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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Trailer Reveal & Interview: A Peek at Derek Desierto’s ODDBIRD

Don’t let it get around, but I have a soft spot for birds. I also have a soft spot for eels and beavers, but birds far outstrip those other obsessions. I like ostriches and kookaburras and birds that don’t quite fit into categories. Oddbirds, if you will. Kinda like today’s picture book ODDBIRD by Derek Desierto. Here’s the description, for what it’s worth:

A picture book from Derek Desierto about a bird who doesn’t fit in…at first!

It’s SO hot outside. All the fancy birds are gathered around the water, wishing they could cool off. But they don’t want to get wet and ruin their fine feathers.

Oddbird isn’t worried about his feathers; he wants to go for a refreshing dip. But he doesn’t fit in. He’s not fancy, or colorful. He’s just…different. The other birds don’t want him around. How can he join them?

Oddbird’s story is one all readers will relate to, and ultimately celebrate.

Not satisfied to hear only this, I had a question or two for Mr. Desierto:

Betsy Bird: Thank you so much for joining me today! So first and foremost I see that you’re an animator. Animators have always written children’s books in addition to their animation work (Bill Peet, Dr. Seuss, Marla Frazee, etc.). But, of course, the animation of today is so different from what it was even 20 years ago. What is it about your own personal background in animation that best informs how you create art for picture books? What advantage does animation give you?

Derek Desierto: Thank you so much for having me! I feel animation flows very organically into picture books because it’s all about the same thing, storytelling. Picture books actually distill everything I love about animation and that’s design and story. I feel every time I do a book, I’m getting to make my own short film about the story and I love that! My experience with animation has taught me a lot about finding what visually works in a story. It’s about picking out the best bits and subtle story points that will be better understood once illustrated. 

BB: So where did you initially get the idea for ODDBIRD?

Original Oddbird Sketch

DD: ODDBIRD was an idea that came to me while I was in college. It was spring break and I was procrastinating a bit from my assignments and the idea of a bird unlike all the other birds came to mind. Once I finished the drawing, I just kept thinking more about that “oddbird” and the story started developing from there.

BB: What picture books have particularly influenced you, either from childhood or discovering them as an adult?

DD: Growing up I loved reading Amelia Bedelia because I thought she was so funny. As an adult, I discovered The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and was very moved by it. That story has stayed with me since then. Other books I love are the Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans for the beautiful artwork.

BB: Finally, now that you’ve gotten a taste for picture books, are there more in your future?

DD: Absolutely! I’m returning to a series (more information TBA) this fall, and have a new book about the shoe designer, Jimmy Choo, coming 2023! 

Many thanks to Derek for answering my questions. Thanks too to Kelsey Marrujo and the folks at Macmillan for this trailer reveal. Oddbird is out May 25th. And now . . . . the official book trailer:

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.