Sunday, February 19, 2023

Q&A with Pippa Goodhart



Pippa Goodhart is the author of the new children's picture book Best Test. Her many other books include the picture book Fair Shares. She is based in the UK.


Q: What inspired you to write Best Test?


A: Young children, sometimes encouraged by adults, like to label themselves as being “the best.” It sounds a nice thing to be. But “the best” in what way? And if one is “the best,” what does that make all the others?


I felt it was a concept relevant to a picture book age audience, one worth exploring a little, and, importantly, one which had the potential for some fun!


Anna Doherty and I had already created the Fair Shares picture book, exploring the young child’s interest in things being fair, looking at the difference between equality and equity (not in those terms!), so this was similarly teasing an idea out through a story.  


Q: The Kirkus review of the book says, in part, “The humorous ending will surprise those who expected a lesson in strawberry-sharing, but the art makes it clear that the animals are nevertheless delighted to have used their collective power to boost each other and to have fun together.” What do you think of that description, and did you know how the story would end before you started writing it?


A: I didn’t know that was how it was going to end when I started work on the story. But Anna and my previous book, Fair Shares, ends with a funny surprise so I was looking for a way to do a pleasing twist at the end of this one. Taking that “best” idea and using it in the “best friends” context seemed a perfect pleasing fit!

Q: What do you think Anna Doherty’s illustrations add to the story?


A: Anna is wonderful at creating animal and bird and insect characters with body language that makes them very relatable to us humans. She creates a visual story that builds audience empathy.


And the books are rich in ideas that families or schools could copy, those ideas demonstrated in the pictures. Why not make a plan for your own Best Test obstacle race? Have fun photographing silly faces? Guess what’s hidden in a bag by feeling and shaking it?


I love Anna’s use of colour, making for beautiful pictures as well as clever story communication. 


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


A: I hope they will recognise when their own lives throw up those “being the best” kinds of challenges, opportunities, disappointments and triumphs … but also remember that good friendships are worth more than achieving “best” labels to boast about. 

Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m actually working on a middle grade story with anthropomorphic characters, a first for me. I don’t know whether or not it will ever achieve publication, but I’m enjoying sharing my girl rat character’s adventure. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Yes! I have just received my first printed copies of a new book that follows the pattern set by Fair Shares and Best Test, illustrated by Anna Doherty and published by Tiny Owl. It’s called Lots of Dots, and it explores the idea of belonging with others. Anna’s created another beauty of a book, and it will be published very soon. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment