Author Chat with Katherine Battersby (Cranky Chicken), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we are chatting with Katherine Battersby, author of
Read on for more about Katherine, her book, and a giveaway!
Meet Katherine Battersby!
Katherine Battersby is the critically acclaimed children’s author and illustrator of two chapter books and twelve picture books, including Perfect Pigeons and Squish Rabbit, a CBC Children’s Choice Book. Her picture books have also been shortlisted for numerous Australian awards, including the CBCA Awards for New Illustrator and Book of the Year. Katherine lives in Ottawa, Canada. Visit her at KatherineBattersby.com.
Meet Cranky Chicken!
Narwhal and Jelly meet The Bad Guys in this heartwarming, brightly illustrated, and downright hilarious chapter book about what happens when a very cranky chicken is befriended by a very cheerful worm.
Cranky Chicken is, well, cranky. With one cranky eyebrow, cranky eyes, and even cranky, scratchy feet. But then one day, Cranky meets a very friendly worm named Speedy who wants nothing more than to be friends. Young readers will love seeing the mismatched friendship grow over the course of three charming and laugh-out-loud short adventures as Chicken and Speedy become BFFs (Best Feathered Friends) and Speedy shows Chicken how to look on the bright side.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
This answer starts with a confession: I’m scared of chickens. I understand something about chickens that few do - ALL chickens are cranky chickens. They have beady little eyes and sharp beaks and tiny dinosaur brains. I was chased by many chickens in my childhood. But then I met a girl at one of my author school visits who was possibly the world’s biggest fan of chickens. She said to me “Chickens aren’t scary, they’re HILARIOUS”. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I decided I owed it to her to spend some more time drawing chickens, to see if I could see in them what she does. Cranky Chicken is what emerged. It turns out we were both right - chickens are both cranky AND hilarious.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
There are only two characters in the book and I really do love them both for different reasons. Speedy worm is just so much fun and I admire their ever positive view of life - I want Speedy as a bestie. But honestly, I most relate to Cranky Chicken. Chicken and I are both introverts, which means we need lots of time to think and process and figure out the world quietly in our heads. My friends understand that when I’m confronted with something new, my first response is to frown. Thinking takes a lot of energy! I also have an anxious chicken brain, so in any situation I am always anticipating what could go wrong. Just like Chicken, I can see the potential flaws in any plan. Luckily it would seem I hide all this quite well, because I’m told I don’t at all present as cranky. I would say I nurture a deep inner crank.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
My favourite scene is where Chicken and Speedy practise being cranky together. They even wear matching cranky pants (drawing pants on a chicken gives me more joy than it should). This spread makes me laugh every time I see it. But it also captures one of my favourite things about Speedy worm: they love Chicken for exactly who she is and never try to change her. All kids (and adults) deserve to find people who see and celebrate them for who they truly are, crankiness and all.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
You know it’s funny, but the most important thing I’ve learned is actually something I knew right back at the beginning but lost sight of along the way. As a kid I made art simply as play - I’d stumble across an idea and pursue it purely because it intrigued me. I always turned to writing and drawing whenever I had a big question about the world or was grappling with an emotion I didn’t understand. I continued this into adulthood, but then my first book was published - and I had to make a second one, and a third. It’s hard to keep a sense of play in the midst of deadlines. And it’s hard not to think about the market and your audience and what people want once you start reading reviews and having the larger world react to your work. It changes things. So I lost that sense of play and exploration that brought me to art in the first place, and with it I lost some of the joy. I went through a big life change a number of years ago, which also collided with a gap in having books accepted for publication, so it gave me time and space to see that I’d lost some of the joy of creation. I’m so grateful I took some time out to get back in touch with my sense of play, because since then I’ve had the most successful years of my career yet.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2021?
I find it impossible to narrow it down to just one. How about instead I show you the four books that just arrived on my doorstep? A great snapshot of all the things I love to read, from picture books to early chapter books to middle grade and YA. I can’t wait to dive into each of these books for different reasons…
YABC: What’s up next for you?
So much more crankiness. The second Cranky Chicken is finished and comes out in June 2022. The third one I am writing as we speak and will be out in 2023. But I also have a number of picture books circling my mind, which I work on in between drawing chickens and worms. Plus I have a middle grade-ish graphic novel I’d love to work on (I’m just collecting ideas and doodles for this one). My head is always full of characters, jostling for room. It’s hard to get them to behave and wait their turn.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
My partner would say it’s empathy. He calls me an emotional ninja. Apparently my superpower is being able to match my mood with whatever another person needs from me - to meet them where they are. I suppose maybe that’s why I became a children’s counsellor. Now I put those empathy skills towards getting to know my characters. While my books are always quirky, even the funnier ones, like Cranky Chicken, always explore emotions and the different ways people (or chickens!) process the world and express themselves.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Having worked in child and youth mental health for many years (and having a lifelong relationship with anxiety and OCD myself) I really value organisations that do support and advocacy work around mental health. I have great respect for those working to destigmatise mental illness and create better understanding and support systems in schools, workplaces and the community. Beyond Blue are a wonderful organisation in Australia (where I was born and raised) who provide information and support around depression, anxiety and suicide prevention. There are so many other organisations doing similar great work around the world. I’m always proud to support them where I can.
Author: Katherine Battersby
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publish Date: September 7th, 2021
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