Michael Archer: Hello, Mr. Schu! Thank you for having me on your blog!
Thank you for being here! Congratulations on winning a 2022 Caldecott Honor for Wonder Walkers. I love learning about the CALL. What was running through your heart when the Caldecott committee was clapping and cheering for you?
Michael Archer: I was overseas in a cabin in a dreamy misty place high in the mountains far from home which made it all the more surreal. My editor had emailed the day before and asked me for my phone number (to give to the Caldecott committee, but I didn’t know that!) I was sure it was going to be some business or maybe bad or sad news from her, so when I got the call from the committee I was so surprised! My heart was bursting with love for all of them and everything and anyone and anything anywhere. I have no idea what I said to them or what they said to me after they told me. I could only think of two words which I said over and over; Thank and You and I kept wondering to myself, “How is this possible, maybe they’ve made a mistake, they must not have really looked very hard at the book and seen the mistakes”. After I hung up I jumped up, danced around and ran out into the garden where my husband was. He said, “No surprise”, when I told him and went back to weeding. When I called my editor and art director all I could do was laugh. And now back home it feels like it’s all sinking in a new way, it feels wonderful like the sun on your face on the first Springlike day.
What does receiving a Caldecott Honor for Wonder Walkers mean to you?
Michael Archer: I hope it means that now I can stop doubting myself (hah, we’ll see about that!) and know that all this hard work over such a long time has paid off! It cements for me the fact that this is what I am doing now. I’ve been so lucky to have had the support of all the people who helped me and assured me and believed in me along the way, from my friends growing up, my parents, my own family, my husband, my fellow artists, my editors and art directors, my wonderful agent, and now the Caldecott committee! All these people who keep and have kept me going. It feels like the best award in the world to get. People who know about the Caldecott award love picture books as much as I do therefore they must be good people that I want to meet, or at least make more books for. It would have meant so much for my parents who inspired this book, to know that I won this honor. They were teachers, great lovers of children’s books, and were the first to teach me the importance of being outside in nature.
Please finish the following sentence starters:
School libraries and their librarians, Hooray!! When I worked in a kindergarten they were always a huge help. The librarians would pull out and bring to our classrooms a pile of exactly the books we needed to enhance whatever special subjects we were currently studying. We loved our weekly visits to the library as a class to have a story read to us. When the students chose their two books to borrow, what they chose gave me insight into who they were, what they might be needing and what they wanted to be in the future. They were proud of the responsibility they had for caring for these books in their own homes and returning them on time. The library has always felt like a sacred place to me, like a wise person; Quiet, welcoming, warm and bright with tales to tell and wisdom to share.
Picture books have always given me joy, as a kid, as a mom, as a teacher and now as I create them. I remember as a child pulling my noisy wagon home with books from the town library. So excited! Opening each book, like unwrapping gifts, they were doors into new worlds. Now my books are bringing people into the worlds I have known and worlds I’d love to see. What an honor this is!
Thank you, Micha!
Micha Archer wrote and illustrated Ezra Jack Keats Award winner Daniel Finds a Poem and its companion, Daniel’s Good Dayand has also illustrated several picture books, including Girl Running (by Annette Bay Pimentel). Micha works in oil and collage on paper she creates with homemade stamps and layered tissue paper. She came from a long line of artists and teachers and taught for many years in a kindergarten. Raising two kids and teaching are where she cultivated her love for picture books and realized their importance as teaching tools. Micha lives in western Massachusetts in the house she and her husband built, surrounded by gardens and forests to roam in.