Q: What inspired you to create Unraveled?
A: The initial inspiration for Unraveled came from a sitcom my daughter was watching when I arrived home from work one night. As I set down my keys and sorted the mail, I overheard one of the characters tell a story about pulling a loose string on the sweater she was wearing.
I remember thinking that could be a fun story to elaborate on. The moment I woke up the next morning, it came to me. My son’s favorite handknit baby blanket had come unraveled over time and became a pile of yarn like the one in the story. I wanted to write an emotional story that children and parents could both relate to.
Unfortunately, the real life “Mama” is not a knitter, so my son’s blanket remains a pile of yarn.
Q: Did you work on the illustrations first or the text first, or both simultaneously?
A: I worked on the text first. I wrote my first draft fairly quickly once I had the idea for the story. Then I created thumbnails to get a feel for the layout before making more detailed sketches.
Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, "Observant readers will immediately notice the ever present cat, the third member of the household, who never speaks but always expresses itself quite delightfully." Why did you include the cat in the illustrations?
A: I was taught to always include a pet in your story! In this case a cat was perfect since the story involves yarn. I love the idea that the cat might have had something to do with the unraveling.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: I want kids to understand that all children grow at different paces and that there is no “right” time to give up a favorite thing.
Just because Cole felt ready to give up his blanket, doesn’t mean other children should. My kids are much older than Cole and still keep their blankets (or in my son’s case, pile of yarn) close by.
Because the story includes upcycling, it could also be used as a fun way to start conversations about how things can be re-used and given a new life.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am currently wrapping up illustrations for my next picture book, Rosie and the Pre-Loved Dress, which will come out next summer.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb