Thursday, May 30, 2024

Q&A with Hillary Harper




Hillary Harper is the author of the new children's picture book 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me. Her other work includes the picture book Thankful FUR You. She is also an educator.


Q: What inspired you to write 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me, and how did you create your character, Mack?


A: The inspiration for this book originated from our family dog, Mack, who grapples with anxiety. We've tried different approaches to soothe him.


Drawing from our experiences with our dog, my aim was to address the increase in anxiety among children after the pandemic. The objective was to create a new picture book focused on teaching self-regulation techniques and relaxation methods to children dealing with anxiety.


Q: What do you think Felipe Calv’s illustrations add to the book?


A: We have received amazing reviews of Calv’s illustrations for this book, and they are all well deserved. Kirkus Indie Review sums up my feelings about his work perfectly:


“Calv brings Mack and Gertie to vivid life through his deceptively simple full-color illustrations—even without the text, young readers will likely be able to determine what Mack and Gertie are feeling, thanks to the telling looks on their faces. The calming colors—browns and deep reds as opposed to brighter hues—emphasize the sense of calm that Mack is looking for.”

Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Mack and Gertie?


A: Mack and Gertie are best friends. Gertie was Mack’s guide in real life, as she is in the story. They did everything together when she was still with us. Mack misses her very much. You can find details about both dogs and real-life photos in the back of the book,


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


A: I aim for this book to serve as a tool for teaching children self-regulation skills and as a comforting story for them during emotional moments. My hope is that they can use the rhyme (1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me) as a new calming technique used in the classroom for all of the students.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am developing a journal to complement this book. It will include a segment for children to draw, write, and contemplate their feelings. Moreover, there will be coloring pages and interactive tasks to assist children in redirecting their attention during anxious moments.


At the moment, I am working on my third book, centered on a lively cat and her dearest friend. They employ their imagination to uncover the reason behind the cat's daily deliveries of piles of leaves to her owners. This tale is influenced by Mary, the renowned Instagram cat of my friend.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: The first children’s story I wrote was during my junior year of college, and it was titled “The Girl with the Pink Roller Skates.” I may turn it into a children’s book at some point.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. This post was created in partnership with Hillary Harper. Enter the giveaway for the chance to win a copy of 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me, signed by Hillary Harper as well as a children’s journal companion to the book.

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