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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Kathy Wolff and review of All We Need

Kathy Wolff is a picture book author living in Overland Park, Kansas. When she’s not writing or mom-ing or making greeting cards, she’s often on the couch with some good hot chocolate and a great book.

She is the author of What George Forgot illustrated by Richard Byrne (2017).

Her newest picture book, All We Need, released yesterday.

Welcome Kathy,

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

I’ve probably been doing some variety of writing for most of my life—it’s always been something I’ve enjoyed. I write when I have an idea and when I find the time, and most often in my bedroom. Though I like writing lots of different types of things, I do particularly enjoy writing verse!

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

I really, REALLY like coffee! And there is a definite possibility that I drink a little bit too much of it! Shhhhh—don’t tell! 😊

Wait! Is there such a thing? Who was your favorite author, illustrator, and/or favorite book as a child?

I remember my mom reading Don Freeman books to me when I was little, and when I got a little bit older, I loved to read Beverly Cleary books!

What was your inspiration for All We Need?

Both of my kids learned about needs vs. wants in elementary school (more than once), so we talked about the subject quite a lot, and I decided I wanted to write about it (well, the needs part of it).

I think this is something every child, and parent, grapples with. Is there something you want your readers to know about All We Need?

I hope it encourages kids to feel grateful for the things they have that they may sometimes take for granted, and I hope it inspires them to share with others. Plus, I hope they really enjoy reading it!

I think you've succeeded. How different was your experience in writing All We Need and What George Forgot? Which one took the most revision? Which one was the hardest or easiest?

I don’t think one was harder or easier than the other—they were just different. All We Need is much more structured writing--so I set a structure for myself and then worked within it (sort of like figuring out a puzzle), whereas with What George Forgot, it was a little more open.

Interesting. When you got to see Margaux Meganck’s illustrations for All We Need, did anything surprise you? What is your favorite spread? Why?

No--I knew how super talented Margaux was from seeing her other work, so I knew it was going to be absolutely fantastic, and she did not disappoint! I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite spread because they are all so lovely!

Text © Kathy Wolff, 2021. Image © Margaux Meganck, 2021.

*[Okay - so I picked my favorite spread. I just love the joyful abandon of these kids as they play with the water!]*

I definitely agree that Margaux did an excellent job with the illustrations. What/who is your greatest source of inspiration? (either as a child or now as a writer.)

My kids have been my greatest (and funniest!) inspiration.

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

I’m in various early stages of a few other picture books at the moment.

Good luck with them! How did you, or are you, staying creative? Are there certain things that you do to “prime the well”?

I don’t think I really have anything in particular that I do—I just sometimes have ideas, and sometimes I don’t!

What is your favorite animal? Why?

Golden retrievers and dolphins! Because they are just naturally so smiley!

Thank you so much for coming by to talk with me Kathy. It was a pleasure getting to know you.

To find out more about Kathy Wolff, or get in touch with her:

Book Launch this Saturday -

Virtual Saturday Story Time: All We Need by Kathy Wolff

Saturday Jun 26, 2021

11:30 am - 12:00 pm

This event is virtual! Registration link here!

PLEASE NOTE: Submitting an RSVP for this event DOES NOT guarantee entrance. This is a free-access event — entrance will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Review of All We Need

In a world that is often overly materialistic, Kathy Wolff poses the question - what do we truly need? Certainly not the latest gadget, the coolest shoes or clothes, or often even another item. Then what is it EVERYONE really NEEDS?

All We Need

Author: Kathy Wolff

Illustrator: Margaux Meganck

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books (2021)

Ages: 3-6



Gratitude, basic needs, sharing, and community.


Each bustling day in our busy world, we can take a moment to appreciate the little things. From the simplest essentials like air and water to the wonderful warmth of family, friends, and neighbors, there is so much in life to be thankful for.

Kathy Wolff's melodic verse and Margaux Meganck's lush and cozy city scenes follow three families through moments of daily discovery and joy, culminating in a celebration of community and giving.

When we have all we need, plus a little to spare, the only need left . . . is to share.

Opening Lines:

All we need

is what’s found in the breeze,

in the stillness of nothing, in the rustle of trees,

when we take a deep breath, what’s not seen—but is there . . .

All we need . . .

What I Liked about this book:

Using a fun puzzle/answer format, this book explores what everyone needs. "...what's not seen-but is there.../All we need...

Text © Kathy Wolff, 2021. Image © Margaux Meganck, 2021. air." I love Margaux Meganck's beautiful illustrations. They are colorful and lively, yet so very tender. For instance, when showing "air," she depicts siblings experiencing the wonder and magic of blowing on dandelions.

While the text is a rhyming ode to nature, family, and community, the narrative of this book runs through the illustrations. It opens with three diverse families exploring nature and interacting with each other in and around a city park, as the text notes that we need air, water, and learning (or curiosity). I love that the families are walking, riding bikes, and using refillable water bottles. Showing through example some ways to care for the Earth, which gives much of what we need.

Then as Kathy posits the puzzle rhyme for our fourth need - "a place to feel safe, a place we feel known..." - Margaux explores the families' different journeys from the park to their homes. I love that the text extends the description of "home" from just the physical roof, walls, & bed to a place of safety and acceptance.

Text © Kathy Wolff, 2021. Image © Margaux Meganck, 2021.

And I appreciate Margaux's depiction of a wonderful variety of families and their preparation of our fifth need - you guessed it, food. The final two needs wrap the book up with a touching and poignant nod to one's emotional needs of family, friends, and community.

I can see kids quickly figuring out or memorizing (after fun, multiple reads) the answers to the riddles and calling them out as the pages turn. This is a good starting point for discussions about what we truly need, how we satisfy our needs without hurting others and the planet, and how we can make a difference for others when "when we’re well and at ease, when we have all we need, plus a little to spare . . " Overall this is a great book for spurring conversations with kids, and perhaps even nudging a bit of soul searching in adults, about what we value in our lives.


- go on a "gratitude treasure hunt."

- draw a picture of write a plan of something you can do at school to make a difference for someone else?

- make a list or draw a plan of a way(s) that you can help within your community?

- read All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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