Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with Jess Galatola and Jenni Barrand!

As 15 May is International Families Day, it’s the perfect day to welcome debut picture book author Jess Galatola, who shares the inspiration behind her heartwarming new release, Some Families Change. Jess used her own family situation as the inspiration behind her story, and wanted to explain and bring comfort to her boys and spread that message to children and families everywhere.

It’s wonderfully illustrated by Jenni Barrand, who celebrates the diversity of different families with gentle emotion and daily scenes of family life.   

Thank you, Jess and Jenni, for joining us on this significant day! 🙂    

About the Author       

Jessica Galatola’s first picture book, Some Families Change, was released in May, with another EK Books title to follow in 2025. Recently, she received a Highly Commended Award in the 2023 Pitch It! Competition for her picture book, Sneeze Adventure. Jess is a mother to two wriggly boys who love to read picture books before bed. As a teacher, she has worked in the education sector for fifteen years, specialising in English and Drama curriculum. Jess has a passion for helping young people discover a love of reading. She believes that the magic of reading begins with picture books.

Please find Jess Galatola at her website: https://jessgalatola.com.au/ and on Facebook and Instagram.

About the Illustrator

Jenni Barrand grew up in South-East London but now lives on the Northern Beaches of Sydney where she is a local children’s art teacher. Jenni loves helping children express themselves through art-making and seeing their amazingly unique creations. Her favourite things are family, friends, art, stories, nature and listening to music. 

Please find Jenni Barrand at her website: https://jennibarrand.com and on Facebook and Instagram.

Some Families Change is available for purchase through EK Books.

Comprehensive teaching notes can be found here!

WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?

My name is Jess Galatola, I am a mother of two wriggly boys, a teacher and a now – a debut author. I wrote this book for my beautiful boys. My new friend and illustrator, Jenni Barrand, illustrated the book. Jenni’s gorgeous illustrations encapsulate the big emotions explored in the story and convey our message of love.  This is our first book and we are very excited to share it with the world, thanks to the support and hard work of our publishers, EK Books.

WHAT is it about?

JG: This book is our love letter to children and parents going through big family changes. A range of family units and situations are explored, and Jenni’s illustrations celebrate diversity.  Families come in all shapes and sizes. There are big families and small families. There are families with two parents and families with one. Families can change too. Sometimes people join our family…and sometimes they leave. And sometimes changes can be hard to understand. But even when families change, there’s one thing that never does. There are always people who love YOU! 

JB: Some Families Change offers a comforting exploration of changing family structures through gentle verse and inclusive illustrations. Covering scenarios including single-parent families, blended families, and the loss of a loved one, it serves as a reassuring guide for children experiencing such transitions.

What is your favourite part of this book?

JG: This may be a strange response, but my favourite part of the book is my author dedication, which is addressed to the beautiful members of my own family, who are the very reason I wrote the story and are my number one supporters. Without them, there would be no book.

My favourite part of the story (and the part that chokes me up a little every time) is somewhere in the middle, the lines, “Some parents will try their best to be there, to cuddle you and hold you tight.  To greet you in the mornings, and to tuck you in at night.”  My favourite illustrated page is the double spread of the little girl sitting under a beautiful tree with her mother. It reminds me of the trees along the bay, where I live.

JB: The emotional comfort it communicates and the diversity of family structures. My favourite illustration is the big tree at sunset with the mother daughter having a reassuring chat. 

Jenni, what media did you use to illustrate it?  

JB: I started with pencil and ink and then into digital.

WHEN is its release / launch date?

JG: Our book was released in Australia and New Zealand on 1 May and in the UK, USA and Canada on 14 May.  We launched on our release date on 1 May, via Instagram and officially launched at Harry Hartog, Carindale, Brisbane on 4 May.

WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from / WHY is this book meaningful to you?

JG: In 2020, a year of extraordinary circumstances for all of us, my own family unit went through a significant change. I had to explain some difficult things to my (then) two and four year old little boys. As you can imagine, this was not an easy conversation and I thought a story might be the best place to start. I didn’t have any clue where to start looking for the right book, so I decided to write my own book, one that would explain the changes to our family in a way they might understand. My friends and family encouraged me to share my story, so I spent some time re-working it to be inclusive of all families and in 2022, I submitted it to EK books. I never imagined this book would change the course of my life in such a significant way. I am so proud to be able to share the story and I truly hope it helps many families, dealing with difficult circumstances.

JB: It is very special to have been part of Jess’s personal journey and to be part of something that I hope will help families going through a challenging time.

WHY would its message resonate with readers?

JG: Everybody’s family is different and every family goes through significant changes, at one time or another.

JB: It covers a wide variety of family structures that readers can relate to either from their family or families around them.

HOW long did it take to write?

JG: The initial story took about an hour to write. The story poured out of me the night I sat down to write it. I read it to my children every night, for several months after my separation.  I spent another year, thinking about how to open up the story for all families and trying to learn about how to submit a picture book and then finding the courage to actually hit ‘send’. We signed a contract in 2022 and it has been a long wait, but we are so excited to share the finished product.

How long did it take to illustrate? 

JB: About a year – fitting in between my teaching work and parenting!

How do you feel about the text and illustrations? Do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?

JB: I feel really pleased with the emotion captured in the combination of text and illustrations. 

Thanks so much, Jess and Jenni, for sharing your inspiring journey with us! We can’t wait to read it and share it with the community. Congratulations on its release! 

#thequicksixinterview #somefamilieschange #familydynamics #relationships #picturebooks #justkidslit

Thanks to Gemma Creegan for conducting this interview with the creators.

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