Creator Corner: Author and Illustrator Thao Lam


Welcome to Creator Corner, a blog series where we interview the creators of our recent books. For this post, we interviewed One Giant Leap author Thao Lam, whose book is publishing March 1, 2024!

Owlkids Books: What was the inspiration for this book?

Thao Lam: We get a lot of snow in Canada during the winter months. As a kid, I remember being all bundled up and making my way through waist-deep snow just to get to school. I am not a fan of cold weather, so I never understood the joy of playing in the snow. I recognized snow for its beauty, but never for its possibilities. It wasn’t until I witnessed the joy on my daughter’s face at the first sight of snowfall that I understood its magic. Mad Bear loves winter, it is her favorite season. She loves sledding, ice skating, making snow angels, snowmen, catching snowflakes on her tongue. Even the simple act of taking a winter walk makes her giddy. Plus the fact that there are no mosquitoes and that Christmas also lands in winter just puts it over the top for her. Mad Bear’s joy is contagious and inspirational.

OKB: Why did you choose for this to be a wordless picture book?

TL: I wanted to give readers the opportunity to create their own adventure, to support the idea of possibilities and imagination. Have you been outside after a snowfall? It magically changes a landscape, hiding reality under a blanket of snow. A white canvas in which we can create and image all the possibilities, whether we are building snowmen or building snow monsters, walking to school or walking on the Moon. It’s your story to write.

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

TL: I like researching, it gives me the opportunity to learn about a subject I am not familiar with, and gives me time for my imagination to explore. I did a lot of reading on space and went through all my winter photos looking for inspiration. The beginning of every book is always exciting when the possibilities are endless. One Giant Leap was almost overwhelming in possibilities, which was why it was also the most challenging part of processing, when there are too many choices. Adding the fact that it is a wordless picture book made my brain want to explode.

OKB: Which spread is your favorite and why?

TL: My favorite spread is where the main character gets ready to go outside. I would imagine it is very similar to an astronaut getting ready to walk on the moon. Layers after layers of winter clothing, I think it is the most relatable for anyone living in a country with snow. It takes at least 15 mins to get ready to go outside. That spread makes me cringe and giggle at the same time, since I can picture every parent’s pain and patience as they help their little one get ready for school during the winter months.

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

TL: It’s all about perspective. One Giant Leap is about a world of possibilities. Our imagination is really powerful. We might not have the power to change a situation but we can control how we react. This is more a reminder to myself. As an adult, I often see all the pitfalls of a snow storm like train delays, icy sidewalks, or shovelling pathways. I bury myself with dread at the sight of snowfall, but it doesn’t have to be that way; Mad Bear says it’s magical, like we are living an a snow globe.

OKB: This book celebrates the power of pretending! Did you have a favorite make-believe game as a kid?

TL: My grandfather lived in Scarborough while we lived in Mississauga, so every weekend it was a very long trek to go visit him. I would spend my time in transit day dreaming, pretending our family car was being chased down the highway by Godzilla or imagining the lives of people I saw on the train and buses. As a child, my imagination not only helped me pass the time, but also gave me a sense of control over my situation—like being stuck in a car for hours with motion sickness.

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