Saturday, April 6, 2024

Q&A with Charlotte Offsay

Photo by Natalia L Photography



Charlotte Offsay is the author of the new children's picture book The Quiet Forest. Her other books include Challah Day. She lives in Los Angeles.


Q: What inspired you to write The Quiet Forest?


A: I had been wanting to write a book about spreading kindness for a while, but couldn’t find a way into the story that felt fun and original enough to stand out in the marketplace.


In the beginning of 2020 I read an article that talked about playing with story structure and thought that combining a cumulative story structure with the concept of kindness would work well.


I still wasn’t quite sure how to go about it, and it wasn’t until I was home with my kids during COVID lockdown that I began to see how it could work.


I noticed how one small action could snowball chaos through our house but also how one simple response of kindness could turn things around.


After this realization in September 2020, I finally sat down and wrote a first draft of what eventually became The Quiet Forest – a humorous story that utilizes the cumulative story structure to show how chaos can build but kindness can turn the tide.


Q: What do you think Abi Cushman’s illustrations add to the book?


A: Abi Cushman is incredibly talented. I was actually already a big fan of her books well before my publisher suggested that we partner with her on The Quiet Forest – if you haven’t already read Abi’s book Soaked, you should definitely check it out!


Abi has a wonderful ability to create hilarious yet huggable characters and that is exactly what she did with our book.


Abi’s illustrations add a layer of humor that brought the text to an entirely new level, as well as little details and warmth that leaving you cooing over things like a bear’s bunny slippers or smiling over the warmth of a rabbit and mouse flipping pancakes together. I feel very grateful to have partnered with her!


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book said, “For audiences that love quiet, and those that loathe it, the joyful resolution following this jolt of antic boisterousness should strike a resounding chord.” What do you think of that description?


A: I am delighted! It is always a little scary to be a creator when those reviews start rolling in and I am thrilled that Publishers Weekly saw right to the heart of the story!


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?


A: First and foremost, I hope kids enjoy a fun read aloud and want to read the book over and over again. Beyond that though, I hope that children see that while mischief and a loud day can spread, a small act of kindness can turn things around for everyone.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have a few more picture books that will be coming out over the next couple of years and actually just turned in a co-written draft of my first chapter book to my agent – fingers crossed!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: The Quiet Forest was quite the puzzle to write. I wanted to create a story in which the animals increased in size as the reader turned the page, there was alliteration and onomatopoeia and felt fun to read aloud.


It wasn’t until I saw Abi’s illustrations though that the puzzle felt complete – a talented illustrator can make all the difference!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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