Simply 7 with Sandra Salsbury & Giveaway: SPRECKLE’S SNACK SURPRISE

It’s time for another amazing author-illustrator interview AND giveaway!

Sandra SalsburyIt was only a couple of years ago that Sandra Salsbury stopped by my blog to discuss her debut picture book.  She is an illustrator who also sometimes writes picture books. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she received a BFA and MFA in illustration from the Academy of Art University. She lives in Berkeley with her husband, daughter, and numerous house plants.  You can learn more about her at her website.

COVERSPRECKLE’S SNACK SURPRISE is Sandra’s second book and oh my goodness, what an amazing picture book this is.  This story follows a little dragon named Spreckle who hatches in a chicken coop.  She isn’t quite content to eat like a chicken though and goes in search of better snacks.  This journey is surprisingly funny and heartfelt in ways I wasn’t expecting.  I was thoroughly delighted with every twist and turn, laughed out loud at some surprises I don’t want to spoil, and fell madly in love with how incredibly well written this story is (every single aspect plays an important role!).  This is a book I will definitely read over and over again to see just how well it was executed and I know my students will love it too.

Welcome back Sandra!

Me: Once, long ago, I remember seeing you post a picture on social media of a dragon who wanted a popsicle and the after effects. It was adorable and everyone clamored for more. When did this illustration become a story?

Sandra: I posted the very first illustrations of what would become Spreckle in the summer of 2020 and had a first draft of the story by September. People connected so much with the disappointment of the melting popsicle that I knew I had to find the story in the art.


Me: I love that you have Spreckle on a farm, being raised by chickens. What gave you that idea?

Sandra: When brainstorming the book, I knew the popsicle was the failed snack, so I had to figure out the “perfect” snack for a dragon. S’mores felt like the obvious answer, but another book about a dragon discovering s’mores had just come out, so I wanted something different. When the idea of popcorn popped into my head (ha ha), there needed to be a source for the corn kernels, so the farm and the chickens followed quickly.

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Me: This story is SO incredibly well written. Every aspect of the story plays out later. Eggs (check), chickens (check), snacks (check), and even rain (check). And your humor shines through. The moment with the pig was hysterical. How many revisions did it take to get the manuscript this well polished?

Sandra: The book went through one major revision, where I changed the entire middle of the book, and about a million tiny revisions, but the elements you mention (the chickens, the corn, the rain) were there from the beginning, because these elements were necessary to tell the story of a dragon discovering popcorn.


Me: I adore the end pages with the slugs peeping out AND the running slug gag throughout the book. I usually think of chickens eating worms (like that old cartoon trope). Why did you pick slugs instead of worms or anything else for this story?

simply7_5Sandra: My editor and I had a discussion about this! I picked slugs because my garden doesn’t have any slugs or snails in it. I suspect it’s because my neighbor’s chickens frequently stop by to snack. Slugs are actually not very good for chickens because they carry parasites, so I thought about changing it, but ultimately decided that slugs are funnier than worms. In the words of my editor, Kathy Landwehr, “we are making a picture book, not a documentary.”

Me: I love the color palette and the textures you used in this book. Can you talk a bit about what your illustration process looked like? Did you still use traditional watercolor? Or was it a blend of traditional and digital media?

Sandra: I used a mix of traditional and digital media. The book is mostly traditional watercolor, but used photoshop for the final details of the art. For this book, I really wanted to use the color “Opera Rose” for the popsicles, so I built my color palette around that color. To make sure that color was very present in the book, I used a wet in wet watercolor technique to drop that hot pink into the shadows.


Me: Ohh!  I love that!  What is one thing that surprised you in writing or illustrating this story?

Sandra: I’m surprised with how many slugs there are in the book. A little secret about me is that I have a bit of a slug phobia. If you asked me five years ago if I would ever illustrate a book with slugs, I would Screen Shot 2023-08-03 at 2.37.46 PMhave said no. But they were the right ingredient for this story, so I did it, and I actually really like my little slug illustrations.

Me: I have to ask about the Book Facts nutrition bar you put on the back cover. It’s hilarious AND brilliant! Was that your idea or someone else’s (your agent/editor/art director)? How did think of that?

Sandra: Thank you so much! That was my idea. Actually, it was Dan Santat’s idea. When he gives talks about book design, he often mentions the book Carnivores (authored by Aaron Reynolds). He designed the cover to look like packaged meat from the grocery story. That approach to design really stuck in my head, so when I was doing sketches for the Spreckle cover, one of the options was to make it look like snack packaging, which is colorful and appeals to kids. That ended up being the one my publisher picked because it gave us so many opportunities for humor, right on the outside of the book.

I love that too!  Thank you so much for stopping by my blog again today Sandra.

Dear readers, if you haven’t yet had a chance to read this one, you will absolutely want to track down a copy (especially because if you leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads after reading it, you can get FIVE BONUS POINTS in the Giveaway for this same book!).  That’s right!  Sandra has agreed to offer a giveaway copy of the book.  All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter here.  Good luck!

8 thoughts on “Simply 7 with Sandra Salsbury & Giveaway: SPRECKLE’S SNACK SURPRISE

  1. The illustrations are so cute! I can’t wait to read this and study the art/text balance. I placed a hold at my library. I didn’t know that slugs are bad for chickens before reading this post.

  2. This book came into our bookstore and it was an instant favorite! I wrote a shelf talker for it and it quickly sold, so we ordered more copies. 🙂

  3. So interesting to learn that you chose your palette around the popsicle color! I love getting a glimpse of how artists think.

  4. Pingback: Giveaway winner: SPRECKLE’S SNACK SURPRISE | Jena Benton

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