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January 04, 2023


Noticing: An Author-Illustrator Interview with Kobi Yamada and Elise Hurst

One of the most important ways we see is with our imagination. So many significant things cannot be seen with your eyes, but they are very real. And it is vital that you look for and believe in them.” —An excerpt from Noticing, recipient of a Starred Foreword Review

New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada has teamed up with illustrator Elise Hurst to create an illuminating tale about the power of perspective. A companion to the beloved Trying, their newest book tells the story of an accomplished painter and her young protégé. Together, the two explore the forest and discover the joy in slowing down to observe the world’s wonders. Noticing is an invitation to readers of all ages to get courageously curious, open your heart, and allow your imagination to expand your vision.

We asked Kobi and Elise to share about their inspiration and creative process. Here’s what they had to say:

Kobi, can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind Noticing?

KOBI: When I wrote this story, I wanted to create a book about awareness. I thought it was important to explore not only what we look at, but how we see things. And not just tangible things, but also things that might not be visible to our eyes. This book, like Trying, is also a book about mentorship and the life-changing lessons that can come from having conversations about things that matter.

Noticing really celebrates the ways in which mentorship can help us experience the world and ourselves more fully. Why is this message important to you?

KOBI: We learn so much through mentorship and modeling others, and after exploring this with our book Trying, I knew I wanted to continue working with Elise and extend these types of mentorship stories into a series. I find that creating conversations between a young beginner and someone who is much more accomplished and experienced can be a nice framework for storytelling and helps to illuminate the different viewpoints and the process of learning and growing.

Elise, you’ve hidden all sorts of wonders on the pages for readers to find, making the lessons on noticing experiential. What do you hope people will encounter as they come across these creative surprises?

ELISE: I think we have all had a moment where we have spotted a face in a tree, or a door handle, or an odd shadow or cloud that reminds us of something else. At moments like these we are open to the possibility that the world is not just a sensible, ordinary place, but that there is joy and wonder and surprise in it… if we look around with a little more imagination.

By drawing lots of hidden details, as inspired by the shapes in nature, I am simply trying to make these discoveries easier. What I hope is that people will begin to look around them more closely. In my experience, if you practice looking, you will be rewarded with all manner of discoveries. And if you share what you see with others, you will be surprised how they will interpret the same shapes in their own way.

The lessons of Noticing come to life through the words of a painter. As an artist, how does the message of Noticing speak to you personally?

ELISE: I am continually in awe of the world. I walk around mesmerized by clouds, and I love to look at buildings and try to decipher their stories—when they were built, what has changed, who is behind the windows. Stories are absolutely everywhere and they are constantly evolving.

I think part of the job of being an artist is to observe and observe and observe. Becoming an illustrator opened even further possibilities to me as I realized that I was allowed to imagine and invent, inspired by what I could see, weaving them into what I would like to see. I think that is powerful, and something everyone could use in their lives.

What do you hope Noticing will inspire more of in the world?

KOBI: My hope is that Noticing will spark readers’ imaginations to dream, believe, and wonder about all the extraordinary possibilities that are waiting to be discovered. To explore the world around them and the internal, emotional worlds within us all. The miraculous and inspiring are everywhere, but we need to pay attention and look with our minds and hearts wide open.

I believe the more we look for the good, the more we find it, and that approach can lead to a richer understanding of the world, ourselves, and each other.


Experience the magic of Noticing in your life. Click here to find this luminous tale.

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