Hooked on Books with Lauren Soloy

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Hooked on Books with Lauren Soloy

Sometimes it’s tough to be a small kid in a big world, having to play by a set of rules that tells one not to get dirty, sit up straight, sit still in school. But in this week’s Hooked on Books with Lauren Soloy, the character of Emily gets to be someone different when she is out in the garden. This book is sure to be a great pick for your little ones who often feel small.

Nova Scotia-based Lauren Soloy was kind enough to give us an interview and tell us about her new book When Emily Was Small. She has a Visual Arts BFA with Honours from the University of Victoria, and a certificate of Fine Furniture from Camosun College. Along the way, she has learned to make a Queen Anne Highboy, a pottery mug, a hand knit pair of socks, a headstand, and a mess.

We’re so happy that we have had this opportunity to connect with her and give away a copy courtesy of Tundra Books!

Your illustrations are amazing. Did you want to be an artist as a child?

Thank you! I was always doing art as a child, and writing, too, but I don’t think I realized that being an artist was a career option until much, much later. I went to university for Visual Arts, but after I graduated, my family was like, “What are you going to do now? Why don’t you go back to school and get a trade?” So I did! Sort of! I went back to school and learned how to make custom furniture. I then worked in various cabinet shops for several years.  I think it’s hard for kids to imagine doing a career they’ve never seen anyone do. At least, it was for me. I liked science, too, but I always felt like, “Who pays people to be scientists?” It was all a bit of a mystery to me!

What’s your favourite medium to work with?

I haven’t decided yet! I like them all, and I also like how they intermingle with each other. It’s a good way to get a very messy studio, but also some interesting results! Lots of thought goes into the story and the layout, but when it comes to making the final art, I like a bit of chance in the mix.

What would you love to tell children about making art?

Anything goes -- especially when you’re learning. (We’re all always learning -- that’s what makes it so fun!) It’s okay to copy a picture someone else made, to figure out how they did it (just don’t try to pass it off as something original; that’s generally frowned on!). If you make a drawing that isn’t quite right, it’s okay to trace the parts you like, and redraw the rest. The more you draw, the easier it gets!  And, finally, it’s totally okay to be inspired by someone else’ work and combine that with ideas from other things you like, then mix in some bits from your imagination, to create art of your own.

What inspired you to write When Emily was Small?

This story was inspired by a story called “White Currants” that Emily Carr wrote in one of her autobiographies, The Book of Small. I started with that as the loose inspiration, and then I added in some ideas from her life and her paintings and mixed in some imaginary things that felt true to me. The end result is When Emily was Small!  (Sound familiar? I think this is how most art gets made!)

On a more personal note, I’ve always felt connected to Emily Carr. I grew up in Victoria, just like she did, and her art and writing make my heart soar. I’d love it if my book inspired people to seek her out and experience that thumpety-bump for themselves!

Tell us about the book itself!

When Emily was Small is about a young Emily Carr going on a joyful romp through nature with a wild, wolfish guide, learning to see herself and the world as bigger and richer than before. And she does it all without ever leaving her own backyard!

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