She’s award winning, she’s internationally published and her name should be up in neon lights: say hi to Kelly Canby

Headshot of Kelly Canby

Kelly Canby’s new book, Littlelight, is already on the reprint list after COVID-19 led Fremantle Press to let our booksellers get the book earlier than its release date. In this e-interview, Kelly tells us more about the book and shares some recent news.

You’ve had much success overseas in recent times; tell us where your titles are published or are going to be published.

I still can’t believe half the places my books are being published. The Hole Story has, so far, gone to Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Korea, Belgium and the Netherlands, the USA and Canada. Rodney is off to Turkey, while Littlelight has also been sold to Turkey and to Taiwan.

Describe Littlelight for us. 

It’s a story about diversity, acceptance and tolerance set in a town whose mayor is so afraid of anything that is different or unusual he builds a wall. When bricks start to missing from the wall, the townspeople are at first dismayed, but then start to realise the people on the other side of the wall aren’t so very threatening after all.

Did you deliberately set out to lampoon Trump with your Uncle Sam character and the red-haired girl (possibly his secret love child) who wants to tear his wall down?

To be honest it didn’t occur to me that the mayor resembled Uncle Sam at all! That wasn’t intentional. After many sketches of the mayor I think, in the end, I just liked his hat! It’s always fascinating to me how once I put a book out into the world it takes on a life of its own where the reader sees and interprets parts of it their own way. I often get readers pointing out little things in my books that to me had no meaning at all, but they found meaning there and that’s cool. I’m okay with that; it’s their book now. So, in the case of the girl with the bright orange hair, I will let readers decide what that all means.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just on the COVID-19 issue, I’d say that it’s been such a joy to see how people embraced art and books and creativity to get them through it. While the whole world seemed a little bit grey, people found creative ways to make it colourful, and I really hope that that is something that stays with us.

Littlelight is available in all good bookstores and online. You can see sample pages here or listen to a podcast about picture books featuring Kelly Canby here. Free bookmarks, teaching notes and an at-home activity are also available for the book. Download them here and here, or email to order your freebies.


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