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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Kari-Lynn Winters

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Kari-Lynn Winters, a Canadian author from Ontario, Canada. She is an award-winning picture book author, playwright, and performer. Kari-Lynn loves being a children's writer because "she can share silly ideas in funny and interactive ways and that she can talk to children about their own experiences as young authors."

Hi Kari-Lynn, thank you so much for visiting with me.

ME: Tell us a little about yourself. (Where/when do you write? How long have you been writing? What is your favorite type of book to write?)

KARI-LYNN: I am a Canadian children’s author, an associate professor, a playwright, and a performer. I have been writing for seventeen years. I write from home (St. Catharines, ON, Canada) whenever I can, usually in the early morning.

My favourite type of book to write is the picture book. I love the synergy of the text, the illustrations, and the performance together.

What is something no one (or few) knows about you?

Few people know that I offer an Authors as Mentor Program for school-aged children. Classes write to me, asking to participate in the program. I send them a not-yet-published manuscript. These classes help me edit the story or non-fiction text, offering suggestions. They also create and participate in activities that relate to the book. Then if/when the book gets published, I give that school the dedication. It’s helpful and fun for both of us—both for the students and for myself.

Who was your favorite author and/or favorite book as a child?

Dr. Seuss - Green Eggs and Ham and

Arnold Lobel - Owl at Home

What/who is your greatest source of inspiration? (as a child or now as a writer.)

My kids, Liam and Kenna continue to inspire me. I am also inspired by Mo Willems, Melanie Watt, and so many other fantastic authors—too many to name.

How did you come up with the idea of relating skin tones to food in French Toast?

Having worked closely with a visually impaired student, I wanted to write a book about racial diversity (that included skin color) that he and others with visual impairments could understand.

*[Check out my earlier review of French Toast for the Perfect Picture Book Friday (#PPBF) post on March 3, 2017.]*

What's something you want your readers to know about French Toast?

I wanted the readers to know that when they are teased that they have the choice to believe what people say about them or to discard it. In this book, Phoebe is affected by the words of others. However, by changing her perception, she changes the outcome of the situation.

This reminds me of a quote that I often think about, “Change the tune, and the dance changes.” In other words, when we change our actions, the outcomes often change as well.”

ME: Kari-Lynn this sounds like what you did when you began writing picture books and everyone told you they were too difficult. You ignored the naysayers, the trends, and your doubts. You continued YOUR dance and now you have published over a dozen picture and poetry books. Here's to persistence and dancing to our own tunes.

As you have quite a range/variety of picture and poetry books published, was there any one in particular that you found most challenging or most rewarding to write?

Each book is a unique journey from idea to publication. I often get asked by children, “Which book of yours is your favorite?” I respond. “Think of your toes. Is there one of your toes that you like more than others? My books are like my toes—all important and all a part of me.”

What is particularly exciting for me though is to see which books appeal to which children? I am happy that I have a range of books that appeal to a range of kids. This makes me smile.

ME: I love this thought Kari-Lynn, I've always felt the best books mean something different to multiple people.

Any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?

I am currently working on the fourth book in the On My Walk series, the third book in the Bad Pirate series, and the second book in the Hungry for Math series.

ME: For those unfamiliar with Kari-Lynn's series, here are the previous titles and a little information about them: On My Walk is a story of "a mother and her toddler caught up in a summer rainstorm on their walk through the city." Bad Pirate is a series about a "sea pup and her crew of scurvy sea dogs."

"On my Walk" cover image
"Bad Pirate" cover image
"Hungry for Math" cover image

And Hungry for Math is a "poetry collection for young readers with the emphasis on math concepts including measuring time, patterns, counting, symmetry, numbers, shapes, estimating and more!"

What do you like best about being an author?

For me, my favourite aspect of being an author is presenting to crowds of kids and families. For a book is just a book, until it meets a reader or an audience member.

Is there anything about writing, illustrating, or publishing you know now that you wished you had known when you started?

I wished that I had known to collect my day to day thoughts in a journal. Sometimes these thoughts are the seeds of new stories.

ME: Definitely good advice. I inevitably find myself with the best ideas when I can't jot them down - the shower, the car, or a social gathering. Sometimes, I manage to repeat the germ of an idea enough (to myself) and retain it. More often than not, it's lost.

What is your favorite animal? Why?

A sloth or a hedgehog. It’s difficult to choose one over the other. They are both so darn cute. I have written a book about a sloth already. Maybe it’s hedgehog time?

ME: Kari-Lynn, I love the sloth picture on your Twitter page!

Thanks for this opportunity, Maria

Thank you Kari-Lynn for stopping by and discussing your amazing book and yourself. This was lots of fun! :-)

To find out more about Kari-Lynn Winters, or get in touch with her:

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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