middle-grade readers, FOOTER DAVIS PROBABLY IS CRAZY, published by Simon & Schuster, hit the shelves in March, 2015. Please visit Susan at her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.


Filed under Blogging, Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Creativity, Illustrators, Interviews, Promotion

24 responses to “Welcome to the World, Penny & Jelly: A Talk with Illustrator Thyra Heder!

  1. tamaraellissmith

    So fun to see all of these drawings! Penny and Jelly are so sweet… Great interview! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hooray for the launch of PENNY & JELLY! Hooray for Maria and Thyra! How exciting to see that Thyra is self-taught. I love these interviews.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mariagianferrari

    Thyra’s art is just amazing–it’s sweet and funny and touches your heart. I am so lucky that she illustrated it!

    Thanks, everyone!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lisa

    Thanks for sharing all the sketches! So fun to see a work in progress. Love your work, Thyra (and Maria!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rubineleanor

    It is exciting to follow both illustrator and author and know how much this picture book means to both. June 7th, is a red letter day because it is “Penny and Jelly” release day. Thanks everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations to both Thyra and Maria. And welcome to the world to Penny and Jelly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Janet Fox

    I love seeing an artist’s drawings. Lovely interview and charming book!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. mariagianferrari

    And thanks to you, Susan, for such a nice interview!


  9. I love seeing how the art evolves. Wonderful interview, Susan! And I’m so excited that Penny and Jelly will be available to readers TOMORROW!!! =D

    Liked by 1 person

  10. mariagianferrari

    Me, too–thanks, Laurie!


  11. Dionna

    Nice interview!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Drawing actions and relationships can sum up most stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      Thanks for commenting here and on a regular basis, Linda! I really appreciate it, and love your hat too 😉


  13. Christine Hayes

    Congrats, Maria! Such a darling book!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. mariagianferrari

    Thank you, Christine!! 🙂


  15. Lovely illustrations! Can’t wait to read this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. mariagianferrari

    Thanks for commenting here, and so regularly, Carleen :)!


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