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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Marsha Diane Arnold and Review of Mine. Yours.

Today's post is a bit unusual. I am combining the author interview and the book's review. I've been lucky that so many authors are willing to be interviewed by me. But there are more fascinating authors, releasing fun picture books, then there are weeks in a month. So . . . I will occasionally be doing a double post. Hope you'll all bear with the slightly longer posts. You're definitely in for a treat.

Called a “born storyteller” by the media, Marsha Diane Arnold's books have garnered such honors as Best First Book by a New Author, Smithsonian Notable, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and state Children’s Choice awards. Recent books include Galápagos Girl, a bilingual book about a young girl growing up on the Galápagos Islands and Lost. Found., a Junior Library Guild book illustrated by Caldecott winner Matthew Cordell. She lives in Florida with her husband, near her family.

Similar to her PB Lost. Found., Marsha's newest picture book is nearly wordless. Mine. Yours. released Tuesday, April 2nd. Happy Book Birthday, Marsha!

Welcome Marsha,

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?)

MARSHA: Thank you for hostessing me on The Picture Book Buzz!

Although I’ve always loved reading, I only started writing in my mid-thirties. My pre-school children and their friends inspired me. I wanted to capture their spirit, their amazing use of language, and their love of life, so I began writing a weekly column, entitled “homegrown treasures.”

I wrote it for ten years and it won several awards, before my first picture book arrived in 1995. Picture books have always been my favorite. The best of them embrace the essence of life.

I do my best writing at home, but you won’t always find me in my office. I wander about, often ending up outside on our lanai or at my kitchen island. I fear you won’t find me writing every day either, at least not writing on a book project. Sometimes I get busy with family or travel or watching the birds and squirrels. I might go days without writing on a project, but when I begin again I usually focus fairly well until it’s completed. Still, when I get stuck on a story or realize I must do lots more research, I may set is aside for a while - weeks or months or even years.

Love that picture of you and the kids. Thank you for your candor on your process. It's great to see we are all subject to distractibility and family demands. What is something no one (or few) knows about you?

I am such an open book, that’s difficult to say. Let’s see. My husband and my travel buddy know this, but not many others – one of my dreams is to visit Madagascar, particularly to see the lemurs.

Oh, that sounds fun! Have many of your books released as closely as Mine. Yours. and Badger’s Perfect Garden (March 15th)? What have you discovered in marketing these two books so close to each other?

I’ve discovered I should be careful what I wish for! For years, I dreamed of having two or more books published each year. The last four years that dream has come true, with two books each year, but none of the releases has been as close as Badger’s Perfect Garden on March 15th and Mine. Yours. on April 2nd. What have I learned? Start preparing early and organize, organize, organize!

For me, the past month has also been filled with family obligations and family passings, so it’s been rather overwhelming, a bit of a love-hate situation with two books so close together…but mostly love! Too close for comfort? Never!

Sorry. But I glad you are still enjoying the experience. You mentioned, in an interview with Tara Lazar (3/19), that Sleeping Bear press removes your illustrator notes. I’m guessing that you needed notes for Mine. Yours. as there are only three words, and many wordless spreads, in this story. How did the manuscript for Mine. Yours. differ from your other books?

Yes, SBP removes illustrator notes prior to giving the manuscript to an illustrator, but I’m sure they wouldn’t remove the notes on one of my minimal text stories, just as Kids Can Press and Qin Leng definitely needed those notes for Mine. Yours.

In my minimal text manuscripts, I direct the action with my art notes. Beside each word in Mine. Yours. (“Mine,” “Yours” and “Ours”), I wrote a note explaining exactly what I envisioned happening. It was the same for my book, Lost. Found., which had just 18 words, two words repeated. I didn’t speak at all with Matthew Cordell, Lost. Found.’s illustrator, or with Qin Leng. They are both brilliant artists and followed the art notes beautifully.

Is there something you want your readers to know about Mine. Yours.?

It might be interesting to note that my final art note for Mine. Yours. was different than the final spread in the book. Qin Leng and my editor preferred a different ending.

My art note read:

[While Little Panda enjoys his bamboo, Big Panda reads “How to Fly a Kite” book aloud, while all animals listen.]

[End spread – All the animals cooperate, helping Little Panda fly his kite.]

This is the actual final spread:

Text © Marsha Diane Arnold, 2019. Image © Qin Leng, 2019.

Interesting. I do have to say, I love their ending choice. Qin Leng did an excellent job of expanding "ours" into a lovely celebration of friendship. Would you say there is a common thread in your twenty published picture books?

