Today we are chatting with Xindi Yan, illustrator of Busy Betty
Read on for more about her, the book, and a giveaway!
Meet Xindi Yan:
Xindi Yan left behind a small city in China to realize her dream of being a published artist. She traveled thousands of miles to study, live, and work in New York. Having always wanted to illustrate children’s books, Xindi buried herself in countless books and drawings. She is the illustrator of Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree by Sandy Shapiro Hurt, the Craftily Ever After series by Martha Maker and The Itty Bitty Witch by Trisha Speed Shaskan. When not drawing, she likes to keep busy with lots of crafts and cooking. Xindi currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dreams of having a puppy one day.
About the Book: Busy Betty
From Academy Award–winning actress, founder, and bestselling author, Reese Witherspoon, comes Busy Betty, a story about a creative, curious, and exuberant young girl who has big plans and an even bigger heart.
Busy Betty has always been busy . . . even when she was just a baby!
When Betty gives Frank a big hug, she realizes he needs a bath, PRONTO! Her best friend, Mae, is coming over, and Betty can’t have the smelliest dog in the whole world! But giving Frank a bath is harder than she thought and just when everything seems impossible, with Mae’s help, Betty learns she can accomplish anything with perseverance, teamwork, and one great idea.
From Reese Witherspoon comes a smart and larger-than-life character who encourages young readers to celebrate what makes them unique and realize that anything is possible!
YABC: How did you get inspiration for the cover illustration?
It was a group effort. Everyone on the team pitched in. We know Betty needed to be big and charming to instantly draw you in. And she should be in motion since being busy is her signature. I was presented with the opportunity of doing hand lettering for the first time. I gave it a try and we loved the result. So that was really fun! Of course, we had to include Frank. Who can resist an adorable puppy face?!
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book to draw?
Betty was super fun to draw of course! She’s so animated and I love her huge poses and expressions. But I do enjoy drawing Frank very much as well. Bulldogs have such expressive wrinkly faces. His interactions with Betty are hilarious and bring me so much joy!
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of the illustration and why?
The scene with the giant “GLITTER!!!” Glitters aren’t just tricky to deal with in real life. It is definitely a challenge to capture their shimmery looks on a printed page. Not to mention there’re LOTS of them on this page! This is a high point of the story. So I tried to focus on the feelings of this scene when clouds of glitter exploded around you and everything is chaos. There were a lot of experiments on colors and brushes in Photoshop. I think the result was quite successful. Not to mention the colors and textures were so fun to work with!
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as an illustrator from then to now?
Less is more. I think in a very cinematic way and I LOVE drawing details. So a lot of times I end up creating full-color scenes with rendering. Especially at the beginning, I was trying so hard to not fail and end up with very crowded pages. A lot of them I still like very much right now. They are definitely decent illustrations. But from a picture book point of view, sometimes too much background or rendering can distract from the stories and actions. Plus the designers would have a hard time putting texts onto the page. For Busy Betty, we knew we needed lots of white space on pages for the actions to pop. That vision was the push I needed and the result was everything I hoped for! I didn’t even miss the backgrounds and details I usually labor over. It’ll definitely still vary from projects. But I’m glad to have ventured into new styles and possibilities!
YABC: How did you pick this book as one you wanted to illustrate?
This book is an easy yes of course! I’m still surprised and so honored that Reese Witherspoon would trust me with her story. I grew up watching her movies. Her ambition and achievements in business are so inspiring. The book editor and team from PRH are also such amazing people I’ve heard about and dreamt of working with.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2022?
Busy Betty of course!
I also illustrated another book called Grumpy New Year that’s coming out in December. It’s a Chinese New Year story and I’m proud to represent my culture in that project.
Stephen King’s new book Fairy Tale is also on my list. I’m a huge horror/thriller/mystery fan!
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
I recently just went back to rereading some Sherlock Holmes stories. He is one of my favorite characters growing up, and his unique method hugely influenced my creative process. The stories are just as gripping as I remembered. It brought back so many memories of reading in bed as a child.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
More and more picture book projects!
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when illustrating?
Betty is the main character and appears on every page. Although I wouldn’t say there was too much trouble illustrating her, there were definitely some challenges. For one, her emotional range is HUGE. And we wanted her to be very over-the-top animated. So I find myself always pushing the expression or pose to be more and more exaggerated. It was also difficult at times to avoid repetitive expressions. I tried my best to make sure Betty’s every happiness or excitement is different, and that her emotions would progress to become more extreme as the story goes on.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I love the non-profit Welcome To Chinatown. They focus on community needs in the Manhattan Chinatown neighborhood as well as shine a light on Chinese culture. I also love to support animal rescues. We foster dogs sometimes for True North Rescue locally here in Brooklyn. As you can tell from the book, we are big dog lovers!
YABC: What advice do you have for new illustrators?
Trust your work. My art is heavily influenced by the animation world. When I was trying to break into the picture book industry, a lot of feedback I heard was “this style is too much like animation and might not be suitable for books”. Luckily I met my wonderful agent at the time who totally loved my style. We refined my portfolio a bit and we immediately started getting work inquiries. So if your work makes you happy, then don’t change it for others. Instead focusing on improving it in your own way.
Title: BUSY BETTY
Author: Reese Witherspoon
Illustrator: Xindi Yan
Release Date: October 4, 2022
Publisher: Flamingo Books
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Age Range: 4-8
Five (5) winners will receive a copy of Busy Betty (Reese Witherspoon) ~US ONLY
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*