Friday, July 7, 2023

Q&A with Frieda Wishinsky




Frieda Wishinsky is the author of the new children's picture book A Flower Is a Friend. Her many other books include The Man Who Made Parks. She lives in Toronto.


Q: What inspired you to write A Flower Is a Friend?


A: I love greenspace. I think that being close to nature is essential to feeling good and connected to the world. 


I also had a beautiful, no-grass urban garden. The front garden was mostly sunny and the back garden was shady. One spring morning I planted some zinnias from a small packet of annual seeds. The results were astonishing. Such beautiful flowers and the butterflies and bees were entranced.


When I watched a Monarch flitter back and forth to a red zinnia, the idea for a book about the connection between flowers and creatures was sparked. Flowers are more than pretty objects. They are alive. They change. They interact.


Q: What do you think Karen Patkau’s illustrations add to the book?


A: Karen has brilliantly added a dreamy, impressionistic tone to the words. I love how her art makes the book both reality-based and creates a note of fantasy.


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, in part, “Beginning with this quietly lovely book’s first spread, blossoms proudly announce themselves in clear, simple prose and describe how they help their friends….” What do you think of that description?


A: It's my first Kirkus star and I loved every word of that insightful review. The reviewer understood what we were trying to do.


Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I used the usual resources--the internet, books, and I spoke to garden experts. The details about flowers and creatures and how essential creatures are to our survival was a revelation. We need plants, bugs, and the connection between them to survive.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am working on a middle grade nonfiction on greenspace for Orca books! it will have history, personal stories, touch on our past, present and future and the essential need for greenspace.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I think A Flower Is a Friend is a book that works or all ages. Little kids can peruse the art and hear the simple, lyrical text. Older kids can think about the questions and learn more. And adults can enjoy all aspects and share this book as coffee table art!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Frieda Wishinsky.

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