Laura Renauld is the author of the new children's picture book Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers. She also has written the picture book Porcupine's Pie, and she runs the Debut Review Challenge. She lives in Northern Virginia.
Q: How was your new book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: One of my early drafts started, “Freddy Rogers was a quiet boy with big feelings.” The essence of that statement stuck with me and helped guide my writing. A slightly reworded version ended up in the book. Since I used emotions as a throughline in this biography of Fred Rogers, Fred’s Big Feelings seemed like the right fit for the title.
Q: What do you think Brigette Barrager's illustrations add to the book?
A: The illustrations do the heavy lifting in conveying the emotions that Fred feels throughout the book. Brigette Barrager’s vibrant art offers many touchstones that adults will recognize and delight in, and her stylistic use of flowing hearts to represent Mister Rogers’s feelings is a concrete and whimsical visual for all ages.
Q: What do you see as Fred Rogers' legacy today, and what do you think he would make of the difficult issues facing children right now?
A: Mister Rogers respected the intelligence of his young audience and didn’t shy away from difficult topics. His show tackled war, divorce, racial discrimination, and grief, among others.
Mister Rogers would be eager to talk to kids about whatever they are feeling about the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests. He would also remind his television neighbors to “look for the helpers.”
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Bear’s Bicycle, a companion to my first book, Porcupine’s Pie, is set to release April 13, 2021 from Beaming Books. It will be the second installment of the Woodland Friends series, with more to come!
I am also working on a nonfiction animal picture book and a chapter book series.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: In addition to writing, I run the Debut Review Challenge. It is meant to encourage readers of Kidlit debuts to leave online reviews to boost the readership and exposure of authors and illustrators who are emerging into the published marketplace. Every time you complete five reviews, you can enter to win signed books, manuscript critiques, and other amazing prizes!
The next challenge starts in October 2020. For more information, go to my website at laurarenauld.com. I hope you and your readers join the reading and reviewing fun!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb