Today it is my pleasure to bring you a new picture book from a debut author, Stephanie Campisi. THE UGLY DUMPLING (Mighty Media Press), Illustrated by Shahar Kober, 2016. I had the pleasure of reading an ARC and found the book to be a delightful spin on the Ugly Duckling tale. Who would have thought a simple dumpling could have such personality! Here are Stephanie’s answers to my questions. (Be sure to check out other posts on the “Dumpling Tour” below):
1. What brought you to the field of children’s books?
You know, it wasn’t a conscious choice, to be honest. I’ve written quite a bit for adults, but a few years back I was finding that all of the stories that I wanted to tell were for a younger audience. I think that part of it is that you can be strange and experimental in children’s books in a way that you can’t when writing for adults. I love playing around with whimsical ideas and absurd humour, and I love mixing and melding together different formats and media to tell stories in new and different ways – and children’s books lend themselves to that.
The Ugly Dumpling, for example, is really an illustrated poem, and the format means that we’ve been able to turn the text into a visual element in a way that is much less acceptable when you’re working with slabs of prose. I love that the illustrations are part of the story as well – Shahar has done such a wonderful job of building in clever visual metaphors and jokes into the illustrations that really create a whole extra level of storytelling.
2. THE UGLY DUMPLING is your debut PB and such a fun spin off from The Ugly Duckling fable. How did you come up with the idea?
I love puns, and so many of the things I’ve written stem from some sort of wordplay or silly idea. This one just popped into my head one day, and the idea made me laugh. It took me months and months to figure out the right way to tell the story, though. I started off with a very faithful retelling of the Ugly Duckling fable, but it wasn’t working. But then the cockroach suddenly appeared on the page, and the rest fell into place!
3. It is such a simple and endearing story that teaches important lessons about acceptance, being different, and friendship. Tell us FIVE things about your main character “dumpling”.
Thank you for your lovely words! All right, five things about Dumpling:
– Dumpling lives in the Golden Swan dim sum restaurant – but back home in Australia we’d call this kind of restaurant a “yum cha” restaurant.
– Dumpling feels like an outsider, which I think we all do at times (I certainly do).
– Dumpling isn’t described as a “he” or a “she” or an “it”. Dumpling gets to be whatever you want Dumpling to be!
– Dumpling will do anything for a friend.
– Dumpling looks really, really cute in pleated pants.
4. Do you have a favorite dumpling recipe that you’d like to share?
I’m much better at eating dumplings than making them, I have to say, so it’s probably safer that I don’t share one!
5. What other projects are you working on?
My agent is currently shopping a picture book called The Moustache, which is a hipster retelling of Gogol’s short story The Nose, and a middle grade novel called Doppel Gang, which is about a group of misfit teens with shadowy doubles. Hopefully there’ll be news about those soon, but in the meantime I’m about halfway through a novel for adults, and have a few other picture books and children’s novels at various stages of completion. I tend to hop from project to project and back again, but they all get done in the end!
6. Where can readers get a copy of THE UGLY DUMPLING?
The Ugly Dumpling will be available from booksellers in the US from the 7th of April, as well as from most online retailers. With luck it’ll be available in foreign territories, too!
Here’s what reviews have to say about THE UGLY DUMPLING:
“The Ugly Dumpling gets a makeover in this wacky tale about a misfit. … the ultimate end, about accepting people because of their differences, adds an extra moral to this timeless tale. The bright illustrations are detailed and full of energy”never has food been so expressive!”and the concept is just odd enough to succeed.” -Booklist
“Everyone loves the dumplings at the Golden Swan Chinese Restaurant, but no one wants the ugly dumpling of the title: it doesn’t look anything like the other pot stickers in the bamboo steamer, not even when it tries to wrinkle its brow or wear pleated pants (one of several excellent foodie jokes from debut author Campisi) … From the wordplay of the premise to Kobera’s (The Flying Hand of Marco B.) crisp pictures and Campisi’s easygoing sense of humor, it’s a story with plenty of promise.” – Publishers Weekly
“The overall message of this picture book might be a little hard to grasp at first, but children will love the story and its emphasis on the beauty of individuality regardless, while parents will appreciate occasional bits of humor that will go right over the heads of children. Koberâ’s pictures are so cute that it’s almost hard to take; who could imagine that readers would so quickly fall in love with a normally detested insect and a piece of food? This is a clever book that will fall easily into the rotation, enjoyable by readers of many ages.”- San Francisco Book Review
“Campisi’s prose ensnared me and Kober’s illustrations wrapped me up in a blanket of whimsy and vibrant delight. … What also makes this book fantastic is the message that so beautifully comes across through the pages. It’s hard being different. The ugly dumpling shows you that everyone is beautiful in their own right and diversity should be embraced.”â”Laticia Overton, Examiner.com http://examiner.com/
To pre-order this title, visit: http://mightymediapress.com/the-ugly-dumpling# http://mightymediapress.com/the-ugly-dumpling#
Books are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powellâs, Indiebound, or your favorite local bookseller. You can also order through the publisher.
You can follow the “Dumpling Tour” below: