Interview with Kate Jenks Landry and Vivian Mineker about BEATRICE AND BARB (Youngsters Can Press)

Writer: Kate Jenks Landry ~ Illustrator: Vivian Mineker
Writer: Youngsters Can Press (Oct. 3, 2023)
Viewers: Grades Preschool – 2 / ages 3-7

self-published her sequence, The Julia Dagons Mysteries, when she was in grade 5, utilizing the photocopier at her mother’s work. Kate lives along with her companion Michael, their daughters Zoe and Mae, and a wily bernedoodle named Leo. 

Her debut image ebook, Beatrice and Barb, will probably be printed with Youngsters Can Press in

spent her adolescence in Taipei and Portland, Oregon, earlier than embarking on adventures to Slovenia and ultimately settling in Amsterdam. Artwork has been her lifelong ardour, and she or he’s been drawing and portray for way back to she will keep in mind. In school, she pursued her curiosity in animation, which led her to work as an animator at Nike. Nevertheless, round seven years in the past, she made the choice to transition into the world of illustration, embarking on an thrilling new chapter in her profession. You’ll find out extra about Vivian on her web site, Twitter, Instagram, and Fb

Beatrice desperately needs a pet of her personal. Her mother has different concepts. No canine. No cat. No hedgehog. They lastly attain a compromise, and Beatrice will get … a Venus flytrap. Being a great sport, Beatrice makes the very best of issues. She offers her new pal a reputation, Barb. She does all of the issues with Barb that good pet house owners do, similar to taking walks and enjoying fetch. Solely now, regardless of all of the love and care, Barb is beginning to look sick, with black spots on her leaves and a few components of her turning mushy. Beatrice is aware of she has to discover a option to save Barb. However how? 

“The debut image ebook from writer Kate Jenks Landry affords a common and highly effective message about how you can handle these we love. It additionally celebrates variations, distinctive friendships and what makes every of us particular (like how Barb must eat bugs to outlive!). This story has sturdy curriculum connections to social-emotional studying and affords glorious character schooling classes on caring, perseverance and accountability. Vivian Mineker’s illustrations are imbued with the tender greens of vegetation and fantastically convey the heat and affection on the coronary heart of the story.”

—Youngsters Can Press

From Kate: I first got here up with the thought standing in my kitchen someday round 2016. My older daughter, Zoe, was three, and she or he liked serving to me within the kitchen whereas her child sister napped. I had the concept that we’d domesticate a bitter dough starter as a mission. We talked about the way it was a residing factor we needed to feed and take care of. Zoe named it Toot. It struck me {that a} child with a pet colony of yeast named Toot may make a humorous image ebook.

After making an attempt to write down a draft I noticed two issues:

1. Few image ebook readers can be aware of the idea of a bitter dough starter (this was pre-pandemic occasions!) and

2. Goopy beige blobs of yeasty flour paste may not make for essentially the most dynamic illustrations. Additionally, I managed to kill Toot earlier than we ever acquired to the bread baking stage!

However the concept a ebook about an unconventional pet caught with me. I’d just lately purchased a bunch of houseplants, so I assumed that may work. Someway a carnivorous plant appeared extra pet-like to me than an everyday one, so I made a decision on a fly entice.

I began researching them and was instantly swept away down an web rabbit gap. Fly traps are so cool! They’re native to solely to the sub-tropical wetlands of North and South Carolina, and have developed to thrive in situations that may kill most crops. The within of their traps are coated in tiny set off hairs and don’t spring closed except at the very least two of the hairs are touched in a brief time period. This prevents them from closing on random, non-living particles that may have fallen in. Additionally they solely shut half approach initially, permitting prey that’s too large or too small escape earlier than shutting utterly. They’re capable of do all this regardless of the shortage of muscle mass or a mind. Scientists nonetheless don’t actually perceive how they do it. 

