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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview w/Thelia Hutchinson and Review of More Than You Imagine

Thelia Hutchinson was born in Jamaica and raised in The Bronx, New York. Thelia is a registered nurse, poet, and children’s author. A Penn State University alumnus, Thelia discovered her love of writing from her first poetry writing assignment. With her love of poetry and the birth of her wonderful daughter, Thelia began to extend her love of writing to children’s books.

Author Photo of Thelia Hutchinson

When she is not writing, she loves to read, cook, watch Christmas movies and rom-coms and spend time with her family. She currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and dog.


Thelia’s debut picture book, More Than You Imagine, releases on April 2nd.


Welcome Thelia!


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?)


I’ve been writing for a while. I started with poetry. I remember a teacher giving the class a poetry assignment in middle school and from then I was hooked. I mostly wrote poetry for myself and would jot them down in my poetry book. All my poems were about how I was feeling and whatever sparked my interest. I tend to write whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. Sometimes things just pop into my mind and I just write, because in that moment I feel the words flowing. I admit there are times I’m not prepared (pen and paper) and I may lose my thought, but I just try and go with the flow. At the moment, I love picture books. They can be fun or serious and are so engaging. Pictures books tell a wonderful story.


It's so nice to meet you and get to know a little about you. Who was your favorite author, illustrator, and/or your favorite book as a child?

Book cover - Amelia Bedila kick her heal and tossing roses.

I love to read and I read a lot of books. I was the kid that once I got the circular for new books from school, I would rush to circle all the books I wanted to read. I loved Nancy Drew, Amelia Bedelia, Sweet Valley High, The Berenstain Bears, Tikki Tikki Tembo and Dr. Seuss books just to name a few. 


All great books. What is one of the most fun or unusual places where you’ve written a manuscript?


LOL. Great question. I’ve written in many places and I’m sure others have as well. In the car, on the train, on an airplane and even in my bathroom. You never know where inspiration strikes.


Ha! What was your inspiration or spark of interest for More Than You Imagine? 

Book cover - Mom, dad and two kids with butterflies flying around the title.

My inspiration for More Than You Imagine was my daughter. I wrote it for her. It started more as a poem and expanded from that. It was a blessing for me to have my daughter and I was so happy. I love her very much and the words came to me expressing my feelings of love, hope and joy. I want to always be there for her, no matter what life may bring. She deserves to be loved and I will always be beside her.


What a special ode and gift for your daughter. How long did it take from the first draft to publication for More Than You Imagine?


I will admit when I became interested in the idea of this becoming a book, I had no clue about the business and of course I queried quickly. The journey of this book began in 2020 and it wasn't until a Twitter pitch in Fall 2022. I pitched it within the last hour and I did not expect anything to come from it. I have participated in Twitter pitches before with no luck. I received one heart from Soaring Kite Books. I was skeptical at first but, I said what the heck, you never know. I sent in my query and ms a couple days later and they emailed me back with interest and set up a Zoom meeting. I was so happy and shocked. So, the whole process took about 2 years.


Great Twitter pitch success story. What was the toughest aspect of writing More Than You Imagine? And what was the most fun part of writing this book?


I would say the toughest aspect of writing More Than You Imagine was getting the words to flow. I did not start off wanting to rhyme, but it sounded so much better. I loved every aspect of writing this book because it came from the heart and choosing the right words made the difference. I want my daughter to smile when she reads this book. I want all children to smile when they read this book or have this book read to them.


You've definitely succeeded in making a gorgeous book that will bring smiles to all your readers. When you first saw Adriana Predoi’s illustrations did anything surprise or amaze you? Which is your favorite spread, or one you really like?


When I first saw Adraina’s work, I was speechless. I loved everything about them. Everything was beautifully illustrated. She totally captured my words with all of her illustrations. Even the end pages are gorgeous! When my publisher sent me information about Adriana’s work, I was very happy. All of her illustrations are so beautiful. It is my pleasure to have her illustrations in our book together.

