That doesn’t mean that as a publisher I don’t make mistakes. But I hope I make fewer now and I do learn from them. This past year, I had not thought much of one picture book honoured by the Children’s Book Council. It seemed too easy, slight, formulaic, even though it was stylishly illustrated and designed. And then I watched as my 5 year old granddaughter’s orientation class sat bent forward with their mouths open as it was read to them, and laughed at points that repeatedly surprised me. They loved it! So what did I know? Such unexpected experiences are humbling and helpful. Publishers are risk takers – you can’t be absolutely sure of success.
Right now I am fascinated by little children’s eyerolls and side-eyes. As a child, I remember the responses they indicate, but I don’t think we felt entitled to express them. I love their playfulness, and the way they can run two narratives (or more) simultaneously. But you see, as soon as I start to analyse them in adult words, I will contaminate them – like explaining a joke. Better to keep the storytelling simple and let the reader do the interpreting.