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Jillian and Mariko Tamaki draw on nostalgia for This One Summer

Illustrator Jillian Tamaki and writer Mariko Tamaki, co-authors of the award-winning book SKIM, are back with with a new graphic novel This One Summer.
Cousins Jillian and Mariko Tamaki are back with a new graphic novel, This One Summer. (Macmillan)

Illustrator Jillian Tamaki and writer Mariko Tamaki, cousins and co-authors of the award-winning book SKIM, are back with with a new graphic novel This One Summer, about two pre-teen girls vacationing in Ontario's cottage country.

"[The story] started off about being about Rose and Windy because I wanted to tell this kind of innocent tale," says Mariko. "And it ended up being this anthropological study of adulthood from the perspective of the most observant people, the people who are really invested in sort of trying to understand adults."

The characters spend their summer vacation in a fictional lakefront town called Awago Beach, modeled after Ontario's Muskoka region. Mariko says the setting was inspired by an obsession with the cottage town convenience store, which she says serves as a crossroads for all types of people. 

"Cottagers go there to get their newspapers and the locals go there for their Players Lights," she says. "It's one of those weird places that only sells Wonder Bread and marshmallows and stuff like that."

J ian talks to the creative collaborators about the nostalgia of summer vacation, trying to find the textures of a distinctly Canadian environment and creating a portrait of girls that Mariko says "isn't Emily the Strange."

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