Picture Booky Q & A

I've just discovered that an old Q & A that appeared on the site Little Literati is no longer online (due to Posterous's untimely demise) and so have received permission from the lovely Heather Thompson to re-post it here. The interview was done just prior to the publication of When I Was Small and I did like the direction the questions took.

WHO would you visit if you had a time machine teleporter?

Nobody famous,  I don’t think, although there’d be a great temptation to visit H.G. Wells around when he wrote The Time Machine just to freak him out.
Really, I’d like to visit my maternal grandmother as a little girl.  She grew up in and around Glasgow and immigrated to Canada after her father was killed in WWI. I’d like to meet her just before she set off for her new life. I was named for her and she for her mother and I’d love to know more about them both.

WHAT book had the greatest impact on you as a child?

The book that I loved the most may have been Joan Walsh Anglund’s Look Out the Window.  I still have my copy and if I try to work out what I liked about it, I suppose it comes down to identification.  I was very much a looking-out-the-window child.
I also really loved the "Just Mary" and "Maggie Muggins" stories by New Brunswick writer Mary Grannan.  They were quite magical stories but the books also resonated with me because they had belonged to my father as a child and were stories that he’d grown up listening to on CBC radio.  Clearly I have a sentimental attachment to the past.

WHERE do you think technology is taking the picture book?

Wonderful things are being done with iPad apps for picture books – Oliver Jeffers’ beautiful The Heart and the Bottle is an excellent example.  But I think that picture books will contain to thrive alongside their animated cousins.  The print copy of The Heart and the Bottle that I am saving with my store of books for future grandchildren is the one that will be cherished the longest.

WHEN did your passion for picture books begin?

I wrote any number of other things before coming to picture books and it was only after having my own child that I found myself reading the same picture books over and over and over and over.  It’s a good way to learn how a thing works.  Of course many people read picture books and think, “I could do that!” which is funny because you don’t come away from a night at the ballet and tell yourself the same thing.
I made up stories for my son for years before I got around to doing anything with them and it was only after interviewing a brand new children’s publisher that I suddenly got passionate about them.  I was working for the Vancouver Sun at the time and the publisher was Dimiter Savoff of Simply Read Books who had just produced an edition of Pinocchio that was one of the more beautiful books I have ever seen.  I gave him one of my little stories and hey presto he transformed it into a beautiful book.   Lucky me!  My third book with Simply Read is coming out this fall and like the others is illustrated by Julie Morstad and designed by Robin Mitchell-Cranfield and I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hand.

WHY do you think children connect with picture books so intimately?

Maybe it’s the wonderful Rosetta Stone sensation of un-locking the mystery of the text.  The first book I thought I could read was Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but of course I couldn’t read it at all but had simply memorized the text and could make it correspond to the image on the page.  The first word I ever read was “wagon.”  It was in a Dick and Jane reader (yes, I am that old!) and I can still recall the moment the letters suddenly became the word and how somehow the rest of the page aligned itself into a decipherable text in the moments after. Magic!

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