The earliest drafts of the story appear to have been misplaced. Again then, I simply saved enhancing the identical doc reasonably than saving totally different drafts individually. The earliest model I can discover is from 2017. It has a unique identify, Lucy and Joan, and is a whopping 1386 phrases regardless of solely masking the primary third of the story! 

Studying it now, there’s a lot a like about that proto-version — I’m really stunned by how humorous it’s! — nevertheless it betrays a lack of expertise about how an image ebook really works; it’s approach too lengthy, comprises an excessive amount of element, and spends a rare period of time attending to the primary battle. 

My subsequent drafts resolve a few of these points however launched a brand new one — the protagonist’s instructor takes her by the hand, walks her to the library, and finds her a ebook that magically solves the issue. In different phrases, Beatrice had zero company. I fortunately submitted this early model of the story, sat again, and waited for affords to roll in.


So, how did I repair these issues? I joined a critique group! Really, I joined two. This was the very best factor I’ve ever finished as a author. It’s made my writing a lot stronger and supplied me with a supply of accountability. We’re additionally true-blue associates who cheer one another on and decide one another up when the inevitable rejections roll in.

I additionally submitted this story to the CANSCAIP Writing For Kids Competitors, which I’d extremely suggest. Everybody who enters will get detailed suggestions on their work from a publishing skilled or printed writer, which is unbelievably helpful. Throughout this time I additionally researched how you can write a correct question letter.

I resent this new, improved model of my story out to the identical handful of Canadian publishing homes that settle for unsolicited submissions, and waited. Once more, crickets. After a number of months, I moved on and began submitting different tales I had written since.


That assembly was such an enormous deal for me. For years I had lived in Toronto as a scholar on the College of Toronto, however by then I used to be a non-driving stay-at-home-mom within the suburbs who felt 1,000,000 miles away from the flamboyant world of publishing. I used to be so nervous that I used to be sweating buckets, however as quickly as Katie walked in, I knew we had been a great match. We’re the identical age and have the identical identify. We sat down with our an identical lattes, pulled out an identical notebooks and pens, and laughed. 

Katie sketched me a tough story map explaining her imaginative and prescient for the ebook. She defined how she needed it to vary however left it to me to determine how you can make these modifications. After our assembly, I walked down the road to a unique espresso store, ordered one other latte, and proceeded to write down a brand new draft of the story. By the point I boarded the GO Practice house that night time, I had one thing that seemed rather a lot just like the completed ebook, at the very least from a structural viewpoint.

Over the following few weeks, Katie and I went backwards and forwards over electronic mail, working in a Google Doc, till we had a model she felt strongly sufficient about to take to acquisitions. In

It was the primary week of lockdown. I cried. 

The timing of that supply was an unimaginable reward. It gave me one thing to cling to throughout these lengthy first months and years of the pandemic. I buckled down and labored tougher than ever on my craft. I additionally plucked up all my braveness and began asking different creatives if I may interview them for my weblog, The Needle and The Knife, which has helped me make so many significant connections.

By the top of the next yr, I had signed the contract for my second ebook with Youngsters Can, which will probably be out in 2025. 

The subsequent time I keep in mind crying is once I obtained the primary character sketches from the illustrator, the superb . It may be so scary as an writer to relinquish management over this factor that started off as utterly yours, but when you are able to do it, actual magic is feasible.

Vivian’s work is so lush and vivid and has such coronary heart. I like that her tackle the characters included a lot range, by way of ethnicity but in addition potential and physique sort.

At each stage of the method, from roughs by way of to completed artwork, I fell extra deeply in love. I even have to say Barb Kelly, the ebook’s unimaginable designer, who has finished such an amazing job bringing all the pieces collectively into such a stupendous bundle. 

Really, this story is not simply mine — it’s also Katie’s, Barb’s, and particularly Vivian’s. At some point quickly, it’ll additionally belong to precise readers, which is the good factor ever!

