Welcome to Cantastic Authorpalooza, featuring posts by and about great Canadian children’s book creators! Today’s guest: Judy Ann Sadler. Take it away, Judy Ann!
I live in a village that remained mostly unchanged for a few decades. We were surrounded by corn fields and horse pastures and that suited us just fine. But then the nearby big city annexed neighbouring towns including ours and that’s when things started to change. Farms were bulldozed and divided, pastures were dug up and drained, and new roads were carved into meadows. And once the roads were in place, then the building boom began!
All this disruption upset me. I hated to see the loss of farm land, but I also knew that growth and change are inevitable. I was going to have to change my attitude. Instead of wishing all the heavy equipment away, I started watching the huge vehicles with my grandkids. They couldn’t get enough of the snorts and clangs and beeps! They marvelled at the dump trucks, cement mixers, excavators, bulldozers and every other type of digger. We watched as dirt was piled sky high and rocks of all sizes were picked up and tossed aside. Somehow, I acquired the digger bug and got excited about diggers, too!
One afternoon while I was out walking, I noticed three excavators far across a field. I was amazed to see them working in perfect harmony. It looked quite beautiful! The digger in the centre lifted straight up while one on each side lifted and swivelled, each turning in the opposite direction. All I could think was, the diggers are dancing! A story was born. I gathered books on all types of heavy equipment and then brainstormed dance moves. It wasn’t too difficult to make the comparison work smoothly. But of course every story has many elements, and I knew mine needed a few more. In another recent book that I wrote, While We Wait, (Illustrated by Élodie Duhameau, Owlkids Books, 2022) the main character had to somehow get through an extremely long day. I thought it might be fun to make this new-book character have to wait for a chance to watch heavy equipment in action, so I added a rainy day to delay the fun. And what to do while it rained? Why not bake? It turns out, baking is a lot like a construction site with all the loading, smoothing, and rolling going on! Really, I had way too much fun with The Digger Dance (illustrated by Yong Ling Kang, Owlkids Books, 2022). I’m so often asked, where do you get your ideas? The answer is usually that a story is inspired by an ordinary incident. Like watching diggers at a construction site. Or, in the case of While We Wait, sitting with my mom at an appointment, both of us sitting and knitting and waiting. There is inspiration all around us everyday.