Internat spread - dad and daughter gardening on left. Upper right, dad and daughter sharing berries and on lower right dad consdoling daughter.

Text © Thelia Hutchinson, 2024. Image © Adriana Predoi, 2024.


It is so hard to choose a favorite spread because I love all of them. We wanted the pictures to incorporate diverse family dynamics because everyone's family is not the same. But I do love the one with the father and daughter gardening in the middle of the book.


Adriana's illustrations are truly amazing. And this one is especially precious. Is there anything special you want your readers to know about More Than You Imagine?


I want readers to know that when you feel doubt about what you have written, do not give up hope. It is remarkable to me that even though Adriana and I have never met or spoken to each other, we connected through this collaboration, and I am forever a fan of her work. A new friendship was born.


It is so cool when that type of connection develops. Are there any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?


I’m currently working on numerous manuscripts and actively querying. I love humor, so I’m working on crafting more humorous picture books. I’m also working on a novel in verse. This is something different for me, but I’m up for the challenge. 


Good luck with your projects. What is your favorite National Park or Forest, regional park, or city park? Or the one you’re longing to visit. Why?

Photo of Yellostone Nationa Park Geyser.

What a good question. There are so many places I would love to visit, but Yellowstone National Park is on my list. I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures and videos. It is mesmerizing. I definitely need to plan a trip with my family.


I hope you get there some day. It is awe inspiring. Thank you, Thelia for sharing about yourself and your debut picture book with us. 


For more information about Thelia Hutchinson, or to contact her:


Review of More Than You Imagine


Book cover - Mom, dad and two kids with butterflies flying around the title.

More Than You Imagine

Author: Thelia Hutchinson

Illustrator: Adriana Predoi

Publisher: Soaring Kite Books, LLC (2024)

Ages: 5-9

Fiction


Themes:

Family, diversity, dreams, and love.


Synopsis:

More than you imagine, I want the best for you. I'll always be beside you in everything you do.

A collection of parents' hopes, dreams, and promises of unconditional love empowers children to build a strong foundation and become more than they ever imagined.


The illustrations represent multiple families and those of diverse family structures, including interracial, same-sex, adoptive, and single parent families, making this a soon-to-be cherished book about parent and child bonding for any family.


Opening Lines:

More than you imagine,

I want the best for you.

I’ll always be beside you

in everything you do.


What I LOVE about this book:

Taking Thelia Hutchinson's tender, loving poetic ode to a child and translating it across generations, races, gender, and nationalities, Adrianna Predoi encompasses kids (from newborns to teens) and family structures around the world. I love that the opening spread features a mother, child, and grandmother. The cheery, colorful illustrations are full of fun, subtle details without being overly busy. They each invite the reader to linger for a moment.

Internal spread - Mom helping toddler walk to grandma.

Text © Thelia Hutchinson, 2024. Image © Adriana Predoi, 2024.


This rhyming text captures parents' wishes, hopes, and joys as they guide their children and promise to love them "for all time." It's full of appreciation, dreams, compassion, and of course love.

Internal spread - Dad's cheering a boy's cartwheel in the park

 Text © Thelia Hutchinson, 2024. Image © Adriana Predoi, 2024.


There's a playful sense of whimsy - from the family interactions to the sprays of flowers, stars, and swirly wisps of wind which weave throughout the illustrations.

Internal spread - Mother, dad, & two kids snuggled on cushions.

 Text © Thelia Hutchinson, 2024. Image © Adriana Predoi, 2024.


It's a sweet book, perfect for snuggly moments together. A gorgeous treasure for new parents, and maybe ever graduates, it's a heartful tribute to the love between a child and parent(s).


Resources:

  • what are some things you like to do as a family? Draw a picture or write a story about a favorite thing you've done with your parents.


  • pair this with One More Hug by Megan Alexander, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata, I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, and My Love for You by Lisa Varchol Perron, illustrated by Sheryl Murray.

Comments


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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