Q&A with Dev Petty, author of I Don’t Want to Be a Frog.
Q1: How long have you been writing books for children?
I started writing about five years ago. Before I had my daughters, I worked in film as a visual effects artist. I was freelancing for a while, but the economy was such that my clients were few and far between. Before long, I really missed being creative. Enter…picture books! I loved how they felt like their own art form, like movies. A full story arc and a real connection between the pictures and the words.
Q2: I adore your book I Don’t Want to be a Frog – where did the idea come from?
Thank you, I’m happy you enjoy it! On one level, it was as simple as wanting to write a funny book, in dialogue about a frog. But I also hoped to get across that we all have things we don’t like about ourselves and that feeling is ok to explore and vocalize. I wanted to show there is usually a good side to those things we don’t like- even when it’s a silly one that helps us accept who we are.
I was also thinking about how often people ask “If you could be any animal, what would it be.” And how no one ever says “Oooh, Oooh…frog!” I thought maybe that sort of got to the frog after a while.
Q3: If you didn’t want to be a human anymore – what animal would you be?
Good question. I have to say some sort of bird. Who wouldn’t want to fly, right? Maybe a crow…those guys seem pretty smart.
Q4: What are you currently working on?
Well, I have two books coming in the next couple of years. One is I Don’t Want to be Big which is the followup to frog and the other is a book with Lauren Eldridge, currently titled Claymates. It’s illustrated in clay and being published by Little Brown and it’s a pretty funny, wild, crazy trip. But I’m always, always writing. I have some new stories that I’m really enjoying, they’re a bit more cinematic in scope. I may try my hand at illustrating over the summer- could be great, might be a disaster.
Q5: What were the last 5 children’s books you bought?
Hmmm. Beekle by Dan Santat, Wolfie the Bunny by Amy Dyckman, How to Outrun a Shark Without a Snorkel by Jess Keating and Quest by Aaron Becker…oh, and I finally bought a copy of Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett because the librarian had started giving me the stink eye every time I checked it out.
Q6: If you could have a book illustrated by anyone – past or present, who would it be?
Oh my….can any writer ever answer this with just one? Stead, Santat, Klassen, Watts, Davies. There are too many to list really. One of my faves ever was Dorothea Fox who wrote and illustrated Ms. Twiggly’s Tree. Love that. Love them all.