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Book no.1

Penelope Lazari: "Ice wonder" manages to "shake" the parent, the teacher and the psychologist"

                                                                                                                           By journalist Nikos Kolitsis

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The illustrator Penelope Lazari draws the life of "Ice Wonder" like... ice cream, from the North Pole, to his school on Earth, in the new children's book by the author Sofianna Paidousi and to an interplanetary rest station, opens - in Fairytales and to the journalist Nikos Kolitsis- the wings of her heart and mind, with touching, is the truth, way, with the thought always on Ice Wonder and the issue of school bullying he faces. 
After all, as the children say about Penelope Lazaris herself: "Wow, you draw very well! But are there fairies and dragons?'

What were your first thoughts, when you accepted the offer to illustrate "Ice Wonder,  from the author Sofianna Paidousi, from the moment you received and read the manuscript, and what are they now that it is finished?
In my work, what I like and enjoy is trying new challenges and new ideas. When we got in touch with Sofianna Paidousi and she informed me about her idea, about what she wants to project from this work, she immediately piqued my interest. This is a topical issue that touches us particularly, especially since I am also the mother of a 12-year-old boy.
As an illustrator, I really wanted to express this problem that concerns our society and manage through my sketches to sensitize as many readers as possible.
Progressing the illustration to its completion, the interest remained unchanged, while in all the "hard" scenes I sympathized with our hero and wished I could "enter" the story and stop this torture!
-"But I don't want to make the scene so hard", I said to the author.
- "No", she answered me"... we have to show the seriousness of the situation"...  and she was right.

My thoughts, after finishing this illustration, are that this is an excellent piece of work, particularly sensitizing to the problem of bullying. I am especially glad that the author trusted me to illustrate her "author's child" and made me a member of this group. 

What would be your first reaction if your son was being bullied, similar to that of Ice Wonder at school and you found out about it?
I think I would be shocked, as I would not have believed that something like this could happen to us! Then anger. Boundless anger for the children who would have been involved and their families. Every mother loves her child unconditionally. I am no exception. How many times have we said "if anyone bothers you, I will kill him", without of course meaning it, but wanting to show this unlimited love of a mother to her child.
After, of course, from the first instinctive reactions, comes the logic and decorum that characterizes us as intelligent beings living in a society (not that you don't want to beat up anyone who teased your bud!). First, therefore, I would contact the school management to inform them, since this happened on school grounds. Then, I would ask that the guardians of the children involved be called, that they in turn be informed of the events and of course discuss the incident with their children. What prompted them to do such a thing and put themselves in the place of the bullied child.
I believe that the greater awareness of children in behavioral problems and the development of critical thinking so that they do not get carried away, is 70% done at home and the remaining 30% is shaped by the school environment and outside activities.

Where lies the greatest difficulty in drawing (illustrating) a children's book? What was the most difficult for you in Ice Wonder?
I think that the most important difficulty in a children's illustration is that an adult will perceive the image in front of him differently than a child. You want because of experiences, because of children's greater observation, because of imagination, children see something different. 
So, what needs to be achieved in such a work is, through the stimuli that the image will provide, to convey to the children the deeper meaning of the story and not, for example, "ahh, this girl wears a very short skirt!"
The image must accompany the text without distorting it or showing something different from what the story says. The messages need to be clear and nothing should be "implied". 
It is logical for every child to see something different in the images in front of him. It depends on his age, his imagination and the knowledge he has acquired so far. The text directs it to see the ultimate purpose.
In all my work so far, including Ice Wonder, I have had a strict judge by my side. My son. Wherever I was "stuck" I had the best help. He may have judged me by the posture of the characters ("Mom, he doesn't look strong enough"), to a change of background ("Mom, this is confusing"). In "Ice Wonder", the difficulty I faced was how a child so cruel (Brad) in the end, after so much he had done, would make him seem likable and good. This is where the text would help, of course... and by "sweetening" some features, the nice Brad handing out ice creams emerged...



If you had to choose between exclusively illustrating children's books or being an art director for magazines, what would you choose and why?
But illustrating children's books, of course!!! Exclusive!!!
This is a creative job that I love! I love children very much and it gives me unlimited joy when they come and tell me "Wow, you draw very well! But are there fairies and dragons?'
I also love painting very much. To mix colors, to use brushes and on the canvas emerge a story taken from my imagination. Let playful elves, laughing fairies and kind-hearted dragons mingle. But what could be more fun and happy than a fantasy world that fills your soul! 

