Oh, people. I am happier than a little girl with a mango tree to introduce you to All Kinds of Special AND illustrator Fernando Martin.
The whole idea for this book came from a text conversation with my very first writer friend–Flora Doone. Flora is the owner of an overzealous mango tree. During this particular conversation, Flora shared pictures of her countertops completely COVERED in mangos. She then said, “I have too many mangos!” And I was like OMIGOODNESS that would make a great title for a book.
So I wrote Too Many Mangos (which was later retitled All Kinds of Special), and it sold on exclusive. I celebrated by eating a jar of Flora’s homemade mango jam.
Let this be a lesson to writers everywhere to pay attention to every single word Flora Doone says! Oh. And find a friend who makes homemade mango jam!
Mia and her mama used to live in an apartment with just a few windows that was part of a big building with lots of other people. Now, they’ve moved to a house that has eleven windows, a yard, and a mango tree. Mia misses her old home, but the special mango tree captures her curiosity and sets her on a sweet voyage of discovery.
As more and more mangos appear on the tree, bringing the neighborhood together, Mia sees how treasuring and sharing the good that comes into your life can lead to new connections and community.
And this is what Kirkus had to say about All Kinds of Special:
“The light and optimistic story and the vibrant artwork complement each other smoothly…. The book will have readers considering what it means to forge new connections. A sweet and refreshing reminder that community is all around us.”
TS: Now let’s see what FERNANDO MARTIN has to say about creating the art for this book and bringing the world of Mia and her mama to life. Welcome to Picture Book Builders, Fernando! I am OVERJOYED that you agreed to illustrate All Kinds of Special. What was it about the manuscript that made you say YES?
FM: The first time I read the manuscript I fell in love with it. Mia is adorable. I love the relationship she has with her mother and how she manages something so difficult for a child, like moving to another place and leaving her friends behind. Her joy is contagious. Also, I like the fact that it is a single-parent family. I like that children’s books show different types of families with which kids can feel identified. But, above all, I loved the manuscript because of the very positive message it conveys about sharing, community and friendship.
TS: Please share some of the early sketches for this book.
TS: It’s so interesting to see how things evolved from first sketch to final art. I am in love with all of the fresh, fun, vibrant art that you created! Can you share a little bit about your process?
FM: Thank you so much. I’m so glad you like it! 🙂 For me, there is always a first early phase of reading the manuscript where I visualize how I imagine the characters, then I sketch and draw them. Once I have the characters, before starting with the rest of the sketches, there is a research phase (it depends on the prior knowledge I have on the subject). For example, in this case, although I love mangos, I was not very familiar with the tree. I was surprised that the mangos were hanging on a long branch. Then I start with the sketches and their corrections. Once they are approved, it is time to choose a color palette. For this book I chose one with bright colors because that is what Mia and her mother transmitted to me. I think it helps reinforce the positivity and good vibes of the text.
TS: Please give us a peek at your studio.
TS: Wow! I love your studio. It is such a bright, happy, and playful space!
Throughout the book, Mia and her mama like to share a new favorite fact. What is one of your favorite facts?
FM: I have to agree with Mia here: there’s no such thing as too many mangos! Haha! I already loved them, but, during the process of creating the book, I ate more mangos than ever. The excuse was that I did it to find inspiration.
TS: Ha! Please know I ate plenty of mangos while working on the book, too. Now, every time I see mangos at the grocery store, I think about our sweet book.
If you had a key piece of advice for illustrators, what would it be?
This is a very difficult question. I don’t feel very comfortable giving advice, but, based on my experience, it might be “be patient.” I think that sometimes illustration is a long-term journey, and, especially in the beginning, it can be frustrating. But remember that drawing makes you happy, so never stop doing it. Even if you have to balance it with other jobs or your life takes you in other directions, be constant, keep drawing, learning, training, expanding your portfolio, accepting advice and constructive criticism… and sharing your work. You never know when your moment will come, but you better be drawing.
TS: Oh, that is excellent advice! I think the same is true for writing.
Scoop time! What’s next for you?
Well, there are some projects with Little Tiger that have already been completed but have not yet been published. There are also some exciting new ones that I’m going to start shortly. I can’t say much because it’s still in an early phase, but it would be a series of 4 children’s books about professions among other things.
TS: I cannot wait to see these upcoming projects! Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us at Picture Book Builders. And I want to extend a HUGE thanks to you for creating such wonderful and engaging art for our book–it truly is all kinds of special. 🙂
Fernando Martin is an illustrator from Valencia, Spain. He studied media and audio-visual communication, but drawing is what he loves the most. He works mainly digitally and likes using limited but colorful palettes. His illustrations are inspired by childhood memories, traveling experiences, eighties cartoons, and music.
