Was it really almost a month ago we met with Brooke to talk about her first book coming out this spring? Man, time is really flying! Speaking of flying, Brooke’s second book released this spring also has wings!
Brooke Hartman has visited my blog just last month to talk about her picture book THE LITTLEST AIRPLANE. She is a local author who sometimes writes about Alaskan topics (like the previous book and bush planes) and sometimes not, like today’s book. Her many interests lead to the most interesting picture books. She has two wonderful daughters and an amazing husband who support her in what she does. And I’m sure her dog does too. You can learn more about her at her website, or follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
PEGA SISTERS GO TO CAMP is a story she’s been working on for a few years now. It involves two Pegasi, Lilly and Filly, who are sisters. They go to camp for the first time together. While older sister Lilly has high hopes for her first visit, her sister Filly is constantly under hoof wrecking those expectations. This is a creative twist on the older sibling’s frustration with the younger sibling plot line unlike any I’ve quite seen before. It’s a fun mashup of flying horses, camp, and sisters that I’m sure will keep young readers revisiting this book.
Welcome back Brooke!
Me: I can’t think of many picture books about Pegasi, especially Pegasi at camp. What gave you the idea?
Brooke: My kids (where approximately 392% of my ideas come from). A few years ago, my girls and I were playing My Little Ponies together, and my oldest said something like, “look at these pegasus-sisters,” and both of us immediately cried, “pega-sisters!” We liked the idea so much, together we wrote out a story about two pega sisters and crayoned some illustrations. My daughter brought the story to school the next day to gift to one of her friends. Who knows, her friend might even still have that original first-first draft!
Me: I just love the idea of Pegasi characters. Have you thought of potential sequels for this story? Could there be more books with Lilly and Filly?
Brooke: Yes, my girls and I have thought of SO many more adventures for Lilly and Filly! The publisher, Page Street Kids, doesn’t typically publish many series titles, but for these lovable winged characters I’m hoping they’ll make an exception.
Me: Why camp as a setting? Did you go to camp when you were younger? Have your kids ever been to camp?
Brooke: The camp setting sort of came about by accident. My agent and I were rewriting this story for the nine millionth time and she suggested adding a more precise framework around Lilly and Filly’s adventures. I can’t recall if the camp concept had been her idea or mine, or even perhaps one of the publishers we’d pitched the story to at the time, but the idea stuck with me and made for some fun flying additions! I went to a couple different summer camps as a kid, and both of my daughters have been to several, so between the three of us we were able to brainstorm a lot of activities with punny pony twists.
Me: There are so many different things that go on at this Pegasi camp! Were all of those crafts there from the beginning or did some of them come about with revision? How many revisions did this manuscript undergo before you sold it?
Brooke: Many of the crafts (cloud crafts!) and cake baking (this was originally a carrot cake) were there at the very beginning (even in that very first rendition that was gifted to my daughter’s friend), but as for the number of revisions this went through… I don’t know if math goes that high. Seriously, the number of revisions this went through first with my critique group, then with my agent, then with a possible editor, then back with my agent, and then with my actual editor are too many to count. But the root of the story (two Pega sisters who love each other, but sometimes step on each other’s hooves) never changed. It just goes to show that a story can be told many different ways, and not to be afraid to play around with the way it’s written. You might strike gold at the end of the revision rainbow!
Me: You explore the very common theme of struggling with a younger sibling. Why is that a theme you wanted to write about for younger readers?
Brooke: Since the characters of Lilly and Filly are my two girls in every way, this inspiration wasn’t hard to come by. There are some subtle differences between the way my girls interact and their pega sister counterparts, but aside from the mythical horse element, this could’ve been a nonfiction story! I knew other sibling readers (and parents of sibling readers) would recognize the universal themes of sisterly love, aggravation, friendship, and reconciliation in themselves or their own children, and above all else it was these themes I wanted to shine through.
Me: MacKenzie Haley’s illustrations in this book are so cute. Were there any illustration surprises for you? What is your favorite illustration?
Brooke: Honestly I love all her illustrations (in all her books, not just this one!), but the characters of Lilly and Filly themselves are simply adorable. I love how she captures their individual characteristics, interactions, and emotions, all while they engage in fun pega-sisterly activities.
Me: Which Pega Sister were you more like when you were younger? Lilly or Filly?
Brooke: I was “Camp Lilly” all the way! My room was always neat, I liked my stuff organized, and I consistently strove for perfection. However, I have two younger brothers that were just like Filly, and despite our differences, some of the best memories of my life are from when we spent time together–building forts, climbing trees, playing with Legos, you name it. My husband and I tell our daughters that while they might not always get along, don’t ever let go of that sisterly bond. Pega sisters forever!
Aww! That is great advice. Thank you for visiting again Brooke.
But wait, dear readers. There’s more!
I have the privilege of wrapping up Brooke’s blog tour and there is a giant giveaway courtesy of the Children’s Book Review. Please note that I am not hosting this giveaway or in charge of picking a winner. I’m simply letting you know of the wonderful opportunity that is available until April 30th. You can enter here for one of these amazing prize baskets (see picture below). There are three prizes being given away. I don’t think you’ll want to miss it!