Creator Corner: Author Stephanie Gibeault and Illustrator Raz Latif

Welcome to Creator Corner, a blog series where we interview the creators of our recent books. For this post, we interviewed Making Sense of Dog Senses: How Our Furry Friends Experience the World author Stephanie Gibeault and illustrator Raz Latif, whose book is publishing April 15, 2024!

Owlkids Books: Stephanie, how did you become a children’s book author?

Stephanie Gibeault: Although I won my first writing contest in Grade 3, I didn’t start writing for children until 2011. After reading loads of picture books to my niece and nephew, I decided to try writing some myself. While Kyra and Connor never tired of my early stories (which is amazing considering they weren’t very good), I didn’t get serious about writing for children until 2016, when I attended my first writers’ conference. Following that, I did everything I could, from critique groups to courses to conferences, to build my skills and polish my manuscripts. I was fortunate to sell my first children’s book five years later in 2021.

Owlkids Books: Raz, how did you become a children’s book illustrator?

Raz Latif: My path to becoming a children’s book illustrator was an adventure that started way back in my childhood. As I grew, so did my sketches, evolving from a playful hobby to an artistic passion!

OKB: Stephanie, what are your favorite things to write about?

SG: As a former biologist, I love writing about nature and animals, whether it’s a fictional story with talking bunnies or a nonfiction book about how animals think. My Bachelor of Science degree in ecology and evolution and Master of Science in animal behaviour definitely influence my interests. Plus, I’m a certified professional dog trainer, so if I had to choose my all-time favorite subject, it would be dogs.

OKB: Raz, which spread did you most enjoy illustrating and why?

RL: The illustration I found most enjoyable to draw was Pepper the French bulldog, especially because she’s holding a dirty diaper!

OKB: Stephanie, what inspired you to write this book?

SG: The more I learned about dogs through having my own and working with my dog training clients, the more I realized how differently dogs view the world. Yet, so many people expect dogs to act like furry humans. I was inspired to write this book to help kids recognize that dogs have their own interests, instincts, and motivations. Plus, dogs are just plain cool!

OKB: Raz, which spread was the most challenging to illustrate and why?

RL: The illustration that put me to the test was the spread of dog vision. This part was not just about making it look good, but it was also really scientific. I had to make sure all the diagrams were accurate to show how dogs see the world!

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

SG: I hope this book helps readers understand a dog’s point of view. Just as each person experiences the world in their own unique way, dogs, and other animals, see the world differently from humans. For example, dogs can hear sounds that humans in general can’t, but don’t see as many colors. If readers can learn to appreciate a dog’s perspective, they can better interact with dogs and become better stewards for their care.

RL: After diving into our book, I hope readers will come away with an appreciation for dogs and their extraordinary senses.

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

SG: I used to do agility with my dog, Chi Chi. That’s a super fun dog sport where a dog completes an obstacle course under the guidance of their owner. You want your dog to complete a course as quickly as possible, but Chi Chi was so nervous he spent more time looking around than tackling the obstacles. Other dogs could run the course in mere seconds while Chi Chi would take five minutes! It was fabulous for building his confidence and we had lots of fun, but we never won any ribbons.

Another fun fact people may not know about me is that I love doing escape rooms. When you and your teammates are “locked” in a room with nothing but your wits to help you escape, it’s thrilling. Although I’ve done many escape rooms, including in three different countries, I’ve only failed to get out once. Fingers crossed I’m never trapped again!

RL: Despite my love for dogs and illustrating them, I don’t have a furry friend of my own yet. But, who knows what the future holds? There might just be a paw-some companion waiting for me around the corner!


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