Can you point to the book that made you want to be a children’s writer?
For me it is Vera B. Williams’ Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe.
My kids and I checked it out of the library shortly after it was published in 1981. Night after night we revisited the story of the narrator, her brother Sam, Aunt Rosie and Mom as they bought a red canoe at a yard sale and took their first overnight trip down a river. Highlights include portage over a waterfall, wildlife, fishing, changeable weather, lots of paddling and the return home to Sixtoes, their cat.
The book is set up as the narrator’s journal, a first-person account illustrated in colored pencil. It has heart and quiet humor and a recipe for fruit stew. The voice is pitch perfect.
Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe was my gateway to Vera B. Williams’ work, including A Chair for My Mother; Amber was Strong, Essie was Brave, and the Caldecott-award winning More, More, More Said the Baby. All brilliant.
I waited until my kids grew up to start making my own books. But I returned to those Vera Williams books as models of what a picture book can be. When my first book was published, I sent it to Ms. Williams, thanking her for her wonderful work and inspiration. I received a nice note in return.
So it goes, the circle of creation and inspiration.
For which I am so thankful on this foggy Seattle Thanksgiving morning.
And I wonder: what book made you want to create children’s books?