Reply from Vivian: I obtained the manuscript of BEATRICE AND BARB from my agent, and it captivated me from the very first web page. The endearing story immediately struck a chord with me, as I used to be additionally a baby who needed every kind of pets and relentlessly pleaded with my mother and father. Beatrice’s story resonates deeply with me. I additionally liked that the story unfolds with a forged of intriguing and pleasant characters. As I delved into the manuscript, vivid photos of those characters fashioned in my thoughts, which is at all times a great signal for any new mission. I turned very excited and couldn’t wait to convey them to life. Kate, along with her unimaginable abilities, breathed magic into each side. Following the preliminary assembly with Barb Kelly and Katie Scott, the proficient editor from Youngsters Can, I felt assured that we made an distinctive crew and had been going to have the ability to create an exquisite ebook collectively. Collaborating with this outstanding group of people has been an absolute pleasure all through this whole journey.

Throughout our preliminary assembly, Barb and Katie shared their imaginative and prescient for the ebook, discussing the looks of the characters and the visible stream of the spreads. Their concise and detailed briefs proved immensely useful, permitting us to brainstorm each the massive image and the finer particulars. With their approval of the coloured character sketches, I proceeded to work on the unfold sketches. This stage is essential as we finalize the key components earlier than delving into colours. I used to be lucky to obtain helpful and constructive suggestions from Katie and Barb, which tremendously facilitated the method. As soon as we had been all glad with the sketches, I devoted a number of weeks to portray the ultimate coloration variations of the spreads. To perform this, I utilized a Cintiq pill along with Photoshop. This specific part holds a particular place in my coronary heart because it breathes life into the ebook, giving it that polished and vibrant contact.

From Kate: I like that my protagonist Beatrice doesn’t waste a whole lot of time and vitality mourning that the pet she will get will not be precisely the pet she anticipated. As an alternative, she jumps complete heartedly into loving her new pal and units off on a quest to higher perceive who Barb is and what she wants.

I hope younger readers will take away the concept that caring for these we love — individual, animal, or plant! — requires that we actually see them for who they’re, and never who we would want them to be. We’re not all the identical, and we don’t want the identical factor to thrive. 

From Vivian: As an illustrator, my major aim is to create visuals that captivate younger readers and improve their connection to the story. I would like the illustrations to function a gateway into the narrative, drawing them in and permitting them to delve deeper into the world we’ve crafted. Furthermore, I imagine the story itself is extremely endearing and relatable. It fantastically explores the themes of friendship and teaches a helpful lesson about caring for family members in the best way they honestly want, reasonably than based mostly on our assumptions. At its core, it’s a heartwarming story that imparts the knowledge of studying how you can love and take care of others.

From Kate: I’ve two items of recommendation, one basic and one very particular to image ebook writers. 

First, don’t be embarrassed about being a newbie. Being knowledgeable artistic takes guts! The earlier you’ll be able to courageously name your self a author (or an artist, or a musician, and many others) outloud to different individuals, the earlier you’ll begin taking your artistic observe critically. A pre-published author is an actual author, with actual work to do. Don’t simply sit round ready for that first “sure!” from an agent or editor ;be part of a critique group or knowledgeable group, take a category, take heed to podcasts interviews with creators you admire. Above all learn and write as a lot as you attainable can! 

I say all this like it’s straightforward, however it’s one thing I struggled with for years. I really had a pencil tattooed on my forearm as a reminder to not cover my ambitions away as a result of I’m afraid of what individuals will suppose.

Folks ask me on a regular basis why I’ve this large pencil on my arm, and I’ve no alternative however to inform them the reality — that I invented the pencil. KIDDING! I inform them that I’m a author!

BUT. Whereas I feel it’s essential to take your self critically as a artistic, I feel it’s equally essential to not take your writing or artwork too critically. It’s straightforward to get caught as a result of we would like our work to be good. Chill out! Experiment! I’m an enormous believer within the idea of PLORK, which was artist and instructor Coretta Kent’s phrase for play + artwork.

Don’t be afraid to create one thing horrible, or to strive one thing a unique approach. I’ve an indication over my desk that claims “They’re simply phrases!”

