Following find an interview with author Kate Shannon.
What is the name of the book and when was it published?
Hey, Baby, Look! was published in the summer of 2014.
What’s the book’s first line?
“Where is the apple?”
What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch.”
Created for deep connection, loving interaction, and engaged learning, Hey, Baby, Look! is ideal for ages 0-3. A bright, Q&A, early-reader board book central to any little person’s first library, Hey, Baby, Look! is underpinned by brain research and designed for dual-hemisphere engagement. Its sturdy pages are rich in color, beautifully illustrated, and full of rhyming fun!
What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?
From a very young age, I knew that words were powerful and would be vital to my existence—a significant part of my being, of what informs my life and flows from it. Of all humans, babies have the spongiest brains and deserve to be surrounded by infinite beauty and love, so I write for them.
I’ve written but not yet published 26 other board books—all waiting in the wings. As soon as it manifested itself, I knew Hey, Baby, Look! would be the first to go to print, and I knew that I wanted Morgan Owens to illustrate it. The collaboration behind this book was amazing and produced what feels like a near-perfect outcome.
Hey, Baby, Look! was sparked to life one Saturday afternoon while doodling on a napkin at a coffee shop. From out of my pen, a cross-combination of color graphs started to form—then the squares and related objects. And around these differentiated color patterns and object groupings, the rest of the book started to take shape. My graduate courses in brain research taught me that babies don’t learn through sameness, they learn through differentiation; hence, the 3+1 groupings. They also gravitate toward familiarity, and I wanted to create a book that a parent or caregiver wouldn’t mind reading over and over and over.
What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?
The toddler reading this book is my main character, and the big person holding that toddler is this story’s supporting actor. What’s the most distinctive thing about the two of them together? They are bonding and learning—about themselves, about one another, and about the world—when this little book is in their shared hands. Touch and affirmation and time spent together all go a long way toward creating the foundation for a fully self-actualized adult human. The more we can give those things to babies and to our children, the better both the present and the future will be for us all.
What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?
Shapes, numbers, letters, objects: these are all symbols, and symbolic understanding is the foundation of literacy. Think of literacy not just as the ability to read words but the ability to read life: situations, emotion, people, responses, cultural dynamics, the weather. Those who understand the power of symbolic thoughts and constructs can better navigate the world and fashion a place for themselves within it.
The brain research points to a key underlying truth: that learning from birth to three is foundational and explosive. That time magnifies—or impedes—brain development and sets the stage for an individual’s entire life. This book, while it may seem like a “cute little book,” is also a very powerful little book.
It provides a vehicle for the function of early learning, and by virtue of it’s construct, it naturally creates an invaluable space of tenderness for the kind of bonding and connectivity that anchors us to one another and causes us to thrive. The more awake and alive we can be for ourselves and with our children, the better their lives and our shared existence will be.