Taeeun Yoo chats about WHEN THE STORM COMES (plus Giveaway!)

I’m very happy to report it’s pub day for When the Storm Comes, and even happier that the book’s super-talented illustrator Taeeun Yoo is here for a chat. (And you can win a copy! See below . . .)

Taeeun is the author and illustrator of You Are a Lion! and the illustrator of many other books we love as well, like Strictly No Elephants (written by Lisa Mantchev) and Round (by Joyce Sidman). Her books have twice been included on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books list.

First, a quick summary: When the Storm Comes (Nancy Paulsen Books) is a series of questions posed to animals and humans as they prepare for, then wait out and recover from, a thunderstorm. Here’s how it starts:

In addition to the storm element, I wanted to convey a sense of connection between people, the landscape, and the animals and humans who share it. (For more on the backstory — and a peek at some VERY rough drafts — read this post). Here’s an excerpt from the Kirkus review: 

“Yes [the] rhythmic couplets are about a literal thunderstorm bearing down upon a coastal community, but it could well be read metaphorically as it depicts the strength found in facing challenges together. . . . Picture perfect whatever the weather.” 

And now, let’s visit with Taeeun . . .

LA: Welcome, Taeeun! Let’s start with a pandemic check-in. Where are you? How are you doing? 

TY: I live in Seoul, Korea. I have been staying at home for about three and half months now. Mostly I spend a day with my daughter. We turn on music as soon as we get up in the morning so that we feel more cheerful. Then our day fills with lots of cooking, eating, drawing, cutting papers, reading books, block building, and cooking, eating, drawing…goes another cycle.

LA: You’ve illustrated so many beautiful books. How do you choose which projects to work on? 

TY: Mostly there are stories that I can imagine scenes naturally and easily. Just the images keep coming in my mind and I want to draw them. Or there are particular characters or themes that I feel very attach then I know I want to work on it. When I receive the manuscript, sometimes I know if I would like to illustrate on the story very quickly. And some other times I have to let it sit in my mind and spend some time to know if I like to work on it. For When the Storm Comes, I liked it right away and wanted to jump into the illustration for the story. 

LA: Was there an aspect of this book that was especially fun and/or challenging?  And can you share some sketches to show how your illustrations evolved?

TY: Beginning is always hard as I have to start from empty page. I have to just keep drawing whatever comes up in my head and filled sketchbook with random drawings, character studies. Then slowly things shaping up as story board. 

I specially had fun working on page 12-13 where the text says “What do you do when the buoys rock, when the waves crash hard against the dock?”

I love drawing houses and wave. You can see the final image was from one of the sketches in my sketchbook. 

And here is the progress of p18-19 from rough sketch to the final. 

[LA: I love this spread! But just so y’all know the town hasn’t washed away, here are a few scenes from near the end of the book . . . ]

LA: The story is set near an unspecified seaside village. I love the one you created. Can you tell us about it?

TY: When I read the story, it reminded me Nantucket island where I visited in my first year of school. It was my first trip in U.S and the island was beautiful and very inspiring. I thought it would be nice to picture the place in Nantucket or somewhere near. 

I loved I could see whale images everywhere in Nantucket. That’s why I included whale here and there in this book like whale shaped weather vane . . .

and whales swimming down deep to avoid the storm. 

My illustration does not show the exact place of Nantucket as I simplified as developing images. But it was nice to keep somewhere in my mind as I work. 

LA: Your illustrations have such a classic feel to them. Is there a particular artist or artistic style that inspires you? Can you talk a bit about your process and materials?

TY: I love Evaline Ness, Tove Jansson, Ezra Jack Keats…I like 50’s picture books with limited color palette  and retro style of design. Those limited color printed books inspired me to work on linoleum block print. I print the color part of image with linoleum block print and draw lines with pencil and charcoal on a separate paper. Then I put them together with photoshop. For When the Storm Comes I used printed textures and mostly worked with photoshop. 

LA: We love seeing artists’ work spaces. Can you share a photo? 

TY: I work at home studio.  There is mountain right next to my place and I can see the beautiful trees through my studio window. 

I like to clean and keeping things organized but when I start to print, it’s hard to keep things clean. 

LA: What’s up next for you?

TY: I am working on my own book that I wrote. It’s about my grandfather and his garden house where I grew up. This quarantine made me hard to secure my own work time so I am very behind of schedule. But I want to move forward slowly but surely. 

LA: Slowly but surely sounds about right these days. Thanks so much for visiting, Taeeun!

You can find Taeeun online at her website and on Instagram: @yooillustration


To win a copy of When the Storm Comes, leave a comment below by June 15th.

“This engaging picture book describes the reactions of the denizens, human and otherwise, of a small seaside community as a storm approaches, rages, and abates.” The Horn Book

One more note: The winner of Beth Ferry’s Swashby and the Sea from last month’s post was Janet Frenck Sheets.

Wishing everyone comfort and connection (albeit at a healthy distance) during the current storm. Thanks, as always, for reading!


Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than 45 picture books, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a how-to guide for picture book writers. Her books have been included on the ‘best of the year’ lists of The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, the American Library Association, the Children’s Book Council, and The New York Public Library, among others, and have been translated into many languages.


  1. Rosemary Basham

    This book looks amazing! Can’t wait to read and share.

  2. Kim Pfennigwerth

    This book looks like such a perfect blend of words and art! I look forward to sharing it with my grandchildren!

  3. Congratulations, Taeeun and Linda! Taeeun, I’m also in South Korea (Pyeongtaek). It would be great to meet you!

  4. I love the moods and ambiance Taeeun is able to capture on different spreads, that bring out the lyrical text and anticipatory feelings of when a storm is approaching and the exuberance when after it passes.

  5. What a joy! Thanks for the peek behind the curtains.

  6. Sheri Delgado Preston

    The story is wonderful! And the illustrations are so lovely:)

  7. I loved hearing the story behind the illustrations. Growing up, there were a lot of books left over from the 60’s from my siblings. The illustration style for this book brought back fond memories for me of my childhood books. Can’t wait to see the book in person!

  8. Angie Quantrell

    I think I am going to love this book! It looks like it has just enough storm to make it perfect for younger readers. I love how the animals are included. Illustrations are wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  9. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    OMG, this book looks amazing! I love, love, love storms so cannot wait to read this book and savor those illustrations!

  10. This book looks like a winner, especially because I love thunderstorms. I enjoyed seeing a glimpse into your sketchbook!

  11. Looking forward to reading this one ~ I love a good storm! Congratulations Linda and Taeeun!

  12. I love how the storm can represent so much.

    The text and art for this book came together beautifully! Congratulations to both of you.

  13. Love the illustrations! Looks like the perfect book to read to my twins on a stormy night!

  14. This feels exciting and comforting at the same time. Congrats!

  15. There’s an emotional current that comes with a storm. A seaside town accentuates that feeling. Well done.

  16. Congratulations to both of you! This book feels like an instant classic. LOVED the peek at Taeeun’s sketch books….

  17. I have two grandchildren who are afraid of storms. This would be a delightful and necessary addition to their collection.

  18. Cindy Schumerth

    This book looks like a WOW! Look forward to reading the whole thing.

  19. My 3 year old grandson is obsessed with storms! He will LOVE this. I look forward to sharing it with him. Congratulations!

  20. Congratulations on a glorious book, Linda and Taeeun!

  21. Judith Wright Aplin

    Rain, thunder, lightning, and big waves coming in…..all contribute to a little bit scary feeling and a little bit cozy feeling when you are indoors with family…I look forward to reading the entire book and sharing it with my grandchildren.

  22. Congrats to Linda and Taeeun! Looks like a fantastic book.

  23. So proud of you Linda! So happy for your accomplishments! What a great topic for young kids! Would love to donate the book to my local elementary school where I sub and often work in the library.

  24. Jennifer Lane Wilson

    STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS is one of my all-time favorites, so I can’t wait to look at this!

  25. Danielle Hammelef

    Thank you for sharing insights into this gorgeous book. The rhyme is incredible and I want to study this as mentor text.

  26. Heather Stigall

    This sounds like a must read! Thank you for sharing a little about your process, Taeeun!

  27. Congratulations Taeeun and Linda! What a wonderful story and I love the mood you’ve created with the illustrations.

  28. The images are so fresh and lovely which go perfectly with the fabulous text. The excitement builds alongside the storm then I can feel the relief as people bring out the tables. Congratulations Taeeun and Linda.

  29. Congratulations Linda and Taeeun! I love seeing the sketches and then the final artwork. I’m looking forward to reading this!

  30. Barbara Santucci

    I just love the mood and the “feel” of this town during a storm. The art medium is so interesting. I love that Taeeun fused wood blocks and drawing together!
    And the rhyme and rhythm is perfect.

  31. Love your art, Taeeun, and this book looks adorable! Congrats to you & Linda!!

  32. Congratulations Taeeun and Linda–this book looks like the perfect storm!

  33. Loreli Stochaj

    Awesome interview. Can’t wait to read it.

