There's one great thing about doing children's books that I didn't mention--and that's hearing that kids like one of my books--so thanks again for letting me know!
Best wishes, Mike Twohy
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The 2nd graders also wrote to Ashley Wolff, illustrator & author of 2021 Valleycott winner Only the Cat Saw. Here are their questions and her answers, which she provided in a beautiful & illustrated letter she sent us:
Dear Valleyview 2nd graders - thank you! I am very honored to receive your Valleycott Award for Only the Cat Saw!
1) What gave you the idea to write this story about a cat’s adventures at night, and why did you choose to make a cat the main character of the story?
Way back in 1984, when I was a new author/illustrator, I had the idea to tell a story about a normal, Summer evening for a family and their marmalade cat. The cat who posed for me back then was named "Nutkin," after Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrice Potter. I've never owned a cat because I am allergic. But my friend's cat always went out at night and must have seen so many interesting things. Cats see well at night so I chose him as my main character.
2) How did you choose a farm for the setting of the story, instead of, for example, a city?
I chose this farm because this is where Nutkin had lived. The farmhouse, barns, and all the details are from a real farm near Middlebury, VT. I thought about making another book set in a city but it seemed a little scarier and not as much fun.
3) What materials did you use to make the illustrations?
All the paintings are done with acrylic gouache (pronounced g'wash). I took loads of photos of Nutkin in the daytime and used my imagination to create the illustrations of the cat at night.
4) One of our favorite pictures is of the cat and the owl chasing the mouse. Another favorite is when the cat and rooster are watching the sunrise. We would like to know what your favorite picture is in the book?
I love the owl picture too. I think my fave might be the one in the sheep barn with the shooting star in the background.
5) What inspired you to become an author and illustrator?
I've loved to draw and write since I was in Kindergarten and have spent my life practicing every day to get better at it. It is my favorite thing to do, so it doesn't feel like work.
6) How long did it take to start and finish this book?
I made this book for the 1st time in 1984 and I re-illustrated it for a new audience in 2019. So "how long" is kind of a complicated question to answer! Most books take me about 6-8 months to complete and in a good year I can make two books. I will have two published in 2021: How to Help a Pumpkin Grow, and WILDFIRE! I hope you like them too!
Thank you again and keep reading, writing, and drawing.
With my best wishes, Ashley