I was recently interviewed by an online book shop, Little Ones Books, about my picture book Up, Down, and Around. They asked some fun questions, so here's the interview---
Q: What is the main message you want children to get out of your book Up, Down, and Around?
Ayres: Help! No messages! Books are to enjoy. I hope children will get excited about seeing those giant carrots, and oh my goodness, how many ants are there on the pages, and look there's a worm under the ground. The sense of wonder is one of the most precious gifts of childhood and I'm hoping my books appeal to that sense.
Q: What was the most fun aspect of creating and writing UP, Down, and Around?
Ayres: Seeing the art! You write a picture book text and sort of imagine how it might turn out, but once I saw some of Nadine Westcott's sketches I got very excited. The writing wasn't too hard, as there aren't too many words in this book. I did fiddle around with the verbs--climb, vine, twine, wind. That was fun.
Q: What is YOUR favorite vegetable?
Ayres: Tomatoes, hands down. But I had a sort-of rule---I had to like every veggie in the book. When I was a small child I was a very picky eater, so corn and tomatoes and potatoes were about my only veggies, but these days, I love lots of them. You didn't ask about a least favorite veggie. I'll answer that anyway---brussels sprouts---bleah! But they're my dad's favorite. All our tongues get to make up their own minds about what tastes good.
Q: Do you personally have a garden?
Ayres: I love to play in the dirt. I grow mostly flowers and flowering shrubs. We have two houses, so I'm not in one place all summer at the present time. If I planted veggies in Massachusetts, by the time they ripened, I'd be back in Pittsburgh. So the bunnies and the deer and the bears would eat them all. I do plant herbs in a big pot by the back door. That's it for now. Oh, and my smallest granddaughter likes to eat my begonias. Does that count?
Q: What has been the most rewarding experience you've had of a child with this book?
Ayres: I love it when kids dance to the story. Probably the most amazing moment came while on tour for the Pennsylvania One Book (Every Young Child) when an entire library full of kindergarten children (300 of them) sang my story to me. Wow!
Q: Is there anything you would change about Up, Down, and Around now that its been out for awhile?
Ayres: No. To me, it's yummy, just as it is.
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