Talking Writing with Tatyana Feeney
Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket is one of my favorite new picture books, which I blogged about last week. The main character is adorable. He acts just like a little kid, but he’s a rabbit. Second, it’s a versatile mentor text. Third, the story has universal appeal for adults and children.
Tatyana Feeney, author and illustrator of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket, was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions I had about her book. Here’s part of my Q&A with her:
SAS: Who or what inspires you to write?
TF: I am always looking at children’s books and also work by other illustrators. There are so many amazing books out now and so many great illustrations by current artists like John Klassen and Kveta Pacovska and also illustrators from several decades ago like Charlie Harper, Saul Bass, Paul Rand, etc. that I always feel there is something more to work towards.
SAS: I can envision teachers using your book to teach primary elementary school students about creating complete structure. I can imagine teachers suggesting that students experiment with their page layouts by holding up pages like the one that says “Small Bunny needed Blue Blanket to help him go even higher on the swings.” Certainly the book can be used to mentor kids with a variety of ways to use punctuation. How else do you think teachers can use your book to serve as a mentor text for young writers?
TF: Perhaps Small Bunny could be used as a springboard for writing personal memoir stories. For example: write about a time when…
1) your mom asked you to something you didn’t want to do
2) you were scared but it turned out okay
3) you changed your mind about something, etc.
Maybe it could also be used as a way to teach kids to give specific, action driven examples to make their writing more interesting. Instead of just writing Small Bunny loves Blue Blanket a lot, there are examples like, they swing together, read books together, paint together.
Also, as it is a picture book, it could be used to show how illustrations are central to a story. They can be used to show emotion ( Small Bunny’s ears), develop tension in the plot ( washing machine page) etc.
SAS: Do you use a writer’s notebook? If so, can you tell me a bit about how you use it?
TF: Well, I think of myself primarily as an illustrator-so I usually have a small sketchbook with me that I use to draw or sometimes write ideas from things I see or hear or remember when I am out and about. These ideas then sometimes work their way into a story or maybe into the way I think about doing the art for a story.