Take a Peek into Fútbol! The Dynamic Doodle Book by Taleen Keldijan

One of my fond­est mem­o­ries grow­ing up was play­ing soc­cer (bet­ter known as fút­bol). I was enthralled by the fact that you had to con­trol a wild bounc­ing ball with just your feet. It soon became a big part of my social life with games and tour­na­ments dur­ing three sea­sons of the year. (I still have scars on my knees from indoor soc­cer turf!)

In her first children’s book called Fút­bol!, author and illus­tra­tor Taleen Keldi­jan has cap­tured the spir­it of the game that’s enjoyed around the world. Through activ­i­ties like col­or­ing, puz­zles, and draw­ing, kids ages four to nine can learn about soc­cer, exer­cise their imag­i­na­tion, and be intro­duced to oth­er cul­tures. That’s an aspect I real­ly like about this book—its inclu­siv­i­ty, and show­cas­ing how dif­fer­ent places cel­e­brate the fúbtol.

There’s a lot to do in Fút­bol, and I cap­tured just a frac­tion of it in a short video above. Hon­est­ly, you (or a kid!) could spend hours on it—the book is jam-packed! Plus, there are a lot oppor­tu­ni­ties for col­lab­o­ra­tion. A par­ent and child could both take turns draw­ing or col­or­ing some of the spreads.

I spoke with Taleen about her book, which is now avail­able on Ama­zon.

Fútbol! by Taleen Keldijan

Brown Paper Bag: What inspired you to write the book?

Taleen Keldi­jan: My pub­lish­er from the very begin­ning asked if I could write and illus­trate a doo­dle book espe­cial­ly for mul­tira­cial and mul­ti­cul­tur­al chil­dren. There are not too many resources avail­able for those kids in the mar­ket today. The sub­ject was free reign, which is quite rare for a young writer/illustrator to be pre­sent­ed with ear­ly in their career.

Fútbol! by Taleen Keldijan

Illus­trat­ing sports sub­jects had always excit­ed me and I had been want­i­ng to work on a pro­fes­sion­al sports-themed project for a while. I thought to myself, what bet­ter sub­ject could appeal to most kids than sports? What pop­u­lar sport today unites the world? The answer was eas­i­ly soc­cer, so I thought this was the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty! I want­ed to do some­thing that was dif­fer­ent, spe­cial, and not already in the mar­ket today. I also titled it Fút­bol! because I want­ed to pay trib­ute to the sport and it’s authen­tic name the rest of the world calls it by. Despite its Span­ish name, the book is writ­ten in Eng­lish.

BPB: How did you choose the path of becoming an illustrator?

TK: It is kind of a long one because it did not hit me right away that illus­tra­tion was my path. I had always been draw­ing from ear­ly child­hood as soon as I picked up the pen­cil. Doing art and invent­ing my own projects was always a hob­by and I did it every chance I could get when I did not have home­work. From grade school through high school it was real­ly the only class I excelled in and knew it was a God-giv­en gift I had to keep pur­su­ing. As a high school senior draw­ing in Art Club, when it came time to go to col­lege, I real­ized my pas­sion for art was very strong and I could not see a life with­out it, but at the time I did not know what I would spe­cial­ize in.

Fútbol! by Taleen Keldijan

Attend­ing Pasade­na City Col­lege was a great step­ping stone in help­ing me fig­ure that out, immers­ing myself in many fine art, design and art his­to­ry class­es. I was men­tored by many fine instruc­tors along the way. Ani­ma­tion sound­ed mes­mer­iz­ing and I was lean­ing towards for a while, but one moment came and flipped my tra­jec­to­ry. After attend­ing a guest animator’s pre­sen­ta­tion, I real­ized ani­ma­tion is tedious and mechan­i­cal, thus it was not for me. Slow­ly over time I real­ized in my core I loved draw­ing and paint­ing, being bet­ter suit­ed for illus­tra­tion. Once I fig­ured out my spe­cial­iza­tion, I set my sights on the best local art school for illus­tra­tion: Art Cen­ter Col­lege of Design in Pasade­na.

Fútbol! by Taleen Keldijan

Endur­ing through the rig­or­ous and demand­ing cur­ricu­lum at Art Cen­ter for three years shaped me into the illus­tra­tor I am today, con­firm­ing I made the right deci­sion and was born to do this. I most­ly illus­trate for edi­to­ri­als, pub­lish­ing, textile/surface design, and any oth­er new oppor­tu­ni­ties that come my way. Wher­ev­er I go in my career, I remem­ber that child-like spir­it and first love of doing art—that young girl sit­ting at the din­ing room table, deep in her imag­i­na­tion, draw­ing and painting–with me as an inspi­ra­tion and moti­va­tion.

BPB: What message do you hope to share with audiences through Fútbol!, and through your work in general?

Mes­sages I hope to share with audi­ences through Fút­bol! is three-fold:

The first is the sport of fút­bol unites us all no mat­ter our back­ground, hence intro­duc­ing char­ac­ters from dif­fer­ent fút­bol pop­u­lar coun­tries. Every nation in the world come togeth­er to par­tic­i­pate, pause for the love of the game, and learn unique cul­tur­al tra­di­tions from each oth­er.

Fútbol! by Taleen Keldijan

Sec­ond is while cre­at­ing this project, I did not want this book to be thought of for just boys, but real­ly sought to reach out to young girls and include them through­out my sto­ry, hence includ­ing two female char­ac­ters and edu­cat­ing fun facts on U.S. soc­cer play­er and female hero, Alex Mor­gan. I remem­ber being addict­ed to the sport in grade school and play­ing with most­ly boys, wish­ing the gen­ders were more bal­anced.

Third, I am a sto­ry­teller and my work is nar­ra­tive. When I vis­it schools, the mes­sage I like to share with kids is if you like writ­ing, then keep writ­ing. If you like draw­ing, then keep draw­ing. Cre­at­ing sto­ries with only words works and cre­at­ing sto­ries with only pic­tures works too. If you like to do both, all the better—words and images are a good mar­riage!

Start out by writ­ing and/or draw­ing your favorite things and cre­ate sto­ries out of it. Don’t wor­ry too much about it not mak­ing too much sense in the begin­ning. Prac­tice by writ­ing sev­er­al drafts and draw lay­ers of sketch­es. You will get bet­ter and one day as a career, cre­at­ing your own book will become pos­si­ble. Let your imag­i­na­tion wan­der and most impor­tant­ly, just have fun!

Fútbol! by Taleen Keldijan