Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author Rae St Clair Bridgman , University professor, anthropologist, urban planner, mother of six, grandmother to eight, about her writing and her latest, Good Night, Good Night, Victoria Beach, a playful and fun exploration of the alphabet and the four seasons. (Read the review here.)
Rae St. Clair Bridgman is the award-winning Winnipeg author and illustrator of The MiddleGate Books – The Serpent’s Spell, Amber Ambrosia, Fish & Sphinx, and Kingdom of Trolls. University professor, anthropologist, urban planner, mother of six, grandmother to eight . . . she has a knack for finding the magical and extraordinary in the ordinary, in between the cracks of reality.
Society6 artwork: https://society6.com/raebridgman
Who or what inspired you to write and illustrate this book?
The jackrabbit gave me the idea. “The jackrabbit?” you ask. Yes, the jackrabbit. It hopped, or maybe that should be dashed by our cottage at Victoria Beach one November — after the first snowfall. The jackrabbit was half-brown and half-white. And I thought, I have to do a book about you and your friends here at Victoria Beach.
Jackrabbits are brown during the summer months, and their fur turns white for winter. A great disguise. That’s where the idea for this picture book came from. Or rather, four picture books. One book for spring, one for summer, one for fall, and one for winter! And I love the structure of ABC books for little readers—A B C D E F. You know the drill. Then the four books turned into one 120-page book, all inspired by that jackrabbit.
I always think of Alice’s White Rabbit when I see a rabbit run by. They really are quick—they appear and disappear in the wink of an eye. Like the rabbits in Good Night, Good Night, Victoria Beach, they have their secrets.
Where did your ideas for the story come from?
Victoria Beach, it’s a truly walkable, cottage-country community about an hour north of Winnipeg, and it has a century-long history of car-free summers. Everyone parks their car in a huge parking lot, and then you walk or bicycle or scoot to your cottage. It’s a really safe place for kids, with no cars on the small dirt roads (except for the extra-slow VB taxis ferrying luggage). There’s the Village Green Bakery, the General Store, the Moonlight Inn for yummy ice cream, the Library, the Bandstand, community trails and bike paths, and the nearby Elk Island wildlife preserve. And, of course, there are the beaches, great expanses of white sand, waves, and endless sky. There’s lots and lots of scope for the imagination. So, it’s just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Here to The Magical.
How did you come up with the title?
Well, what better to call a read-aloud bedtime book than Good Night, Good Night? Of course, one of the most famous bedtime stories is Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. That came out in 1947. And nowadays, there’s Dennis Lee’s Good Night, Good Night book, and even a bedtime story called Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site.
Good Night, Good Night, Victoria Beach is pretty faithful to ABC books’ usual “storyline.” A is for, B is for, C is for . . . all the way to “Z is for ZZZzzz . . . . Sweet dreams, sleep tight, good night, good night!”
What’s your favourite childhood book?
When you asked me that question, I immediately turned it into what was my favourite childhood book? And the answer to that question has got to be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I loved the outlandish characters and creatures, logical and illogical nonsense, wordplay, and … it goes without saying, all the original illustrations by John Tenniel.
Then I thought, you didn’t ask me what was my favourite. You asked what is my favourite.
And I think my answer is the same. Alice in Wonderland, for the very same reasons. And think of the White Rabbit. The White Rabbit hops by, stops, pulls out a watch, and says self-importantly, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’ Aren’t so many people just like that rabbit?
I recently found out about the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. The members of that esteemed society adore Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and all the “much of a muchness.” They explore the life and times and influence and work of Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Of all the things that inspire us when we’re young, those curious and curiouser things can still inspire us when we are not quite so young!
What’s one thing you love about your book?
My pen-and-ink and pan pastel illustrations are all about the fantastical, the whimsical, and the what-ifs. You know, what if a jackrabbit visited you at bedtime? Would you follow it? I love that the jackrabbit’s paw prints jump directly into the book on the very first this-book-belongs-to page. Then, all we see on the very last page is the jackrabbit from behind as it hops off the page. Almost as if the jackrabbit scampers through the whole book.
Categories: BookView Review Interview