I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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Happy (almost) #BookBirthday = 7 Qs with  author/ illustrator Jami Gigot + THE WORLD IN OUR BACKYARD + #Giveaway

April 23, 2024

Today we welcome Jami Gigot back to the blog and kick off the #BookBirthday celebration of her new picture book, THE WORLD IN OUR BACKYARD (Simon & Schuster).

“Sprightly, colorful digital illustrations and spare but stirring text brim with childlike creativity and wonder. There’s lots of fun to be had in your own backyard—and in this lively book.”


About the author/illustrator:

Jami Gigot (prounounced: Jamie Gee-go /silent T) is the author-illustrator of many books for children, including Starboy: Inspired by the Life and Lyrics of David BowieImagination VacationSeb and the SunMae and the Moon, and The World in Our Backyard and the illustrator of My Daddy Can Fly! She has also worked as a visual artist on many award-winning films. In her free time, she can be found in a hammock in her small and lovely backyard, bird-watching and listening to the buzzing of bees. 

And we have questions!

Q 1. What was the inspiration for THE WORLD IN OUR BACKYARD?

Jami Gigot: A combination of several things. Funny enough, I was working on another story and had been thinking a lot about the concept of scale, and how that can be relative. I had an image in my mind of insects walking through a clover field, which of course to them would be like a forest of trees (this ended up as the second spread in this book!).

Interior art by Jami Gigot from THE WORLD IN OUR BACKYARD (Simon & Schuster).

Inspired by that image, I thought about similar ways outdoor spaces could be used in creative ways. I was drawn back to my own memories of being a child and how I would play, and also reflected a lot on playing with my own children.

I do think that the pandemic influenced this story as well. When we were suddenly told to stay inside, my appreciation for being outdoors was even stronger. In a time where we have a lot of stimulation offered to us with electronic devices, I believe it’s more important than ever to get outside and look at the world with wonder.

Speaking of childhood memories…

Q. 2 As a child, what adventures were in your “backyard”? Which were your favorites?

Jami Gigot: So many! I spent a lot of time outside in our yard or around our street playing with all the neighborhood kids. We were lucky to have a city park just a block away too, so I spent a lot of time there. Some of my favorite adventures and memories were playing games like capture the flag and kick the can.

Young Jami in the snow.

I also spent a lot of time perfecting dance routines I made up with my neighborhood friends, and of course playing in the snow, even making a giant E.T. shaped snowman. I was extremely proud of that, until his head fell off because the neck was too skinny haha!  

Which comes first?

Q 3. Since you are the author/illustrator, which came first? The thumbnails or the text?

Jami Gigot: Generally, I start with a first draft of the words, but since I do have a very visual way of imagining, thumbnails come quickly after.

If I am worried that I might lose the image in my mind, I will make a quick sketch alongside the words right away. Then it’s a process of several revisions of thumbnails as I work things out. I find it’s important for me to do both the words and images together early on to really feel the pacing and overall tone of the story. 


Q 4. Did you do much research for the art or the story?

Jami Gigot: If I am struggling to draw a pose, I will often take a photo of myself or a family member acting out the scene. For the “art gallery” scene, my kids and I went to the back lane behind our home and made chalk drawings. I took some photos from different angles for drawing reference, and some of my kid’s art is actually featured in the book!  

Illustration notes:

Q 5. What’s your favorite medium? What did you use for this project?

Jami Gigot: For this book, the illustrations were a collage of traditional mediums like watercolor and colored pencil combined with digital painting.

I like to pull everything together in photoshop to help finish the illustrations. It is a little easier for me to move things around and play with the color and light. I really enjoy exploring and trying new things depending on what the story needs.  


Q 6. What do you hope readers will take away after reading THE WORLD IN OUR BACKYARD?

Jami Gigot: I hope that readers take away the joy of outdoor and imaginary play. I want children to read this and feel inspired to notice all the beauty and magic in our everyday environments, no matter if they live in the bustling city, the countryside, or the suburbs.   

Interior art by Jami Gigot from THE WORLD IN OUR BACKYARD (Simon & Schuster).

What’s next?

Q 7. Is there a project you’re working on now that you can share?

Jami Gigot: Yes! I am currently working on a picture book called THE BIGFOOT FIELD GUIDE TO CAMPERS (and other mysterious creatures), which will be published by Kids Can Press next summer. It has a lot of humor and should be great fun to read aloud. It’s written in a guidebook format where the pictures and words completely contradict each other, and I had an absolute blast writing it!

Did someone say #Giveaway?

YES! One lucky recipient will receive a copy of THE WORLD IN OUR BACKYARD

To be eligible:

Retweet post with #TheWorldInOurBackyard hashtag, and follow & tag: 

@jlgigot TwitterX (or jamigigot Insta) and 

@ErinDealey (or erindealey Insta )

Deadline May 7th. Winner wil be notified on May 8th.

Thanks so much, Jami Gigot, 

for joining us today.

You can learn more about her work at jamigigot.com

and following her on Instagram: jamigigot

Twitter: @jlgigot

And Tumblr: jamigigot

Up next:


(Illus. Michelle Jing Chan/ Crown Books for Young Readers)

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