Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Lily LaMotte

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, 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.

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In the graphic novel Measuring Up, after Cici and her parents move from Taiwan to Seattle, she wonders if competitive cooking might be the ticket to buy a ticket for her beloved grandmother to visit.

1. The hardest thing about cooking is chopping. Any tips?

Keep those fingers curled and close to the blade! We don’t want any cuts or nips.

2. Are you more a Christina, an Aarón, or a Gordon? Don’t tell me you didn’t watch that show. [Ed. note: MasterChef, for the uninitiated.]

I’ve watched the versions with the adult contestants and with the junior contestants. What strikes me is how the judges are so nurturing with the junior contestants and yet also nudge them to do and be their best. I say all the judges go on to the next round.

3. First book! Not to sound like your agent, but how’s the next one coming along?

I would normally be quivering…in fear? dread? But, lucky me — my wonderful editor had to give me a tight schedule due to some personal good news of her own, so there was no time for fear or dread. My second book is written, and I just went through the copyedits. There is food in it because I just had to. But alas, only one cooking scene.

4. Did your illustrator, Ann Xu, change how you saw your characters?

She is brilliant. When I saw her character design, I was blown away by how she captured Cici, A-má, the rest of her family, her friends, and all the other characters. I could not have been more pleased. We’ve never met, but I think there was some long-distance mind-melding.

5. This is for the win: what would you make with paprika, my favorite spice?

Paprika is a wonderful choice. I have to ask myself: are you a sweet, hot, or smoked paprika fan? But I am going to answer using the same dish for all three varieties: deviled eggs, because they are so delicious with the creamy yolk and the clean warmth of the whites. The dish is so versatile.

Now I have a question for you: have you tried Espelette?

RS: I will, but not on deviled eggs, a.k.a. Satan’s Food.

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Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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