Q&A with Lisa Amstutz

Join author Lisa Amstutz and illustrator Talitha Shipman for Applesauce Day! Maria and her family visit an apple orchard and pick apples. Then it’s time to turn the apples into applesauce! Every year they use the special pot that has been in the family for generations to make applesauce. First they wash the apples. Then Grandma cuts them into quarters. Follow each step in the process as everyone helps to make delicious applesauce!

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We were lucky enough to sit down with Lisa to chat about family traditions, kid lit, and Applesauce Day.

Q: What was the inspiration for your title?

A: Applesauce Day is based on my family’s applesauce-making tradition. As a child, I loved helping my mother make applesauce each year. It was an exciting day, filled with the scent of apples cooking, the taste of fresh, warm sauce, and the fun of working together. Now my children look forward to making applesauce at Grandma’s house each year. I hope someday they will pass on this tradition to the next generation!

Q: Do you make applesauce using the recipe in the back matter?

A: Yes! We make enough to last all year, which takes about three bushels of apples. The past few years, we’ve been able to harvest our own apple trees. One was just an old stump when we moved here. It kept sprouting, so we let one of the sprouts grow and cut off the rest. Our house is quite old (it was once a log cabin), so I like to think that maybe Johnny Appleseed planted that tree—who knows! We also have two Yellow Transparent trees—my favorite sauce variety. The pig and chickens are happy to eat any apples that are left over, as well as any wormy ones.

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Q:  What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?

A: As a kid, I read everything I could get my hands on—novels, Reader’s Digest, cereal boxes…. Some favorites were Chronicles of Narnia series, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, and the Lord of the Rings series.

I don’t have as much free time now, but I still read a lot. I like nonfiction books on writing craft, nature, agriculture, and psychology. I also have a particular fondness for mysteries. And of course I read a lot of children’s books…both for research and just for fun.

Q: Why write children’s books?

A: I love the challenge of distilling a story down to its essence—picture books are a lot like poetry in that regard. And they’re just fun! I hope my books inspire kids to appreciate and learn more about the world around them. Kids are smart and funny and optimistic. They give us hope for the future—kids can change the world!

Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A: In general, the hardest parts for me are deciding which story ideas are worth pursuing and figuring out the best way to tell them. Once the story is on paper, the editing begins. I revise each story around 20–30 times and run it by my critique partners several times before sending it to my agent. She usually wants a few more revisions, and if the book sells, the editor will ask for more revisions as well. It’s a slow process, but it’s amazing to see it all come together!

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Q:  Are you working on any other projects?

A: Yes, I have quite a few manuscripts either out on submission or at various stages of completion. My editor and I are also working on another picture book to be released in 2018, titled Today We Go Birding. It’s about the Christmas Bird Count, a citizen science project sponsored by the National Audubon Society. I can’t wait to see it in print!

For announcements about Today We Go Birding and other upcoming projects, you can follow me on Facebook  or Twitter , or sign up for my newsletter on my website.

Thanks, Lisa! For even more about Applesauce Day check out our website.

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Q&A with Lisa Amstutz

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