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Winter 2017 Publishers’ Preview: Five Questions for Stephanie Graegin

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2017 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Preview: Picture Books, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

Sponsored by
Random House

An unattended plush fox toy proves too tempting for a real little fox to keep its paws off in Little Fox in the Forest. When the stuffed animal’s young owner gives chase, she finds a bustling woodland community and a new friend.

1. What did illustrating picture books by others teach you about creating your own?

I learned so much about the craft of making a book: pacing and page-turns to lead the reader along, how to convey emotion clearly, the importance of varying visual perspectives. It was also practice in character development and in creating complete little worlds for these stories to take place in. The list could go on and on.

2. Was this a wordless book all along?

I did set out to create a wordless book. Being someone who thinks through pictures rather than words, creating a purely visual book felt like the natural way to tell a story. It allowed me to really dig into the details and create a lush imaginative world that seems to expand with every visit.

3. Did you have a beloved stuffed animal as a child?

I had many. There are a couple of special ones I still have: Paddington Bear and Super Pickle (for the uninitiated, he is a pickle-shaped plush with a cape and sneakers). I was horrified by the thought of losing a stuffed animal — I still wonder what happened to my little brown bear that disappeared during a cross-state move when I was six.

4. And would you have been as selfless with it as your heroine?

Probably not as a child, though I would hope I would. It would’ve been an extremely difficult choice. Your question exposes the inherent strength of children’s literature: it can show children how to, among other things, be empathetic. And I would feel awful if that little fox wasn’t happy at the end of the book!

5. I spy a surprise on the endpapers. Your idea?

The concept of the differing endpapers happened once we had the interior concept complete. It was a back-and-forth of ideas among myself, my editor Lee Wade, and art director Rachael Cole. I wanted the knickknacks and books to give further insight into the girl’s personality — a simple way to add more complexity to the character.

Sponsored by
Random House

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