Saturday, January 1, 2011

HIGH FIVE #3: Interview with Deborah Freedman, author of Scribble


Welcome back to HIGH FIVE, the monthly interview with debut picture book authors.

This month's HIGH FIVE goes to Deborah Freedman, author of Scribble, published in 2007. She also has a second book coming out this September, Blue Chicken.
ISBN: 9780375839665
Published in Hebrew by Iguana Publishers
Emma loves to draw princesses. Her little sister Lucie prefers kitties. Emma and Lucie might not always get along, but can their drawings? Deborah Freedman makes a wholly original picture-book debut with this charming story of two sisters and their scribbling rivalry.
      1. What are three of your favorite picture books (because we all know you really have way more than three)?

This is a really mean question! I am an obsessive and unrepentant picture book collector with books in every room of my house.  So maybe I’ll offer up three that don’t appear so often, have inimitable voices, and make me smile:
  1. Charlotte and the White Horse, by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak
  2. Hey Willy See the Pyramids, by Maira Kalman
  3. The Shrinking of Treehorn, by Florence Parry Heide and Edward Gorey
      2. Every room, really? Wow! I’ll have to check out your faves; I’ve never heard of them. How did you come up with the idea for your debut book? Do you have anything in the works that is NOT a picture book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it? If not, can you tell us about one of your other picture books?

Scribble was based on ideas that had been simmering for years. Like most parents, I fell in love with my children’s first drawings, and like a lot of artists, I’m inspired by children's drawings and have always wished that I could be that loose, that imaginative. One of the things I love about the art of young children is that so often there is a wonderful narrative that goes with it; I know that my own kids often asked me to write little descriptions or stories down at the bottom of their pictures. After years of looking at and thinking about their artwork, one day I had an idea for a book - about two sisters who draw together, and the story behind their drawings.

Except for my blog, writes with pictures, an eclectic place where I play around and test out different ideas, no, I haven’t been working lately on anything but picture books. The pb is just “my” format – I love playing with words and pictures together, and always have several projects on my desk at any one time. My next book, Blue Chicken, is what has occupied me for the past many months. It’s about a chicken who wants to help paint the barn, but ends up making a huge mess. I’ve had tons of fun with the art for this book, finding all sorts of different ways to splash paint around! But like my chicken, I’ve made a mess, and now I have to clean up my blue-splattered studio. The chicken has been making small appearances on my blog, and will continue to visit until the book is released by Viking next September.

3.       You’re books sound wonderful! Can’t wait to see them both, as well as a third! Will you share your top three tips for writers about writing, publishing, or whatever you have learned along the way that stands out as being very important, but no one ever tells you about?

Hmmm… I feel a little silly giving “tips”, as though I have things figured out. I wish! But here are three things I’ve learned so far:
  1. Don’t ever think of any time spent working or any rejection as a waste. Even if your writing ends up in a drawer or the garbage or wherever.  The process is important, growth happens, carry on.
  2. We all have heard that writers need to persevere and grow thick skins if they want to be published. But we also need those things after a book is sold as well. Publishing requires a lot of stamina and resilience at every stage, through the editorial process, publication, and beyond – the challenges don’t get easier, they just change!
  3. Be patient. Some of us take years to find our voices.  But a true voice is worth waiting for.
4.       All great tips. Thanks! Can teachers use your book in the classroom? Do you have any additional resources available for teachers?

It always makes me really happy to hear about teachers and museum educators using Scribble, in lessons about art or visual literacy, or feelings, or story structure. And I do enjoy visiting schools and museums, especially since my baby is a teen now and I don’t get to be around young children very much otherwise – I need a hit of that creative exuberance every once in a while! I talk a bit about my presentations and workshops on my website, where I also have coloring pages, reading suggestions, and links to other sites that have come up with terrific ideas for using Scribble (including Reading Rockets and Curriculum Connections) at home or in the classroom. I am about to begin working on curriculum guides for both of my books.

5.       Your three coloring pages are great! They allow the child to insert their own drawings. What advice can you give parents about creating literate children? Did you read picture books to your own children?

I couldn’t wait to start reading to my children; my husband and I read to all four well into their teens, and now we still love to share books. As soon as my babies were able to hold up their sweet heads, I popped them into a snugglie and walked to the local library. Of course reading to an infant is more about cuddling than anything else, but at some point a baby or toddler will associate that closeness with a book. So literacy can evolve from intimacy…I like that!

Thanks so much, Deborah, for joining us today. It was fun. I wish you all the best of luck this year with your writing! Does anyone have an additional question for Deborah?


  1. I love, love, loved this interview. Great Job, Deborah. And great job, Christie! This was a very informative piece.

  2. Excellent interview Christie and Deborah. Adding to my book list now.

  3. I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. Don't miss next month's interview! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Thanks Jessica, Catherine, and CHRISTIE!


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