Books·Magic 8 Q&A

What does Barbara Reid love to hear from readers?

The author of Picture the Sky, a finalist for the 2018 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.
Barbara Reid is a celebrated Canadian children's writer. (Ian Crysler)

Barbara Reid's award-winning plasticine-illustrated picture books have become a treasured part of many Canadian childhoods. The Order of Canada member has published of over 35 books for children, including The PartySing a Song of Mother Goose and Picture the Sky. Picture the Sky was a finalist for the 2018 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and won the TD Fan Choice Contest

Below, Reid takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A, answering eight questions from eight fellow writers.

1. Billie Livingston asks, "I usually feel a bit lost when I finish a book. What do you do to distract yourself after you first send off your book to an editor?"

Frantic activity to offset the months of sitting in a chair. Intense cleaning and decluttering, home repairs and going outside. Plus I usually get sick.

2. Alison Pick asks, "What is your middle name?"


3. Jonathan Auxier asks, "What book in your home library holds the greatest sentimental value?"

N. C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals by Douglas Allen and Douglas Allen Jr. I found this book in the Albert Britnell Bookstore as a teenager; it was the first time I realized that an illustrator could be a real person, and that illustration could be a job, a life. The book was very expensive, so I sneakily read it in the store over several visits. When I opened it on Christmas morning, I burst into tears. 

4. Lawrence Hill asks, "What is the worst job you ever had, and what kind of good material did it give you?"

Lifeguarding at a high-rise apartment pool in a scruffy neighborhood was the worst job I ever had. When the pool was empty, the boredom was excruciating. When big scary guys came and did backflips, I was terrified I would have to deal with a spinal injury. I suppose it prepared me for touring with Children's Book Week.

5. Aviaq Johnston asks, "What is your favourite thing to hear from people who have read your work?"

"We've read it so many times we know it off by heart."

6. Susan Juby asks, "What do you tell new writers about the economics of being a writer? Are you a hope-giver or a hope-dasher?"

A little of both. I'm very honest about the slim to nil chance of making a living as a full- time creator, which may dash the hopes of some, as it should. I may be a romantic, but I think the passionate writers do not lose hope over the money part; they are going to do it any way, any how.

7. Vincent Lam asks, "What is your favourite editorial stage, and your favourite type of editorial conversation?"

I love the final polish, when a single word is resolved and clicks into place and everything is better for it.

8. Jillian Tamaki asks, "What do you wish was different about your workspace and how do you adapt?"

I could always use more surfaces, walls and storage in my workspace. I adapt by being freakishly tidy. What would be really nice would be to have the ability to slow time in the studio so I could work longer.