I feel that many of my picture books have a spiritual quality and portray a feeling of inclusiveness. I’ve been told that they touch the heart at a deep level.

That they do. What/who is your greatest source of inspiration?

Nature. That answer would be for my picture books.

As mentioned in my first answer, it was my children who inspired me to begin writing and continued to be the inspiration for my “homegrown treasures” column.

Since you also mentioned that your "happy to wander in nature with your three grandchildren, who you consider…”Ours,” I imagine they are also helping with your inspiration. What was the toughest aspect of writing Mine. Yours.?

It’s not easy, especially for a writer, to write a picture book with minimal words. Writing the art notes is in many ways like writing the text – I wrote the notes, read them, re-wrote, cut, fine-tuned, and repeated, and repeated.

This book was meant to be a follow-up to Lost. Found. with the same characters, but that didn’t work out. I still wanted to use a bear for the main character . . .

so I chose a panda, changed my setting to China, selected animal characters from Asia (mostly China), and used mostly Asian games. Finding the right animals and games was challenging. I bought a couple of hard-to-find books on Chinese animals while doing my research and they were helpful.

Thanks for helping us understand that even wordless PBs still need tons of revision and that fiction PB can also require intense research. What is your favorite animal? Or one you’re enamored with at the moment. Why?

I mentioned that the lemurs of Madagascar are calling me. But this is an impossible question for me to answer as most animals sharing our earth enamor me.

One animal I’ve enjoyed following for some time is the black-footed ferret. I have quite a history with them. You can read about it on earthsvoices blog. (

Thank you, Marsha for stopping by and sharing with us. It was truly wonderful to chat with you.

And thanks to you, Maria, for being part of Mine. Yours. blog tour. It was fun chatting!

To find out more about Marsha Diane Arnold, or get in touch with her:

Mine. Yours. - A Perfect Picture Book

"Mine," and of course "NO," are words that kids learn early. The ability and understanding of sharing comes later. How do they learn this crucial aspect of surviving in a civilized society? Through the patient (and not so patient) guidance of their peers, parents, and teachers. Qin Leng's illustrations beautifully capture those not so patient moments. Reminding us that friends and family do care and will help us, even if we make them angry.

Mine. Yours.

Author: Marshal Diane Arnold

Illustrator: Qin Leng

Publisher: Kids Can Press (2019)

Ages: 4-7



Friendship, sharing, belonging, and Asian animals.


Little Panda startles Big Panda awake inside his den. So Big Panda (who's a little cranky) sets him straight by declaring, ?Mine.? Then he puts Little Panda outside on a rock and tells him, ?Yours.? When Little Panda appears at breakfast wanting Big Panda's food, he tells him again, ?Mine.? Though, to encourage Little Panda to leave, he hands him a kite and says, ?Yours.? At first, Little Panda has fun flying the kite. But soon he begins disrupting the other animals in the forest. They all give him the same message: their things, ?Mine;? the kite, ?Yours.? However, Little Panda is unable to stop the wind-blown kite's tail from sweeping up the animals' things. And soon the animals themselves are precariously swinging from it, too, as they try to reclaim their stuff. Can they all learn a new word --- ?Ours??

Opening Lines:




Why I liked this book:

Boy, I seem to be on a roll. Here is another book where the plot of the story is carried by the illustrations. Since there are only three words in the entire text - "mine, yours, & ours" - little panda's antics and adventure is entirely told in the illustrations.

I loved how Qin Leng trusted the kids to create the story themselves. She creates images that lend themselves nicely to a reader posing "what happened next" questions of the audience.

Text © Marsha Diane Arnold, 2019. Image © Qin Leng, 2019.

When big panda heads off to collect more bamboo, little panda tries to fly it's kite. And like many young children, little panda is absolutely absorbed in the kite and a bit oblivious of the chaos the string and kite are causing; bumping items, messing up games, interrupting past times, and ultimately snagging things in the string. The other Asian forest animals (detailed in the back) react unhappily with -"Mine!", as they try to set things right, and point to the kite, saying "Yours."

Text © Marsha Diane Arnold, 2019. Image © Qin Leng, 2019.

Eventually, the kite snags little panda, too. The ensuing scenes allow a child to see and explain that even though family and friends can get mad at each other, especially when interrupted or bumped into the water, they are still friends. They still help each other out. I appreciate that Qin didn't shy away from unpleasant, angry moments that are universal to kids and parents, creating an honest look at an aspect of friendship; as well as forgiveness and sharing.


- read other books on sharing and kindness (;

- write a story or draw a picture of when is a good time for something to be "mine" or "yours" and when it is a good time for "ours"; or

- make snack time a party for all.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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