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Kids' Q&A

Cynthia Rylant and Nikki McClure

Describe your latest project.
From the publisher: All in a Day is a lovely book that illuminates all the possibilities a day offers — the opportunities and chances that won't ever come again — and also delivers a gentle message of good stewardship of our planet. Newbery Medal winner Cynthia Rylant's poetic text, alongside Nikki McClure's stunning, meticulously crafted cut-paper art, makes this picture book not only timeless but appealing to all ages, from one to one hundred.

Nikki McClure: Illustrating All in a Day was memorable. Making books makes me happy. It was an honor to work with Cynthia Rylant's words as my first major published children's book. I wanted to capture a child's sense of the infinite in the smallness of everyday life. A backyard is vast, collecting an egg is adventure, wishes are real, mother is home.

  1. All in a Day
    $7.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    All in a Day

    Cynthia Rylant and Nikki McClure
    "[Readers will] enjoy Rylant's rhythms and the tenderness of McClure's images." Publishers Weekly
  2. A Fine White Dust A Newbery Award Nominee

    An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

    "Simply but beautifully written...a tale with enough suspense to hold readers till the end." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  3. Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered
    $8.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist
    "[W]onderful....McClure's text is appropriate for fine arts libraries interested in collecting visual material in the so-called minor arts. Her organic, modernist images and life-affirming message make this a suitable children's book, too." Library Journal
  4. Missing May
    $1.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

    Missing May

    Cynthia Rylant
    "A haunting first-person narrative." Horn Book

    "There is much to ponder here, from the meaning of life and death to the power of love. That it all succeeds is a tribute to a fine writer who brings to the task a natural grace of language, an earthly sense of humor, and a well-grounded sense of the spiritual." School Library Journal

What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
Nikki McClure: Snufkin from Moomin stories, Ratty from Wind in the Willows, Titty from Swallows and Amazons.

If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
Cynthia Rylant: The story I would like to live in is The Secret Garden. I would love to be in the garden every day; I would love to live in a beautiful English mansion; I would love to explore the countryside all around and know the animals and birds, and most of all, I would like never to be lonely.

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
McClure: Tove Jansson: Comet in Moominland or Finn Family Moomintroll or Exploits of Moominpappa.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
McClure: I discovered this poem by William Carlos Williams when I had finished the illustrations to All in a Day.

so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands?
McClure: The Odyssey was at my husband's woodshop. He made a fire in the woodstove with my son's help and I started reading out loud a passage from the book. Soon my son was in my lap, entranced.

What is your idea of bliss?
McClure: Picking and eating blueberries after the dew has dried but before the sun gets high in the sky.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Rylant: I wanted to be the wife of someone doing something important for the world. I wanted him to be out in front doing some sort of meaningful work, and I wanted to be behind the scenes, helping. I would have made a good president's wife.

Why do you write books for kids?
McClure: Exploration, wonder, delight in discovery, and that feeling of sitting in a lap as one is being read to.

Name the best Simpsons episode of all time, and explain why it's the best.
McClure: This is the wrong question for me!

Who are your favorite characters in history?
Rylant: I like to read about soldiers in wartime who performed noble acts of courage.

If you could be someone else, who would that be, and why?
McClure: A swallow. I would like to experience flying and swooping about.

If you could pick anyone to illustrate one of your books, who would it be and why?
Rylant: My dream illustrator for one of my stories would be Mary Cassatt, who painted the most lovely pictures of women and children.

What's your clean, kid-friendly curse word substitute of choice?
McClure: "Onion sauce! Onion sauce!" (from Wind in the Willows)

What book by another author do you wish you had written?
Rylant: I wish I had written Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, which I think is perhaps the most perfect picture book for children ever made.

If you could choose, what would be your last meal?
McClure: This is a hard question. There are so many choices. The best bread and a freshly picked salad and chocolate cake.

What three things would you bring to a desert island?
McClure: My family (which is two things) and a knife. (A box of knives?)

Is there a maxim or philosophy that you live by?
Rylant: Not a philosophy but an intent: whatever is happening in my life, try to get through the day with some integrity.

Whom would you wish to write your biography?
Rylant: To write my biography? Someone kind and forgiving, with a gentle voice. Someone who realized I did the best I could, even in my mistakes. William Maxwell would be my pick. He wrote so beautifully about the frailties of being human.

If you could have lunch with a person of your choosing — living or dead, fictitious or real — who would it be?
McClure: MFK Fisher.

Make a question of your own, then answer it.
McClure: What are you going to do today? (It is morning time right now). Clean off my desk, sweep the floor, and start cutting a picture out for my next book, Mama, Is It Summer Yet? Maybe make some tea, too.

÷ ÷ ÷

Cynthia Rylant is the author of more than a hundred books for children. She won the Newbery Medal for Missing May and the Newbery Honor for A Fine White Dust. She lives in Oregon.

Nikki McClure is a self-taught artist who has been making paper-cuts since 1996. She is the author and illustrator of Collect Raindrops. All in a Day is her first children's book. She lives with her family in Olympia, Washington.


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