Diversity and Inclusion, Seeking Acceptance

Tuula Pere Author Interview

The Only Blue Crow follows a lone blue crow that wants nothing more than to be included. What was the inspiration for your story?

I love birds! I often observe their lives, how they find a spouse, make a nest, and defend their space and their little ones. What intrigues me most are their songs! In this book, the blue crow misses many of these elements as he is too alone and feels miserable.

I’m a person with two opposite sides. I feel very happy and comfortable to be connected to other people and enjoy their company, but I also need a lot of private space and time. I have noticed that a balance of these spheres is vital to me.

Like many people, the crow in my book has too much loneliness. He has difficulties in finding his place and trusted friends. He also lacks the confidence of being what he is and compares himself to others to be accepted.

I have met many “lonely crows” in real life, and I’d like to encourage them! I would like to send my greetings to a special little boy whose mother I was talking to some years ago. She was worried about how her son would be accepted at school as he had a physical difference compared to the others. Until then, he had been happy with it, but now he was going to another environment with all new people and had already started to think more about it.

This discussion with that mother is still in my heart. With books like The Only Blue Crow, I try to make children and adults think about and express acceptance and empathy every day. It can make a big difference in many lives.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with the illustrator Catty Flores?

Catty Flores is a wonderful artist and illustrator. We have been working together for many years. We communicate well, and we trust in each other’s professional skills. I am the author, and she wakes my stories alive in pictures!

Our first project together – ”The Survival Stories Series”– was published six years ago. She lived in New Zealand at that time, but the distance didn’t prevent us from working closely together. Modern technology and connections are amazing in connecting people!

Since then, we have made many other books – even series – together. It has always been smooth and positive. We have worked with many sensitive subjects like poverty, loneliness, illness. Welcome home, Pearl, from a series talking about the family life of a disabled child, was chosen even for to latest international IBBY collection of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, and they included the whole series in their exhibition.

We share a similar understanding with Catty about both the every day “tragedies” and the happy highlights. The message is: there is always a way, and there is always somebody to be by our side! There is a positive and fun way of encouraging children in our “Little Fears Series” and “I did it! Series”, which is important to both of us.

It’s always a pleasure for me to see Catty’s ideas for a new story and start developing the book together with her. I also admire her flexibility and ability to find new ways and styles for various stories.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The Only Blue Crow is a book of diversity and inclusion, seeking acceptance and connection to others. It’s also a book of finding the strength in yourself, trusting your own wings, and discovering the world!

I feel strongly connected to the lonely blue crow in his search for happiness. My crow is a symbol of many ways of being different from others. I hope it gives comfort and encouragement for children and adults who suffer from discrimination or are left out for any reason.

In real life, many significant issues in society can cause problems – poverty, culture, religion, gender, to name a few. But even more, minor everyday things can start the difficulties – such as differences in a person’s looks, thoughts, taste, and behavior. It’s essential to understand that these experiences of being included or left out are very individual and personal. They are often secrets, and the others do not notice that something is wrong. Still, they can affect a person’s whole life!

My message is simple. We are individuals, and we should be accepted as individuals! But we also need the others around us. Tolerance and acceptance are crucial to making life happier for everybody.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m always working simultaneously with several books. Stories are developing in my head, and texts are edited, translated, and illustrated by artists all the time. I love all the steps but working with the illustrator has a unique creative touch! ​

I just received the finished illustrations from Catty Flores for Noise All Over, which is the next book in my “Little Fears Series” this spring. And now, she has just started working with The Giant Legs, probably published before summer, too. These are books about various troubling situations that children meet, sometimes without the others noticing it. My message is that parents, relatives, teachers, and other adults close to children, can do a lot by listening and giving space to children. The little ones have deep feelings under the surface, too. After solving the minor problems and fears, life will be easier all along!

Another of my trusted illustrators, Andrea Alemanno, has just finished illustrating The Stone Garden, which has a unique atmosphere and mysterious visual interpretation. He could surprise me again, although we have worked together many years, too. I love layers of history and the present day, memories and plans, fantasy, and real life. The Stone Garden captures this all in Andrea Alemanno’s pictures.

There is no end to it when I talk about my following books! I am pleased to be inspired repeatedly and find fresh ways to express significant issues – even the most delicate ones – together with other artists. I have had a lot of time to think and write during these special times – suitable for an author! I’m glad to show the newest results soon and hope to meet readers in person again.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

There’s a blue crow who doesn’t know anyone like him. At times he feels terribly lonely.
“Luckily in my home valley there are blue flowers, blue butterflies and a blue sky,” he ponders. The blue crow feels even sadder when the new neighbors, black crows, mock him.
On the advice of a wise owl, the bird embarks on a journey across the sea. There are plenty of things to see. Will there also be other blue birds, and perhaps even another blue crow?

Posted on January 28, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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