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Author Showcase

Welcome Kathleen Cherry to the Reading Tub

RT: Welcome to the Reading Tub, Kathleen! It was so exciting to see a picture book cover with a grandfather and grandson on it. Could you tell us about your reaction when you saw it for the first time?

Kathleen: I loved the cover. I think Jill Quinn Babcock is a fantastic artist and I loved the energy and vibrancy of the cover page.

RT: Blowing Bubbles "looks like" a story about a boy and his grandfather, but it is really a story about family. Was it hard to create a story that spoke to all readers, not just boys and grandfathers?

Kathleen: I think it is hard to create a story which discusses a serious subject but is also engaging to children. No kid wants a lecture so I felt it imperative to ensure that Blowing Bubbles still had the necessary "fun" factor.

RT: About halfway through the story, Josh learns that his grandfather is in the hospital. He has had a stroke and lost his his ability to communicate. How can he still chew gum?

Kathleen: I am asked that question a lot. I have received feedback that it is not realistic to have Grandpa unable to talk while still chewing gum and blowing bubbles.

Grandpa's brain was damaged on the left side of the Broca's Area. That's why he still has the physical ability to chew but his language ability is impaired.

I will readily concede that most hospitals would not allow a stroke patient to chew gum. My only response - I think Grandpa is a bit of a rebel.

RT: Grandpa is definitely an independent thinker ... you can sense that from the first pages of the story. As we talked about, I completely missed Mom's explanation of Grandpa's stroke and instead *heard* a dementia diagnosis. Do you see Blowing Bubbles as the kind of book parents could share with their children who are coming to grasp with losing a grandparent to Alzheimer's and related illnesses like Lewy-Body dementia?

Kathleen: There are excellent children’s books on the subject of Alzheimer's that would likely work better thanBlowing Bubbles. These include Singing with Momma Lou by Linda Jacobs Altman and What My Grandma Means to Say by Susan Adcox.

RT: In doing some research to prepare for our interview, I saw that you are working on a PhD in counseling, but also looking into the impact of physical activity on learning. How did you get interested in this subject?

Kathleen: I am a very high stress individual so, on a personal level, I have always needed strategies to self-regulate. As a teacher, I am seeing an increase in behavioral issues and children who find it difficult to focus and are demonstrating traits of attention deficit. Exercise is one the major ways I keep myself healthy so it seemed natural to explore its impact on children..

RT: Aside from a possible doctoral thesis, do you have any visions of writing a children's story about this concept?

Kathleen: I do not have any stories about the exercise learning connection at this moment. That said, I have several more manuscripts aimed for the picture book and middle grade markets.

RT: In addition to being a writer, you describe yourself as a reader. Do you remember any of the books that helped create the bookworm that you are today?

Kathleen: I was always an avid reader and read everything from the Trixie Belden mysteries to the classics like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women.

Different authors and themes have appealed at different times in my life but wanting and needing to have a book on the go is a constant.

As a parent and counselor, I have recognized the true art of the well-crafted picture book. Bernard Waber's Courage is or Franklin in the Dark by Paulette Bourgeois have a wonderful simplicity and symmetry to them.

RT: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Kathleen: Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the Reading Tub community.

RT: We wish you the best, Kathleen! I look forward to reading more of your books.

RT: You can read more of our interview with Kathleen on the Family Bookshelf.


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