Summer Green to Autumn Gold: Q&A with Mia Posada

by Carol Hinz, editorial director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books

The past few days, I’ve become increasingly aware that summer is at an end. The sun is setting earlier, there’s a slight, wonderful chill in the air in the evening, and I’m feeling increasingly desperate about all the school supplies I haven’t yet purchased for my kids.

Setting aside those feelings of panic, I’m looking forward to fall’s arrival and the glorious colors of leaves we’ll soon be seeing. And thanks to Mia Posada and her just-released book Summer Green to Autumn Gold: Uncovering Leaves’ Hidden ColorsI now understand much more about the science of why leaves change color.

Mia wrote the text and created the gorgeous watercolor and collage illustrations for this book, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book.

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Glorious fall colors

Where did the idea for this book come from?

The idea for this book came from watching the trees change all around us here in Minnesota. I’ve always loved the transformation of fall and the amazing colors that appear. I thought kids might be interested in finding out how and why this happens.

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A spread showing the hidden pigments in the green leaves

Can you describe your process for creating the art for this book?

I began the process by collecting lots and lots of leaves from around my neighborhood and pressing them in books to preserve them. I labeled them so I knew what kind of tree they came from. I took lots of pictures of leaves and trees throughout the fall, and also looked for pictures in books and on the internet. Throughout this process I made sketches of the leaves I’d gathered.

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Sketch with labeled leaves

Once I had collected plenty of material, I began sketching out each page of the book. I began to work out what each illustration would show and how the story would flow from page to page. After I was satisfied with the sketches, I began to cut out leaves from paper which I had painted and compose the illustrations. I used different types of paper, from thin tissue paper for the leaves to thick wood-like paper for the tree trunks. I must have cut out thousands of leaves! I began working on the final illustrations just as fall was beginning so the timing was perfect!

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Final art with labeled leaves

What was the most surprising thing you learned while making this book?

The most surprising thing I learned is that the science of leaf color is more complicated than I had thought! Several pigments and many factors combine to create the colors we see. I think it’s amazing to learn about the natural world around us and I’m happy to be able to share it with kids!

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Back matter with further information about leaves and pigments

More posts by Carol.

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