Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Q&A with Cheryl Olsten


Cheryl Olsten is the author of the new children's picture book Big Wishes for Little Feat. She lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania.




Q: Why did you decide to write Big Wishes for Little Feat?


A: The inspiration to write this story came from a horse I purchased a few years ago. I have been involved with horses as a hobby since childhood. While they are all special, this horse in particular, Lafitte De Muze, has that extra-special sparkle in his eyes.


Q: Did you need to do much research to write the book, and if so, did you learn anything especially surprising?


A: The research I did was on the country Lafitte is from, Belgium. It was important for me to get a sense of place and look for suitable names for one of the characters in the story. And I learned Belgium is a kingdom! Perfect for a children’s story. Also, research into constellations, as they are integral to the story line.


Q: What do you think Paolo d'Altan's illustrations add to the story?


A: I spent many months searching for just the right illustrator for this story. I knew what I wanted: the style, the color, the expressions. I also wanted a traditional look and someone who is good at illustrating horses! Paolo’s illustrations for this book have garnered great praise across the board. His illustrations make the book.


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


A: The message is to believe in yourself no matter what the obstacle. In this story Little Feat is challenged because he is a small horse, but with encouragement he doesn’t let anything stand in his way. It’s easy for kids to get discouraged. One has to learn to stay strong and follow your dreams and wishes.


I loved what a reviewer said: “If only wishes were dreams and dreams could come true. Perhaps all one needs is the power to dream and the courage to pursue the dream.”


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I started another children’s fiction story a while ago, and put it away. Best to do that when there’s too many distractions, and—you just hit a wall… This story is about a young boy who loves to play in his “forest.” In his forest he meets an imaginary friend… that’s all I can say for now.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Yes, Lafitte is a show horse; for those not familiar, he is a successful show hunter. His prize monies are donated to the EQUUS foundation. The EQUUS foundation is the only national animal welfare in the United States 100 percent dedicated to protecting America's horses and strengthening the bond between horses and people.


When Lafitte wins, it’s a win for horses in need. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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