For a chance to win a signed-by-me copy of All Kinds of Special, please leave a comment here and/or share the Picture Book Builder’s Instagram post about this book (tag Tammi at @TammiSauer) and/or Tweet about it (tag Tammi at @SauerTammi). The more you do, the more chances you have to win. Winner will be chosen May 19.
Oh, Tammi & Fernando. This book looks sooooo huggable. Gotta add it to my collection right now! Thanks for this joyous interview!
I am thrilled about this new Tammi Sauer book and I love mangos. Can you really have too many mangos? Can’t wait to read this!
This book looks delightful, and I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for sharing the journey of this story. Congratulations, Tammi and Fernando!
This book just radiates with joy! Congratulations Tammi and Fernando! I can’t wait to read it!
Oh my goodness! I love the voice and the illustrations! The very first page captured my heart. Can’t wait to read this one!
YOU ARE THE WINNER of a signed copy! Congratulations! 😊😊😊
Congratulations on your newest book, Tammi! It looks adorable and delightful! Thank you for sharing more about it. 🙂
I cannot wait to read the whole book. This one is a must for our collection.
This book looks delicious! I love the backstory & the positive message. And I’m very hopeful that our new, one-foot high mango tree that I gifted my husband in our new FL home may someday produce too many mangos, too!
Oh, so sweet and delightful! I love the voice of Mia, and the bright colors, and the story, and illustrations. And mangoes! Yummy! Congratulations!
Oh my! I love mangoes so much that I will not share them with others unless they can properly appreciate them. Perhaps I’ll learn to share if I win your book…maybe? Congratulations Tammi and Fernando!!! What a delightful book–there can never be too many mangoes!
I ❤️ seeing the art process. It’s captivating to me. Especially, the progression of one spread. And your art studio is so beautiful!🌿Thank you so much for sharing, Fernando and Tammi. 🥭🌴
Oh, this book looks all kinds of special! Thanks for the peek at Fernando’s progress in creating his captivating art.
What amazing book and interview!!
Congratulations to you both!!! As an old friend and fan of Fernando, it’s amazing to see you working together!!!
Such a colorful book with a story to match!
Everyone needs more joy in their lives! I can’t wait to read this and experience the bright illustrations and heartwarming text for myself.
This book looks awesome! Congrats to the both of you! And yes, I agree, no one can ever have too many mangos.
Yay for a new Tammi Sauer book! I would love to add this one to my collection. 🙂
Anyone who moves from an apartment setting to a place where there are “crops” like fruit trees or gardens with zucchini or pumpkins or strawberries or tomatoes or….will discover that abundance cries out to be shared.
Congratulations, Tammi & Fernando! I love mangos, Tammi’s books and Fernando’s illustrations. I look forward to reading this book!
Adorable! Can’t wait to read it!
Congrats, Fernando & Tammi! Looking forward to reading this book.
Aww this book sounds so wonderful. I loved reading about Fernando’s process as well. Congratulations!
This is just great…thank you for sharing!
Tammi, you had me at the cover. Such a delicious book!
In Iowa, the equivalent to too many mangos is too many zucchini- LOL. Congratulations to both you and Fernando Martin on your new book! I can’t wait to read it. It sounds like it has a wonderful message.
This book sounds so sweet. It reminds of my father-in-law’s mamay tree in his background. We often get skinned frozen ones from him during its season. This year he had an issue with squirrels eating them. Well, they would take one bite and move onto to the next. Sounds like the perfect pesky problem for a picture book! Congratulations! I can’t wait to read. I shared on Twitter.
As usual. you hit another one out of the park. Thanks for all your writing.
What a joyful book with colorful illustrations! I enjoyed reading your interview. Congratulations!
This book looks so cute! My first graders would love it!
Homemade mango jam sounds delicious!
What a great interview, and this book looks just adorable. I’m excited to read it. Fun fact: I love all of Tammi’s books! Congrats, Tammi and Fernando!
Congrats, Fernando and Tammi!! Your book looks so sweet and beautiful! I can’t wait to read this one and feel Mia’s joy!!
I enjoyed the insights and look forward to enjoying the book! Thanks for posting about All Kinds of Special!
Wow, this looks fabulous and delicious! Thanks for sharing.
Wow! Love the vibrant illustrations!
I love your work, Tammi, as do the kids! I can’t wait to add this to the library collection.