Nothing in Common by Kate Hoefler and Corinna Luyken

Hello, Kate Hoefler! Hello, Corinna Luyken! Thank you for visiting Watch. Connect. Read. to celebrate Nothing in Common. I’ve read it aloud to myself and Lou Grant, my cat, multiple times. It is so soothing. It is so calming. It is so marvelous. I spot something new in the gorgeous illustrations each time I experience it. I want to pore over the illustrations for days. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about this line, “Things they felt under the floors of their hearts.”

Corinna Luyken: Thank you for having us, John! It is wonderful to be here. It’s a beautiful fall day here in Washington, the first sunny day after about a week of rain. Which means it is COLD and frosty this morning. Which also means I have spent my morning opening and closing my studio door: to let one cat in and one cat out, then to let the first cat back out while the other cat comes back in (repeat times ten!) This feels, at the moment, like it is the story of my life.

Which is to say that small furry animals hold a special place in my heart. As I know they do for Kate as well. So it has been a particular delight to work with Kate on my first book that has a small furry creature (in this case, a dog) as a starring character. And it fills me with even more delight to think of you reading this, our story, to Lou Grant. 

Kate, please finish the following sentence starters: 

Nothing in Common is about two neighbors—a girl and a boy—who never interact because they assume they have nothing in common. They share only one thing—a small part of their day that feels important just to them: watching the love between an old man and his dog (who can do marvelous things). When the dog disappears, the girl and boy take parallel journeys to look for it, and in turn, begin to notice something else—each other—in a quiet, profound way.

Corinna Luyken’s illustrations have made me weep again and again. They’re luminous, thoughtful, and transportive. The palette is gorgeous. She has truly created her own world—incredibly distinct, and full of wind and blooms and light. Each page has its own emotional weather. I feel changed by them. When you mentioned you discovered something new in them each time, I want to add a resounding YES to that. Her art here (as in all her work) yields so many beautiful and moving surprises for “noticers” (noticers much like the girl and boy in this book). That thoughtful generosity in art when we’re treated to it (as we are here with Corinna’s work), naturally inspires engagement—both with books (as readers) and with the world (as humans)—and what a needed thing these days. Stunning.

Picture books are…Gosh. How long do you have? Picture books are both what is in the world and what is possible in the world. There’s a line I love in a Jane Hirshfield poem- “I know that hope is the hardest love we carry”—and picture books, in my mind, carry that hope so deftly—always standing strong, fiercely tender, ferociously loving in the face of whatever happens or is happening in the world around us. They are crucial lights. In so many ways, they’re the very best of who we are. 

Corinna, please finish the following sentence starters:

Kate Hoefler’s manuscript for Nothing in Common
has been a joy to work on, from start to finish. Like you, John, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the phrase “things they felt under the floors of their hearts” and what that might mean to the story and its characters. Kate has a deeply imaginative, heart-felt, and lyrical way with words; and she gave me such rich material to draw from in the making of this book. A few other phrases that I love, that helped shape the feeling of the art in the book include “But dogs aren’t birds. They can’t see their way home from the sky”, “a balloon is a great moon with ropes”, and “a deep feeling that ballooned out.” And of course the last two lines of the book…which I can’t give away here! But which, for me, were everything.

I hope Nothing in Common finds its way into the hands of children who, like the two kids in the book, are notice-ers. For me, one very beautiful thing about this story and these two kids (who have more in common than they realize) is the way that it celebrates a certain kind of attention. It is a simple and profound thing: to pay attention to the world, to its inhabitants (both human and non-human). And Kate’s story honors this impulse to notice and from there, to care. Ultimately, it is this— the willingness and the ability to pay attention— that can have a profound impact on the shape of our world as well as the shape of our own hearts.

Did you know the paper that I used to make this book was a kraft colored printmaking paper. Which meant that I couldn’t use the light table that I often use to transfer sketches into finished art. Also, because it was a printmaking paper, I couldn’t erase much without tearing the paper. So I had to experiment with materials in order to find a way around these limitations. This was quite challenging at times, but this kind of challenge (experimenting with materials and embracing limitations) is also pretty much my favorite thing… and one of the many reasons why this book was such a joy to make! 

Look for Nothing in Common on September 15, 2020.

Kate Hoefler is the author of Real Cowboys, Great Big Things, and Rabbit and the Motorbike. She loves feeling connected to people (and to dogs), and also loves how being notice-ers in books helps us to be notice-ers in the world. She makes her home in Ohio with her two children and with a small dog not unlike the dog in this book. She is forever grateful for being able to walk this story home with Corinna.

Corinna Luyken is the award winning author-illustrator of The Book of Mistakes and the New York Times bestselling, My Heart. She also illustrated Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have A Horse, written by Marcy Campbell. She lives in Olympia, WA with her husband, daughter, and two cats. You can see more of her work at


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