Six Questions with Christine Evans
Christine Evans is the author of two picture books, Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist illustrated by Yas Imamura (Innovation Press) and Emily’s Idea illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns (Sounds True). Her chapter book series, The Wish Library, is out now (Albert Whitman). Christine has jumped out of a plane once, windsurfed once, and water skied once. She much prefers books and writing to adrenaline sports. She is a British expat and has lived in California for over ten years with her husband and two young daughters. Learn more about Christine at her website.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to write for young readers?
I've always loved writing and once upon a time I wanted to be a journalist. But life happened and I eventually ended up in corporate communications. Then, over ten years ago, we moved from a tiny English village to California and I had two children. When I started reading picture books, I fell in love. At last, I knew what I was meant to be: a children's book author! Obviously there were many, many more steps to take after that point, but reading picture books aloud to my kids was the beginning.
2. What was your favorite book when you were a child? Why?
I loved so many books as a child so picking one is hard. I loved Matilda by Roald Dahl and The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. Looking back, I suspect I loved not only the magic in those books, but also the fact that the kids overcame difficulties and bested the adults!
3. What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids?
There are so many potential ingredients to pick from! I think humor is important in a book for kids, especially in those for younger emerging readers, as it keeps them reading and enjoying books.
Books should also reflect the reality of life for their intended audience. My audience (7-10 year olds) have a lot of ups and downs in a typical school week, even in one day. They can have problems with learning, teachers, friends, teasing, parents, food, siblings... and so on. And as adults it can be easy to dismiss their problems as not important. But to them they are everything. I want kids to feel seen when they read my books. Oh, and I always like to add a dash of magic!
4. Where did you get the idea for The Wish Library? What was your inspiration?
The idea for The Wish Library series started with a text message! I texted a friend: "Wish library opened earlier" and she replied: "What's a wish library?"
So the seed was sown!
This latest book, The Wish That Got Away, is book four and the idea was jointly developed with my editor. We wanted a unicorn and some kind of accident in the Wish Library that the kids have to fix before disaster strikes. This was my favorite book in the series to write!
5. What was the process or timeline for this book, from idea to publishing?
It took lots of marinating and six drafts and revisions before I had a version of the first Wish Library book ready to submit. My agent submitted Snow Day in May along with a proposal for several more books in the series and Albert Whitman and Co. bought two books initially. The first draft was late 2018 and the first two books came out in spring 2021. The turnaround from draft to finished book is much faster now! I wrote the first draft for The Wish That Got Away less than a year ago.
6. Who should read this book?
Everyone! Ha! This book is for kids and their grown ups who love magic, unicorns, pets, laughter, and ice cream. And it's for anyone who needs a friend.