I fell in love with Chloe, instead instantly! I loved it for many of the same reasons Ruth did. In addition, as an only child, I love stories of siblings since it allows me to gain a greater understanding of what life with a brother or sister is like. That being said, it’s a look at what it feels like for an older sibling to be faced with a younger sibling who is so very different than they are. It’s about finding common ground when you think there is no way that can be achieved. Chloe, instead is a treasure and can be used as a mentor text in both the reading and writing workshop.
I had several questions for Micah Player, who is both the author and illustrator of this book. Here’s a peek into the inspiration for this book, some insight into a few aspects of Chloe, instead, and information about what’s next for him.
SAS: Where did your inspiration come from for this book?
MP: I come from a big family, nine kids. A big family isn’t like other crowded situations where you can sort of tune people out. These are your siblings! You’re stuck with each other! My brothers and sisters shaped me in many ways, but the most important was coming to appreciate their unique talents and personalities, realizing that we all had a place. The book idea came from watching that process begin for my own son Wesley and his little brother.
SAS: ho are the real life Molly and Chloe? Are they the woman in the dedication, two of your sisters, or are they completely fictitious?
MP: Molly and Chloe began as girl reinterpretations of Wesley and Simon. Wesley, like Molly, has a lot going on in his internal conversation and appreciates a little peace and quiet. He enjoyed quite a bit of tranquility in our home as he grew up… which was sort of shattered by the arrival of his adorable and exuberant little brother. That was the start. As they came into focus, I couldn’t help seeing in Molly and Chloe echoes of my own relationship to my big sister, Linda. Or, later, my little brother Nathan. I spotted what I hoped was something close to universal in the dynamic.
In our family, the sort of epitome of sibling love paired with rivalry was demonstrated by my Grandma Laura and her big sister Agnes. Always laughing, sometimes arguing, always remembering everything just slightly differently. So, the finished characters have a lot of how I imagined the two of them might start off if they had it to do all over again.
SAS: I loved Chloe’s big green eyes, the smiley face on her pajamas, and the way her arms always seem to be flailing. Then there’s Molly, who’s more reserved with her barrette always holding her brown hair perfectly in place. Can you explain why you chose to draw the characters in the way you did? How do you feel the physical appearances of the characters enhanced the story?
MP: It reflects their personalities and their experience. Molly is a first child. She is very carefully curated. That has seeped into her personality, but it is also a reflection of her more ordered environment. Chloe’s appearance and general hurriedness is the product of a busier situation!
SAS: What about Chloe’s dancing helped Molly to view her in a different way?
MP: I think the point of the story is really that Molly already knew Chloe loved to dance. There is an image in the book, right after Molly explodes where she realizes she has really overreacted and that her mood that evening – recalling all the annoyances – isn’t indicative of her total relationship to her sister. Above her is a picture of the two of them obviously happy together. The dancing then functions as a reminder that they have a lot of fun together.
SAS: You boldfaced a lot of words for emphasis. The perfect word seemed to be bolded every time. What could you share with young writers about artfully boldfacing text (rather than overdoing it) when they write?
MP: First of all, work with a fantastic graphic designer and publisher! Ha ha, I didn’t make the choices, but I agree that Chronicle’s work on the typography in the book is perfect! In general, for something to stand out it needs to be rare.
SAS: How do you suggest children approach the topic of sibling rivalry in their writing?
MP: With a little charity and a willingness to look at things from each character’s point of view.
SAS: How do you think your book will help children who find their younger siblings to be frustrating?
MP: Hopefully, it will remind them that they don’t always feel that way but that it’s perfectly reasonable that they often do.
SAS: What’s next for you in terms of writing and illustration?
MP: I go totally crazy for anything that blends writing, illustration and making things. It’s an affection I’ve had for a long time but really kicked into high gear during my three years at Paul Frank Industries. A new project I’m really excited about is a series of journal entries and drawings following the adventures of Lily, the Traveling Girl. My friend Erin Nichols and I started a company around her story called “Lately, Lily” and you can check it out at www.latelylily.com.
Updated Giveaway Process: Instead of creating two posts for the giveaway (one today and a separate one to announce who won), I’m taking a cue about how to run a giveaway from the Crappy Pictures Blog (click here to see how she does it). Now there will be just ONE post about the giveaway. This giveaway is for one copy of Chloe, instead for one of our readers who resides in the U.S.A. or Canada. Many for thanks to Chronicle Books for sponsoring this giveaway.
To enter for a chance to win a copy of Chloe, instead each reader may leave one comment about this post (the interview or a way you might use it in your classroom) in the comments section of this post.
All comments left on or before Tuesday, May 8th at 11:59 p.m. EST will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator on Thursday, May 10th.
Check back on THIS blog post on May 10th since I will announce the winner’s name at the bottom of THIS post. Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address and have my contact at Chronicle send the book out to you. Please note: Your e-mail address will not be published online.
Comments are now closed. Thank you to everyone who left a comment.
Congratulations to Valerie Ruckes whose comment number was picked using the random number generator.
This book has a very universal theme and I know my students will be able to relate to the characters and message. I plan to use this book when I teach focus lessons on making connections, and during craft writing lessons. Thanks for sharing it.
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.