Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Q&A with Joan Holub



Joan Holub's new books for kids include the board books This Little Engineer and I Love You a Latke!, as well as the middle grade book Goddess Girls: Artemis the Hero. She has written and/or illustrated more than 170 books.


Q: Your new books include This Little Engineer, part of your This Little board book series. How did you choose the people to highlight?


A: It’s incredibly hard, because there are so many amazing choices. This Little Engineer features 10 engineers, each with a two-page spread containing a short rhyme and two to four sentences about their accomplishments. Plus a two-page spread with about 10 more engineers at the back, who get one sentence each.

For This Little Engineer, I sought out a balanced mix, including Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina astronaut; Fei-Fei Li, who works in artificial intelligence; electricity genius Nikola Tesla; and Steve Wozniak of Apple fame.


Q: What inspired you to write your new touch-and-feel board book I Love You a Latke!?


A: Growing up, I had a guy friend who always included me in his family’s Jewish celebrations. Every event was a lively, fun, warm, meaningful time I’ll never forget.


So I Love You A Latke was a natural choice to include in this board book series of rhyming “touch-and-feel” books with Scholastic, which also includes Boo-nicorns, Every Bunny Dance Now, and Fa-la-la-llama. I’m so proud of this series and enjoy hearing from parents that their kids enjoy the bouncy rhythms and touchable objects in the book.


Q: Your latest Goddess Girls book with your co-author Suzanne Williams focuses again on Artemis. How do you decide on your main character for each book?


A: Great question! Goddess Girls fans are great about suggesting which goddesses they’d like to read about, and we listen to their requests. Artemis the Hero is book 28 in the series, and we’ve got the next two books in the works. (Goddess Girls began as a four-book series, so Suzanne and I chose our four favorite goddesses--Athena, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis--and wrote one book about each of them.)

Q: You write for different age groups--do you have a preference?


A: I love writing everything from toddler to middle grade (ages 1 up to 12). The variety keeps my work interesting.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: My first two graphic novels ever! They feature a cast of unusual characters you don’t run into everyday in a book. Quirky humor with some silly science sprinkled in for ages 7-12. We have a great artist already illustrating the first book. (Penguin/RandomHouse)


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Yep, a new picture book! Bears Are Best!: The Scoop About How We Sniff, Sneak, Snack, and Snooze!, a new picture book illustrated by the amazing Laurie Keller. Featuring funny bear buddies with some bear facts subtly woven in. Available for pre-order pretty much everywhere. (Penguin/RandomHouse)


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Joan Holub.

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