Britta Teckentrup is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book The Seedling That Didn't Want to Grow. Her many other books include Ocean and Fish Everywhere. She lives in Berlin.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Seedling?
A: It all started with me listening to the song “Little Boxes,” the song written and composed by Malvina Reynolds in 1962. I always loved this song - it puts me in a good mood.
In her song she questions conformity.
In my book the seedling is expected to grow straight up towards the sunlight like all of the flowers that surround it but decides to do things differently.
The path the seedling is taking is neither straight nor easy - it is full of obstacles and takes time.
But it also gives it strength and resilience and many like-minded meadow creatures help the seedling on its unique and inspiring journey through life.
Q: Did you work on the text first or the illustrations first, or was it simultaneous?
A: This was one of the books where the images came first and dictated the text.
I knew what the rough outline of the story would be but explored the storyline visually first.
I only wrote the final text once all of the images were in place.
It can work both ways for me... sometimes the images come first and sometimes the text.
Q: What do you hope kids (and adults) take away from the book?
A: I think that the book works on various levels.
It can be read as a very simple story about the life cycle of a seed, the seasons and the wonder of nature.
It can also help to reassure children that it is OK to be different and that each of us is developing at his or her own rate.
To me it is a metaphor for life (and death): Growth, transformation, perseverance, courage, taking time, patience, finding your own way in the world to grow and blossom, not following expectations, finding the right kind of friends, support, love, death and so much more went through my head as I developed the book...
Q: How did you develop your artistic style?
A: I have always been drawn to collage and am inspired by textures, colours, shapes, and forms.
I don’t really draw or paint as such.
My collages used to be all hand-made but are now a mix of printed, textured papers which I scan in to create the artwork digitally.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am currently working on a nonfiction book about crows – some of my all-time favourite animals.
I have been collecting material for this book for a few years now and can’t wait to pull it all together in a book.
I have also just finished illustrating a collection of 366 animal poems and a picture book about the true story of The House by the Lake (written by Thomas Harding) in which he tells the story of the German 20th century through a single building.
Prestel will publish my book The School in the autumn.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Thank you for inviting me to give you an insight of my work. If you want to find out more you can visit my website:
http://www.brittateckentrup.com. Or follow me on social media: https://www.instagram.com/britta_teckentrup
--Interview with Deborah Kalb