One day I got this note:
Hello! This is Mrs. O'Connor's class from the Allamuchy Township School in Allamuchy, New Jersey. We love your book called Two Old Potatoes and Me. We loved all your illustrations because they were very colorful, powerful, and creative. We have never seen so many potatoes so colorful before. Your illustrations told us what was happening with the texture and color. How did you learn to draw? How did your illustrations get so amazing? You grabbed our attention and made us focus on the book. We want to know how the poutine tastes? Two more questions, do you know the characters' names and was the young character a boy or a girl?
From Mrs. O'Connor's Third Grade Class
P.S. We hope to hear from you soon!
Here's what I wrote back:
Dear Mrs. O'Connor and the Third Grade Class from Allamuchy Township School,
I was so excited to get your letter. Thank you! I love to hear from third graders and teachers who love books.
This is how I learned to draw: I put a pencil down on a piece of paper, and then watched to see where it went! I did that a lot, because in third grade I lived on a farm in Alberta, Canada. On my farm, if I wasn't drawing or practicing the piano, I would have to go outside and feed the cows. So I spent a lot of time drawing.
My drawings look really messy and rough when they first get on the page. But I redraw them, and redraw them, and redraw them, and redraw them again. In fact, I redraw them one million and seventeen times until they look good.
My favorite potato food is poutine. Poutine is made of french fries and cheese curds and gravy. Poutine tastes salty and slimy and greasy and cheesy and squishy. YUM!
The thing about books is that when you're reading a book, YOU get to imagine all the parts of the story that the author doesn't write and the illustrator doesn't illustrate. I never asked John Coy, the author, if he had a name for the main character. I didn't have a name for her, either. (I thought she was a girl, even though she looks like she could be a girl or a boy.) What if you third graders from Allamuchy School think of some names for this girl, then get Mrs. O'Connor to send me the favorites?
Did you know I hid some things in Two Old Potatoes and Me? For example, on the page with all the potatoes that says "Some are small. Some are big. Some have funny faces," I made a yellow potato that has the profile of Abraham Lincoln. Can you find it?
Thank you so much for sending me a letter! I'm working on a new book about weeds, and I wish I had a roomful of talented third-grade artists to help me finish the pictures!