Hello and welcome to our review and interview for
IF I HAD A GRYPHON by Vikki VanSickle!
We interview Vikki about the book and learn about how cute it is. Plus, Jamie reviews the book! But first let’s learn more about the book!
Published by Tundra Books on February 9th 2016
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
Sam just got a hamster for a pet. She's not really impressed. The hamster isn't very exciting--he mostly eats and sleeps and gets his shavings wet. BORING!
After reading a book about mythological creatures, Sam gets some ideas for more exciting pets. But she soon realizes that taking care of these magical beasts might not be as wonderful as she though. Unicorns are shy, gryphons scare the dogs at the dog park and having a fire extinguisher handy at all times makes dragons seem like an awful lot of work.
Maybe the hamster really is the best pet for her. A nice, safe pet... right?
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book was so adorable. It had everything you could want in a kid’s book: cute graphics, a teaching moment, and MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES. I loved that Sam wanted to expand her mind in mythology and was aware of how great every creature could be but also the difficulties with having said creature. I think it was very smart of her to realize that sometimes we should be grateful for what we have instead of looking for the bigger and better. I am going to pass this one along to my niece for her to enjoy! I would recommend this for kids of all ages and adults who want to pretend they have a mythological creature for their pet.
BAMF: Describe IF I HAD A GRYPHON in 10 words or less.
Vikki VanSickle: A primer on the pleasures & perils of magical pet-care.
BAMF: What was the inspiration for IF I HAD A GRYPHON?
Vikki VanSickle: I was the manager of a children’s book store for four years. I loved our weekly storytime and was always fascinated by which books resonated with the group. I noticed that kids loved stories with humour, rhyme, and a situation they could relate to, but with a twist. Pet stories in particular were very popular. At the same time, I noticed the younger siblings of my biggest fantasy readers wanted books about magical creatures (this had a lot to do with Harry Potter!) There are lots of great books about mythological or fantastic beasts, but they tend to be for slightly older readers. And so If I Had a Gryphon was born! I wanted to write a fun introduction to mythical creatures for the youngest of readers.
BAMF: What type of magical creature would you like to have as a pet? Which creature would you definitely not want to have as a pet?
Vikki VanSickle: I love how illustrator Cale Atkinson interpreted the hippogriff in the book. It reminds me of those big dogs who think they’re lap dogs. I also think sasquatch would make a really cuddly reading buddy. I definitely would NOT want a manticore: Too many teeth + dog breath x 1000 = hard pass!
BAMF: How closely did you work with Cale Atkinson to ensure the illustrations matched the tone of the story?
Vikki VanSickle: Some people might be surprised to learn that we didn’t work together at all, in fact we’ve never met! Any questions we had were fielded by our fabulous editor at Tundra Books, Samantha Swenson. There is a particular magic to pairing a text with an illustrator and Sam is a true wizard. When she introduced me to Cale’s work I was smitten. His style was fun and vibrant with a slightly retro vibe. I was so glad he said yes. Cale got the tone right away and I absolutely loved the result.
BAMF: Do you have any pets of your own? If yes, share a funny story about one of them.
Vikki VanSickle: I have a cat named Barb, which is the name they gave her at the humane society. I had a long list of literary cat names ready, but Barb was too funny to change! Barb has a bit of a nervous temperament and likes things calm and quiet. She herself is very quiet and rarely makes noise. Unfortunately for her, I like to sing…a LOT. I sing when I’m doing dishes, in the shower, while I’m vacuuming…if I’m not sleeping, reading, or writing, I’m probably singing. Unfortunately, Barb does not approve. When I start singing she “complains” by meowing loudly. She once jumped up on the ironing board while I was ironing (and singing) so she could meow directly in my face, since meowing at my feet didn’t seem to be working. I choose to believe this is a reflection of Barb’s love of peace and quiet, and has nothing to do with quality of my singing voice.
BAMF: What does Sam learn about herself through imagining all these different magical creatures?
Vikki VanSickle: Sam learns that all creatures, no matter how magical they may be, require love, care, and attention. Taking care of a pet is fun, but also a big responsibility. She also learns to accept her hamster and appreciate his qualities instead of dreaming of something bigger, better, or more magical.