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Kids' Q&A

Randall de Seve and Loren Long

Describe your latest project.
Randall de Seve: Toy Boat is about attachment and independence, from the perspective of both sides of the "parent/child" relationship. A little toy boat, tethered by a string to its boy, wonders what freedom would feel like. The two get separated, the boy is distraught, and the boat has some harrowing experiences alone on the lake. It manages to return, having learned that it really wants to be with the boy, who has also learned to let go a little.

Loren Long: Toy Boat is a story about a little boy who creates a boat out of a can, a cork, a pencil and some white cloth. The boy loves the boat and one day down by the lake the boat gets loose and floats out into the deep water. The reader goes on this adventure with the little boat as he faces adversity and misses the little boat.

I was drawn to this story written by Randall de Seve for its timeless, classical feel. It is a tale about how a difficult journey can show you just where you belong. As the illustrator of Toy Boat, I had great fun creating the boat characters and watching them come to life. My hope is that when children read the book they will feel the emotion in the little boat and feel that Toy Boat is their friend, too.


  1. Toy Boat
    $4.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    Toy Boat

    Randall de Seve and Loren Long
    "With plenty of buoyant charm and imaginative artwork, this contemporary Little Toot has an abundance of child appeal." Booklist (starred review)
  2. The Little Engine That Could
    $7.50 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    The Little Engine That Could

    Watty Piper and Loren Long
    "Both faithful fans and newcomers will enjoy this triumphant ride and eagerly climb aboard for repeat excursions." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
What is your favorite family story?
Randall de Seve: It's really difficult to narrow it to one, especially since my family has two children, five years apart. Everyone, including my 2-year old, loves the wonderfully illustrated Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. It's hilarious (from a parent's point of view — Daddy's done it again, losing his toddler girl's favorite stuffed animal and misunderstanding the initial drama that ensues) and touching for a young child, who can feel the girl's frustration and sadness over losing the bunny — and joy at getting it back.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, still speaks to my 7-year old and to the 7-year old in me. What a celebration of difference and originality! (I wish I had had that book when being teased as a child for my "boy's name.")

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo is just about perfect. It's a chapter book that kept my older daughter up WAY past her bedtime until we finished reading it aloud (which is probably the best way to read it — its language is gorgeous). In an old French castle, the stories of three outcast characters, a mouse, a rat and a peasant girl intertwine (along with that of a princess); and each, through (unlikely) kindness and bravery, earns an approximation of his/her heart's desire. The story's language and format evoke traditional literary tales for much older readers — but DiCamillo knows her audience and speaks directly to it.

Loren Long: The Little Drummer Boy. I love the message.

If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
Randall de Seve: Harold and the Purple Crayon — no debate. You want something; you draw it. You need something; you draw it. Regrets? Fix them with a line. In Harold's world, anything is possible.

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
Randall de Seve: William Steig, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Like all of Steig's books, this one is a joy to read aloud. Steig's language rolls right off the tongue, and he never underestimates his young audience's intelligence. In Sylvester, a donkey (Sylvester) finds a magic pebble that will grant him any wish. Frightened by a lion, he inadvertently wishes he were a rock — which he immediately becomes. Doomed to sit forever in the same spot, away from his loving parents, Sylvester becomes depressed, as do his parents who finally accept that they'll never see their child again. Or will they?

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands?
Randall de Seve: My mother bought it for herself and I stole it from her in the bookstore, before she could take it home. It's the memoir, Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a fascinating, moving portrait of one woman's relationship with Islam. I never tire of reading about people's lives and perspectives so unlike my own.

Do you read the Sunday funnies, and which are your favorites?
Loren Long: I do read the funnies. I like Red and Rover by Brian Basset. I'm a dog lover and the artist often captures those special and amusing moments between dog and human.

What was your favorite story as a child?
Loren Long: My favorite story as a child was The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. To this day it reminds me of the times I had with my mother when I was little. The story has been a part of my life growing up and I often thought of Little Blue in challenging times. It was the biggest honor of my career to create new art for the original 1930 Watty Piper text in 2005.

What do you do for relaxation?
Loren Long: I love movies and I'm something of a kayak enthusiast.

And sometimes, making pictures for books can be very relaxing.

What is your idea of bliss?
Loren Long: My idea of bliss is a big bowl of Black Raspberry Chip ice cream from Graeters, my favorite ice cream parlor.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Randall de Seve: A veterinarian. I had always had pets and romanticized the job of treating them. When I was a teenager, I worked on weekends — at the wise suggestion of my parents — in a veterinary office, which turned out to be a very unglamorous job. I cleaned out cages and held often-frightened animals for check-ups and medications. Some of the work was profoundly sad, like when I was asked, on several occasions, to help with euthanasia. Ultimately, I decided that being a pet owner was enough for me.

Loren Long: I wanted to be a Major League baseball player. I wanted to play centerfield for the Cincinnati Reds. When it did not look as if that was going to happen, I turned to something else I loved...drawing pictures.

Why do you write books for kids?
Randall de Seve: I love kids, and as a parent and a teacher, I have had the fortune of reading aloud to them for well over a decade. I want to write stories children and adults will want to read over and over again; to me, that's the sign of a great kids' book. I also want to write books my daughters are proud to share Finally, I have to quote Kate DiCamillo from The Tale of Despereaux: "Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark."

Tell us about your pets.
Randall de Seve: Right now, I have only one. Darla is a white pit bull with one black eye that my husband and I rescued eight years ago on a cold, rainy night in Brooklyn. She was in bad shape, and Peter insisted we take her in just until she got well. Then we'd find her a real home. Not knowing that this was the oldest line in the book, I reluctantly agreed. Unlike her rescuers, Darla knew she was home from the moment she walked into our house. She wrecked the rugs in Peter's studio, where she lived for the first week, and quickly wove her way into our hearts. No dog could be more loving or gentle, even while her tail is being pulled and toddler fingers explore her nose. We call Darla "Darla Poodle," because she doesn't know she's a pit bull.

Loren Long: I have a beloved dog named Stella. She is a Weimaraner and she is 13 years old. 13 Years is a long time for a dog of her type. She has been in our lives since before we had our two sons. Stella hangs out in my studio often while I work. I put her in many of my books. See if you can find her in the sky in one of the last scenes of Toy Boat. She is also in one of the opening images of the new version of The Little Engine That Could. You can see Stella by visiting my website at www.lorenlong.com.

÷ ÷ ÷

Randall de Seve lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Loren Long previously illustrated The Little Engine That Could. He lives in Westchester, Ohio.

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