Thursday, November 12, 2020

Q&A with Anna Crowley Redding


Photo by Jamie Richard Hairstylist

Anna Crowley Redding is the author of the new children's picture book Chowder Rules!: The True Story of an Epic Food Fight. It focuses on a 1939 chowder cook-off. Her other books include Google It and Elon Musk. She lives in Maine.


Q: How did you learn about this culinary cook-off?


A: I started my writing career as a journalist and read everything I could get my hands on: newspapers, magazines, etc. And even  now as a children’s author, I’ve kept that reading habit! I was reading a newsletter about New England history when I spied a mention of this chowder war of 1939 and was so amused by the entire episode. I knew that I had to write about it! It was so fun!


Q: What surprised you most as you researched this book?


A: Two things really surprised me! 1) I was so surprised to find out that Joe DiMaggio was smack dab in the middle of this chowder debate! That was a thrilling discovery! 


2) It surprised me that someone’s personality can come through history in such a vibrant way. The main character, a Maine state lawmaker named Cleveland Sleeper Jr., was not only passionate about clam chowder, but he was funny and zany and that came through almost a hundred years later. I found that fascinating!


Q: What do you think Vita Lane's illustrations add to the story?


A: Vita’s visual storytelling is just so on point. She was able to add so much detail to the story. For example, incorporating the newspaper headlines into the illustrations. That allows the reader to take them in without having to contend with a text-driven list from me. It is a very effective storytelling choice.


Additionally, her color palette! I know from talking to Vita that she based her color choice on each chowder recipe’s ingredients. This does so much to establish the mood and tone of the book, as well create a visual thread throughout the book. She is a dream to work with, so talented!


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


A: Right now, I hope readers laugh and smile. We need a real mood lifter right now. And the icing on the cake would be if readers can relish just how fun history can be, especially delicious food history!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have a new picture book coming out this spring. It is a biography of Isaac Newton’s apple tree. Did you know that tree is still alive today? I can’t wait for readers to connect with this book. It really drives home the idea that the tiniest little thing, even an apple seed, can truly change the world. The Gravity Tree will be out from HarperCollins in April!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Anna Crowley Redding.


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