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  • Writer's pictureMary Boone

Six Questions with Leslie Barnard Booth

Leslie Barnard Booth writes lyrical picture books about science and nature. She is the author of A Stone Is a Story (Simon & Schuster/McElderry), a Kids' Indie Next pick and NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book, and the forthcoming picture books One Day This Tree Will Fall (Simon & Schuster/McElderry) and I Am We: A Story of Survival (Chronicle). Leslie lives in Portland, Oregon, and loves exploring the natural world with her family. Visit Leslie's website to learn more about her and her work.


1. What three things bring you joy? 

Being in nature, reading about nature and science, and most of all, spending time with my family. When these things overlap it's even better—when our family explores nature together, for example. Or when I get to read outside!

 

2. What one piece of advice would you like to give to aspiring kidlit authors?

This is an endurance sport. It can be so discouraging at times. But if you love it, stick with it. You can make it happen!

 

3. What are you working on? What's next for you?

I have a new picture book coming in fall 2025 with Chronicle called I Am We: A Story of Survival, and it's all about crows! These creatures became visible to me in a new way during the early days of the pandemic. The days slowed down and there was a lot of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. But the crows were always there, rain or shine. Whenever I went walking with my kids, we'd see them, and they'd lift our spirits. It was so comforting to watch them go about their daily routines, and the more I learned about them, the more fascinated I became with these clever, social birds.

 

4. Where did you get the idea for One Day This Tree Will Fall? What was your inspiration?

The seed of this story came from a few places. At the preschool my children attended, a group of kids in another class became fascinated with a rotting stump they discovered on the playground. They were dissecting it and learning about all the little critters that lived inside it. At the same time, I was reading Peter Wohlleben's The Hidden Life of Trees, which made me consider the incredible drama of a tree's life cycle and its continuing legacy after it dies. A dead tree, as those preschoolers discovered, is absolutely chock full of life. So, I decided to write a cradle to grave biography of a tree, but one in which the concept of "grave" is upended. Because, in the context of a forest ecosystem, a tree's story has no end. 

 

5. If you read this book to a room filled with kids, what message would you want them to leave with?

I would hope they'd walk away in awe of the fact that every part of an ecosystem, even a rotting log, contributes to the larger whole. I hope they'd take that sense of profound interconnectedness with them. It's a message that applies to all aspects of life, both within and beyond human societies. As people and as creatures of the earth, we are all interconnected. 

 

6. Who should read this book?

Curious kids! Kids who love animals and nature. Kids who wonder what trials and challenges a tree faces across its thousand-year lifetime. Kids who want to know why dead trees are absolutely essential to forest ecosystems. Kids who want to understand how a tree's life story is also the story of a forest and all its creatures. 


Are you a traditionally published picture book or middle-grade creator? Want to be featured on the Six Questions blog? Email mary@boonewrites.com to learn more.

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