Interview with André Neves
October 29 was National Book Day. To celebrate the date, we interviewed children’s book writer and illustrator André Neves, author of more than 30 books, whose images have already been seen by children and adults around the world in illustration exhibitions focused on childhood.
André was born in Recife, in the state of Pernambuco (PE), where he developed his first activities related to children’s literature. Today, in addition to various books, published by different publishers, the author has received awards in recognition of his work, like: the Luis Jardim Award for best illustrated book; the Lucca Comics & Games Special Award, in Italy; the 15th International Illustrated Children’s Book Award, from Conaculta, in Mexico; and the Jabuti Award. In addition, part of his work also received “Highly Recommended” seals granted by the National Children’s Book Foundation.
The author told a little about his relationship with books, the titles that marked his childhood, his creative process in writing, and also about how to awaken the pleasure of reading in children.
The Bunge Foundation: What brought about your enjoyment of reading? Who encouraged you to read?
André Neves: Books have been present in my life, in my childhood. This was important. A son of teachers, grandparent readers, accounts and reading of stories fed my imaginary fantasy world.
What are your favorite books from childhood?
Even though I was very small, I remember Sylvia Orthof being often present, readings shared with my teacher mother. I always remember these books in the house. “Cazuza,” by Viriato Correia.
I don’t remember O Sítio do Pica Pau Amarelo [The Yellow Woodpecker Farm], but the TV series was a success at the time. I remember that. But I also remember, a little later, having read good books by the author, such as “Negrinha” [“Little Blackie”], “Urupês,” “Cidades Mortas” [“Dead Cities”]. When I was older, I was impressed by “Robinson Crusoe,” by Daniel Defoe, “A Bolsa Amarela” [The Yellow Bag], by Lygia Bojunga, and I could not stop reading “The Metamorphosis,” by Franz Kafka, until I had finished it. And when I was a teenager, the theater saved me. The whole fantasy of being an actor got me involved in the theater.
All these books were important, they are part of me. Today, I have another view of reading that does not allow me to see them as unique, faced with such strong contemporary literature. Connecting the past to the present, Lygia’s "work" is indisputable, and “The Metamorphosis,” by Kafka, is impressive. But the library is full of cool things, colleagues who write wonderfully, with well-edited books and with very beautiful illustrations.
What are your main concerns when writing a new book?
I like to feel comfortable, enjoy myself, settle down and give wings to my own imagination.
Usually, how do new stories come about?
The best creative experiences come from dreamed images.
What tips would you give to those who want to encourage their children or students to read?
Read with attention and they will spontaneously fall in love with reading. If it doesn’t happen this way, be patient. Move on to another book or another author. Impassioned readers win over new readers.
And what are the main mistakes made when trying to awaken the pleasure of reading in children?
Required reading is no good. It doesn’t work. You have to figure out how to get to new readers. It’s a constructive process.
Would you like to include a final message?
Yes, the power the image has on the imagination. So present and rich in contemporary books. They can carry readers farther away and open the imagination for new books and readings. With or without illustrations. These books are stimulating and allow you to discover new meanings.
To learn more about André Neves, visit the author’s blog: http://confabulandoimagens.blogspot.com.br