Groundhog Night

1. What attracted you to this subject? 

I went for an autumn walk in Shubenacadie Park near sunset and loved seeing how the light changed the mood of the park; it glowed as the sun was setting.

Imagining this community of animals experiencing seasons from the point of view of a curious groundhog made me feel curious as well. I wanted to share that with young readers and people who visit the park.

2. Where did you find inspiration for the story and images in your book, especially for Shubenacadie Sam?

Winter was my inspiration. While I was creating wintry scenes for this book I was pretty much living in snow. I am an avid cross-country skier and love to pond skate. When I spend a lot of time in nature I can feel small, like maybe how a groundhog must feel. At the same time, when I am outside a lot, I start to notice small details like snow on berries and the tracks of mice on snow.

3. What special process or routine do you follow when you are creating a book like Groundhog Night: Shubenacadie Sam’s Shadow?

I visited the park and took many photos and talked to people at the park about the animals and life there. I researched the different animals and practiced drawing them. I wrote the story many times in different ways until I found a voice that seemed to connect to both the park and to Sam. I then created a storyboard which mapped out the illustrations with the text. After that I painted the large images, one by one, including the cover. 

4. What is it about Shubenacadie Sam that attracts young people?

Sam is a groundhog who is famous for just being a groundhog. I think young people like that an ordinary groundhog can be part of something as big as the arrival of spring. 

5. What message would you like young people to take away from this book?

To explore, to ask questions, to enjoy their natural surroundings and to experience nighttime outside!