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Fall 2016 Publishers’ Preview: Five Questions for Helen & Thomas Docherty

Publishers' Previews

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2016 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Fall Publishers’ Preview, a semiannual 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.

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Photo: Bob Grainger

Despite his parents’ exhortations, young knight Leo, star of Helen and Thomas Docherty’s The Storybook Knight, would rather read than fight. Wouldn’t you?

1. Why is Leo a mouse?

HD & TD: Tom drew lots of different potential versions of Leo — squirrels, badgers, cats, and mice. The publisher liked the mouse best, and now we can’t imagine him any other way. We think that a mouse squaring up to a griffin, a troll, and a dragon adds to the book’s humor.

2. What is Leo’s favorite book?

HD & TD: Good question. We think it might be The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban. When he was younger, of course, he loved The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

docherty_story-book-knight3. Helen, how do you convince Tom your idea is better?

HD: I bribe him with cookies. No, seriously, we are pretty good at talking through our ideas together, and often those discussions will generate new ideas. Tom had the initial idea of a knight who didn’t want to fight, and I had the idea that he would use books to tame the beasts he met on his journey.

4. Tom, how do you convince Helen that, no, your idea is better?

TD: I bribe her with French cheese. It works every time.

5. How can kids convince their parents that reading is more important than going outside?

HD & TD: Well, we think going outside is important, too! But if your parents can’t understand why you want to read (instead of fighting dragons, for example), then maybe you could start by sharing some of your favorite books with them. They might even enjoy them too.

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