Q: How did you come up with the idea for Dollop and Mrs. Fabulous?
A: My daughter Lili used to put on all of her dress up clothes at once and goofily walk around the house saying “Hello. I’m Mrs. Fabulous!” She had to find her way into a book.
I have two daughters and they have very different personalities. But they’ve always been close and good about figuring out how to have fun together. Plus, I’ve never done a book about sisters, which seemed strange to me!
Q: Do you usually focus on the text first or the illustrations first--or do you work on both simultaneously?
A: I usually start with an idea for a character. I’ll draw them hundreds of times as different animals. I don’t make books about human kids because I want the reader to relate to the personality of the character and not their specific human characteristics.
After I have the character and the general story down I start to make a dummy. This is when it’s like a movie playing in my head. The words and images come simultaneously.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: My kids are so different. A simple game might take a turn in a direction that one doesn’t relate to, but instead of thinking, “Well, I guess I have to play alone,” they would make it work for both of them.
This certainly seems like a lesson we keep learning all through our lives. Having girls, it’s always important for them to know that there isn’t a WAY to be a girl. There’s no script.
Q: What are some of your favorite picture books?
A: Hmm… some of my favorite picture books. That’s always changing. There are books I love as an illustrator: Pirate Girl, illustrated by Kerstin Meyer, On a Magical Do Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna, and I love Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love.
There are books I love when I’m reading to a kid or two on my lap like The Gruffalo and books that will always have a place in my heart for nostalgia’s sake like ALL of Sandra Boynton’s books.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Right now I’m finishing up a book that will come out the end of the summer called One Red Sock. It’s a picture book that’s also a color book. I’m really excited about it. It stars a purple hippo that I just love.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Although I’m most known for my picture books, I have a love for board books. I love how they feel in your hand. I love their immediacy and, ask any baby, they’re delicious!
Sleeping Bear Press has been publishing a line of Jennifer Sattler board books that have been so much fun to do! So far there’s Dirty Birdies, Jungle Gym, and Bundle Up! The latest comes out this summer. It’s a sound book called “Oink,Oink,Moo, Cock-a-doodle-do!”
--Interview with Deborah Kalb