Interviews

In 2017, Wild Rumpus became the first ever children’s bookstore to be named Bookstore of the Year by Publishers Weekly. This summer, the Minneapolis bookstore celebrates another achievement: 30 years of inspiring the youngest Twin Cities readers.

With its child-sized purple door within a door, Wild Rumpus has been welcoming generations of readers to its wonder-inducing shop since 1992. Opened by Collette Morgan and the late Tom Braun, the Linden Hills destination takes its name from Maurice Sendak's iconic decree in Where the Wild Things Are: “Let the wild rumpus start!” What a wild rumpus it is, with about 36,000 books in stock, from board books to young adult titles (along with a small selection of books for grown-ups), all in a magical atmosphere dominated by a canoe suspended from what looks like cracks opening onto the sky. A colorful menagerie of animals includes two cats, Eartha Kitt and Booker T.; two chinchillas, Cal(decott) and (New)Berry; two rats, Rosie and Gilda (Rosencrantz and Gildenstern); Dave the cockatiel; Mo the dove; and multiple (unnamed) fish.

Art by Sam Pines @sampinedraws


Wild Rumpus Staff Picks:



BEAR AND THE WHISPER OF THE WIND

By Marianne Dubuc

Published by Princeton Architectural Press (March 1, 2022)

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"Oftentimes, life will give us a sign to try something new. In this case, it comes in the form of a strawberry pie. Although change can be scary, Bear shows us that there is so much beauty in the journey. Dubuc charms again with a gentle reminder to trust your instinct and follow the path your heart knows. It will always guide you home." —Beth, Bookseller






BATHE THE CAT

Written by Alice B. McGinty and illustrated by David Roberts

Published by Chronicle Books (February 8, 2022)

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"Here it is: your new favorite read-aloud! Full of fast-paced fun, from the beloved illustrator of the Questioneers series, join the family as they attempt to do the chores. Simple, right? Not when the mischievous cat gets involved. Rhyme along and get your goofies out, but please, whatever you do, don't scrub the fish..." —Beth, Bookseller




KNIGHT OWL

By Christopher Denise

Published by Christy Ottaviano Books (March 15, 2022)

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"All Owl has ever wanted in his whole life is to be a knight. Sure, he may be small, but he is just as brave and clever as any knight around. When he gets the chance to live out his dream, he proves that big knights come in small packages. Denise has written a darling twist on the usual knight's tale, and it is filled with gorgeous illustrations, a charming story, and some pizza." — Anna, Bookseller






BLUE: A HISTORY OF THE COLOR AS DEEP AS THE SEA AND AS WIDE AS THE SKY

Written by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond and illustrated by Daniel Minter

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (February 15, 2022)

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"This stunning picture book recounts the history, uses, and cultural importance of the color blue, a hue that was surprisingly hard to come by for much of history. Both highly informative and poetically phrased, this gorgeoulsy illustrated book delivers a compelling and far-reaching story of how the color has touched our human story in surprising ways, and how blue shaped our world as we know it." —Claire, Bookseller



THE HAPPY OWLS

By Celestino Piatto

Published by NorthSouth Books (February 1, 2022)

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"Written in 1895 by Dutch artist Theo van Hoijtema, Celestino Piatto was asked to illustrate the 1963 German edition, which is the basis for this beautiful English edition. Piatto's owls are so alive and expressive that I couldn't help but be sucked into this story, which is about how to find happiness by focusing on the moment in front of us and the beauty in the changing seasons around us—even if others think our happiness is foolish. A great, unique gift book!" —Timothy, Bookseller

It’s a little out of fashion to buy a pet cloud, but Lizzy doesn’t mind. She’s not looking for a big one or a fancy one, just one that’s right for her. And she finds it in Milo. Soon, she’s taking Milo out on walks with her family, watering Milo right on schedule, and seeing Milo grow and grow. But what happens when her pet cloud gets too big for Lizzy to handle?

Max's Boat Pick:


LIZZY AND THE CLOUD

By Terry Fan and Eric Fan

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (May 3, 2022)

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Can you tell me the origin story behind Lizzy and the Cloud?

Eric: "Hi Ratha, thanks so much for your questions. Like most of our books, Lizzy and the Cloud has its origins in a standalone image. When we were talking about our next book, we both liked the image and agreed there might be a story there."


Terry: "A good image to use as a springboard is one that seems to already have a story floating around the margins of it. It’s often just a question of building upon that image and expanding it into a story. After thinking about the image, we went for a walk along the beach and talked about what that story could be, and when I got home I wrote a first draft based on that discussion, and then Eric read it and contributed to the text and edited it down a bit. It was one of those rare times where the story fell into place fairly

quickly."