I’d say to recollect the aim is to not write essentially the most lovely brief story. An image ebook manuscript strikes and works very in another way than a traditional brief story. Even when you aren’t creating the artwork, you’re nonetheless working in a visible medium. It’s price placing effort and time into understanding what which means by way of your craft. Observe illustrators on social media and browse/take heed to interviews the place they discuss their work. 

To be clear, the aim will not be so that you can begin dictating what the artwork must be — fairly the alternative! Your job is to create tales which can be wealthy in illustrative chance. Take into consideration what an expansion may recommend or spark in an illustrator’s thoughts, however then go away of area for them to take it in a route of their selecting.

Learn your draft and strip out as a lot visible description attainable, focusing as an alternative on different sensory description that may’t be simply proven on the web page. Ask your self if the motion and settings you will have included evoke dynamic, fascinating photos. It’s essential to go away room for the illustrator to take part, not simply within the look of the ebook, however within the precise storytelling and character design. 

Here’s a small instance from Beatrice and Barb. I had added an illustration be aware specifying that one character, Millicent, had an extended grey braid and yellow boots. Katie really useful I take away that element. Months later, once I opened en electronic mail containing the primary character sketches from Vivian, I gasped. Her model of Millicent was statuesque and androgynous, with superb pink hair and Crocs! She was orders of magnitude cooler than something I may have give you by myself. 

From Vivian: Once I was beginning out, I obtained all types of recommendation, however a lot of it appeared contradictory, which left me feeling confused and not sure about the very best path to observe. As I’ve progressed in my profession and embraced my id as an artist, I’ve come to appreciate that an important factor is to do what really evokes me as a person. Whether or not it’s sticking to a specific model that you just love or exploring varied inventive approaches, the hot button is to create artwork that brings you pleasure and ignites your pleasure. By following your inventive instincts and drawing what genuinely makes you content, your distinctive model and route naturally emerge out of your ardour. There’s no want to evolve or pressure your self right into a mould as a result of ultimately your inventive voice will discover its approach and be heard.

From Kate: I’m so excited to begin doing classroom visits. I’ve a educating background and for years have finished one-on-one tutoring with younger readers and writers, however I’m positively nonetheless determining how you can finest method writer visits. I’ve been doing little test-runs in my very own kids’s school rooms. Not all the pieces I’ve tried has labored, however that’s okay! I’m studying from my failures. 

I’m additionally at work on my first graphic novel, an higher center story tentatively known as Chloe and the Door to Anyplace However Right here. I like the problem of diving deep right into a model new type, making an attempt to determine the way it works. In some methods, writing a graphic novel is rather a lot like writing an image ebook, however in different methods, it’s a really totally different beast.

As I’ve been fortunately struggling together with my first draft, I’ve additionally been studying so many nice graphic novels, in addition to craft books on cartooning and comics.

I’ve zero intention of ever illustrating my very own work, however I’ve been making an attempt to domesticate a day by day cartooning journal, modelled on workout routines from Lynda Barry’s superb ebook Making Comics. This serves to maintain me in a visible storytelling thoughts set, nevertheless it has additionally had the aspect good thing about serving to me unearth cringy, long-buried reminiscences of being an insecure grade 7 woman, a lot of which have made their approach into the story. 

From Vivian: Other than immersing myself in varied new initiatives, I’m thrilled about delving deeper into my inventive model. As I discussed earlier, it’s essential to maintain producing artwork that sparks inspiration and enthusiasm inside me. Alongside this artistic journey, I goal to discover new types, instructions, and visible components that may enrich my future works and private initiatives. Being an artist is an thrilling journey, because it entails an ongoing technique of self-discovery and encounters with one’s personal boundless creativity.

Thanks for the chance for me the discuss this ebook, it’s actually such a candy ebook that holds a particular place in my coronary heart. I hope the readers will get as a lot enjoyment out of it as I did illustrating it! 

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