Is the skill of drawing taught or innate? When did you decide that you would use it professionally in the future and all these years later, what is the artistic imprint you feel you have left? 
We are all born with some talent. Others in music, others in speech, others in construction, others in painting and drawing. It is up to everyone to find their talent and develop it, develop it and use it if they want. He can make it a profession (what a happy man is) or practice it only for his personal pleasure.
I consider that I was one of the lucky people who managed to transfer my inclination and love for painting to my profession. I have illustrated several children's books both in print and online, as technology has now entered all fields. I have also done illustrations for magazines and individual projects. Creation never stops. I continue to evolve and try new techniques in my work, including technology. I hope that one day my friends, my acquaintances, my son will come back and say "yes, we met a sensitive artist and a good person". 
















If your professional occupation had nothing to do with design and computers, what else do you imagine yourself doing, in terms of work and free time?
I'll answer the easy question first. In my free time, I would draw again! 
If I were to do any other job... I would probably go for a kindergarten teacher, as I have a very good relationship with children and I like working with them. They are pure souls and if they trust you, they give you selfless love.

How close or far is Ice Wonder, through your own illustration, to the children and teenagers of the modern era, compared to the image you form of your environment?
Ice Wonder is a child of the modern era. He is a child victim of school bullying, because of his difference. But how many unique children existed in the past and exist in our time! Uniquely because of skill, because of origin, because of appearance. Diversity is necessary to exist. It sets you apart from the crowd, and makes you unique! It's not nice if everyone is the same, if there is monotony, if there is no reason and counter-reason. What a society there would be if we were all the same!
Unfortunately, kids these days have become very cruel. Most of the stimuli they receive are violent. They receive violence from television, play violent games, and even some comic books project cruelty and power as a means of imposing themselves on others. Of course, we are not discussing cases of domestic violence, but a psychologist will tell you more here.
How can they not copy behaviors that surround them in their daily lives? So, in their own little society, there is a "Ice Wonder", who accepts inappropriate behavior. The incidents may be limited, but the actions are often extreme and impermissible. Yes, unfortunately, Ice Wonder is a child of our modern society.

Ice Wonder's mother, father, the Headmistress of the school, Brad, the rest of the children, or another, who has the biggest responsibility in Ice Wonder's story?
In my view, everyone has a share of responsibility. One more and another less. 
First, the family. of Brad You see a child if he is aggressive or has inappropriate behavior. As a parent (here the director) you make sure to deal with the problem, either with the help of a child psychologist to discover the problem or by talking to the child himself, each parent makes their own decisions in order to deal with it. When you turn a blind eye, you just make the bad happen faster.
Brad, in this case, is perhaps the least to blame of all. If you haven't been taught from a young age to respect the diversity of others, how can you respect it?
Ice Wonder's parents. Their mistake, perhaps, was not noticing a change in their son's mood earlier, so that they could inform the principal and prevent the worst. At this point I have to add that we as parents also need to tell our child to trust us with everything, assuring him that there will be no punishment from us if he tells us what is happening or if he has been a victim of bullying. We need to talk and discuss with our children so that they feel safe and in no way ashamed and trust us with everything.

Which historical hero did you identify with the most, also through the process of illustration? Does the degree of identification of the illustrator with the characters of the story contribute positively to the result or can it be a brake on imagination?
I can't say that I identified with someone 100%. Each time I entered the character I was illustrating, trying to get the feeling and imagine how he would stand in the space. Maybe Tom was closer to me, since as I said I wanted to "enter" the story and help. 
There are many factors that an illustrator thinks about. From how the hero might feel, how the "villain" will seem more threatening to him, what of all these emotions can be conveyed by facial expressions, hand positioning, body positioning in general, what clearly passes as meaning and can "read" children in a picture. 

Which work of world children's literature do you wish you had starred in and why?
There are so many stories that we have heard from children, so many fairy tales from legendary storytellers, such as the Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Andersen and so many more that a book will not be enough to list them all! With envious fairy tales that every small child, literally and in the soul, has dreamed of starring.
When I was little, I wanted to be a princess in a castle, like Snow White or Cinderella, waiting for the little prince...
I'm old now and I haven't stopped dreaming, to be in Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days" and living the adventure of a fantastic journey or accompanying the dreamy "Don Quixote" of Miguel Cervantes in his terrible battles with windmills in the company of his loyal knight Sancho.
How beautiful it is to be able to travel with a book, escaping a little from the problems and shadows of reality! 













