Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 150: Drawing Stellaluna with Janell Cannon

Janell Cannon was born in Minnesota in 1957 and was also raised there her whole life. She now lives in Southern California. She has always admired animals of all kinds, but she focused mainly on those animals who have been misunderstood or neglected. Through her drawings and writings, she made these animals seem relatable and approachable. She took their physical appearance and made them into a character that learns about life and also teaches readers a lesson in morals as well. She had a love for bats, Komodo dragons, spiders, and snakes inspired her works in the library. From working in this library, she created summer reading programs about these unusual animals that won multiple awards for such efforts.

She started her illustrating and writing process with her famous work Stellluna. After she came out with the publication of this confused bat, she left her work at the library to focus more on her writing and drawings to create more books for these creatures so they could be known by others. One of the mysterious animals that Cannon created was called a Fuzzhead with a description of their time among humans. She created Stellaluna as a way to reach out to people so that they would no longer have a fear of bats but more affection for these creatures. She even includes how these animals benefit our environment and how they are not here to harm us as humans but are animals who are misunderstood and judged. Also through Stellaluna, Cannon wanted to focus on having her readers to find a mirror in the story and find themselves in the story in their own way. The books Cannon created are to focus on relationships between different characters as well. It incorporates how some animals who would never be among each other in the real world are now friends or related to one another in some way.

Cannon also focuses on putting information on the animals in the back cover of her books along with vocabulary words and factual information about the different creatures so as to inform her readers about these misunderstood creatures. Cannon quotes that she is working on more books to bring out information on creatures that are shunned and disliked by people and offer a type of comfort for people to have as they encounter the realistic animals and think about the Fuzzheads she has created. She continues her work in her studio in Southern California which she shares with a cat and a parrot. Janell Cannon goes to zoos to find animals who receive the meanest comments so she can create a story about this type of animal and offer a way for people to understand this animal instead of showing hatred or a strong dislike for the animal. In all of her writings and illustrations, Cannon wants to portray misunderstood and feared animals that make people uncomfortable as animals that are the same as any other animal; she gives them a voice by creating a story and also giving information to the reader about the animal they wish to avoid. Cannon's works also reach out to readers who have that same feeling of being an outcast and being judged and disliked by others and giving them something to relate to and find some humor and heartwarming topics in as a way to have them look to these creatures as similar beings to them.

“Leaping and looping with his little striped friends, Verdi laughed and said "I may be big and very green, but I'm still me!” 

Visit Janell's Web site!  

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