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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Happy #BookBirthday to THE REINDEER REMAINDERS by Katey Howes = A celebration of Words, Math, Friendship, and LIFE + 9 Qs with Illustrator Marie Hermansson

July 8, 2024

I am honored to help celebrate the release of THE REINDEER REMAINDERS, written by our late dear #kidlit friend Katey Howes, and illustrated by Marie Hermansson ( Sourcebooks). The original #BookBirthday was rescheduled to July, after Katey passed away unexpectedly last month. We chatted with illustrator Marie Hermansson about their sweet, clever book that pairs math, friendship, and inclusion.

in Children’s Math Fiction

I first interviewed Katey Howes for a blog post about Raising Readers in 2020. <–Click on the link to read tips and insights from Katey, illustrator Luciana Navarro Powell, and editor Carol Hinz.

I wish with all my heart that Katey could join us for this chat today.

We are thrilled to have illustrator Marie Hermansson here to talk about their book together!

10 Qs with Marie Hermansson

Q 1. What were your first reactions/thoughts when you received Katey’s manuscript? Did you envision images right away?

MH: When I first read Katey’s manuscript, I got so excited about the story. I had never read a story like it before, how she combined math and the social emotional concepts into one story.

The reindeer characters and forest setting helped me begin to envision the illustrations right away.

Q 2. What’s your favorite spread? I know Katey emailed you after she saw the interior sketches. Can you share a bit about her reactions? 

MH: It is so hard to choose but my favorite spread is pages 12-13 when the reindeer are leaving one class and traveling to their next class.

As soon as I sent the sketches in for review and Katey saw them she DM’d me on Instagram and told me how much she loved them. She said she knew that she wasn’t suppose to contact me BUT she just had to let me know, she said they were “magic”.

Interior illustration by Marie Hermansson from THE REINDEER REMAINDERS,
written by Katey Howes ( Sourcebooks)

Q 3. What are your favorite lines of text?

MH: My favorite lines are on pages 10-11:

“The reindeer cannot focus.

This is too strange to ignore.

They’ve never left a classmate out when pairing up before!”

Katey Howes

MH: Katey really distills down to the root of the problem here and I love how she describes the confusion that the reindeer are feeling.

Illustration Questions

Q 4. What medium did you use for this project? Do you have a favorite?

MH: I work digitally primarily in Photoshop. I always start with pencil and paper though for thumbnails and sketching but that goes into the program before I send the sketches for approval.

With all of the digital brushes available artist can create work that has the look of traditional medium but with more flexibility, which is why I like it.

Interior illustration by Marie Hermansson from THE REINDEER REMAINDERS,
written by Katey Howes ( Sourcebooks).

Q 5. Thanks for giving the reindeer different color kerchiefs so it’s easier to tell them apart. Have you “hidden” any other “Easter eggs” throughout the book?

MH: I am so glad that you noticed and asked this question! I was asked to make sure that the reindeer were identifiable as individuals, a couple of ideas were thrown around but I came up with the kerchiefs in order to help simplify that process.

Remarkable Reindeer Fact:

MH: They also all have different antlers. During my research on reindeer I learned that reindeer antler are like fingerprints, no two are alike.


Check out this Bandana / Antler Chart by Marie Hermansson for THE REINDEER REMAINDERS
written by Katey Howes (Sourcebooks).

Q 6. The endpapers are fascinating. How did you decide what would be included?

MH: Thank you! I’m really happy with how they turned out. The endpapers are the chalkboard the class has been trying to solve problems on, but also goofing around and drawing silly pictures of their teachers and classmates.


Q 7. In your bio on the book jacket, it says you always learn something from each book you work on. What takeaways did you have from working on Reindeer Remainders?

MH: Yes! I learn so much with every book I do. Especially ones that involve animals. There are so many things to consider, like their anatomy, their habitat, their ecosystem.

Even with fiction picture books I like to be accurate in these aspects. What kind of tree grow in the forest they live in? What types of birds live there? Working on Katey’s story about reindeer I learned a lot about them and their anatomy.

Q 8. What takeaways do you hope readers might have?

MH: I hope that they have fun and enjoy Katey’s wonderful story! In the book different reindeer get left out, it isn’t the same one each time. I think that is an important message that everyone gets left out now and again but with a little problem solving we can figure it out.

Bonus for Teachers and Librarians:

For an Educator’s guide to THE REINDEER REMAINDERS, click here.

What’s Next?

Q 9. What’s next for you, Marie? Any projects you can share?

MH: Currently I am working on two books that are both out for approval to move to color. THE SECRETS OF THE JELLIES by Karen Jameson and IF YOU LIVE ON A FARM by Kari Ann Gonzalez each set to release in 2026. Both were quite research heavy so I’ve learned quite a bit about jellyfish and a lot about of different types of farms.

The editor of the farm book, Julia Recko was kind enough to set me up with some local farms to visit in person! The books are so different and I love that. It is really exciting to have a reason to learn about all of these topics that I would not have delved so deep into had it not been for illustrating a book about them.

Thank you so much, Marie Hermansson, for joining us today.

To learn more about her work,

Check out her website: MarieHermanssonIllustration.com

And follow Marie on social media:

Instagram: mariehermanssonillustration

TwitterX: @MarieHermansson

Bluesky: @mariehermansson.bsky.social

To learn more about Katey Howes, visit her website: https://www.kateyhowes.com

and please share her books with young readers.

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