All parents are eager to have their kids eat
healthy foods. Read the charming
interview Audra Rundle did with Katherine Ayers, and
learn why vegetables and gardens get her so excited.
Rundle (AR) What do you want children to get out of your book Up, Down, and Around?
Ayers (KA): I hope
children will get excited about seeing those giant carrots, and oh my goodness,
how many ants are there on the pages, and look there's a worm under the ground.
The sense of wonder is one of the most precious gifts of childhood and
I'm hoping my books appeal to that sense.
What was the most rewarding aspect of creating and writing Up, Down, and Around?
KA: Seeing the art! You write a picture book
text and sort of imagine how it might turn out, but once I saw some of Nadine
Westcott's sketches I got very excited. The writing wasn't too hard, as
there aren't too many words in this book. I did fiddle around with the
verbs--climb, vine, twine, wind. That was fun.
What is YOUR favorite vegetable?
KA: Tomatoes, hands down. But I had a
sort-of rule---I had to like every veggie in the book. When I was a small
child I was a very picky eater, so corn and tomatoes and potatoes were about my
only veggies, but these days, I love lots of them. You didn't ask about a
least favorite veggie. I'll answer that anyway---brussels
sprouts---bleah! But they're my dad's favorite. All our tongues get
to make up their own minds about what tastes good.
Do you personally have a garden?
KA: I love to play in the dirt. I grow mostly flowers and flowering
shrubs. We have two houses, so I'm not in one place all summer at the
present time. If I planted veggies in Massachusetts, by the time they
ripened, I'd be back in Pittsburgh. So the bunnies and the deer and the
bears would eat them all. I do plant herbs in a big pot by the back door.
That's it for now. Oh, and my smallest granddaughter likes to eat my
begonias. Does that count?
What has been the most gratifying experience you've had of a child reading this
KA: I love it when kids dance to the story.
Probably the most amazing moment came while on tour for the Pennsylvania
One Book (Every Young Child) when an entire library full of kindergarten
children (300 of them) sang my story to me. Wow!
Is there anything you would change about Up,
Down, and Around since it’s been published?
KA: No. To me, it's yummy, just as it is.