Charlotte Offsay‘s new picture book, A Grandma’s Magic,
illustrated by Asa Gilland (Doubleday Books for Young Readers),
released April 5, 2022–and we’re keeping the celebration going!
I’m so happy Charlotte Offsay could join us on the blog today!
Let’s ask some Questions!
Q 1. What was the inspiration for A GRANDMA’S MAGIC?
Charlotte Offsay: I first began writing what would eventually become A Grandma’s Magic in early 2018 when I was taking a Picture Book class via The Children’s Book Academy. We were encouraged to generate story ideas around the things in our lives that we cared about the most. At the time I had just returned from a lovely visit with my own grandma who lives overseas and who I don’t get to see as often as I would like. I was consumed with missing her and decided to write a story around a young girl who is convinced her grandma is magical and wants to be just like her.
I submitted a version of this story to SCBWI LA Writer’s Day 2019 and was fortunate to be paired up with Doubleday Books For Young Readers editor Frances Gilbert. Frances helped me to see that at its core, my story was a celebration of grandmas. She encouraged me to rewrite it as a lyrical ode to the relationship.
An Ode to Grandma
I followed her advice and pulled from my own memories of baking, quilting and special outings with my grandmas as well as from watching my children with theirs. I used those memories to rewrite my manuscript into A Grandma’s Magic, a lyrical ode to grandma magic – how it touches us, shapes us and stays with us always.
Q 2. What is one of the most magical memories you have with one of your own grandmas? Or your kids’ grandmas?
Charlotte Offsay: Oh, my goodness, so many that it is hard to pick! I am blessed to still have both of my grandmas in my life, although I moved away from them when my family immigrated from England to the United States when I was nine. I think the distance between us made me cherish the time we got to spend together that much more.
Charlotte Offsay: I used to shadow one grandma in the kitchen – she is a fabulous baker and I think those fond memories are why I love baking in my own kitchen with my children so much. I can clearly remember pulling out my grandma’s weighing scales and covering her kitchen in flour.
Charlotte Offsay: My other grandma used to make the most beautiful quilts. Growing up, I always had one of her quilts on my bed. She used to teach me to quilt whenever I visited and saved fabrics that she knew I would love in anticipation of our visits. Time would disappear on her living room rug as we cut and sewed together. Thank you for this lovely trip down memory lane!
2 Qs on Craft
Q 3. Can you tell us about any edits or cuts you made to your manuscript on its journey to becoming a book?
Charlotte Offsay: In its final form, A Grandmas Magic is a little over 200 words. It took a lot of cuts, drafts and help from my editor, agent and invaluable critique partners to get the word count that low. I initially wrote the story around one single grandma and had a much higher word count. I had to work to pare back the text to feel more lyrical but also to be more general so that it could apply to all grandmas. In doing so I found the sparse, specific language more impactful.
Q 4. Did you face any “Revision roadblocks”?
Charlotte Offsay: One of the hardest parts of writing A Grandma’s Magic for me was finding the right structure and deciding to move from a traditional narrative arc to a concept book structure. I hovered between the two for quite a while before I was fully ready to let go of the story revolving around a single grandma. Moving to a concept book format allowed me to more fully embrace and celebrate the unique bond between grandma and grandchild which was the heart of the manuscript from the beginning.
Q 5. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope readers will see their own magical relationships reflected in Asa Gilland’s stunning artwork. I hope that readers will be encouraged to reflect on their own relationships and celebrate them in turn.
Bonus–> 3 Book Pairings!
Pair: The Big Beach Clean-up by Charlotte Offsay, Illus. Katie Rewse, Albert Whitman
for #EarthDay or any day,
with DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5 by Erin Dealey, Illus. Luisa Uribe, Harper Collins.
Pair: A Grandma’s Magic by Charlotte Offsay, Illus. Asa Gilland, Doubleday Books for Young Readers
for Mother’s Day, or Grandparents’ Day,
with Grandma’s Favorite by Erin Dealey, Illus. Luciana Navarro Powell, Kane Miller.
Pair: How to Return a Monster by Charlotte Offsay, Illus. Rea Zhai, Beaming Books with
Brand New Baby Blues By Kathi Appelt, Illus. Kelly Murphy, Harper Collins;
OR–go the “monster” + How-to guide route with A Travel Guide for Monsters by Lori Degman, Illus. Dave Szalay, Sleeping Bear Press.
Thanks again for stopping by, Charlotte!
To learn more about Charlotte Offsay and her books, check out her website: www.charlotteoffsay.com