We’re delighted to welcome Amanda Lieber to talk about her beautiful, heart-rending new picture book, My Giant Sea Shell. A touching and sensitive topic of sadness and depression is delicately brought to the shore with Amanda’s playful narrative as seen from the child’s perspective. Twirling and laughing, acting like pirates dripping with jewels, until one day Mummy’s sparkle fades and all that’s left is an empty shell. The metaphor represented by the giant wishing sea shell casts a powerful message of finding happiness, hope, strength and love, with the support of Kathy Creamer’s sweeping illustrations that evocatively catch the vast ocean of emotions.
Thanks for sharing your story, Amanda! 🙂
About the Author
Amanda Lieber is a dreamer, a lover of stories and the owner of an incredibly overactive imagination. She has been an actress and drama and English teacher in South Africa, London, Scotland, Italy and Australia. Amanda now lives in Sydney working with children with special needs. At school she’s known as the bug/animal teacher. She is always helping injured wildlife or collecting deceased creatures and turning them into jewellery. When not working on homework, looking after their cats, or dreaming of travel, Amanda sits in the sunroom and tweaks her manuscripts. She has many picture books, short stories and fairy-tales ready for the world, oh, and a Middle Grade novel too.
Amanda has been listed in various competitions, including the Longlist for Larrikin House Picture Book & Graphic Novel 2022, Bertie’s Nose, Shortlist for Writers Unleashed Picture Book 2020, Bertie Bucanahan, and Shortlist for 2020 Buzz Word Prize Short Story, Wild Banshee Creature.
Amanda’s short story, Stora Oron, was published in the CBCA Eastern Suburbs Sub-Branch’s anthology for Book Week 2021, Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds, which she also helped to edit.
Visit Amanda Lieber at her website: www.amandalieber.com
WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?
WHAT is it about?
My Giant Sea Shell is a picture book that explores the magical relationship between a mother and child, and the transformation of this relationship as the mothers suffers through what the child sees as an emptiness or a greyness. The child tries to come up with solutions on how to get their ‘laughing, cuddling mummy back’ whilst trying to understand and make sense of what her mother is experiencing.
What is your favourite part of this book?
How do I decide on one favourite part! Seeing my story in print as a real book is the best feeling in the world, but seeing the illustrations and characters that were once in my head come alive and have their own pages to dance on and tell their story is probably my favourite thing. I do love the fact that the line ‘I love you more than you love me, wider than the deep blue sea’ is in the book as my son and I say that to each other regularly. If I have to narrow it down, my favourite illustrations are the pages where the mother and daughter are laughing; ‘Sparkles leap from her eyes’ and the one where they are hugging ‘I climb onto her lap…’
WHEN did you begin writing this book?
The first draft was written in December 2017. I remember standing in the passageway at home and I had a flash of inspiration, I could see the words and images in my head, I just had to write them down.
When is its release / launch date?
It will be officially in bookshops on 5 July, I will definitely be having a book launch in Sydney possibly the end of July or middle of August 2023, date and place TBA.
WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?
I used to work at the Sydney Children’s Hospital School, where we taught children who were going through treatment (some couldn’t leave their beds and attend school because of their low immune systems, or they were not well enough) and their siblings who would attend the school. I saw families go through so much on a daily basis – parents when their sick child was not doing well; the fear, the pain, the heartbreak in their eyes. Some days, parents were unable to control the overwhelming emotions. I wondered how they explained this immense rollercoaster of emotions that they were going through to their children. The children and families I met were so incredibly strong, and it is with them in mind that I wrote this book.
WHY is this book meaningful to you?
I have experienced forms of sadness in years of my life and have seen people around me going through some form of depression or emptiness, be it from the heartache of losing a loved one, losing a job, moving to a new country, a sick child, the list is endless. I see it as situational depression, it’s the situation that someone is in that causes this depression to occur. And with the support of those around them and time, it can hopefully be overcome. I hope this story can help in some small way as they work through their painful journey.
Why would its message resonate with readers?
I feel a lot of people have or will experience some form of sadness in their lives. People who have already read my book have opened up to me and told me that this story is written just for them, that they are experiencing this exact emotion and to see it written down is helpful for them to discuss with their family. I have had people tell me that they remember their mother going through this type of ‘emptiness’ when they were a young child, and now reading about it, it all makes sense. A student at school asked me if all adults feel a sadness and mentioned that their mother is sad, and it was comforting for him to know that he is not alone. I believe there is a strong message in this book that will help start a conversation about strong feelings and depression.
HOW do you feel about the illustrations / cover design? How do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?
I love everything about the illustrations, it’s almost as if Kathy had the ability to see into my head at the images I saw whilst I was writing this story. She has captured the magic and essence of everything that I visualised and more. The story is set around the ocean, and the illustrations flow from page to page. The colour palette Kathy has worked with depicts the atmosphere just like the ocean. The shells that Kathy has drawn are incredibly realistic and perfect in every way! I absolutely love the cover the way it continues from the front to the back – it flows like the ocean. Another favourite part are the differing end papers at the start and at the end of the book.
How have you promoted this book and how can we find it?
There will be reviews on various pages including, My Picture Book Heart and Just Write For Kids.
I will be doing an interview with Reading with a Chance of Tacos.
I will be doing a reading at Randwick Library on the 15th July, followed by a talk and a discussion and some activities.
Please find the details for the Randwick Library event here.
I am hoping to do some more readings at bookshops and I would love to do some school visits.
It will be in bookstores. If you can’t find it, feel free to contact me via social media or my website https://amandalieber.com/ and I will be happy to assist.
Terrific! Thanks so much, Amanda! Look forward to sea-ing your beautiful book on the (sea) shelves! 🙂
With thanks to Peter and Kathy Creamer of Little Pink Dog Books for an advance copy of My Giant Sea Shell.
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