Saturday, October 16, 2021

Q&A with Jennifer Sattler




Jennifer Sattler is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Rock and Vole. Her many other books include One Red Sock. She lives in upstate New York.


Q: What inspired you to write Rock and Vole?


A: I really wanted to write a book where one of the characters was the landscape. I love the idea that when you have a character that doesn’t talk or feel or move that it’s the other character’s relationship with it that forms its personality.

This seemed to fit well with what’s been going on with the pandemic. It ruined so much, changed all of our plans without our permission! But being mad and frustrated doesn’t change how real it is.

Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, "Sattler’s expressive vole wears her heart on her sleeve, and watching her come to terms with reality is both instructive and delightful." What do you think of that description, and how did you create Vole's facial expressions?


A: I think, like all of my characters, Vole has the heart of a child. Her openness and vulnerability goes right along with that. So, I think all of my characters “wear their hearts on their sleeves.”


It’s a big reason why I love picture books. I’ve always been entranced by facial expressions. I think they’re capable of saying so much. I do a lot of making faces in the mirror to make sure my characters are saying what I want them to say.

Q: What first got you interested in creating children's picture books?


A: I was a landscape painter for years. It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I fell in love with picture books and what they could be. I wasn’t read to very much as a child. Though I always loved Dr. Seuss! I’ve been trying to act like an adult for a looooong time. Children’s books bring me to my true self. I am a pretty silly person.


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


A: Vole’s character expresses how I’ve felt throughout my life when something doesn’t go the way I planned and we’re living in a time when that’s happening to kids all the time.


Anger, disbelief and begging are completely normal reactions when some giant rock blocks you from everything you thought you wanted. But will it move the rock? Nope.

Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’ve just started writing a chapter book series for second graders. It is SO much fun!!! I’ve always been interested in writing, but I was focused on being a painter.


When I went to college, the idea of art school was always tossed around. But I really wanted to go somewhere where I could take more writing classes. I went to UNH for undergraduate school and it was one of the best decisions I made.

Writing these chapter books has me completely obsessed!

Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’ve also been doing more board books as part of my Jennifer Sattler Board Books series with Sleeping Bear Press. I have one called Little Buckaroo and Lou that comes out in the spring. And don’t forget, Christmas is only a few months away and 12 Birdies of Christmas is available now!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Jennifer Sattler.

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