Eric: "The original image that sparked our discussion was actually from a chapter book I had been working on maybe twenty-five years ago. I happened to be cleaning out my locker one day and found piles and piles pages of writing from that book. On one sheet, there was a rather dreadful little scribble of a character selling clouds:

But it was an idea that seemed to have some story potential. The text beside the drawing read, 'A sound like firecrackers on a string crackled through the dark clouds whenever the lightning flashed, and there was the faint smell of flint in the air. And there, through the grey drizzle, where the grass was so drunk with rainwater it couldn’t stand up anymore, was the Nimbus. He was an odd little assortment, with his yellow, too-big feet and his tattered jacket with buttons down the front as blue as the sky. 'Rainclouds! Rainclouds for sale!' said the Nimbus.'"


After seeing that, I did an updated drawing which I called 'The Cloud Seller':

Terry: "We thought it would be fun to introduce a character who buys one of those clouds, and then find out what happens after. I suggested we could name the girl Lizzy, which is the name of our art director at Simon & Schuster, Lizzy Bromley. Like me, she’s also part of the Cloud Appreciation Society (yes, it exists) and so we thought it would be a fitting gesture."


Eric: "As far as the story goes, when we lived in Florida when we were kids we used to go out after rainstorms to rescue turtles from the roadways. After a while, we soon had a whole collection of turtles that we kept in a wading pool. It became a bit unmanageable eventually. The time came when our dad said they would really be happier free, so we drove out to a nice wooded area with a pond and released them all. I remember watching them all crawling away and hoped they found a happy life in the forest. So, all of those things kind of informed the story. To a certain extent the story is a metaphor for parenting, or for the writing process itself. There’s always that anxious moment when you have to let your grown kid, or your story, out into the world to fend for itself, and you hope the world is kind to it."


For those who love Lizzy and the Cloud, can you recommend a few other titles you think they might also enjoy?


Eric: "There’s actually a great number of books that feature clouds in one form or another. I loved Kumo: The Bashful Cloud by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Nathalie Dion.


I also loved Red Sky at Night by Elly MacKay. It isn’t specifically about clouds, but it’s about the weather, so somewhat related. She also has a book coming out this year called In the Clouds. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks gorgeous."




Terry: "I love anything by Tomie dePaola so I’d recommend The Cloud Book, which is a charming

book that is a great scientific introduction to clouds."

Deep within a magical meadow, some lonely flowers receive a very special gift: a baby bumblebee who they name Beatrice. As she grows older, Beatrice learns the language of her floral family — messages of kindness and appreciation that she delivers between them. With each sweet word, the flowers bloom until the meadow becomes so big that Beatrice needs help delivering her messages and decides to set out in search of her own kind.

Max's Boat Pick:


The Language of Flowers

By Dena Seiferling

Publisher: Tundra Books (May 3, 2022))

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Can you tell me the origin story behind The Language of Flowers?

DS: "The idea for the story was inspired by the memories I have of my maternal grandmother. She had a passion for growing things especially flowers. I loved being around her, just as I thought her flowers must because they flourished under her care. And so flowers, especially carnations, remind me of her. As I’ve grown up I’ve learned how my grandmother experienced very tough years as a young mother in rural Saskatchewan and I’ve always really admired how no matter how hard life was for her she always remained empathetic, humble and kind. I really respect that and I feel like this story pays homage to her spirit."



Do you remember what you loved reading to your kids at age 3? At age 5? "When my kids were around 3/4 years old, they LOVED (ironically), The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. They were drawn to books that made us all laugh and be silly, and in this book I would get a bit embarrassed at the silliness of what I was uttering which made it even more hilarious for them. At this age I would read to them every night and we had many shared favourites like my friend Renata Liwska’s books… especially Dormouse Dreams, written by Karma Wilson, where a character hibernates as spring unfolds and comes to life around them. I remember Slinky Malinki, by Lynley Dodd, which follows a night in the life of an extremely trouble making cat, and old favourites of mine like anything Dr. Seuss and Go, Dog. Go!, by

P. D. Eastman being on constant rotation.

By age 5, my kids started getting into series books like Franklin where they saw the same group of characters experience many different situations and challenges…."

What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time? "I have many favourite picture books of all time and most are woven into my childhood memories: Little Fur Family, by Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams, is about a little fur character exploring the world outside its home as if for the first time (it even has a tiny fur jacket cover), and Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban and Garth Williams. Williams is one of my all time favourite illustrators and this book is precious. Lastly, Lizzy’s Lion, by Dennis Lee and Marie-Louise Gay, a rhyming story about a girl with a lion who eats a robber that breaks into her room one night. It’s a little dark but also charming and funny."


For those who love The Language of Flowers, can you recommend one or two other titles that you think they might also enjoy, and why? "Well... The Language of Flowers is quite fantastical but also sweet so another book that I think has these things would be Dream Animals written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin. In this little hard cover book, soft and adorable painted scenes take you through a dream state, traveling with different animals into different worlds."