|Photo by Magenta Photo Studio|
Q: What inspired you to write Gwendolyn's Pet Garden?
A: My niece Emma has always desperately wanted a pet, but her parents refuse, for various reasons, including severe allergies. I was trying to see what viable solution I might bring to this scenario, given that research shows that pets help children develop self-esteem, empathy, and a sense of responsibility.
I hit upon the idea of caring for a potted plant, which then morphed into growing a pet garden.
Q: What do you think Rashin Kheiriyeh's illustrations add to the book?
A: I think they add a certain whimsy with her characters’ rubber-like and elongated limbs, now there’s a mouthful! I love the color palate, which is bright and vibrant, as well as her use of collage to integrate real elements.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: That plants are living, breathing entities that require love and nurturing. I also hope it gives young readers incentive to start a garden of their own.
Ultimately, it would be wonderful if readers encouraged their local library to incorporate a seed lending library, if they do not have one already.
Q: Do you have a garden? If so, what's your favorite thing to plant?
A: Sadly, I have no horticultural talents to speak of. I do not garden and I think potted plants shudder at the sight of me when I turn up at the florist. They sense their days are numbered should I decide to take them home with me.
Don’t get me wrong. I do water them, talk to them, and do my very best to care for them. But it seems that no matter what I do, the outcome is always the same. An abbreviated lifespan.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am editing a French picture book manuscript that is scheduled for publication in 2022.
I am also working on a sequel to my French picture book entitled Albertine Petit-Brindamour déteste les choux de Bruxelles (Albertine Petit-Brindamour Does NOT Like Brussels Sprouts). My hope is to develop it into a series.
I am also ruminating an idea for an English picture book, which I prefer keeping under wraps for now. And, as always, I am trolling for new ideas.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I recently changed representation. My new agent is Olga Filina of 5 Otter Literary. I am thrilled to be partnering with her. She has three of my manuscripts out on submission, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Anne Renaud.