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We’re thrilled to share this interview with you all! The working relationship between author and illustrator is always an interesting one to learn about; from the inner workings of the minds to what resonates most in relation to the story and the process. We thank Ashling Kwok and Yvonne Low for sharing their experiences of working on Lola and Grandpa, and with publisher, Little Pink Dog Books. Thanks, ladies! 🙂
Thanks, Ashling and Yvonne, for joining Just Write For Kids for this special interview! And congratulations on the release of your beautiful picture book, ‘Lola and Grandpa’!
Ashling, how did you feel when you initially saw Yvonne’s first sketches? Were her illustrations what you had hoped for this story?
AK: I was happy when I saw the sketches because I felt like Yvonne really understood the relationship between Lola and Grandpa. I could tell that she could feel the love between them which is a pivotal part of the story. Everything from the expression in the characters faces to the colour palette Yvonne chose depicts the emotion perfectly and I am delighted with the outcome.
Yvonne, what was your first picture book journey like, and what was it about Ashling’s story that resonated with you?
YL: I’ve written and illustrated a number of my own picture book stories (as yet unpublished), so I am reasonably comfortable with the process of creating illustrations for this genre. The difference was that I was creating pictures for someone else’s writing – and that was a fascinating journey to take. I loved Ashling’s choice of words which resonated emotionally for me, and I knew that it was an important story to tell and bring sensitively to life with my illustrations.
What have you both learned about the picture book creation process? How did publisher, Little Pink Dog Books, support you along the way?
AK: Lola and Grandpa is my debut picture book so I didn’t know a lot about the book creation process, other than what I’d heard. It was fascinating to watch the whole thing come together and be so involved in the process. I think understanding what happens behind the scenes will make me a better writer as I now understand why certain decisions have to be made.
AK: I can’t speak highly enough about my publisher, Little Pink Dog Books. Peter and Kathy were kind, inclusive and very generous with their time. I could not have asked for a better experience and I am extremely grateful to them for their support.
YL: Little Pink Dog Books has been a wonderful, supportive, patient and encouraging publisher, especially for my debut as a published picture book illustrator. They are doing amazing things despite being a small press, and are producing beautiful, significant and quality books. I’m thrilled that they took a chance on me!
‘Lola and Grandpa’ is a beautifully poignant example of coping and adapting to overwhelming emotions of both love and loss of a grandparent. Do you have special memories of a family member that will ‘last forever’?
AK: Unfortunately, I don’t have strong memories of my grandparents because they passed away when I was quite young. I always wished I’d had more time with them because it’s such a special relationship and I would love to have memories that I could treasure. That’s one of the reasons I encouraged my own children to spend time with their grandparents. I didn’t want them to miss out on such a magical experience. Luckily, I’m extremely close to my parents so I have lots of special memories that will last forever.
YL: For me, it’s hearing a piece of music which was a favourite of my dad’s, or cooking one of my mum’s favourite dishes, and remembering the treasured shared moments together at the time.
What is your favourite phrase or illustration in ‘Lola and Grandpa’? Why?
AK: My favourite phrase is probably – ‘Time slips away Grandpa, but love and memories last forever’ – because it’s true. Sometimes we’re so lost in our grief that we forget to focus on the good things – the love, the laughs, the memories. We may not always have a lot of time with our loved ones, but the love we felt and the memories we made will live with us forever.
My favourite illustrations are the ones in the opening pages that show Lola and Grandpa exploring the world. They delight in the character’s faces says it all.
YL: It’s both words and illustrations for me. I have two:
‘When Lola and Grandpa are together they dance through the day.’ I love to dance myself, and I think that is such a joyous way of expressing how the two characters enjoy their time together. I had fun coming up with the illustrations for this text, showing Lola and Grandpa ‘dancing’ through their day. I designed the book as well, and on this page, I made even the words ‘dance’ around the page.
‘Even the stars have found a new home in someone else’s sky.’ I write in a poetic way myself, so I loved Ashling’s expression here. I tried to bring more emotion into the illustration which accompanies these words, and as a result, this picture is one of my favourites – it’s sad, but beautiful and filled with meaning.
What do you hope readers will take away from engaging with your book?
AK: I hope that anyone who reads Lola and Grandpa walks away feeling uplifted. I want them to know that even though life can be difficult, if we focus on the positives we can overcome challenges and grow from the experience. I hope readers are also reminded about how important it is to spend time with loved ones and live each day to the fullest.
YL: Firstly, I hope both young and old will enjoy the story and identify in some way with the characters and the setting – especially the fun, joyous relationship between a child and the special person in their life. Then, I hope readers will take heart and hope in what life has to offer. This is a book which offers both.
Thank you both for the wonderful interview, and congratulations again on a truly special book! 😊
Ashling Kwok can be found at the following links:
Yvonne Low can be found at the following links:
Purchase Lola and Grandpa at Little Pink Dog Books | Booktopia
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