Anyone who knows me, also knows that Peter H. Reynolds is one of my absolute favorite children’s author/illustrators. Although I have four children, and read lots and lots of books with them when they were young, amazingly I did not discover Peter’s picture books until I was in a children’s literature class in graduate school, working on my Master of Library Science. His messages of hope, affirmation, creativity, and connection have been important in my journey in school librarianship.
When I began teaching in 2012, I also began celebrating International Dot Day (a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration) with my students, and have made it an annual celebration ever since. We are all Dot Day Dreamers, my students and I!
Many tweets and several blog posts showcasing my students’ wonderfully creative dots are part of The Creative Librarian’s experience (check out my archives). This past year, I was thrilled when many staff members also joined in on the fun. We definitely have been making our marks and creating bravely!
Other important social-emotional books I have regularly shared with my students in media lessons are The North Star, Be You!, Sky Color, Say Something!, Happy Dreamer, The Word Collector, Our Table, and the I AM series that Peter illustrated for Susan Verde. I will share lessons I have created for these books in future blog posts.
It goes without saying that I am overjoyed that THE Peter H. Reynolds is coming to the Gaithersburg Book Festival as a featured author on May 21, 2022. GBF will be at our new location at Gaithersburg’s Bohrer Park, 506 S Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg. He will be speaking about The Table and Love You By Heart (and other PHR favorites) in the Jim Henson Pavilion 12:15-1:05 pm (immediately followed by book signing).
In addition to appearing at GBF, Peter (and his equally delightful twin brother Paul) will be at the MCPL Gaithersburg Branch on Sunday, May 22nd at 11 am for a free Meet the Authors Create Bravely interactive family storytime, and at BlackRock Center for the Arts for their debut showing of the Peter H. Reynolds’ Stories That Matter, Stories That Move film fest on Sunday, May 22nd at 4:00 pm. I hope you and your families will attend each and every event while Paul and Peter are here in Maryland.
I hope you enjoy my interview with the talented and kind Peter H. Reynolds.
What is your creating space like?
I have a studio I call “The Sanctuary” filled with books, art supplies and inspirational artifacts, but honestly, I create anywhere – especially in busy places like cafes. I love the energy from other humans. I am lucky to have founded my own bookstore THE BLUE BUNNY in my hometown of Dedham, MA – not too far from Boston. It is my happy place. It has a cafe so I can sip tea and be surrounded by books – and book people! Great energy!
How (or in what ways) do you hope librarians will promote your books?
My books are a social emotional learning toolkit. My hope is that librarians will get my books into the hands of all ages because we all need to get our creative spirits recharged.
What do you hope your readers will learn from reading your books (specifically Our Table and Love You By Heart) ?
Both of these books celebrate the power of love. Our Table is a cautionary tale about letting technology get the better of us and allow it to separate us. Young Violet’s love for her family fuels her clever thinking to reconnect her family. This book especially would be a great take-home-and-read-with-your-family book!
Who is the reader you are writing for?
I am writing for humans seeking hope. Humans seeking to be better humans. Any age. Anywhere on the planet. I also am writing books to help teachers more easily inspire their students who can then inspire their families and communities. I want to cause “reading ripples” around the world.
What is one (or more) thing(s) that you really want your readers to know about you?
I want my readers to know my twin brother, Paul. He is an extraordinary human. I was born with my best friend who also happens to be a great optimist, a teacher, a writer, a gardener, an artist, a community activist, a spiritual philosopher and a stellar father. He has been my advocate, my cheerleader, my counselor, my thinking-partner, my challenger, my action-activator my whole life. He shares my joy in my work but also how my work can help, heal and inspire the world. My wish is that everyone have a “Paul” in their lives.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
I can imagine kernels of corn in my head and they pop as I get ideas. When I get a story idea – I imagine it as a film. I grab paper and quickly sketch note the little movie in my head. Nothing fancy or polished – just a doodle and a little caption to help remember what is happening in that scene. That storyboard becomes my guide to create the final book. Polishing it up might take two months – including sharing the story with my family and friends, as well as my editors who get it ready for “showtime.”
What has surprised you most about the characters in Our Table and Love You By Heart?
I am proud of all my characters who show what it looks like to be caring, loving and kind. They are like my children. When they show unconditional love – I get very emotional and proud!
In Our Table, as Violet started reconnecting with each o her family members as they planned the different parts of the table, why did you keep those pages purple, instead of assigning a color to each family member, and making these pages a combination of the two colors, and ending with full color spreads as they built the table?
I love making color be intentional to help with the storytelling. I wanted the full color to represent the joy of humans being connected. I chose to make the times that Violet is alone a cooler purple – and yes, violet color (which inspired the character’s name!) I did not choose blue because young Violet was still loving and hopeful. Add a bit of warm red to blue and voila! Violet!
Which book review or award has been most meaningful to you?
My book, The Dot received The Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature which goes to “an outstanding book for young children—a book in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole. The Irma Black Award is unusual in that children are the final judges of the winning book.” I love that children gave me that award. The Dot was one of my first books and really set the course for my collection to inspire creative journeys.
What are you most looking forward to at our book festival?
I love connecting face-to-face with my readers which is extra special given the two long years we all have endured apart from one another. This will be a celebration of togetherness and human connection. My favorite kind of connection!
Did you know that Peter created the beautiful “Peace” print in support of Ukraine? Please consider purchasing a “Peace” print – proceeds go to UNICEF for lifesaving support for children and families in Ukraine. Click here for more information.
I hope you will join me at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21st to meet Peter H. Reynolds – and join me at his and Paul’s events on May 22nd as well!
New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds is the beloved creator of more than 50 award-winning picture books, including “The Dot,” “Our Table,” “The Word Collector,” “Happy Dreamer,” “Be You,” “Going Places” and “Love You By Heart,” as well as illustrator of the Judy Moody & Stink series. Peter is founder of Boston-based educational media and interactive developer, FableVision, which creates positive media, storytelling and tech-powered learning tools. He oversees InternationalDotDay.org a global celebration of creativity, which has attracted more than 21 million in 196 countries. Peter founded the indie bookshop The Blue Bunny nearly two decades ago in Dedham, Mass.