I have loved children’s books as far back as I can remember. I have always loved reading and was quite the bookworm.
Other than making my book in grade 6 (see how this came about here), with my goal of writing and illustrating children’s books – who were my influencers? They are very specific.
*Family: particularly my parents and grandparents on both sides. Both sets of grandparents valued learning and education (One grandpa was a teacher at Mount Doug high school in Victoria BC, the other was a United Church minister). So reading came naturally with my family and was always encouraged.
*Bolen Books: This bookstore in Victoria, BC is not just my favourite bookstore, it’s my favourite store. I have spent many hours there over the years. I love the atmosphere and how their shelves and displays are set up. I am so visual, and some bookstores I find overwhelming when just the spine of the book is displayed. I have always appreciated their display style. I have such good memories of visiting and browsing the store as a kid, as we would stop there on our way to visit grandparents, since we visited them from just north of Victoria. I remember the store in its old location and its tiny location as they were moving to where they are now. Since I started loving Bolen Books when I was a kid in the picture book section, I have always visited the picture books ever since. I just stand there and take it all in. Then when I had kids of my own, it gave me a good reason to spend more time and buy books ‘for the kids’. Also, since I have identified that I want to write and illustrate picture books, I have spent lots of ‘research’ time with the picture books, my old friends.
*Scholastic: Being the bookworm that I am, and was as a kid, it was a special day when the scholastic book fairs were at the school. They made an event around books and reading that felt very special. They always had something for everyone, and all reading and age levels. They published books that I loved reading, including my all-time favourite, and next influencer:
*Phoebe Gilman: How do I express? I think her work says it all. The Balloon Tree was my favourite. I still have my copy, pictured above. I love her illustrations, there is so much to look at. And of course, I love the stories. Jillian Jigs was a really fun story. I adore Something From Nothing. The mice in the illustrations of Something From Nothing add another element to the story, I love those mice!
The picture above: The Balloon Tree, by Phoebe Gilman, a Scholastic book, was given to me by my mom and dad, which they got at Bolen Books. All of my influencers tie back to one memory.
A good memory holds a lot of power.