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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview w/Andrew Hacket and Review of Hope and the Sea

Andrew Hacket is a writer, second-grade teacher, and father of three. He is “inspired by nature, children, and all of the wonders yet to be imagined.”

Author photo of Andrew Hacket

Andrew recognizes that being a kid is hard and he writes to create ways for kids to see themselves in stories and characters, to accept and overcome their insecurities, or to escape for just a little while through the power of their imaginations. He and his family live in Massachusetts.


For more information on Andrew Hacket, see our interview (here).

Collagge of the book covers of Andrew's two books.

He is the author of Curlilocks & the Three Hares, illustrated by Jan Dolby (5/1/24) and Ollie, the Acorn, and the Mighty Idea, illustrated by Kaz Windness (4/9/24).

 

Andrew’s newest picture book, Hope and the Sea, releases on May 28th.

 

Welcome back Andrew!

 

Thanks for having me back so soon!

 

What was your inspiration or spark of interest for Hope and the Sea? 

Book Cover - a smiling young girl perches on a rock as a wave brings her a sea star.

Often when I write stories my inspiration is based around a character as was the case with both Ollie, the Acorn, and the Mighty Idea and Curlilocks & the Three Hares. With Hope it was a very different process. Around the time that I began drafting Hope, I had participated in some kidlit contests and had been experimenting with settings as characters. I was enjoying and finding success with this and wanted to try it out in a longer form.

 

Having grown up near the ocean and already having tried out forests and mountains in contest pieces, the beach felt like the perfect setting from which to build a story. Next, I knew I wanted to use my quieter, lyrical style. I wanted to play with words and structure, varying sentence lengths with intent and mirroring the ebb and flow of the tide. The character of Hope was the last piece to the puzzle. My books tend to have an underlying theme of self-acceptance and some element of SEL. Here I wanted to explore feelings of loneliness and not belonging and let Sea be the one to help Hope on her path to friendship.


Wow, thank you for sharing the development story for the book. How long did it take from the first draft to publication for Hope and the Sea?

 

From first draft to publication, it was about 3 years. I wrote the first draft in April 2021 and a little over a year later we received an offer from WorthyKids. Add in a couple of years for art and production and finally, just yesterday on May 28, 2024, Hope hit shelves. 

 

Not too long then. What was the toughest aspect of writing Hope and the Sea? How did this compare to Ollie, the Acorn, and the Mighty Idea? And what was the most fun part of creating this book?


The story of Hope and the Sea came together fairly easily for me. I knew early on the major events I wanted to happen and the voice I was hoping to achieve. Most of my revising time was spent wordsmithing and playing with those sentence lengths to help the reader feel the rhythm of the ocean while they are reading.


Compared to Ollie, writing Hope was a breeze! In part, this is because of my own personal writing growth and development. Curlilocks and Ollie were the first and second books I ever wrote with the aspiration of being published. Hope came a little later and by this time I had more confidence and knew more of who I was as an author. This allowed me to write more freely without overthinking or worrying about the judgement or approval of others.


The most fun part about writing Hope was reliving my own memories as I sourced my inventory of childhood experiences to infuse into the book.

 

It's interesting how different the creation and revision of each book can be. When you first saw Svetla Radivoeva’s illustrations, did anything amaze or surprise you? Which is your favorite spread?


 I love Svetla’s art! I was hoping for a watercolor vibe, and she nailed it! Her use of colors and the way those colors transition throughout the story are gorgeous. When I read the book, I feel like I am transported directly back into my childhood, and I can’t thank her enough for bringing the book to life in this way.

Internal spread - eight kids running, splashing, relaxing, and playing on the beach.

Text © Andrew Hacket, 2024. Image © Svetla Radivoeva, 2024.


My favorite spread is right after the kids come to join Hope and they are all playing in various ways along the seashore. There is so much personality and childhood joy in this picture. I especially love how the boy is holding Hope’s hand and welcoming her into the fun.


That's a really fun spread! Is there anything special you want your readers to know about Hope and the Sea?


My wish for Hope is that she can help children better understand that we all feel lonely sometimes. Even those kids who look like they have all of the friends in the world feel lonely. And if this understanding could persuade even a couple children to extend a welcoming hand to others around them, then mission accomplished!


I love that goal! Are there any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?

