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Kids' Q&A

Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter

Describe your new project.

Jenny Offill: I'm still mulling over ideas. Just crossing my fingers that when I come up with a good one Nancy Carpenter can be persuaded to be my illustrator again.

Nancy Carpenter: I love to illustrate plucky characters and the nameless narrator of 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore is no exception. She has a little Eloise and Junie B. Jones in her. When I first read the manuscript I said I would take it before I read past the first sentence... "I had an idea to staple my brother's hair to his pillow." It's virtually impossible to do such a thing but I loved the idea that this girl wanted to see if she could. When I was a kid I attached the tips of my blanket and sheets to a pulley system so I could make the bed with one strong tug. This character is so like that. The book combines my pen and ink drawing with photographic images. Most of the work was done on the computer. This was a new challenge for me. I wanted the finished illustrations to look as painterly and sketchy as if I had done it all with paint on paper.

  1. Seventeen Things I
    $5.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    Seventeen Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore

    Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book.
Jenny: George and Martha by James Marshall.

Nancy: D. B. Johnson's Henry Builds a Cabin and Henry Hikes to Fitchburg are two of the most beautifully illustrated and beautifully written books I know. I'm guessing most people do know him and his books but for those who don't, they are a must.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
Jenny: From Dr. Seuss's What Was I Scared Of:

I had to do an errand
had to pick a peck of snide
in a dark and gloomy snide field
that was almost 9 miles wide
I said I do not fear those pants
with nobody inside them
I said and said and said those words
I said them but I lied them

What is your favorite family story?
Nancy: My father read Where the Red Fern Grows to my sister and me while sitting in the hallway between our rooms. By the end of the book my father had to stop reading to blow his nose every few sentences (from crying so much) while my sister and I weeped and weeped from our beds.

What was your favorite story as a child?
Jenny: A fairy tale called "The Red Shoes" about a little girl who couldn't stop dancing.

Nancy: I was very into Cinderella and Snow White and any fairy tales I could get my hands on.

What is your idea of bliss?
Jenny: A good book, a roaring fire and a mug of hot chocolate.

Nancy: Walking into a fabric store with an unlimited budget.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Jenny: Hmm, not sure. But I know I had my heart set on marrying my dog, Blackhop. I penned a love letter to him that my mother still has. Dear Blackhop, it begins, You have a very handsome body. Sadly, it was not to be.

Why do you write books for kids?
Jenny: I wanted to write a book that captured the mischievous side of childhood. So many seem to be about teaching kids lessons, eat your spinach, don't talk back to your mother, go to bed, and they feel like rulebooks to me. I wanted a book that reflected kids as they really are, not as parents might wish them to be.

Describe your most memorable teacher.
Nancy: My mother was the art teacher in my elementary school. Because she didn't want other students or teachers to think she was playing favorites, she always gave me "Average" grade. I worked so hard to try to get an "Outstanding" on my report card but to no avail. It wasn't until I was an adult that she admitted I deserved "Outstanding" the whole time.

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
Jenny: I met a girl who has been pestering her mother to get her a beaver as a pet ever since she read my book.

What's your favorite holiday and why?
Jenny: Halloween. Free candy!

What do you do for relaxation?
Nancy: Fix lamps and rearrange my furniture.

Who are your favorite characters in history?
Jenny: Abraham Lincoln and Lou Reed.

For what author would you like to illustrate?
Nancy: I would love to illustrate a Barbara Park manuscript. She makes me and my daughter laugh so much.

If you could be someone else, who would that be, and why?
Jenny: A great polar explorer because I'm not terribly brave but I would like to be. spacer

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