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Interview with Caldecott Honor winning author/illustrator Molly Idle

Interview with Caldecott Honor winning author/illustrator Molly Idle
Interview with Caldecott Honor winning author/illustrator Molly Idle
Molly Idle

Molly Idle is the author/illustrator of TEA REX, CAMP REX, and FLORA and the FLAMINGO, which was awarded a Caldecott honor. Her next book, FLORA AND THE PENGUIN will out this fall. This bio is short because Molly feels awkward writing about herself in the third person…

In what genres do you write?

You know, we’re only on the first question, and I’m already stumped Can you believe I’ve never stopped to consider exactly how I would categorize my picture books? I guess that says that I don’t write with a particular genre in mind. But… I do tend to gravitate toward stores that contain a mix of comedy, theatricality, movement, and heart.

Henry: Stumping Molly Idle earns me another SCBWI merit badge. Just like the time I made Ame Dyckman laugh milk out her nose.

Tell us about your latest book.

CAMP REX is the first follow-up book to TEA REX. Like the first REX book, the text reads as a straight forward “how-to” guide (this time, it’s about how-to camp in the great outdoors). The pictures, on the other hand, read more like a “how-NOT-to” guide.

Henry: Hilarity ensues. Seems like a Triceratops would be a handy camping companion for making s’mores.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope they will get a few good laughs (And maybe some camping tips too…)

Henry: Learning what NOT to do is often as important as learning what to do.

What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?

Without a doubt, writing is the most difficult for me. Sitting at the computer, word choice, revision… all of it I’ve spent so much more time honing my skills as a visual artist, that I am much more at ease telling a story visually than verbally. I think that’s why I prefer creating wordless books, or books - like the REX books- that have a very simple, straightforward, deadpan style of narration.

Henry: I would LOVE to do a wordless picture book. The only thing stopping me is a complete lack of illustration skills…

What is a powerful lesson you've learned from being an author/illustrator?

Stories take time. They take time to find, time to mull over, time to make, time to tell and retell…

Henry: Very true. And time to sell (at least for me).

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

A few weeks before FLORA AND FLAMINGO was awarded a Caldecott honor- someone sent me a picture of their little girl holding a copy of the book and positively beaming, with the caption “I read it all by myself” It was her first ever all-by-myself-book. The look of pride and accomplishment and sheer delight on her sweet face… I’ll never forget it.

Henry: Nice.

Read the rest of this interview at Henry's blog on KidLit, Fantasy & Science Fiction.