Monday, September 19, 2022

Q&A with Laura Gehl



Laura Gehl is the author of the new children's picture book Happy Owl-oween!. Her many other books include Happy Llamakkah!. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.


Q: What inspired you to write Happy Owl-oween!, and why did you choose an owl as the main character?


A: Happy Owl-oween is a follow-up book to Happy Llamakkah, which came out last year (and which will be out in board book format this year in time for Hanukkah!).


I came up with lots of possible titles that followed the animal/holiday/pun format, but Happy Owl-oween immediately appealed to both me and my editor. Owls are so cute, and they are such a great match for fall and Halloween fun.


Q: What do you think Lydia Nichols' illustrations add to the story?


A: Happy Owl-oween has very few words, so Lydia’s illustrations are extremely important. I love that she picked an unusual color palate. She has, of course, black and orange…pretty much essential for a Halloween story…but the purples and greens really give the book a different vibe.

And the owls in their costumes are adorable. I especially love the owl with glasses (although as a mom, seeing the glasses in the leaf pile makes me feel a little panicky…it’s so easy to lose things in a giant pile of leaves).


Q: What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions?


A: My mother-in-law makes the world’s best caramel apples, which is why caramel apples made it into the book. She dips the apples in caramel and then into all kinds of chopped-up Halloween candies…from peanut butter cups to M&Ms. People ask me every year, practically drooling with anticipation, “Did your mother-in-law send you caramel apples?”


But my favorite Halloween tradition is the post-trick-or-treating candy-trading. I have four kids, and it is hilarious to watch them trade with each other and with their friends. One of my sons has a close friend who doesn’t like chocolate. So trading with him is a total bonanza for my own chocolate-loving kiddos.


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


A: Halloween can be scary for a lot of young kids. Just walking into a costume store can be terrifying, and kids walking or driving around in October may encounter graveyards, skeletons, witches, and other spooky sights right in their neighborhoods, where they usually feel safe and comfortable.


Then there’s Halloween night, when young children may not recognize their own friends and neighbors, and when older kids may be sporting very scary costumes. Young trick-or-treaters may also be nervous about ringing unfamiliar doorbells.


So Happy Owl-oween is intended to be a sweet, fun introduction to Halloween that brings in other fall activities as well. I hope that by reading Happy Owl-oween with their loved ones, young kids will feel excited about Halloween, rather than scared.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: This summer and fall, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my first middle grade nonfiction book, Climate Warriors, which will be out in the spring. It has been a huge challenge to write about climate change, and could not have been more different from writing Happy Owl-oween!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Laura Gehl.

No comments:

Post a Comment