ONE TO ONE with Kallie George

In October 2017, children’s author Kallie George found herself with one of the best kinds of problems—she had too many books and not enough room in her apartment to keep them. She stumbled across ONE TO ONE online while searching for a place to donate the extra copies. “I thought this would be a great place for my books to go,” she adds.

And with that, Kallie donated 158 brand-new books from her Duck, Duck Dinosaur and Heartwood Hotel series to ONE TO ONE’s readers. (A True Home, the first book in her Heartwood Hotel series, was recently nominated for the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize!)

With more than 15 books and a master’s in children’s literature from the University of British Columbia under her belt, Kallie is more than an expert in children’s literature. We caught up with Kallie to learn what makes kids’ lit important to her.

What was your favourite book as a child? I had MANY favourite books, but some included the Narnia series, the OZ series, The Secret Garden, and anything by Roald Dahl!

In your opinion, what makes a great children’s book? This is a tricky question and one that I don’t think there is one answer to. Truly, the things that make a great children’s book are the same ones that make any story great. These include a compelling character that you can believe in, an engaging plot that excites the mind, themes that make you think about life, and language that makes you revel in the beauty of words—just to name a few. I find that children’s books need to accomplish all this in sometimes very few words, and that can be an extra challenge and one of the beauties of the genre.

Why is children’s literature important? So many reasons! One of the big ones for me is cultivating empathy. Stories allow children—and adults too—to peek into different worlds and different worldviews, thus nurturing compassion for all different creatures and people. Stories can also allow children to feel represented and heard and understood. One of the many reasons why it is so important to have diverse books our shelves. And, of course, stories can be sheer fun!

What book should everyone read and why? I don’t think there is a particular book everyone should read, as everyone’s preferences are so different—what will connect with one person might be different from another. However, I really adore The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, which is a recent book that deals with a young girl’s struggles during WWII. I also love the classic The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which is full of philosophical teachings including the beautiful quote, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Currently reading: I’m re-reading Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery and National Velvet by Enid Bagnold. In terms of new books: I’ve got on my bookshelf Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin, a fairy tale novel.

Favourite fictional character: Hermione Granger

Favourite word: Serendipity

“ONE TO ONE with…” is a Q & A series with ONE TO ONE’s friends and members of the literary world. Know someone who should be featured? Drop us a line at kate@one-to-one.ca