Peter H. Reynolds is the author and/or illustrator of over 50 children's books including The Dot. This book was the inspiration for International Dot Day, which encourages creativity. This year over 10 million children and adults are expected to participate in over 170 countries. Peter’s new book The Word Collector, is the feature book in our January Picture and Family Book Box. It's the story of a young boy named Jerome who loves to collect words. Jerome’s discovery of the meaning of the words and how he can use and share them makes for another heart-warming, delightful book from one of my favourite author/illustrators.
MARMALADE BOOKS (MB): You and your twin brother Paul were born in Canada. Although, it doesn’t seem that you spent many years in Canada before moving to the US, can you tell us about your Canadian connection?
PETER H. REYNOLDS (PHR): I’m still a Canadian citizen and I love Canada. Our parents, Hazel and Keith emigrated to Canada after WWII. We ended up moving to Boston, but my birthplace, Weston, Ontario is still a special star in my life’s constellation.
MB: Do you have a funny twin story you would like to share?
PHR: When I was about 6 years old, the phone rang and I answered. I spoke to the person calling who finally asked me, “Can I speak with someone older?”
“Hold on, I’ll get my brother. He’s 14 minutes older than me.”
MB: I’m a huge fan of your work. Your books inspire and encourage creativity in children. And your illustrations are so charming. I have several favourites. Which is your favourite?
PHR: Thank you for the kind words! Picking favorites is difficult, but if I had to choose it would be my book, “Ish.”
MB: Having been a children’s bookseller for many years, it has been a dream of mine to own my own children’s bookstore. In 2003, you and your brother opened The Blue Bunny in your hometown of Dedham, Massachusetts. It must have been very exciting. Can you tell us a bit about the store?
PHR: Owning a bookstore is indeed dreamy. I recently added a cafe as well, so it’s even dreamier. I noticed 15 years ago that our town didn’t have a bookshop so I decided to open one. Located in Dedham, MA in a historic building built in 1924, The Blue Bunny is a charming shop with hardwood floors and tin ceilings. I’m there quite a bit and love meeting folks who have travelled - sometimes many miles - to visit. To see our bookshop: www.bluebunnybooks.com
MB: You and Paul have also collaborated in a company called FableVision. Can you tell us about it?
PHR: FableVision is a children’s media company creating animated films and interactive media. We are located on the top floor of the Boston Children’s Museum in downtown Boston. It’s a wonderfully creative space filled with writers, animators, programmers, producers, designers and educators. To see our studio: www.fablevision.com
MB: Writing, illustrating, visiting schools, owning The Blue Bunny and Fablevision, and I believe you have two children. You must be incredibly busy but it still comes through that you truly love your work. How do you manage it all?
PHR: My plate is definitely full - but I love what I do and do what I love. That’s the fuel to get it all done. I also don’t do it all alone. I know how to build teams of creative, mission-driven people. Growing up with a twin brother, I always had a collaborative partner.
MB: Your new book The World Collector is about a boy who collects words. Did you collect words as a child?
PHR: I started my informal word collection in about 4th grade when a teacher pointed out that I was using some surprising vocabulary. The word “ancient” was one of those words. From that moment on, I was searching for wonderful words I could use to weave stories and express myself. I do have a few journals packed with my favorite words.
MB: You inspire and encourage many authors and illustrators. Is there an author or illustrator that inspires you?
PHR: Charles Dickens is the author who really inspired me at a young age. His stories were often about the underdog trying to survive. His commitment to social justice really moved me and still does. `I also love Roald Dahl who I imagine must have also been inspired by Dickens.
My thanks to Peter H. Reynolds for this interview. You are an inspiration to children, authors, illustrators, parents and booksellers too. -Pat Oldroyd