Creator Corner: Author and Illustrator Katie Arthur

Welcome to Creator Corner, a blog series where we interview the creators of our recent books. For this post, we interviewed Our Woolly Bear author and illustrator Katie Arthur, whose book is publishing March 15, 2024!

Owlkids Books: How did you begin writing and illustrating children’s books?

Katie Arthur: I’ve always wanted to tell stories. But it definitely took me a while to figure out how. For a long time, I thought of my writing—which I did during the day as a copywriter and at night as an aspiring (and not very good!) fiction writer—and my drawing, as entirely separate pursuits. Writing was my thing, and drawing was just this little side hobby. That all changed after I had my kids, and I was suddenly immersed in the world of children’s literature again. I was completely inspired by the illustrated books we were reading together. Eventually, in the early days of the pandemic, I decided to give it a try.

Telling a story through words and pictures felt immediately natural to me. I was hooked. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy—it’s anything but!—but it’s also a total joy and I truly never want to stop doing it.

OKB: What was the inspiration for this book?

KA: Our Woolly Bear has a lot of autobiographical elements, and much of the story was inspired by my daughters and our home here on the North Shore of Nova Scotia. When I was small, I lived in the suburbs and wasn’t exposed to much wildlife on a daily basis. But my kids are having this experience of nature that’s really unbridled. They approach the plant life and the creatures that they find outdoors with so much care and curiosity (unless it’s a wasp!)

It’s awesome watching kids appreciate and learn about nature through exploring it. So that was certainly where the idea for the story came from. During our first year living here, we found tons of woolly bear caterpillars—an insect none of us had ever seen before—and we just fell in love with them.

OKB: What was the most enjoyable part of writing this book? What was the most challenging part of the process?

KA: As a first-time author/illustrator, I learned so much through the process of making this book. I feel like I really dug in and developed an illustration style that I’m proud of, and now I have way more knowledge about the production side of book-making that I’m excited to carry forward with me on future projects.

It was a little challenging to edit the story down to 32 pages, as I believe my original manuscript/dummy was closer to 40.

OKB: Which spread did you enjoy illustrating the most, and why? Which was the most challenging to illustrate, and why?

KA: As much as I love drawing people, I think the final spread was my favorite. I loved illustrating all the ephemera of family life that accumulates on the table after a busy breakfast. And the important surprise of the Isabella Tiger Moth!

The toughest spread was probably Page 4-5, where Edie and Lou shuttle Woolly Bear to their playhouse. It took a few tries to leave enough room for the text, and I believe I tried out both single page and double page versions. Interestingly, this was one of the very first scenes that I drew in my earliest draft of Our Woolly Bear… and yet it was still tricky when I got to the finals!

OKB: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

KA: An appreciation for the small, amazing things you can find when you slow down and pay attention. An awareness of nature’s constant changes—changes that persist even when you can’t see them. Even when the world seems still.

OKB: What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?

KA: I began learning how to make fancy cakes after watching so many seasons of the Great British Baking Show. I’m getting pretty decent at it! Three out of the four members of my household have their birthdays between August and October—a time we refer to as “birthday season”—and there’s now quite a bit of pressure to one-up the previous year’s cakes.


Creator Corner: Author Mark David Smith and Illustrator Kari Rust
Welcome to Creator Corner, a blog series where we interview the creators of our recent books. F...
Creator Corner: Author and Illustrator Meghan Marentette
  Welcome to Creator Corner, a blog series where we interview the creators of our recent b...


Find us on Instagram for book recommendations, sneak peeks at our authors’ and illustrators’ work, and a behind-the-scenes look at the world of kids’ publishing.