Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending a fundraiser for StoryTellers Guild at the Community House in Birmingham.
"Crafting Stories with Kelly DiPucchio" brought this New York Times-bestselling author to the luncheon for an afternoon of stories – and learning a bit more about one of my new favorite literary heroines, Crafty Chloe.
I had the chance to ask Kelly, a Macomb Township resident, a few questions about Chloe, the importance of crafting, and whether or not goats like to craft.
What was your inspiration for Crafty Chloe?
Chloe was inspired by a couple of crafty little girls in my life; the first one being my youngest daughter, Hannah. As soon as Hannah was old enough to hold a spoon in her hand, she was holding a paintbrush in the other. She loved all things glitter and googly-eyed. Hannah is a sophomore in high school now, and she's one of the most creative, talented people I know. I also have an artsy 8-year-old niece, Julia, who loves crafts and even has her own craft room. One day I was thinking about Hannah and Julia, and I wondered why there weren't any picture books about crafty girls. So I decided to write one!
Everything IS better with goggly eyes! What are some of Chloe's other favorite craft supplies?
One of Chloe's philosophies is that everything is better with glitter. Gobs and gobs of glitter. She also loves to repurpose old household items and salvage trash.
Are there any other adventures in store for Chloe after Emma's birthday party?
A sequel will be published next year called Crafty Chloe: Dress Up Disaster. In the second book, Chloe has to dress up as one of her favorite book characters for a book parade at school, and she's torn between two very different characters and best friends.
Why do you think it's important for children to learn the value of a handmade gift?
I just think it's important for children to learn the value of any handmade item, whether or not it's a gift. In today's mass-market society, anybody can go out and buy pretty much anything, and while those items might be beautiful and serve a purpose, they weren't made with love. I like to think that handmade items are imbued with the energy and intent of the creator, and that makes them unique and special.
As a mom, do your children give and/or receive handmade gifts from their friends?
My daughter, Hannah, actually made her boyfriend a beautiful glass and mirror mosaic and gave it to him for Christmas. I was a little jealous, because I wanted to keep it! My oldest daughter attends Michigan State University. Last year, a girl in her dorm organized craft nights, and the students would make bracelets and ceramics and decorated flowerpots and give them away. I think crafting can be a wonderful stress-reliever because when you're focused on your creative project, you're able to quiet your left-brain and tune out the rest of the world.
Are you a crafter? If so, what do you like to make?
I was much more of a crafter when I was a kid. I used to make a lot of crafts with things I found in nature. One of my favorite activities was painting smooth rocks. I loved transforming the rocks into turtles and ladybugs and faces. Some of my fondest memories of childhood involved taking a neighborhood ceramics class with my mom. The women in the class gossiped, laughed uproariously and bonded over ceramic Christmas trees and mushroom lamps. I'll never forget that strong sense of belonging and joy. Today, I still enjoy working with paint, but now I love transforming salvaged items into shabby chic furniture and accessories. I'm very much a treasure hunter at heart.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I've been a big reader and writer all of my life, but it wasn't until I had children of my own that I began to consider writing as a career. When I began reading stories to my young kids, I developed a real passion and admiration for picture books. At the time, I was also looking for a career that would allow me to work from home so I could be with my children. Writing picture books just seemed like the perfect way for me to blend both worlds.
Your biography mentions you grew up with a goat – do goats like to craft?!
Goats are actually really baaaaaaad at crafting. They're more into deconstructive art. They prefer to destroy and ingest objects, rather than create them.
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
Crafty Chloe has her very own blog! It's still a bit of a work in progress, but we hope it will be a place where young, artsy readers will go to share their crafty ideas and project pictures. Crafty Chloe story time events and book signings will also be posted there.
Readers can find out more about me and my other books by visiting my website. And you can find work by the book's illustrator, Heather Ross, at her website.