Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to Maple!

I'm throwing a virtual birthday party for Lori Nichols' delightful debut picture book, Maple. Please celebrate with me by putting on a party hat, singing "Happy Birthday," watching Maple's book trailer, and reading Lori's responses to my interview questions. Happy, happy book birthday, Maple

Congratulations on the publication of your debut picture book, Maple! How would you describe Maple to a stranger? :) 

Lori Nicholas: Thank you Mr. Schu!  When Maple is tiny, her parents plant a maple tree in her honor. She and her tree grow up together, and even though a tree doesn’t always make an ideal playmate, it doesn’t mind when Maple is in the mood to be loud–which is often. Then Maple becomes a big sister, and finds that babies have their loud days too. Fortunately, Maple and her beloved tree know just what the baby needs.

What planted the seed for Maple?

Lori Nicholas: The seed for Maple was planted a long time ago. I spent my childhood summers barefoot and under a huge maple tree. I remember so much of this time of my life. The moss at the base of the tree, the coolness of the ground, trees trunks covered in ants, and grass on my toes. My most vivid memory of this time is being under the tree’s canopy and looking up at the movement of the leaves. I loved my tree. I never really thought about it as a book though until I had three daughters. My husband and I, both nature lovers, dug up oak saplings (his favorite tree from his childhood) from his hometown yard in West Virginia. We planted a tree for each of our daughters and have watched them grow up together.

What came first: the illustrations or the text?

Lori Nichols: It’s usually a dance between the two. One day my daughter, Zoe, was eating grapes. When she got to a bare stem she held it up and said “Mom, doesn’t this look like a tree trunk?”  I scanned the grape stem into the computer and scanned some Maple leaves from our tree outside and put them together. It was a tree. At that time I was (and still am) in love with Mary Blair’s illustrations for I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss. I had been doing some girl character studies inspired by her and so I scanned one of those drawings in and put the girl and the tree together. There would be hundreds of transformations to her *finished* look but this was the beginning of the book. I then wrote the line “Maple loved her tree.” From here it was a dance of drawing and text, drawing and text. Each one is equally as important. Neither really comes first except for that first grape-stem drawing. 

Please share the titles of the last three picture books that you read.

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Four Hens and a Rooster by Lena and Olof Landstrom (boy do I love this writer/illustrator team. I think I read their books at least once a week)

The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud

Please finish these sentence starters:

Picture books are visual journeys of excitement, humor, sadness, fear, anger, hope and love all experienced on the safety and warmth of the lap of a caregiver.

Reading is food for the brain. Junk food, hearty food, nourishing food, comfort food, yucky food, mmmm-mmmm good food. Sometimes it’s a ripe fig picked fresh from a tree, sometimes it’s frozen steak-uums. Whatever the food, reading keeps us alive and invites us to sit down with strangers and nourish our souls. And reading is travel. I love the Mark Twain quote “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” Reading helps us to travel to other lives and hopefully understand one another a little better.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what I do when I don’t have enough room on my bookshelves to hold my beloved books. I make a table!

I am giving away one copy of Maple

 Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 2/20 to 11:59 p.m. on 2/21. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow Maple from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops


  1. Congrats to Lori on her beautiful new book! I really enjoyed this interview- especially her responses to what picture books and reading are!

  2. Yay Lori!!! So happy that MAPLE is in the world. Congratulations! It looks incredibly adorable.

  3. Oh what a pretty, pretty, pretty book! Happy birthday!!

  4. Maple is finally here for everyone to meet! Great interview, and I do love that trailer.

  5. The trailer hooked me! Look forward to gifting and adding this beautiful piece of art to my special PB collection.

  6. I loved Me ... Jane! This looks wonderful too!