Saturday, July 27, 2019

Featured Illustrator Ruth McNally Barshaw

MEET RUTH (and Charlie)

This questionnaire goes back to a popular parlor game in the early 1900s. Marcel Proust filled it out twice. Some of our questions were altered from the original to gain more insight into the hearts and minds of our illustrators. We hope you enjoy this way of getting to know everybody.

1. Your present state of mind?
After 10 years of constant life-changing stress, things are calm, and so am I.

2. What do you do best?
Draw. And write concisely (given enough time to edit).

3. Where would you like to live?
Right where I live now. (Michigan, this house, these bookshelves, these neighbors, these lakes.)

4. Your favorite color?

5. Three of your own illustrations:

6. Your music?
Detroit Motown. Also Disney hits. And 70s road trip. And intense concentration music. And soft jazz. And Christmas songs in any style. And folk songs. And some country. And whatever I can play on my harmonica.

7. Your biggest achievement?
My family.
My four kids, ages 36, 33, 30, and 22, are good people and close friends with each other. To me, that’s the pinnacle of success.

8. Your biggest mistake?
Lack of confidence. 
Young friends: build it up and preserve it for when you need it.

9. Your favorite children's book when you were a child?
Age 4: Blueberries for Sal.
Age 5: Sugarplum.
Age 6: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.
Age 7: The 5 Chinese Brothers
Age 8: The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
Age 9: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Age 10: Ellen Tebbits.
Age 11: The Little Colonel.
Age 12: Emily San.

10. Your main character trait?
Finding the bright in the dark/creative problem-solving.

11. What do you appreciate most in a friend?

12. What mistakes are you most willing to forgive?
Breaking things.

13. Your favorite children's book hero?
Teachers and librarians.

14. What moves you forward?

15. What holds you back?

16. Your dream of happiness?
Pay all the bills on time without worries and start a free writing camp for kids.

17. The painter/illustrator you admire most?
The children I observe in schools. Such fearlessness and openness!

18. What super power would you like to have? 
Absolute confidence.

19. Your motto?
You can’t always get what you want. 
(I sing it, like the Rolling Stones do.)

20. Your social media?
twitter: @ruthexpress
Instagram & Facebook: Ruth McNally Barshaw


  1. Ruth, your talent, like your heart, is limitless and abundant. Thank you for this new adorable banner!

  2. Love this so much, Ruth! Even when I've known someone a long time, I still learn something from these questions. Thank you for this wonderful new banner for our chapter blog in a completely new direction from what we've had in the past. I think that's what I appreciate most about these rotating banners - thank you and to all the illustrators for these gifts!

  3. Wonderful banner, wonderful interview. And your answer to the question of who your favorite illustrators are shows exactly why you are a presenter in demand!

  4. Ruth, it so fun to read your answers: "Favorite book hero" being teachers and librarians - so true -Rah! And that kids are the ones you admire makes me smile so much. I loved watching you in (supporting kid) action at the A2CAF in the IRON Cartoonist, and just being yourself. :) Hugs to you!

  5. Lovely interview, and a fabulous new banner - thank you!

  6. Love Ruth (and Charlie!) and her dream for happiness!