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There's No Place Like Hope: A Conversation with Janet Lawler and Tamisha Anthony

last updated 29 January 2024

By Nina, Design & Marketing Team

“There’s no place like hope,
where possible lives,
where people are helpful
and everyone gives.”


We are thrilled to celebrate the release of THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOPE, written by Janet Lawler and illustrated Tamisha Anthony, two incredible Bright talents. The timing of the release of this book could not be better, as we begin 2024 with a hopeful start. We chatted with Tamisha and Janet about collaborating together, their takeaways from the book, Watch our interview or read it below. There’s No Place Like Hope, available now wherever books are sold.

How was this project presented to you?

JL: “I have to mention Anne Moore Armstrong, our mutual agent because Anne actually said to me, “wouldn’t this [There’s No Place Like Hope] make a great title for a book?” She sent it to me right at the darkest moment of the pandemic, it was early 2021 and there was still no vaccine and everyone was still very isolated. That’s when I started writing it. After it was in the form that I showed to Anne, she showed me some samples of Tamisha’s artwork. I told her that I thought it would be great if she wanted to shop the manuscript around with it, not as a required pairing, but as an example of what might be for the ultimate book.”

TA: “I remember this was really early on in my career as an illustrator. I had recently signed on with Anne and she said that she had a text that ‘felt like me,’ which, she’s so good at pairing different texts with me and once I had read this I was immediately like, my heart was just sold to it! I want to do so many pairings with Janet because I just love how she writes. I love how her writing feels throughout the entire process.”

Does the theme of the book resonate with you?

JL: “I think what I really wanted to communicate was something positive and optimistic and it was hope is a sort of a concept that is not easily explained to kids, even though everybody knows what it is and we all hopefully feel it often. So I worked toward trying to have hope communicated in a way that would be relatable to kids for whatever reason, kind of optimism and empowerment. And that was my objective. And really, I think what Tamisha has done with visual scenes of children, connecting with activities, kindness and community has done what the best picture books do, which is a marriage of the text and the art to create something greater than either part.”

TA: “I know the book resonates with me like I said, when Anne sent the text she’s like, “oh, Tamisha, I think this will be fitting for you” as soon as I read it I realized it’s how I view the world. That’s why I love it so much. I think when I was younger, I was seen as being very naive, but really, I just looked at the world through love and beauty and I think this is a great way to show how to see the world that way. Even when there’s so many difficult things going on around children and adults too, the book is great for both any age. The book is about receiving kindness and also giving kindness. I feel like it’s not really complete if you only receive or if you only give. The magic happens when you do both, like when you’re part of the community, when you’re giving to your family and when you’re giving to the person that you don’t know that you pass by, even if it’s just opening the door for the and telling them good morning. That’s the beauty that hope brings and it is a ripple effect.”

Tamisha, how did you determine the artistic style of the book?

TA: “So this book started out when I created a whole different theme, it was highly metaphorical. I’m very imaginative and I went into creating these root people that had growing leaves. I talked to the art director, Aram Kim, who is amazing and she talked about how we could ground it and make it more realistic so children can actually see themselves in the images. From there we were able to pick up and go. Although we’re showing hope through the interactions of the children like caring and loving for each other or being cared for, I wanted hope to have a character within itself. So that’s why I added the whimsical components throughout the pages and have like that magic goal component build up towards the end. As for the kids and how they were dressed, I was just like, “I wanna dress them like I would dress!”


Janet, do you always write in rhyme?

JL: “Rhyming is something I have an affinity for and I love the way words make sounds and play against one another. And I think for little kids reading out loud in rhyme is almost like music, even though I can’t carry a tune! I don’t always write in rhyme, but I do frequently and it is my favorite form. I don’t always start in rhyme and it usually morphs into it.”

What should readers take away from No Place Like Hope?

TA: “I want them to have what the title is. I want them to have hope. I want them to remember that there’s something even if it’s tiny that they can grasp on to, they can find a little light and from there, that light can grow. As long as you keep feeding hope, it keeps growing and you keep seeing more opportunities or ways to and get your yourself out of situations that make you sad or unhappy or scared. There’s always a chance to do that. I want children and adults to go away with that because we all need to be reminded of that during hard times.”

JL: “When we are overwhelmed as children or adults with something negative happening or bad things happening in the world, we can look around us and make a difference in our daily lives with what we can do to give hope and encouragement to others. And I think it comes full circle back and I think this book lets little ones that might be struggling with a health issue or a mental health issue or family disintegration, whatever that there’s a positivity that is a baseline if we all recognize our common humanity.”

What is your favorite spread from the book?

TA: “I mean, one that I really loved is the very first spread and it’s because I incorporated my nephew Phineas in it. So this is him, I just thought it captured his spirit. Right now he’s three years old. I also dedicated the book to my niece. He’s [Phineas] the the sweetest, most giving, most helpful child I ever met. And I’m like, “if anyone needs to be in this book, it’s him” because he’s all about hope no matter where he’s at, he’s always giving kisses and hugs and helping clean up and worried about you and patting you on the knee and saying, “are you OK?” He’s all love and hope and beauty.” title

So that’s one of my favorite spreads. And the other one that I liked a lot is this one because I feel like I can always connect to the difficulties of trying to go to sleep at night.It was so much fun because these are all the positions that I go into at night. I do have a stuffed animal too that I hug but ends up flopping all around like that since I was a child like, so I had fun, playing with the movement on that spread and just enjoying flipping the kid around and, and reconnecting their older sibling.” title

JL: “I love this one because you see such a story being told. “It skips over limits like never and nope and makes you determined there’s no place like hope.” Here’s the child being helped up on this hill. And what I love is there’s a little squirrel here who’s actually helping push the child, with the other child and, and then that’s your [Tamisha’s] nephew celebrating up at the top and the, squirrel is happy too and that squirrel appears throughout the book. So each, each of Tamisha’s spreads, tells a story of community hope and helping. The climbing up the hill is metaphorically what I was hoping somebody would include with the illustration.”


There’s No Place Like Hope is out now, and available wherever books are sold! Published by Macmillan imprint Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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