Author-Illustrator Mary Morgan’s newest book, PIP SITS (I Like to Read®), released last month. Published by Holiday House as part of their I Like to Read Series, it’s the sweet story of Pip, a porcupine, and the little ducklings who think he’s their mama. PIP SITS has received some lovely reviews. Kirkus Reviews calls it “A good read for hatching new readers” and SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL compliments Mary’s illustrations as “endearing”. I’m thrilled today to have Mary as my guest. Thank you for joining us, Mary! I believe this is the first time I’ve had an author-illustrator here to chat about a book! Well, let’s get started.
What is the inspiration behind PIP SITS?
I was inspired by an antique photograph of a young girl sitting in the grass with many ducklings on her lap. The look on her face was pure joy. I tried to find an original idea that would also capture the bliss children have when relating to animals. I thought about birds imprinting on whoever they first see when they hatch. I have raised baby birds and it is very interesting to have a tiny bird imprint on you. So this was how the idea of the story was hatched.
How wonderful for your readers, Mary, that you had the creative instinct to write a story based on these bits of inspiration.
PIP SITS is not your first book. Tell us a little bit about your journey as an author/illustrator.
I was born in Chicago and grew up in Kansas City. My summers were spent in Tulsa with my grandmother where I first took art classes at the Philbrook Art Gallery and later was an assistant art teacher. I could do what I loved there, draw! My grandmother always encouraged my art with trips to the ballet and art museums. She let me keep all kinds of animals to draw from: mice, guinea pigs, chicks and even a small bat. My father’s nightly readings of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and the Wind in the Willows also inspired me. I was enthralled by these books and knew I wanted to create books too.
What a wonderful way to grow up! And I’m so glad you listened to that inner voice that said “I want to create books too!”
Since you are my first author-illustrator, I know my readers will be extra interested in hearing what your process was like as both author and illustrator in creating this story.
I wrote the story in a rough form first. Then I made many character sketches of Pip, the porcupine. After this, I imagined the scenes in the book. I drew very rough ideas of what the images would look like on each page.
Then I rewrote the story many times working out all the details. When at last I was content with the story I did the finished drawings.
I find it interesting that you wrote the story first. I, for some reason, imagined that you would begin with sketches. But, I can see that both are integral in your creative process. Fascinating!
Teachers and parents are always looking for ways to tie picture books into the curriculum or extend the enjoyment with post-reading activities. Do you have any extension activities your readers might enjoy?
My web site is www.marymorganbooks.com. On my web page there is a section called, fun page. There I show you how to make dragon pizzas, draw a dragon and help Little Mouse find another place to sleep. Here is an example…
In the book, Sleep Tight Little Mouse, Little Mouse found many places to sleep. He slept upside down with bats in a cave, inside kangaroo pouches and even in a bird’s nest. Can you think of other ways animals sleep that Little Mouse might like to try?
Make a drawing of him sleeping like these different animals.
That “Fun Page” is a treasure, Mary. I also did a little poking around, Mary, and discovered a terrific educator’s guide for PIP SITS available at Holiday House.
Finally, what’s next? Are there more picture books and projects in the pipeline? Also, where can interested readers find your books and other work for sale?
I have many projects I am working on. One is a fantasy about a young girl that migrates with the Monarchs. I hope this story will bring interest to the difficulties the Monarch Butterfly is having with its environment. I am also working on a book about a bilingual bird and another about magical tutus. My books can be bought on Amazon.com.
Thank you so much for joining us, Mary!
About the Author
After studying art at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Instituto de San Miguel de Allende in Mexico; Mary worked as an illustrator at Hallmark cards for ten years.
Mary illustrated her first book in 1987. In the past twenty years she has illustrated over forty books, many of which she also wrote: from Jake Baked a Cake, Sleep Tight Little Mouse to her most recent book, Pip Sits.
Mary and her husband divide their time between France, their home is in a small medieval village, Semur en Auxois, their sailboat, which is now in The Canary Islands and their families, especially their grandchildren!
Web site: www.marymorganbooks.com