Is a picture worth a thousand words or does it always depend on the image and the imagination of the beholder?
A picture really is worth a thousand words. What you want to describe in a paragraph, you can render it on paper with a sketch. It is the image that ignites the imagination and takes it even further.
Children, who have more imagination than adults, see one picture and think of ten more. But, we cannot say that adults have no imagination. They may not let it get the better of them, as they are the sensible ones and are bound to keep their feet firmly planted. It is a natural consequence of life, as we grow older, to see things more practically, not always letting ourselves relax and forget age and position.
The power of the image is great. We see it in advertisements in the mass media, from packaging in supermarkets, from a separate branch of visual communication that is studied and developed in all schools that have to do with communication.
Yes, each person's imagination is different, but everyone has it and everyone needs a different stimulus in order to use it.

Why would you recommend that a child, a parent, an educator, and a psychologist should buy the book "Ice Wonder," other than the fact that... you've illustrated it? How would you rate it from a third-party perspective?
"Ice Wonder," tells a current story, deals with a very serious problem of the time and manages to "shake" the one who reads it. If he is a parent, make him angry about his child's behavior and get him active to do something, if he is an educator, make him aware of the issue and perhaps ask for the cooperation of a psychologist within the school context, if he is a psychologist, maybe this story urges him to undertake some actions to anticipate similar incidents. A child, again, perhaps, puts himself in Ice Wonder's place and understands how unfair and how cruel such behavior is. To talk to his friends and positively influence his company.


How would you suggest that Ice Wonder spend his summer and how would you like to spend it in a dreamlike situation?
For his summer Ice Wonder would be nice to take some of his friends and show them around his special homeland, the North Pole. To show them the places he frequented, to know them in his company there. Let them see the special animals that can withstand these temperatures and why not try one day to stay in an igloo.
For my own dream vacation, I would like to travel to a planet where everything around would be made of soft materials. You could trampoline on a fuchsia hill, you would cut lollipops from the trees, wherever you fell you wouldn't hit, everything would be colorful and between the ice mountains a river would flow with all the colors of the rainbow
. Yes, I know… very girly, but I'm a girl! 













What was your main source of inspiration when you were drawing as a child/teen and what is the subject you most enjoy drawing today as an adult?
In my childhood, I mainly drew princesses, castles, horses (I always loved horses) and everything that fairy tales tell us...
Moving into adolescence, I began to be concerned
with social issues, such as poverty and war. I also started looking outside. The countryside, the sea, the people. I also started making decorative designs for notebooks, bags, caskets. It goes without saying that I never stopped painting horses. I was collecting photos of them trying to understand their movement and anatomy. Then I also discovered some coloring books of my sister's, which she was also involved in, and I set out to learn how we draw the human body and face. It was extremely difficult I can say. Of course, growing up and going to school, I managed to develop my techniques and skills.
What do I enjoy most about drawing? But of course what expresses me the most at the moment. I'm not going to sit in front of the canvas and say "now what are we going to paint"? I may have gone for a walk and suddenly I see the most incredible landscape in front of me and want to paint it. Then I enjoy it. I may even be sad and an image that reminds me of loneliness comes to my mind, for example... a poppy alone in ears. If I paint it at that time, again, I will enjoy it, because it will be what expresses me at that time. I can feel immense love and painting an embracing couple gives me great joy. That's it for painting.
Children's book illustration is something else. I always enjoy any illustration, because it's not something I'm going to create from scratch, but it's the story of the author who kind of created it in his mind. He will give me the stimuli to create some image in my mind and when I manage to render his words on my paper, he satisfies and pleases me.

Do illustrators have role models/idols? Have you had any and if so, how have they influenced the way you design?
We definitely have a preference for our design style. However, this is work done in collaboration with the author. If he himself indicates a certain style he wants, I will follow it. I consider myself lucky that I can adopt different styles without a problem. Are you going to say to me, "you don't want to have a certain recognizable style of design"? I will answer that I could stick to one, but there are so many ways to express yourself and deliver a story!
In one story the airiness and transparency of watercolor may suit, in another the combination of tempera with wood paint, even collage with painting elements. Why limit ourselves? Yes, I like the art nouveau artist Gustav Klimt, the horse studies of the Renaissance Leonardo Da Vinci, but I also like the expressionist Van Gogh with his expressive, movement-filled strokes.   

What do you think will be the future of the illustrator in the coming years? What is the degree of recognition and acceptance of his work in our time, especially in Greece during the crisis years?
As in all professions, ours has been invaded by technology. The design is now often done by electronic means and enriches online books. Our heroes with special programs gain traffic and e-books adorn the shelves of electronic bookstores. They become interactive and with one click you can display in front of you any other information you want. Our heroes gain voice and movement.
As long as we, as illustrators, make sure that our knowledge does not stand still on our subject, there is no problem. From the moment, in fact, that we love what we do, we will not leave it so that it does not leave us...
Acceptance of our project exists. Equally, judgment makes us more useful, especially cartoonists and those who satirize situations with their sketches. The illustrations in books and magazines amuse people who want to escape a little from everyday life. Illustration in consumer products, again, with technology playing a bigger role in this area,   is imperative, as the packaging is infinite. In the Greece of crisis, the needs have not decreased, but the wages have decreased. After all, what sector has been left unscathed by the financial crisis in terms of pay? However, when you really love something, this will not be the reason to stop practicing it.

How magical is the world of colors and images from within, and how is it connected to the childhood of the creators?
I can't speak for the experiences of other creators. However, I can tell you that from an early age, I liked to draw and capture my thoughts on paper and not necessarily with colored pencils. I distinctly remember, because my father knew how much I liked it, he brought me rolls of thick paper that you could draw on three and four meters. I used to spread it out on the veranda and make whole states with just one pencil. Not even a color. The magic for me was in the design and as I designed, I created stories in my head. I let myself go and even had dialogues out loud with the figures I was drawing. My inclination was there. Like, another child might have whole musical compositions in his head. Let this be magic for that. 
I was one of the lucky kids and had a good, happy childhood. I had parents who loved me and showed it to me. Love is everything. A child can "bloom" in it. I want to give this love to my son so that he can find his own magic in life.




















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If the author of Ice Wonder asked you to suggest a hypothetical continuation for the second part of his story, what would be the development and twist?
Since the first story featured the problem of school bullying, would it be appropriate for it to be a series of books featuring other social problems of the time?
Since Ice Wonder is from the north, would he be affected by global warming and melting ice? Was Ice Wonder organizing a campaign in all the schools to inform and deal with it? To present all the wrong actions that we follow, the interests that are affected and that in the end only if we all try together, young and old, not only in terms of age but also because of position, only then will we succeed.
Yes, it seems to me that such a sequel would be quite interesting.

If you could magically enter history, which person would you not want to be and why?
I don't want to be Ice Wonder, because I really felt how much he suffered. I felt his pain, despair and frustration. I could not stand such treatment. 
I have a "bad habit". I always "put myself" in other people's shoes and in real life. I am in favor of what my parents taught me: "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you. Treat everyone with respect and never underestimate anyone". I have applied it in my life and I want to pass it on to my son, because it makes you a better person. 

How do you imagine the final print of "Ice Wonder" in a book and what would be the first person you would like to give it to?
I imagine I will get my hands on a great and very neat job, with images that tie in with the text and help the story flow. Each page will challenge you to go to the next and the ending will lead to redemption.
The first person I would give it to would be a very good friend of mine, our children are classmates and she had faced a similar problem with her child in elementary school. Fortunately, this is a great mom, who quickly realized this and dealt with it.
I hope that "Ice Wonder" will be a motivation for parents, teachers, psychologists and children to seek to find our sensitivities again and that it will push us not to remain indifferent to such a serious issue. I'm sure it will achieve it's goal!

I thank the author Sofianna Paidousi, who trusted me to illustrate such a timely and serious story and made me a member of her team.
I wish the book to have a good journey and touch the hearts of all of us!






Penelope Lazari is an Art & Creative Director, illustrator and painter. She graduated from the Vacalo Art & Design College in 1997 and has been passionate about her work ever since, loving evolution and following the rhythms of the times.
With imagination and creativity, she captures an image on a piece of paper, on the computer screen, or on a canvas. She has designed and developed logos, corporate identities, advertorials, advertisements, site layouts and of course magazine layouts, as well as working for AutoTritis magazine.
Illustration remains her great love, as through design, colors and dynamic shapes, she gives life to everything she dreams of in an adventure of heart and mind! 


Source:, 23 June 2019

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Book no.2


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