Today, Bookpleasures.com welcomes children's Authors Dr. B. Seymour Rabinovitch, his granddaughter Rebecca S. Treger authors of Higgledy Piggledy: A Tale of Four Little Pig and Illustrator of the book, Mari Gayatri Stein.
Dr. B. Seymour Rabinovitch is the author of over 100 articles and books, including books on chemistry, and antique and contemporary silver. A retired professor of chemistry, Dr. Rabinovitch enjoyed a long academic career at the University of Washington in Seattle. The youngest of seven children, he was raised and educated in Montreal, Canada, with a special interest in children's stories, songs and literature. During World War II, he served in Europe as an officer in the Canadian Army. He currently lives in Seattle, WA.
Rebecca S. Treger, granddaughter of Dr. Rabinovitch was raised in Medford, Oregon and has a lifelong love of reading, folktales and storytelling. She also loves tap dancing, cooking and travel and is pursuing a career in medical research.
Norm: Good day and thanks for participating in our interview.
What motivated you to write and illustrate Higgledy Piggledy: A Tale of Four Little Pig?As a follow up, why have you been drawn to writing a children's book?
R: I have always enjoyed the way children assign themselves
responsibilities and roles in a family that are surprising, so I
enjoyed creating a story that would touch on this theme. And as you
see in my Introduction, “What’s in a Name”, I also hoped that
my children would not be troubled by a having a difficult last name,
like Rabinovitch, and perhaps I succeeded, as both of my married
daughters kept their maiden name!
Rebecca: When my grandfather first expressed interest in turning his story into a book, I was really excited by the idea of creating something together, as grandfather and granddaughter, and I knew that this was an opportunity I might never have again.
I also absolutely love children's books and how even after 15 or 20 years, I still remember the characters and illustrations in my favorite stories.
I actually keep a list of my favorite children's books that I add to every time I remember another title so that one day I'll be able to share my favorites with my own children. So the the idea of our own Higgledy Piggledy making it onto someone else's bookshelf or "favorites" list was simply too much to pass up.
Mari: When I was introduced to HP, it was already intact, although it went through many evolutions in the year to come. I have written and illustrated a number of books for children and adults and the motivation is always to carry the message of love, harmlessness, resolution and light-heartedness. Without humor we are lost.
Norm: What purpose do you believe your story serves and what matters to you about the story?
Dr. R. I believe the story helps a child see aspects of life that he perhaps has not yet encountered: the importance of family, helping others, being kind. The real world holds some misery, not just dreams, and Higgledy Piggledy portrays a reality about a difficulty, and being resourceful to find a resolution.
Rebecca: The lessons in this story -- the value of diversity, the importance of kindness and of forgiveness -- are so important for children to learn because we all have our "Higgledy Piggledy" moments, those times when others aren't kind to us or when we aren't kind to others. It matters how we treat our siblings or our friends or even strangers, and my hope is that children can learn this lesson young.
Mari: I wanted my characters to come alive. To do so, I use line, ink and watercolor sparingly. Let the message be simple but eloquent.
Norm: What served as the primary inspiration for the book?
R: This clan of pigs stood for my family as a child: an
incarnation of vague places, people and thoughts that tell a story.
Growing up during the Great Depression led me to imagine my future
life in which I could do more with my abilities, so my future was in
the story to a certain extent.
Rebecca: I was inspired by my grandfather, his passion for these characters and, most importantly, his enthusiasm for a good story.
Mari: It came at a time when I was facing a lot of physical assaults and allowed me to find succor with my Muse and make wonderful friends in the process. Every book is a puzzle to solve.; how to express the most with the least. I love to hide surprises within the picture.
Norm: What came first the story or the illustrations? How did you weave together the illustrations with the story?
Dr. R. The story was completed, broken down into sections, for pages, then illustrations chosen for each page’s lines of text. Some arrangement of the breakdown of pages was adjusted, based on Mari’s beautiful and detailed illustrations
Mari: The words were on the page, although unedited, so the illustrations followed, and perhaps some words changed in accordance with the pictures and the way they colored the characters and brought them to life. All great fun.
Norm: What was the time-line between the time you decided to write your book and publication? What were the major events along the way?
R. We began in 2009, with the retelling of the story, its
transcription and fleshing out, then hiring of the Mari, our
illustrator. The book design process followed, then on to its
printing. It came out November 2013.
Mari: I believe we took almost two years to bring this book to fruition. It began as a simple family project but took on a life force of its own and spun into something much more ambitious as you can see. A great success.
Norm: What has been the best part about being published?
R: It a lovely little book. It also meant something to me on a
personal level; namely, that I could write something that could be of
a general interest, not just to people in chemistry or technical
subjects; that I had found a vehicle that promoted an attitude and
an interest in the minds of people outside of the realm in which I
Rebecca: My favorite part about being published is watching friends and family as they flip through the pages of our book and cheer on Higgledy Piggledy or point out something funny in an illustration. It's especially rewarding to see how my grandfather's simple story has been transformed into something that so many others can enjoy.
Mari: It is always a joy, grace and amazement to see the labor of creation. To hold a book in one’s hand is a thrill.
Norm: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it and what was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating the book?
Dr. R: I learned that creative effort, as in writing a book, was not something you were obviously born with, as in the children of authors, but that an aptitude and an interest could be developed out of its own experience.
Dr. R I am enjoying working on a book about “The Real Mother Goose”, with updated rhymes for today’s children, and perhaps even more so for their parents.
Rebecca: I was most surprised by how long the process took, particularly editing the story. It seemed as though with every read-through, there was something to alter or add.
Mari: I always learn something in the creative process. The main lesson is to get out of my own way. And of course to celebrate the production as a team effort. In this case, it was a way to honor Seymour and Ruth’s childhood memories. My father is gone and it was touching and an honor for me to participate.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Higgledy Piggledy: A Tale of Four Little Pig?
Dr. R. Check Out This Website
Mari: Please visit my WEBSITE
Norm: What is next for all of you?
Dr. R. I am enjoying working on a book about “The Real Mother Goose”, with updated rhymes for today’s children, and perhaps even more so for their parents.
Rebecca: I'll continue with school and hopefully continue to add to my ever-growing list of favorite children's books.
Mari: I am working on my first novel. It will be out on April 1, 2015. Please stay tuned. It is full of adventure and hope, plus much silliness. “If not silly, then what?”
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Rebecca: I think my one question is, Mr. Wolf has a pretty amazing pantry, so what's his back-story and how did he become such a gourmet? But I don't have an answer to that question. Not quite yet...
Mari: How did you like the book? (Norm: Please refer to my review)
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors