When Sleeping Bear Press asked me if I was interested in joining Marsha Diane Arnold's blog tour, I was happy to agree. I blogged about May I Come In? here, and look forward to sharing her other new book, Mine. Yours. next month. Diane is a prolific picture book author with over a million copies of her books sold!
When Badger decided to plant a garden with all the different seeds he had stored in the spring, he received help from his friends Red Squirrel and Dormouse.
Badger made sure that the bumpy seeds were planted in one row, round ones in another, and whirly ones in a third. He was excited thinking about his perfectly planted garden with its orderly rows.
Until...a huge storm came.
Badger grabbed his umbrella and rushed outside. He ran up and down the rows, trying to cover his seeds...The ground began to slide.His garden and his hopes are ruined. Badger's friends tried to comfort him with hopes of future plantings, but to no avail.
One summer day Badger's friends drag him out of the house to see a wonderous sight.
"It looks like a celebration, it's the most wonderful garden of all!"
This picture book, beautifully illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, will delight both children and the adults who read the book to them. The message of joy in spite of what looks like hopeless disaster, can be a great starting point for a conversation.
Carol: What was your inspiration for Badger’s Perfect Garden?
Marsha: When I lived in Sonoma County, California, I had a wondrous half acre flower/fruit tree garden and a manzanita/oak forest that was home to forest creatures. That may have been the impetus to begin this story about gardens and sweet animals.
|Images from Marsha's garden and forest in California.|
Carol: Were you trying to “educate” your readers about being open to new possibilities when something doesn’t work as they expected?
Marsha: I don’t think of my writing as “educating,” but simply writing a story my readers will enjoy. Naturally, my values and personality peek through. For much of my life I have been somewhat of a perfectionist, so the story is about “letting go,” about surrender, and about appreciating the “imperfections” in life, imperfections that are “perfect” in their own way, like Badger’s jumble-tumble garden.
Carol: Years ago, anthropomorphized animals were frowned on in the children’s publishing industry. Obviously, your books break that rule and I suspect you’ve had no problem selling them! Do you ever receive negative feedback about this?
Marsha: I see this warning fairly often in essays with titles like “Ten things not to do when you write a picture book.”
I suspect these warnings spring from editors having read too many substandard stories with talking animals. But many popular writers anthropomorphize animals, food, and even furniture! It’s all in how you write the story. Editors have their preferences and some do not appreciate anthropomorphism. The lesson is to read popular and award winning authors and see what they’re doing and to know what a particular editor’s preferences are.
Carol: Do you take care to make sure your animals show some of their animal traits? For example, Red Squirrel seems friendly and curious.
Marsha: I like my animal characters to possess characteristics of the real animal, but the story is always my highest priority. Squirrels, though timid, are also curious and social, like Red Squirrel in my book. Badgers can be quite aggressive, but that’s not at all like my Badger.
I also like my fictional animals to be from the same country or ecosystem. The animals in Badger’s Perfect Garden can all be found in England - the European Badger, Red Squirrel, Dormouse, and Weasel.
We're switching up the giveaway this time. Marsha is giving away a free 15-minute Zoom video chat with an educator and his or her classroom. Please leave me a comment by March 21 if you would like to be entered, along with your email address if you are new to my blog. Media specialists--this includes you! Please share this blog post with your favorite teacher or librarian.