 

I have some secret publishing news in the works, but it is too soon to say very much. If all works out I will be getting to explore a slightly different genre of kidlit and getting to work with an old friend.  Fingers crossed it all pans out.

 

Other than that, I am greatly enjoying visiting schools, spreading my love of writing, and sharing my books with kids wherever I can!

 

Ooh, secrets! Best of luck with everything. Last question, is there a plant or flower you love growing, or wish you could grow, in your yard or garden?

 

Zinnias are an absolute favorite of our families. We grow as many as we can and love watching the bees and butterflies visit throughout the summer.

 

Thank you, Andrew, for sharing about yourself and your new picture book with us.


For more information about Andrew Hacket, or to contact him:


Review of Hope and the Sea


This is such a sweet book about a girl breaking out of her sadness and loneliness with the help of the sea. Imaginative, fun, and of course full of beach play, it's the perfect book for a sunny summer day.

Book Cover - a smiling young girl perches on a rock as a wave brings her a sea star.

Hope and the Sea

Author: Andrew Hacket

Illustrator: Svetla Radivoeva

Publisher: Worthy Kids Books (2024)

Ages: 4-7

Fiction


Themes:

Loneliness, friendship, imagination, and playfulness.


Synopsis:

Discover the soothing power of the sea in this stirring story of loneliness, friendship, and the power of an open heart.


As Hope huddles on the shore, feeling big feelings of sadness, Sea approaches. First a gentle wave, then a misty spray, followed by the toss of a seashell, and a race along the shoreline. With each overture from Sea, Hope’s heart opens just a bit more, until finally a burst of laughter escapes and her loneliness recedes along with the waves. With its gentle and poetic language, this uplifting story looks at the importance of friendship and encourages children to open their hearts to the world around them.


Opening Lines:

Past the marsh grass,

and beyond the dunes,

HOPE huddles alone.


Her feelings shift like the sand.

A trickle of tears threatens to flood.


What I LOVED about this book:

Opening with a heart tugging cameo of a young girl sadly hugging her knees, the page turn hints a little more at her problem . . .

Internal spread - on the left a group of kids playing together at the beach. On the right, a young girl alone, sadly staring at the sand.

Text © Andrew Hacket, 2024. Image © Svetla Radivoeva, 2024.


Making friends is hard.

Not having any is harder.


The soft watercolor illustrations beautifully capture the joy, playfulness, and sadness of a day at the beach. The slight wind and grey clouds reflecting Hope's mood. But someone is watching Hope and wanting to play with her. I think kids (and adults) will love seeing Svetla Radivoeva's playful representation of the personification of the Sea. And the creative, playful ways she integrates the text into the illustrations. When Hope is oblivious to Sea's little wave and misty spray, "Sea crashes, 'HELLO!' ," finally catching Hope's attention.

Internal spread - on the left young girl scratching design in sand with a stick. On the right, a crashing wave catches the girl's attention.

Text © Andrew Hacket, 2024. Image © Svetla Radivoeva, 2024.

I've always thought the sea had a mind of its own! I love the way the gentle text and the sweet illustrations portray Sea (almost acting like a dog) and Hope playing catch with a shell. With the clouds lightening just a little, Sea finally cracks through Hope's loneliness and reservations, by tickling her toes. Sea and Hope (wearing an infectiously giant smile) play tag across the sand and build a sandcastle. It's so fun having Sea help create the castle. This is such a magical day at the beach.

Internal spread - young girl and the creating a sand castle.

Text © Andrew Hacket, 2024. Image © Svetla Radivoeva, 2024.

And once Hope is laughing and having fun, the other kids on the beach notice and . . . well I imagine you can guess what happens. However, there is a poignant and touching twist, which gives the reader a moment's pause. Before offering a happy, dreamy ending for all. A perfect book for a snuggly storytime. This is a wonderful book encouraging kids to both open up to and offer the possibilities of friendship.


Resources:

Photo collage of an origami seashell, paper starfish, and 15 sandcastle crafts.

  • why didn't the kids notice Hope at first? Ever hear of a buddy bench? Check out The Buddy Bench by Patty Brozo, illustrated by Mike Deas. If you don't have a buddy bench at your school or park, how else could you find someone to be a friend or someone who needs a friend?


  • what's a fun way to make a new friend? Write a short story or draw a picture of you making a new friend.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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