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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Amy Hevron

Amy Hevron loves exploring nature, birdwatching, and baking tasty treats from her home in Seattle, Washington.

Publicity photo of Amy Hevron.

She is a finalist for the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration for Can You Hug a Forest? written by Frances Gilbert. (To be awarded February 23, 2024.)

Book cover - young girl hugging and peeking around a tree, with s butterfly, bee, and flowers around her.

And she is a two-time winner of the Portfolio Honor Award from the SCBWI. Prior to focusing on children’s books, Amy worked as a graphic designer and sold her art at boutiques and craft fairs around the US.

Collage photo of the covers of Amy's 6 books.

Amy's the author/illustrator of The Longest Journey: An Arctic Tern’s Migration (2022) and Dust Bunny Wants a Friend (2019). And she is also the illustrator of several books including The Tide Pool Waits by Candace Fleming (2022), Tree Hole Homes by Melissa Stewart (2022), The Perfect Pet for You! by Estelle Laure (2021), Moon Babies by Karen Jameson (2019), and Trevor by Jim Averbeck (2018).

 

For additional information about Amy, see our earlier interview (here).

 

Her newest picture book, Log Life (Tiny Habitats), releases on February 20th.

 

Welcome back Amy!

 

What was your inspiration or spark of curiosity for Log Life?

Book cover - a sampling, ferns, and various mushrooms growing out of a fallen tree trunk. As a mouse, slug, snail, and beetle crawl about.

I love visiting the old-growth forests in Olympic National Park in Washington State. There are so many great hikes there to walk among ancient trees. One time when we were hiking near Lake Quinault, we came upon a giant Douglas fir tree that had recently blown over. It blocked the trail, so we had to climb over this five-foot-tall trunk. I wondered how long it would take to decompose. And what critters would live and feed on it through the years. As I researched nurse logs, I became more and more fascinated. I knew I had to write a story about nurse logs.


A 5' tall trunk across the trail would be a great event to trigger a research dive into decomposition and nurse logs! How long did it take from the first draft or doodle to publication for Log Life? And, which came first – the illustrations or the text?


For most of my books, including this one, I write the text first. I wrote my first draft in 2019. And then did a major rewrite in 2021 when it became part of the Tiny Habitats series. In that rewrite, it became more playful in tone, and I added the talking critters and multiple panels for the illustrated scenes.


The zoomed in panels are so cool. Which is your favorite spread?

Internal spread - on the left, two deer nibble grass. A large tree trunk spans across the spread with two saplings, with multiple plants, mushrooms, fungi, and animlas live on, around, or in it.

Text & Image © Amy Hevron, 2024.


I think my favorite spread is the “Autumn” spread because it features banana slugs and slime molds. Two very Pacific Northwest-y things. 😊

 

Absolutely. That and the rain! What was the toughest aspect of writing and/or illustrating Log Life?


The toughest part for me was illustrating all the tiny details. I tend to paint in larger, simplified shapes but for this one, it was important to bring in lots of little characters and details. So, I painted on paper instead of my usual wood so I could use pencils and markers to help add the finer details.

  

Interesting. I love the zoomed in highlighted spot illustrations in the illustrations. It kind of feels like hiking with a magnifying glass in hand. Actually, that sounds like fun. Though I'm not sure how much hiking would occur. Is there something you want your readers to know about Log Life?


Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved looking at the little critters and plant life in the forest. I like to imagine the world from their perspective. In the Tiny Habitat series, and this first book Log Life, I want to shine a light on little creatures and ecosystems that are often overlooked.

 

Such a great premise! I am excited to see the rest of the books from this series. Speaking off, what are the next projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?


I’m finishing up art on the third book in the Tiny Habitats series called Poo Pile on the Prairie. It’s about a bison poop that becomes a home and food source for all sorts of prairie critters like dung beetles, birds, and rare butterflies. It’s been a ton of fun to write and illustrate. Can’t wait to share that one with the world this time next year.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what this book looks like! By the way, in case anyone is curious, the second book in the series is Sunken Ship.

Book cover - a sunken wooden ship on the ocean floor surrounded by corals and fish.

This book is scheduled to be released September 24, 2024. Last question, what is the best advice you’ve ever gotten - whether it’s regarding writing, illustrating, publishing, or not?


For me, the best advice I’ve gotten for learning and growing as a picture book creator is to read 100 picture books that have been published in the last 5 years. I’ve been doing that for several years now and I keep an Excel document of the authors, illustrators, and publishers for each book. You learn so much about storytelling by reading current books. For my favorites, I’ll type out the manuscripts and study them as mentor texts.

 

Keeping an excel document, or notebooks, is a wonderful way to study other picture books and helps when trying to find mentor or comp texts. Thank you, Amy, for stopping back by and sharing with us. It was a pleasure chatting with you again.

Book cover - a sampling, ferns, and various mushrooms growing out of a fallen tree trunk. As a mouse, slug, snail, and beetle crawl about.

Be sure to come back Friday for the Perfect Picture Book #PPBF post on Log Life.

 

To find out more about Amy Hevron, or contact her:

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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