  34. I love rhyming stories! This one sounds delightful.

  35. I love the weather vane. words and text such a marriage. Fun to read the back story.

  36. Perfect blend of words and illustrations

  37. I love the connections you have made between the people, the animals and the weather. The illustrations are simply beautiful and the rhyming text is so engaging. I am not usually a big fan of rhyming stories but I found this one very appealing. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

  38. Congratulations! I enjoyed this interview and reading details about the book. The illustrations are beautiful.

  39. Oh Linda and Taeeun, wonderful interview. Congratulations on this beautiful book–I loved all the sketches too–your rhymes and the gorgeous art are a winner for this thunderstorm-loving gal.

  40. I love the lyrical language paired with wonderful illustrations. Congratulations!

  41. Oh my – what a gorgeous pairing of text and words! I love everything about this book!

  42. This is a wonderful idea for a picture book–brings back so many memories. The illustrations really capture the atmosphere of a storm. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  43. This looks so beautiful! And as a rhyme writer, I love seeing more rhyming PBs out in the world! Congrats to you both! Can’t wait to read it!

  44. I love how both animals and people are dealing with the storm. Fabulous illustrations! I would buy this book to share with my littles.

  45. Wow the art is incredible!!

  46. The samples show this is a lovely story with beautiful illustrations. One to be read many times for many years.

  47. Meredith Fraser

    Living in Oklahoma with all the tornadoes, this is the perfect book for us!!

  48. Lisa Riddiough

    This book seems especially important right now as we are all “weathering the storm.” I like the rhyme scheme, and the illustrations are beautiful – I particularly like the animals.

  49. What an exciting picture book–full of great action: verbs and artwork! I savor the thunderstorms up here in the Catskills…my dogs, not so much. Congrats on an upcoming bestseller:-)

  50. I liked hearing about the early sketches, your inspiration for setting, and seeing some really beautiful artwork. Congratulations to the two of you on a beautifully written and illustrated book!

  51. Carole Calladine

    Gorgeous book! And I love storms. A classic winner. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  52. I love how beautifully Linda’s comforting words blend with the textures in Taeeun’s illustrations. Thanks for sharing!

  53. Your process is so involved! Looks amazing!

  54. Janet Frenck Sheets

    The colors you chose really capture the feel of a storm. I like the transition from dark to vivid. Can’t wait to see the whole book!

  55. Debbie Moeller

    This looks like a great story! Congratulations Linda and Taeeun!

  56. What a beautiful marriage of words and illustrations! It reminds me of sitting out storms on our small island in Canada. Thank you, Linda and Taeeun!

  57. Michelle Meadows

    Looks, fantastic! Congrats, Linda and Taeeun!

  58. What a lovely book! I can’t wait to read it.

  59. Lori Alexander

    Words and pictures–both so lovely! Congrats on this beautiful collaboration!

  60. Oh this sounds wonderful. Thanks for the insight into your process!

  61. Elizabeth Curry

    This looks and sounds lovely! I can’t wait to read it. Congratulations!

  62. The language and the illustrations are both lovely. I can’t wait to read it!

  63. Congratulations, Linda and Taeeun. Another wonderful picture book to look forward to.

  64. This sounds like a wonderful book, I love the illustrations!

  65. Oh, this looks so beautiful!

  66. Cynthia Wyszynski

    Having Linda Ashman & Taeeun Yoo collaborate on a book sounds like a dream come true! Can’t wait to read it!!!

  67. What a great interview! I love hearing about the inspiration and style of different artists. And the whale details make it so special.

  68. I love learning about an illustrator’s technique. Thank you so much for sharing!

  69. Aw, I just love this book and the relaxing poetry to calm your child during the suspenseful part of the storm. I raised three children and I always looked for beautiful illustrated books to explain life to them in simple eloquent anecdotes. The illustrations would captivate them and really help to pull them into the story. Poetry was always a fun way to teach them to read. How fun to read words that rhyme. The words in this book seem to ebb and flow like the waves in the story. My children are all in their twenties now and I long for those precious days again. Maybe grandchildren will be in my future. I was training my rescue to be a therapy dog so we could go read in the libraries. Once our lives get back to normal, I’d love to read this to children who live in Wilmington, North Carolina where storms ravaged the town. It has a lovely ending and hurricane preparedness is also taught in the book. It’s lovely to see illustrators and writers sharing their gifts with the world.

  70. Would love to win. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *