Monday, November 15, 2021

Interview with Katherine Battersby

 Today, I'm excited to be chatting with , the author and illustrator of Cranky Chicken!

About Katherine:
Katherine is a fan girl of comics, ice cream, tea and travel. In her spare time she is the president of the Cranky Club and can be found grumbling about bananas, loud music and exclamation marks. She is also the critically acclaimed author and illustrator of eleven picture books and one chapter book, including Cranky Chicken, Trouble and the popular Squish Rabbit series, which have been published around the world. Her books have been reviewed in The New York Times, have received starred Kirkus reviews and have been shortlisted for numerous awards. She is regularly booked to speak in schools, libraries and at festivals and she is a passionate advocate for literacy and the arts.

About the Cranky Chicken:

Cranky Chicken is, well, cranky. With one cranky eyebrow, cranky eyes, and even cranky, scratchy feet. But then one day, Cranky meets a very friendly worm named Speedy who wants nothing more than to be friends. Young readers will love seeing the mismatched friendship grow over the course of three charming and laugh-out-loud short adventures as Chicken and Speedy become BFFs (Best Feathered Friends) and Speedy shows Chicken how to look on the bright side. 

My Thoughts:
I loved Cranky Chicken. Because...he's cranky. But he's also trying. Sort of. He meets a new friend who doesn't give up on him. This book is all about friendship, emotions, and being yourself.  I loved the bookish humor. It's funny and sweet and so much fun. I would love more from this BFF duo!

The interview:
I really enjoyed getting to know more about Cranky Chicken and Katherine. Hope you do too!

What was your inspiration for CRANKY CHICKEN?


So … I’m actually scared of chickens. Embarrassing, maybe, but I know something others don’t - ALL chickens are cranky chickens. I was chased by a lot of chickens in my youth. But then, one day during one of my author talks I met this tiny girl who was the biggest fan of chickens. She told me, “They’re not scary - they’re hilarious!” I couldn’t stop thinking about her, so I decided to spend some more time drawing chickens. CRANKY CHICKEN is what emerged. It turns out we were both right - chickens are cranky AND hilarious.

The story itself is inspired by the ridiculous antics my best friend and I used to get up to as kids. She was an extrovert who was an only child, so she was always turning up on my doorstep just like Worm – full of excitement and ready to play. I, on the other hand, was an introvert who was part of a big blended family. I never had any time to myself, so I could be a bit of a cranky chicken. Even now, we often laugh at how different and yet similar we are. Chicken and Worm are a lot like that, too.



What makes you cranky and what makes you happy?


Cranky Chicken and I have a lot in common, so we share a lot of our cranks and joys. I seem to have a very sensitive nose and tastebuds, so a lot of things that make me cranky are food related. Bananas and papaya and tinned fish and pickled things all make me cranky. Also road rage, windy days, sand in my shoes, people not waiting their turn, mansplaining, loud music, too bright lights and ill-fitting underwear. I am a very specific person, so apparently I like things just so. But there is so much that brings me joy. Sunshiny days, the sound of my daughter’s voice, everything perfectly lined up on my desk, dog smiles, an organized pantry, a favorite song on the radio, the smell of my childhood home, a perfectly timed joke and getting into my made bed at the end of the day.



What's your favorite song to sing?


I LOVE to sing. Not publicly, not even in Karaoke, but at home (or in the car). Music calls to me in the same way that books do. Which is a way of saying I have a lot of beloved songs - songs that came into my life at the perfect time and intertwined with my heart in some way. But if I’m to name just one I think it would have to be Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead. I love crooning songs that are nostalgic and emotive and even a little melancholy. My daughter is three and she always requests I sing certain songs. Current favorites on her rotation are Rocket Man by Elton John and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles (only I replace Lucy’s name with hers!). Singing brings me so much joy.



What scares you?


So I’ve already confessed my fear of chickens. But I do have another fear which also inspired another book of mine (I’m starting to sense a theme, here…). I grew up in Australia but moved to Canada about eight years ago and it’s only once I was here that I discovered I’m terrified of bears. Bears are not really something I’d given much thought to, living in Australia. But my Canadian partner loves to hike, so bears were suddenly something I had to seriously consider. That said, we live in the city, so you’d think bears wouldn’t have to be on my radar too much. But as soon as Canadians hear I’m scared bears they love to tell me stories of all the times a bear has wandered into their city. Then one day I woke to the news that a bear had been discovered up a tree just blocks from where I live, in the heart of downtown Ottawa. I started to feel like I could just open my front door and run into a bear. This inspired my picture book, Trouble, where a suburban squirrel is scandalized when a bear moves into the house next door. Writing a picture book about a ridiculous version of your fears is a good way to laugh at yourself.



What's your favorite friendship activity?


What a lovely question! I believe it’s still the exact same thing I used to love to do with friends when I was a kid, which is to read the same book together. My school girlfriends and I used to all get the same novel and then read it page by page together, so we could discuss it as we went. There is nothing quite like being inside the heart of a character and their emotions and getting to talk all about it with your favorite people. I don’t get to do it quite like that anymore, but I love handing a novel or picture book that I’ve loved to a friend so I can discuss it with them.

 Thanks for chatting Katherine!

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