Q: What inspired you to write Pruett and Soo?
A: My first draft of this picture book was written way back in 2015! Hmmm, what was I thinking then…
I do recall wondering what would happen if two creatures from extremely different backgrounds would meet. Would they get along? Would they be able to communicate? How would they grow?
Perhaps these feelings came about because of my travels. I enjoy meeting people from all over the world, and there are times when I have felt uncomfortable, not knowing the customs, traditions, or language.
Every culture has its “rules,” and when we share them, wonderful discussions, along with changes in our outlook, emerge. Pruett’s world—socially and emotionally—changes because of Soo’s influence.
Q: Much of the story involves the role of color. What do you think Jorge Lacera’s illustrations add to the book?
A: I wanted the book to gradually go from grayscale to full color, so there were lots of revisions. Jorge tackled every idea to perfection and the final product turned out exactly as I had hoped.
Jorge also did a terrific job portraying Pruett and Soo’s feelings. Their expressions are adorable! Look for hints of color on Pruett as he grows.
Q: What do you think the book says about following the rules?
A: On Monochrome (Pruett’s planet) the rules at home and in school are extreme. For example: Never use anything but a black, gray, or white crayon. Never ask or answer questions.
After Pruett meets Soo who is from the vibrant planet Prismatic, he feels compelled to get to know her. Together, they question the rules and initiate change. Change the rules. Change the world!
Q: This is your first non-rhyming picture book. Was it a very different experience writing it?
A: Yes, completely different. I had room to explore the characters’ personalities, and not worry about stanzas and rhyming words. (Does anything rhyme with Pruett?)
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Splish, Splash! First to Last, a rhyming counting book featuring ordinal numbers, just sold. It comes out in 2023.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: My goal is to write books that are multi-faceted. (Is that the author, teacher, or librarian in me? Who knows?)
Or maybe, like with Pruett and Soo, it’s a story that asks readers to dig a little deeper and think about emotions, society, and diversity, and their ability to create change.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Nancy Viau.