“My mother struggled with addiction and mental health and was in and out of prison most of my childhood,” Robinson says. His father was additionally absent.

Robinson’s grandmother raised him — alongside along with his brother, two cousins, and an aunt — in a one-bedroom condo in Los Angeles.

“Making pictures was certainly my way of having some say over the world and what things could look like,” he says. “It was a way to have some control over my circumstances.”

He remembers that “shook-up soda” feeling that Milo has on the subway. “You’re simply feeling nervousness and nerves. You really feel as a child, despite the fact that it is your mother or father who’s being punished, you really feel punished. You know, when somebody you’re keen on is serving time, you are serving time together with them. I simply keep in mind rather a lot of ache, embarrassment, guilt and disgrace.”

De la Peña related with the thought of a toddler who is consistently imagining and reimagining the world round him. In the newest installment of our “Picture This” series, we introduced the creator and illustrator collectively to debate their collaboration — under are excerpts from their dialog.

De la Peña: You have two audiences for an image ebook. You have the mother or father and you’ve got the youngster. And I’m actually aware proper now about leaning towards the youngster and the psychology of a toddler. This is type of one thing I took from Where the Wild Things Are, when Max goes into his dreamspace, we actually see his psychology.

Robinson: For me, the course of of really illustrating this ebook was I used to be virtually like turning into Milo. I had to return to all the instances that I used to be on the bus or the subway. And once I was trying round in any respect the folks round me, what was I imagining about them? What had been the issues that they had been doing? …

Milo is an observer. So I assumed, why not give him glasses? I needed to offer emphasis to his eyes as a result of that’s what he’s utilizing to view the world. And however I additionally needed to make him really feel like small and little and never seen … so he is like coated and bundled in all these garments, however his sister is a little more outgoing and vibrant. She has this actually vibrant pink jacket … very trendy.

I used to be additionally interested by, like, how typically instances are folks going by sure experiences, however you’ll by no means know they had been going by that as a result of on the exterior they simply look so put collectively and like all the things’s going for them.

"Milo Imagines the World" by author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson. Milo imagines the lives of others he sees on the subway.
Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson/G.P Putnam’s Sons

De la Peña: What this ebook is admittedly attempting to do is dismantle the idea of stereotypes. So I believe Milo has this epiphany in the story that he is seen a sure method and that does not really feel good. And so he has to sq. that he is doing the identical factor to different folks. He’s taking small bits of data and making judgments. …

What I like about working with Christian … [is] I take some of these heavier concepts, I give them to Christian, and I really feel like he is the one who makes them an image ebook. He provides whimsy and there is simply a component of enjoyable that sort of undercuts some of the seriousness I give to him in manuscript kind.

Robinson: In this story and … many of the books that me and Matt have labored on, we’re coping with, you understand, actual world conditions. In Carmela Full of Wishes, it is a daughter who has a mother or father who’s been deported. And in Last Stop [on Market Street], at the finish of the journey is a soup kitchen.

And so I suppose Matt is like giving us a style of the actual world. And all I’m doing is simply reminding … that, yeah, there’s challenges, there’s greediness, however there’s additionally magnificence. And there’s pleasure in all these experiences. And I believe that is what we’re attempting to do, is simply honor the lives of on a regular basis folks, working class folks.

"Milo Imagines the World" by author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson. Scene shows Milo and his sister visiting their incarcerated mother.
Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson/G.P Putnam’s Sons

De la Peña: Traditionally, a ebook like Milo Imagines the World could be type of put aside for, you understand, children in underprivileged faculties or children who’ve incarcerated mother and father. But I simply hope increasingly more that this can be a ebook that’s shared with children who do not have that have to allow them to perceive that Milo is a posh younger boy. And this is only one half of his background.

Robinson: I really feel like proper now particularly, it is so essential that we’re telling tales that ask one another to take a re-assessment and to not make these straightforward, fast judgments about one another. …

As a child, of course, not having my my mom there was painful, definitely, however most likely much more painful factor was holding on to that have myself and internalizing it and feeling disconnected, not having that reference to others. So I believe this ebook has the potential to be therapeutic, to create conversations, to create empathy and compassion.

"Milo Imagines the World" by author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson. Scene shows family gathering at the end of the day.
Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson/G.P Putnam’s Sons



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