Nancy Viau is the author of the new children's picture book First Snow. Her other books include Beauty and Bernice and City Street Beat. She lives in New Jersey.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for First Snow?
A: I am one of those grown-ups who shout, "Hooray!" when the first snowflakes fall. Years ago, I lived in Colorado so maybe it's reminiscent of my time there. Everyone in my building hunkered down for a brutal snowstorm, but I took orders for bread and milk, jumped in my Jeep, and hit the road.
The actual writing of First Snow began with a few phrases that I found delightful to say out loud:
frosty lashes (which didn't make the final cut!)
clunky boots and funky hats
snow fun done in wonderland
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: I hope they're encouraged to head outside and play, in (almost) any kind of weather.
Q: What do you think Talitha Shipman's illustrations add to the book?
A: I know there are quite a few books that feature snow in black and white with a pop of color, and they are beautiful, but I was thrilled when I saw the palette Talitha chose.
Her colors are bright and cheerful and the snow, soft and fluffy. I imagine it's very difficult to make white snow stand out on a white page. Her illustrations are so vibrant, I want to throw on a pair of orange and pink boots and jump in a snow drift.
Q: You also have another new book out, Beauty and Bernice. What can you tell us about that?
A: Beauty and Bernice is a middle grade and it's a weird little story. Oddly enough, the title came to me first and then I went from there.
My daughter and I got obsessed with the X Games on TV, and once I saw how fearless, tough, and athletic the young women skaters were, I knew I had to incorporate skateboarding in my plot.
Bernice is a skater girl who desperately wants to rule the half-pipe at the skate park and be totally fierce in front of the boys, but she needs to build up her confidence. She'd also like to figure out how to embrace her girly side.
Enter the stuffy, crazy princess, Odelia, who moves across the street and makes it her business to smooth Bernice's rough edges. The two clash, of course, and end up learning a whole lot about themselves.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Just today, I sent in the final edits for a book coming out in May--a re-released MG of mine, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head. It has a shiny new cover and updated content.
Teachers have always loved the STEM connection in this book (rocks, minerals, Earth Science), and I'm really happy it's getting "new legs." I'm also working on a sequel, Something is Bugging Samantha Hansen. The STEM connection here has to do with insects, particularly bees, for Sam is out to save the local apiary.
Environmental activism is a theme I don't see very often in MG, and I feel it's pretty darn important. As far as brand new stuff...well, picture books. I LOVE picture books, and am focusing on them more and more. It's cold out today, so maybe if I turn up the heat, I can channel a summer day at the beach...
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: My previously published picture books are all in rhyme, but I'm trying to break that mold and write non-rhyming ones. Some days, it's like trying to sing without music. Wish me luck!
Thanks for reading and thank you, Deborah!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Nancy Viau.