Episode 166: All About Picture Books — Interview with Trinka Hakes Noble

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today I have the pleasure of hosting author and illustrator Trinka Hakes Noble on the show!

Trinka is the award-winning author of over thirty picture books, and has been hailed as the champion of the picture book genre. Her latest book, Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade, is a historical fiction starring a young girl named Rettie in 1918 America during the deadly influenza pandemic.

Listen in as we get the inside scoop on how Rettie’s world was created, and geek out about the picture book genre.  

In this episode Trinka and I discuss:

  • Crafting historical fiction that places children in the shoes of the characters.
  • How to use big moments in history to anchor your story.
  • Why it’s so important—both in general, but most especially in children’s books—that the main character not come across as a victim.
  • The important differences between a “story book” and a “picture book” and distinguishing features in each of these forms.
  • Why it’s so important to trust your illustrator when you write picture books, and how your art director and illustrator can elevate your book to new heights.

Plus, Trinka’s #1 tip for writers.

About Trinka Hakes Noble

Trinka Hakes Noble is the award-winning author of over thirty picture books. The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash, illustrated by Steven Kellogg, just celebrated its 37th year in print, and Meanwhile Back At The Ranch is celebrating its 30th year in print.  Apple Tree Christmas, which she wrote and illustrated is presently in a Holiday Classic edition.

Other notable works Trinka has to her name are The Scarlet Stockings Spy, The Last Brother, and The Orange Shoes.

Her latest titles are The Legend of the Jersey Devil, Lizzie and the Last Day of School, The Legend of Sea Glass, and her latest Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade has just been released..

Ms. Noble graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in painting, and went on to study children’s book writing and illustration in New York City at Parson’s School of Design, the New School University, Caldecott medalist Uri Schulivitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and most recently at New York University.

Ms. Noble is a board member of The New Jersey Center for the Book, The Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature, The Author’s Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  

In 2002, she was awarded Outstanding Woman in Arts and Letters from the state of New Jersey for her life-time work in children’s books along with letters of a commendation from The US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and the US Congress. She was also awarded Author of the Year, 2016/2017, by the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.  She lives in a circa 1780 house in historic Northern New Jersey. To connect with Trinka check out her website at www.trinkahakesnoble.com.

Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade

In 1918, a deadly influenza pandemic was sweeping across America.  It ravaged families, leaving thousands of children orphaned.

But in the tenement apartments of New York City’s Lower East Side,  one young girl is determined to keep her family safe.  When her mother becomes sick, Loretta “Rettie”Stanowski does all the cleaning, washing, shopping, and cooking for her family.  

To earn money, she cleans the apartment building’s halls, stairways and stoop, and washes rags for the ragpicker.  But Rettie is anxiously waiting for the Thanksgiving Day Ragamuffin Parade and penny scramble.  When children held out their hands and asked, “Have you anything for Thanksgiving?”, fancy uptown people would give them a penny.  Rettie was hoping to get lots of pennies. She wanted to buy something special for their Thanksgiving dinner.

But with the influenza outbreak, quarantines are ordered and large gatherings banned.  Rettie was worried.  Would the Ragamuffin Parade be cancelled too?

If you decide to check out Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade or the other books in the Tales of Young Americans series — The Last Brother and The Scarlet Stockings Spy — we hope you’ll do so via these affiliate links, where if you choose to purchase DIY MFA makes a small commission at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

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