A Q&A (and a Giveaway) with Lauren Castillo: OUR FRIEND HEDGEHOG
Lauren Castillo is trying something new – a chapter book:
It comes out on May 5th. I talked with Lauren about how the book came to be.
Travis: Hedgehog has been sneaking into your sketchbook for a long time. Were you always thinking you’d like to put her in a chapter book?
Lauren Castillo: Actually, not at all.
Back in 2014, when Hedgehog began appearing again and again in my sketchbooks, I knew I had to make a book about her.
I didn’t know her story, but she felt special and I didn’t want to force one. For about two years as I traveled from place to place, in search of somewhere to put down roots, Hedgehog was symbolic of where I was in my life: starting over, feeling lost and looking for a place to belong.
In 2016 when I was settling into life in a new city, her story became more clear.
I began with a small storyboard, but it quickly passed the typical 32 to 40 pages of a picture book, so I pitched the idea to my editor as a long form picture book. She encouraged me not to hold back on my words, and eventually the text was much longer than I had anticipated.
I definitely surprised myself, and in a way I’m SO glad I didn’t know I was writing a chapter book all along. Because that would have been MUCH scarier.
Travis: Ha! Writing a chapter book without quite knowing you’re writing a chapter book. I love that.
What was the process of creating the other characters in the book?
Lauren: The characters that I chose as Hedgehog’s soon-to-be friends were visually based on what I wanted to draw, but in each character’s personality there are bits of myself: Annika Mae’s move to a new house, Owl’s love of books and words, Mole’s passion for travel. Mutty, though, is based on my beloved childhood stuffed animal.
I don’t have children, but I admit I relied heavily on my two dogs’ personalities for some of the character traits, too 🙂
Travis: What was the most satisfying part of making a chapter book? What was the most challenging?
Lauren: Ooh, great question! I think the most satisfying part was also probably a very minor part of the whole book making process: designing the rubber stamps of each character to use as chapter headers.
The most challenging part of making this book was honestly the character development. I wanted each character to have their own distinct personality and be as interesting to the reader as our star, Hedgehog. This book is an introduction to each character and their world, so I worked extra hard to bring it to life.
Travis: Checking in on your snack habits. A few years back you mentioned almonds and chocolate as your go-tos. Any new snacks on your snack horizons these days?
Lauren: I haven’t ditched the almonds or the chocolate! But my snack rotation is probably more diverse now. I love dried fruit (especially pineapple and banana!), sweet crunchy rice rolls and the occasional cappuccino, thanks to the new contraption in the kitchen. And right now I am eating a delicious Toffee-Tastic® Girl Scout cookie from my scout friend, Magnolia.
Travis: I haven’t tried those yet! Enjoy!
Let’s give away a copy of Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us
Filed under: Authors
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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