I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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5 Qs with #GreenPB23 author Marsha Diane Arnold = Happy Book Birthday ONE SMALL THING!

May 16, 2023

Today we chat with author Marsha Diane Arnold and celebrate the #BookBirthday of her wonderful book, ONE SMALL THING (Illus. Laura Watkins, Beaming Books) !

About the Book

After Raccoon’s home burns down in a lightning storm, his friends don’t know what they can do to help. Squirrel, Beaver, Mouse, Badger, and Rabbit all go back to their own homes, trying to focus on something other than Raccoon’s tragedy. But each animal discovers one small thing they can do for Raccoon–and it turns out that each small act may not be so small after all.

A gentle and powerful look at how small actions can make a big impact.

Marsha and I met many books ago, when she lived and wrote in Northern California. (More about her bi-coastal moves here. ) Meanwhile this is a #BookBirthday and…

We have questions!

Q 1. What inspired you to write this sweet story?

MDA: Calamities, catastrophes, disasters! Oh, my! Sometimes calamities, catastrophes, and disasters seem to surround us. The past few years I’ve felt this.

In 2017, Hurricane Irma rushed over our house in Florida at 130 mph. That same year, the Tubbs wildfire rushed through Sonoma County, California, where my husband and I had lived for over thirty-five years. A number of our friends lost their homes. I think the idea for One Small Thing started then; it resided in the back of my mind for some time. It wasn’t until 2019, during the Australian wildfires, that I started to write about the importance of helping in small ways during disasters.

Q 2. They say each of our books is a bit autobiographical. Are you more like Squirrel, Mouse, Badger, Beaver, or Raccoon?

MDA: Well, I do love a nice cup of tea. Right now, I have a dozen different varieties in my cupboard. In that way, I’m like Squirrel.

Illus. by Laura Watkins from ONE SMALL THING written by Marsha Diane Arnold (Beaming Books)

MDA: I can be a bit grumpy too, like Badger, and I can be concerned about small things, as Badger is concerned about Cricket. So, maybe I’m most like Badger, who wanders off into the darkest part of Brightly Wood to search for Cricket. Badger walks and walks; walking is good when we’re feeling sad. Badger knows that there are lots of things that will make Raccoon feel better, but the most important of all would be finding Raccoon’s constant companion, Cricket.

Illus. by Laura Watkins from ONE SMALL THING written by Marsha Diane Arnold (Beaming Books)

Q 3. Which of these titles—from your long list of wonderful books—best describes your #kidlit journey:

  • ____________________ your choice

MDA: I think all of these describe different parts of my kid lit journey. Lost. Found. stands out,  as when I wrote it, I hadn’t sold a book for seven years! I was feeling lost. When the famous editor Neal Porter bought this 18 word book and described it as, “Brilliantly simple and simply brilliant,” I felt found.  

LOST.FOUND. by Marsha Diane Arnold
Illus. Matthew Cordell / Roaring Brook Press

However, it’s my very first book, Heart of a Tiger, published in 1995, that may best describe my journey. Afterall, it was the beginning. I realized after it was published that I was likely writing about myself as much as my character, Little Four.

HEART OF A TIGER by Marsha Diane Arnold Illus. Jamichael Henterly / Dial Books

MDA: In this fictional book, HEART OF A TIGER, there is a custom where an animal may choose their own name a year after their birth, but they may only keep that name if all the animals agree it is a fair and honest name.

The kitten, Little Four, has a big dream – to give himself a name like that of the Magnificent Bengal Tiger on Naming Day. He follows Bengal and learns from him, eventually saving his life. In the end, Little Four realizes he will never be a Bengal tiger, but he does have the heart of a tiger and so receives his name – Heart of a Tiger. I think I was trying to teach myself that I too could learn to be brave, could follow mentors and learn, and could have some of my dreams come true.

Q 4. What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

MDA: Some young readers have early copies of One Small Thing. It’s inspiring to hear their comments after reading the book. One said, “Today I am going to do one small thing for everyone.

Teaching children to do “one small thing” daily helps them understand their feelings, other’s feelings, and make empathetic decisions. It will also prepare them to be ready to act when a big catastrophe comes. My hope is that One Small Thing will help educators teach social emotional learning and that, as each of us do “one small thing, it will spread kindness, all around.

Illus. by Laura Watkins from ONE SMALL THING written by Marsha Diane Arnold (Beaming Books)

Q 5. What new projects are you working on now?

MDA: I have two new books coming out this year, One Small Thing and Armando’s Island, so right now I’m spending a lot of time celebrating them on social media.

ARMANDO’S ISLAND by Marsha Diane Arnold
Coming August 2023–Illus. Anne Yvonne Gilbert / Creative Editions

I’m delighted to share that I just signed a contract in January for a new book, but it hasn’t been announced yet. I must keep the secret awhile longer.   …oh, all right.  Here’s a hint: ChugaChuga, WHOOOOOO-WHOO.

There are so many stories in my mind that I’m excited to begin working on, several with nature/wildlife themes. Another is a series of detective stories with two friends, inspired by my granddaughter.

ONE SMALL THING and ARMANDO’S ISLAND are both GreenPB23 picture books.

MDA: Thank you so much, Erin, for inviting me to join you on your blog. I love that we are still connected after “many books ago.”

Thank you , Marsha, and Happy Book Birthday!

To learn more about Marsha Diane Arnold and her books:

Check out her website www.marshadianearnold.com

And follow her on social media:

FB: MarshaDianeArnold

Twitter: @MarshaDArnold

Insta: marshadianearnoldauthor

Hey–Let’s all go celebrate by doing ONE SMALL THING.

Illus. by Laura Watkins from ONE SMALL THING written by Marsha Diane Arnold (Beaming Books)

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