An Interview with Illustrator Gemma Correll

Earlier this month we kicked off a campaign to inspire people to Give Books for the holidays. We pledged to donate a book to a child in need for every #GiveBooks tweet, pin, online signature, and children’s book sold in our stores, and we set a goal of 10,000 books. We’re almost there. As of today, more than 7500 people have taken the pledge to Give Books, and as we enter the shopping-palooza of Thanksgiving weekend/Black Friday, I hope every one of them will walk into their local bookstore to find the perfect gift. (If you need solid recommendations, check out our interviews with the experts at Powell’s Books, Parnassus Books, Politics & Prose, BookPeople, and Common Good Books.)

Give Books Poster
[Click the image above to download a hi-res PDF of this 11×17 poster]

Credit for much of the success of Give Books this year must go to Gemma Correll, illustrator extraordinaire, who designed our charming logo. This year’s campaign coincided with the re-release of two books that Gemma illustrated: Catmas Carols and Hanukcats. As the publisher of Grumpy Cat and I Could Pee on This, we’re pretty confident in our kitty cred, so some simple calculus followed: Our readers love cats. The Internet loves cats. Our readers love books. The Internet loves books. A cat reading a book? IRRESISTIBLE.

Give Books Gemma Correll

Gemma was a delight to work with, and from the first sketches she shared with us, we knew we had struck gold. We wanted to use them all. That little girl clutching the book? The Give Books Bookshelf? The kitty with a mug of hot cocoa? So good. In the end, we settled on a winner and crowned our Give Books mascot. We caught up with Gemma this week to ask her about Give Books, her holiday traditions, and, of course, cats.

What are you reading right now?
I’m usually reading several books at the same time (so many books, so little time!). At the moment, I’m reading Augusten Burrough’s memoir Dry, Katie Green’s graphic novel Lighter than My Shadow, and for some light relief, the Grumpy Cat book!

What’s the best or worst holiday gift you’ve ever received?
Best – probably the Barbie “café” I got from Santa when I was about eight. You could use it to make chocolate milk. I don’t think I was actually interested in the Barbie part of it (I was more into Care Bears and Hot Wheels) but I did want to make-and drink- chocolate milk. It was fun until the chocolate sachets ran out anyway.

Worst – I’ve never received a bad gift (they’re all from the heart, after all) but I was hugely embarrassed when Santa put a training bra in my stocking.

Holiday Cards: Handmade or bought?
I try to hand-make them, but if I don’t have time, I buy them from another artist.

Which Catmas Carol is most likely to get stuck in your head?
Wreck the Halls! It’s so familiar…

Why do you Give Books?
I like to give books that I’ve enjoyed to other people, because I enjoy forcing my opinions on others… but in all seriousness, there’s something very exciting about receiving a book, all those new words and images and undiscovered secrets that you are yet to see. Also, they’re really easy to wrap.

Thank you, Gemma! And speaking of wrapping, cat lovers, your gift-wrap prayers have been answered. Our marketing team took Gemma’s designs and ran with them, creating printable gift tags featuring artwork from Catmas Carols and Hanukcats. Click the images above or below to download a PDF of the gift tags, print on standard Avery mailing labels, and add ribbon! (That is, if you can pry the roll away from your cats.)

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to express my gratitude to First Book, our partner in the campaign, for all of the work they do year-round to put books in the hands of children in need. I also want to thank the authors, illustrators, and bloggers who have helped us spread the word about Give Books: Kate Messner, Bakerella, Dan Santat, Lisa Congdon, Ellen Luckett Baker, Tim Leong, Kelly Beall, Bianca Schulze, John Schumacher, and Dave Cuzner. And all of you who have taken the pledge to Give Books this holiday. Thank you!

Pledge to Give Books here.

Guinevere de la Mare
Senior Community Manager

Guinevere de la Mare

Guinevere de la Mare is a writer, book lover, and the founder of Silent Book Club. She lives in San Francisco. She also was the senior community manager at Chronicle Books from 2009-2014.

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