Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Georgina Le Flufy, author of April's Window.
FQ: First, I have to ask – is April, the little girl in the story, based on a child you know?
LE FLUFY: I think all my characters are based loosely on a child or person I have known...or a part of myself! I think April evolved from the story itself. She was the child that brought all the different scenes and households together - as so often children can do.
FQ: A similar question – is the village based on a village you have traveled to (you mention loving to travel on your author bio), or is it all from your, or your illustrator’s, imagination? I ask because while it could be any little town, it seems to have some very distinct images that could only come from seeing such a town.
LE FLUFY: When I wrote the piece I think I was envisioning the different scenes in the window more so than the village itself, however Francisco, the illustrator, and myself are both from Europe and I believe our visions of the village coincided with each other. Francisco created the village and when I first saw it, I couldn't have been happier! It was exactly as I thought it should be.
FQ: Why a book about a child’s curiosity during the pandemic instead of, for instance, a silly book about playful animals? What drew you to this topic?
LE FLUFY: Funny you should mention that - my current project is a silly book about playful animals!
I think my own curiosity first drew me to this project! Everyone was very curious about what people were doing, and could do, in their homes when the first lockdown was issued. Kids were stuck inside and families were trying to stay entertained and I wanted a book that brought different households together, even though we were all apart.
FQ: I’d like to repeat a question that appears on the publisher’s page for the book so our readers can understand better – why do we need a children’s book about curiosity?
LE FLUFY: I work as an Early Childhood Educator and sparking a child's curiosity has always been a key part of engaging children in learning. If a child is curious about their environment and community, the ability and willingness to learn naturally follows. I believe the continuation of learning - however that may present itself to someone - is vital to understanding the world around us and finding our place within it.
FQ: April’s Window is very simple yet says so much. When you first visualized the story, did it have more text? Why did you decide to go with a simpler format?
LE FLUFY: It has definitely been edited but the format was always the same. I wanted to create a story that all ages could engage with. Language that would appeal to young children and a story older children could relate to.
FQ: How did you decide what to put in each window? I assume the prose was written first? Did you work the text around windows that you wanted to include or was it more a selection based on what fit into the flow of the prose?
LE FLUFY: I wrote down all the different images I saw or heard happening in homes around me, and across the world. I created the rhythm and then worked on the rhyme.
FQ: I loved that you included a tribute to first responders, nurses, etc., all those who have kept us safe through this trying time. What prompted you to include this tribute in your story instead of just a note at the end thanking them?
LE FLUFY: Thank you. I felt it was a natural end to a story that journeyed through the community of a village. I wrote it as a bedtime story and I wanted to comfort young children that there are always people in our community who want to help keep us safe. My mother is a nurse and worked night shifts when I was a child, I suppose I wanted young children who have parents and family members who work in healthcare and community roles to feel proud and not alone.
FQ: Writing a story about a current event is a very time-sensitive project. Did you ever feel like you were under a tight schedule to get the book to press?
LE FLUFY: I was lucky to have the freedom to write at my own leisure when creating this story. The publisher came onboard after receiving my manuscript, so I never felt pressure to get the book out. Although the story was inspired by current events, I also wanted it to be accessible over time, so we changed a few aspects to be more universal.
FQ: I was not aware of Ethicool Books before I read your book. Would you tell us a little about them and why you selected them as your publisher?
LE FLUFY: They are a wonderful publisher who genuinely care about publishing books that educate, entertain, and address environmental sustainability and current issues. I commend their forward thinking and courage! I knew little about the company before working with them, but Teigan and Stu have always been very kind, open, and supportive throughout the process.
FQ: What was the process like working with your illustrator, Francisco Fonseca? The book’s illustrations have such a strong sense of what April’s world looks like. Was it a collaborative effort or did Francisco envision the village and then share it with you, and then you’d suggest changes?
LE FLUFY: Francisco is a very gifted illustrator with a particular talent for creating villages and houses, that I immediately fell in love with. After seeing his portfolio, I was confident he would do wonders, and after an initial meeting over Zoom, he had free reigns to create - and he didn't disappoint! I received proofs as he went along and minor adjustments were made before we went to print. I couldn't be happier with a final creation, and what came to be April's Window.