giveaway · picture books · read aloud

Q&A with Author and Illustrator Tatyana Feeney

My daughter doesn’t have a blankie because I won’t let her have one.  Seriously.  I know it sounds cruel, but I had terrible visions of carting around a kid with a filthy blanket in-tow.  (I was thinking Pig Pen from the Peanuts.)  Therefore, I used to change around the blankets I would place on top of her legs in the car seat and in her stroller when she was under a year old.  Ever since she started using a blanket in her crib this past spring (For those of you without kids, you put them in a zip-up or velcro sleep sack for the first year or so.), I have made sure to swap out the blanket in her crib every few nights so she wouldn’t get too attached to it.  I have been on a mission to make sure that she doesn’t get attached to a blanket.  (Pay no attention to the teddy bear she sleeps with nightly, we’re talking about blankets here!)

After all that intentionality about blankets, along came Tatyana Feeney’s book Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket this past summer.  I burst out laughing upon the initial read of the book since Small Bunny’s mom feels that the time has come to wash his precious blankie.  The book hit close to home for me.  Who can’t relate to the idea of carrying something around ’til it’s filthy (and then needing to have it washed)?  The story is genius, as are the pictures, which are also illustrated by Feeney.  Therefore, I wanted to ask her some questions about her incredible picture book.

I’ve been interviewing authors over at Two Writing Teachers for the past couple of years. However, this is the first author/illustrator interview I’ve done on this blog. I started out my interview with Tatyana by asking her some writing-related questions.  (Her answers to those questions can be found over at Two Writing Teachers.)  Then I shifted to questions that seemed more appropriate for this forum.  Here’s what she had to say about her book:

SAS: Who inspired Small Bunny?

TF: The actual bunny character started from some drawings I did in college for my “corporate identity.” The bunny was supposed to be my logo. Anyway, I drew him a lot and as I did his personality started to develop. I imagined him being young and a little bit of a rascal. When I started thinking about the blue blanket story he seemed like the perfect character.

SAS: Your story has such a universal theme that many kids can relate to. How did you come up with your idea for this book?

TF: When I finished art college and was thinking about stories to send to publishers I remembered a story about my husband as a child- his story is very similar to Small Bunny’s, although he used to hold onto his blue blanket while it was still wet on the line!

SAS: How do you envision your book being a springboard for conversations between parents and their kids?

TF: I imagine there are many parents who have children who are very attached to a toy or blanket- I hope Small Bunny can help kids talk to their parents if they are worried about something that has to be washed or mended. In our house there is a panda that goes everywhere and generally smells like a real panda. There is always some discussion before he can be washed.

SAS: I loved the page where Small Bunny has to watch as the minutes pass by s-l-o-w-l-y as Blue Blanket gets clean. You sure helped the reader feel how long it took for the blanket to dry. Why did you choose to stretch out time in this way?

TF: Thanks. I love that page too! I was trying to create a visual sense of how long the wait would feel for a small child.

SAS: What’s your book’s message for readers (both parents and kids)?

TF: I don’t know- for kids maybe: “Don’t worry- nothing can stay clean for too long!” And conversely for parents, “Nothing will stay dirty for too long!”

SAS: How do you feel about ebooks as picture books for children?

TF: I think they can work nicely alongside printed books. I don’t see them as a replacement. There is no substitute for the first books read by a loved one to a small child-I hate to think of a world with no books that can be held, smelled, or with pages that turn. Saying that, I like the idea of being able to see the book as a small animation to go along with the physical printed version.

SAS: Tell me, what are you working on now?

TF: I have just finished a book called, Little Owl’s Orange Scarf. It is due to be published in the UK in April of next year and on June 11th in the US.

Giveaway Information:

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket for one reader. Many for thanks to Random House for sponsoring this giveaway, which is also a first on this blog!
  • To enter for a chance to win a copy of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket each reader may leave one comment about this post (or the one on Two Writing Teachers) in the comments section of this post.
  • All comments left on or before Sunday, October 14th at 11:59 a.m. Eastern Time will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator on Sunday, October 14th.  I will announce the winner’s name at the bottom of this post by Tuesday, October 16th.  Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address and have my contact at Random House send the book out to you. Please note: Your e-mail address will not be published online.

Comments are now closed.  Thank you to everyone who left a comment on this post.  The random number generator drew Lori‘s commenter number, which means she’ll receive the copy of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket.  Lori wrote:

I love this reminder of all those blankets and stuffed animals that I’ve seen so well loved. I’m thinking Ellie, my daughter’s well loved elephant will go to school this week.

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11 thoughts on “Q&A with Author and Illustrator Tatyana Feeney

  1. I love the connections this simple story makes to writing personal narrative. I am working with 4th and 5th grade and we are just building that writing idea now. I have been reading picture books for them to see how authors gather ideas from their own life. I will add this one to my collection. Thanks for both posts.

  2. Thanks for going behind the scenes and getting the back story. I love learning what prompted the story, it adds another layer when reading it. I’ll be adding this to my wish list.

  3. We are getting ready to have another grandchild, maybe our last, and since I personally have gone through 3 blankies with my own children and 4 with my grandchildren, I can really relate to this book and want to share it with my 5th grandchild.

  4. I love this reminder of all those blankets and stuffed animals that I’ve seen so well loved. I’m thinking Ellie, my daughter’s well loved elephant will go to school this week.

  5. Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket sounds like a delightful book to share with not only my granddaughter, but also the Children’s Lit college classes I teach…..
    :), Susan

  6. This is a new book for me, but now it’s on my library request list. I love your ideas for using this book as a mentor text and think that my 6th graders would love it too. Everyone can identify with a story about a favorite blanket. Please enter me in the drawing.

  7. New book to find! It looks great, Stacey and Tatyana. Once when my students (middle school aged) wrote a life story, one student shared her ‘blankie’, which had more holes than fabric. She said she rubbed it until the hole appeared. And clearly, she still had it! Lots of things to think about these blankets. I love the idea of using this for different areas of writing (from the other post). Thank you.

  8. Every first grader can relate to a blankie or a stuffed animal that they sleep with every night. I can’t wait to read this book to them. It’s sure to become a favorite!

  9. Thank you for sharing the interview with the writer. I would love to read this book and to use it for a mentor text. I also am interested in writing and illustrating books for this age.

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