It’s time for #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉
Today, I’m talking to Kaitlyn Wells about her delightful and heartwarming book A FAMILY LOOKS LIKE LOVE. Illustrations by Sawyer Cloud.
📚 If you had 30 minutes to yourself, what would you do?
When I have a few spare minutes to myself I like to look out the window, especially if there’s a sunrise or sunset. I don’t usually spend 30 minutes enjoying the scenery but it is wonderful to watch the world moving around me, and being still, even if only for a short time.
📚 If you wrote a book about your life, what would it be titled?
I wish I had an answer for you but I’m someone who always second-guesses myself. Truly, there’s too much anxiety here. Hey, maybe that should be the title!
📚 Do you like sprinkles on your ice cream?
Yes! Rainbow Jimmie sprinkles are my everyday jam; sugar pearls when I’m feeling fancy. But I hate tiny, multi-colored sugar balls because they’re just way too tough, bleed color everywhere, and are a pain to clean up. Yes, I’ve thought a lot about this!
📚 Who has been a positive influence on your life?
Several people have positively influenced my life. In these interviews I like to mention my mom and an acquaintance-turned friend who helped me get my start in my kidlit journey. But someone I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is my former mentor, KVH, who believed in my way back in high school and supported me throughout my college years. She gave me opportunities to experiment, fail, and succeed that I nobody else had before. She was an amazing person, and I shared a few of her lessons in this recent twitter thread.
📚 Let’s talk about A FAMILY LOOKS LIKE LOVE. Please tell us about the lovable main character. How does her character develop throughout the story?
Sutton is a playful puppy who loves everyone she meets. But she quickly realizes that the world isn’t afraid to make snap judgments about who she is supposed to be. She has to overcome her inner critic and realize that how she looks is perfect, and what truly matters is what’s in her heart.
Fun fact: She’s actually based on my own dog, Sutton (pictured in my profile photo)!
📚 How do you think children will relate to this book?
Kids will relate to the book because they’re reminded that no matter what you look like and how “different” you are from your family that there’s always a place you belong. Children who are multriacial, multicultural, adoptees, and/or come from non-traditional family structures are sure to see themselves in Sutton’s story.
📚 This book features a wonderful animal family. How is writing a picture book with animal characters different from writing a book with human characters?
One of the challenges of writing a book with animal characters is being mindful of your decisions to anthropomorphize them. There’s a long successful history of this tactic in children’s books but it can be difficult to pull off. I chose to maintain as much authenticity as I could with my approach, ensuring the rules of the dog family’s universe echoed the real-world, while still allowing them room for internal monologue and interaction within the animal kingdom.
📚 This book is very heartwarming. Is there a certain line or sentence that you feel is particularly heartening?
A spread that really stands out to me can be found in Sawyer Cloud’s illustrations. There’s a scene where the main character Sutton is imagining what life would be like if she looked like her family. It’s not heartening, but rather heartbreaking to see it on the page, especially when paired with text that affirms that what everyone else is telling her is true: she doesn’t belong. But not too long after that, we see a spread of that same pup, who’s much more joyful, rolling around in a sticky sweet mess on the ground. I love the playfulness here, and it reminds me of how my own dog Sutton loves to roll around in the grass, too.