We are delighted to welcome author Roxanne Troup to Story Snug to talk about her fabulous new picture book, My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me. Beautifully illustrated by Kendra Binney it takes a fascinating look at the methods used in pecan nut farming.
The Story: On the day that his granddaughter is born Grandpa plants a pecan tree which stands apart from the other pecan trees in his orchard. Throughout the seasons Grandpa cares for his orchard on an industrial scale and uses machinery to help him prune, feed and harvest the trees. But his granddaughter’s tree is different – together Grandpa and the little girl tend to her tree in a more traditional way.
We love the contrast between the care that Grandpa gives to his orchards and his granddaughter’s tree and the way that the story ends with them enjoying the fruits of their labours. The heartwarming relationship between the two characters is strengthened as they look after their tree and their enjoyment and love is beautifully portrayed as they work.
Thank you for visiting Story Snug, Roxanne, and congratulations on the publication of My Grandpa, my Tree and Me! We always love to know how our guests became authors. What was your first book and how did it come to be published?
My writing journey started in the education market. I studied to become a teacher, but after my kiddos were born, set that aside to be a stay-at-home mom. When I discovered writing for the education market, it seemed like the perfect fit—I could use my education, make a little extra money, and stay home with my kids. My first book actually became two: MILITARY DOGS ON THE JOB and DETECTION DOGS ON THE JOB. They were published in 2017 by Child’s World. (You can read more about that journey here.)
What fascinating subjects!
We love the special relationship between Grandpa and his granddaughter and the old-fashioned way that they nurture and harvest the nuts from her pecan tree whilst using newer technology for the others. How and where did you get the inspiration for the story?
I discovered a new publisher looking for agricultural books, and since I grew up in an agricultural community thought it might be a good fit. I set to brainstorming different types of crops and discovered a hole in the market—pecans. I knew a little bit about pecans. They grew wild (and in backyards) where I grew up, and we harvested them in buckets. But I wondered how the commercial pecan industry worked. Did everyone collect pecans in buckets? So, I started researching. After running across a YouTube video of a farmer harvesting pecans by tractor (from hundreds of trees at a time), I knew I had my topic. I couldn’t get the image of that farmer shaking his trees out of my head—pecans fell like torrential rain—and the dichotomy between home harvesting and commercial harvesting provided the structure I needed to tell the story.
Pecans are one of my favourite nuts (I love pecan pie!) so it was really interesting to learn about the farming methods that are involved.
Is there a message that you want the story to convey to readers?
I hope readers recognize that no matter how family changes—like an orchard—the love we have for one another doesn’t run out. It grows.
We absolutely love Kendra’s beautiful illustrations, they’re perfect for this gentle story. Was there any collaboration between you before the book was published?
Not really. I did get to see the illustrations before they went to print and requested a small change for scientific accuracy. But that request went through my editor. I didn’t have any direct contact with Kendra (which is typical), but neither was I disappointed. She did a marvelous job!
She definitely did! We love the illustration showing the pecans raining on Grandpa, his expression is so full of joy.
Do you have a favourite illustration?
My favorite is actually the spread directly after that one. I love how Kendra uses the tree’s trunk to break the image and show the passage of time. (And the little girls’ expression as she tries to lift the full bucket is priceless. It reminds me so much of my own children’s determination to ‘do it’ without help.)
Is there any advice that you would give to aspiring #kidlit writers?
Keep learning and don’t quit. Even the tiniest of steps create forward momentum.
That’s great advice! It’s very easy to forget that even the smallest steps can count 🙂
You have written fiction and nonfiction picture books. Is it possible for you to choose a favourite from those you have written?
There are parts of ‘me’ in every book I’ve written (even the ghostwritten ones), and elements of each that I’m proud of. Choosing a favorite is like asking me to choose my best feature or most noteworthy accomplishment. It all depends on context.
That was a tough question to answer – I’m not sure that I could answer that one myself!
Do you have a favourite location or environment to write in?
I typically write at my office desk while my kids are in school. But I’ve also drafted PBs in the pick-up line at school or while sunning on my back deck. That’s the beauty of writing—we can do it anywhere!
That’s so true! Lots of my writing is done in the car outside my daughter’s dance studio.
Which authors have influenced your writing? Authors that you may have read as a child as well as current authors.
I don’t know that I could pinpoint a particular author that has shaped my writing any more than I could pinpoint a favorite book. I think we are all a sum of the experiences and encounters we’ve had in life, including our experiences through the written word. There are however authors whose careers I follow that have influenced my own career path (though my writing style is not anything like their own): authors like Laura Purdie Salas, Kate Messner, and Beth Ferry all inspire me.
Are you able to tell us about any future titles or projects that you’re currently working on?
I do have another informational fiction picture book under contract that I’m super excited about (and have seen the art for), but it hasn’t yet been announced so I can’t say too much about it. Hopefully soon…
Oooh that sounds exciting! Thank you so much for sending us a review copy of the book and answering our questions, we learnt a lot about pecan farming from My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me.
About Roxanne Troup
Roxanne Troup writes kids books that celebrate wonder and family. With a background in education, she also writes engaging nonfiction for all ages.
She is the author of over a dozen books for kids, including My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me. When not writing, Roxanne enjoys hiking with her family, cheering at her kid’s sporting events, and reading a good book. She loves to visit schools to water seeds of literacy and teach about writing. (And sometimes remembers to water the plants in her own garden.)
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