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Between the Lines

Interview with Vivian Walsh Author of Gluey
A Snail Tale
Vivian Walsh
Illustrated by J.otto Seibold

This is the story of a house . . .
and of the house-proud bunny, Celerina, who moves in and calls it home . . .
and of the large-hearted little snail, Gluey, who lives on the outside and keeps everything together.
J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh are the creators of seven picture books, including three about the plucky pup Mr. Lunch, and the bestselling Christmas classic, Olive, the Other Reindeer. They both live in San Francisco and have three children.
Interview with Vivian Walsh Author of Gluey
Q: Celerina, the cute little bunny in this story, callously flicks Gluey, the snail, into the woods after finding him on her window. She judges Gluey without knowing him, ignores his comments, and cracks his delicate shell in the throw. And yet Gluey's first impulse after being healed is to help Celerina with her party. Is he a good friend? Or is he a little masochistic?
A: Oh my goodness! This question presumes a lot of thinking is going on. Neither the bunny nor the snail give much thought to their actions it's just their nature to do as they do, as is preordained by Mother Nature.

Q: Celerina later realizes that she misjudged Gluey and they become "the dearest of friends." What advice can you give to kids about repairing a friendship that has suffered because of a misunderstanding or hurtful action?
A: I respect kids' reactions to people. But I would certainly urge anyone to give a fellow creature a second chance.

Q: At first Celerina doesn't notice Gluey (because he's so small). And there are many more examples of tiny, easily overlooked creatures and events in the illustrations of the book. When you wrote this story, did you actively intend for Gluey to help children pay attention to small details?
A: Kids drink in details that adults overlook. It is always fun to add things to a picture book that may not be detected until the second or third read-through. Our books are built for repeat reading!

Q: You have three children (and a few pets). How, if at all, do your children influence you in your storywriting— and how do your books help influence your children? Do your kids try to help you when you sit down to write?
A: My children, like so many of these young people, are keen observers, with an endless number of good ideas that overflow and pour forth from them, flooding the homestead and my consciousness. I used to write to entertain and, hopefully, enchant my young children, but now that they are older, they inspire me.

Q: What process do you use to begin a story? For example, do you start with a character or subject and then fashion a story around it, or are you swept away by the urge to create and a story is the result?
A: I always wait until a funny premise hits me. I came up with the idea for Gluey in my back yard. I was thinking about how the little things in life are the glue that holds everything together. As that big idea touched upon my thoughts, sunshine made a snail trail on the back of my house iridescent. Dried slime is an unlikely source of beauty and it struck me as funny that a snail trail could be a useful or important part of nature. I also liked giving the snail the job of carpenter—as if a snail could be as industrious as an ant! It's a few rungs up the ladder from the snail's usual depiction as a slug or sloth.

Q: If you were going to identify yourself with any of the characters in Gluey, which one would it be and why?
A: Certainly, I am the snail and J.otto is the bunny. It is evident in the way he drew the lips.

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