JK: Congratulations on your debut picture book, Alison! It’s exciting to see I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES out in the world. How did you come up with the idea for this adorable book?
AG: Thank you, Joy! As preschoolers, my children loved vehicles. We played with toy excavators, set up many windy train tracks, and admired every construction site we passed. I remember my kids staring wide-eyed when they saw planes out of the big glass windows at the airport for the first time. I started to understand what vehicles meant to my kids: powerful, large, and mysterious characters full of metaphor.
At night, the “How much do you love me?” game turned into a comparison of our love to the size and strength of all things that go. After coming up with many of these examples for my own kids, I thought it could be a fun take on a love book.
Check out the book trailer here.
That trailer is so much fun! I notice it features all different types of things-that-go. Do you have a favorite?
I’d have to go with cranes. They seem impossibly tall for transporting to construction sites. While writing I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES I observed a crane in my city and noticed that a bird had built a nest at the top! It reminded me of the sweet truck book, ARE YOU MY MOTHER? By P.D. Eastman.
My kids have always loved that book and its pictures of the “Snort.” Speaking of pictures, what was it like to see Mike Yamada’s illustrations for the first time?
I was thrilled! I love the movement in his images. Mike creates such unique perspectives. And the bears are adorable! I’m also really grateful that the child bear’s gender is not defined but left open to the reader’s imagination. Many vehicle books are created with boys in mind. I hope I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES can be a book for any child who loves vehicles, bears, or being told just how much they are loved.
As a female author who’s also written a book featuring trucks, I think it’s wonderful that your story can be for any child! Now let’s talk about your process for a minute. What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?
Competing projects. I have a long list of stories I’d like to work on (thank you to Tara Lazar’s Storystorm for getting me into the habit of compiling them!). Sometimes I find it hard to decide which one to tackle next.
One of the things that I admire about you (other than your writing talent!) is your dedication to giving and activism. Can you tell us a little about what you’re doing to celebrate your book launch?
One of my very first jobs was as an organizer for the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger at the Food Research and Action Center. At the time, our campaign materials included a unique image of children reading while surrounded by food. This art helped raise support for our work to strengthen nutrition programs serving kids and was donated by Tomie dePaola!
So when I found out that my first picture book would be published—a love book for children–I knew I had to find a way to contribute to this campaign. To celebrate my book launch I’m donating a portion of proceeds to the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, and I’m planning some special book events in 2018 to raise support for this work. I’d welcome other children’s book creators to get in touch if they’re interested in getting involved.
We’ll have to talk more about that later! It sounds like a great opportunity.You’re also part of a new blog called M is for Movement. Can you tell us about that, as well?
M is for Movement is a new group blog focused on activism and social justice in children’s literature. My collaborators include Janine Macbeth, Innosanto Nagara, and Robert Liu-Trujillo, and together we aim to build a collection of articles, interviews, and reviews about children’s books that put social justice values into practice.
We launched in October, and already we’ve connected with a number of children’s book creators and librarians who are interested in writing for the site. I’m excited to help build this community, draw attention to powerful books, and learn from many voices!
Thanks, Alison! It’s been wonderful learning more about I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES and all your social justice work.