The Tenerview with Peter H. Reynolds

Jun 25, 2014 by

The thing about Peter H. Reynolds is that he’s a man of his word. One of his missions is to “make the world a more creative place” and I’ll be darned if his every artistic endeavor doesn’t attempt to do just that. His aim of fostering creativity among the masses is well documented. You need look no further than his award-winning book , The Dot, to understand that creativity is something Peter believes we all can be and should do.  He even inspired me!

I just know that after you spend a little time with Peter on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll be inspired too!

About Peter H. Reynolds:

Peter H. Reynolds wears many hats. The common thread in each hat is storytelling.

photo credit: Gretje Ferguson

Peter is the author and illustrator of his own books, like The Dot, Ish, Sky Color, I’m Here, and The Smallest Gift of Christmas, as well as a collaborator on books like the Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald. He also owns a bookstore, founded a transmedia studio, and started a not-for-profit to inspire creative teaching and learning.


About the Books:

The Smallest Gift of Christmas
In Peter H. Reynolds’ whimsical holiday story, Roland can’t wait for Christmas Day. When the morning finally arrives he races downstairs to see what is waiting for him. What he sees stops him in his tracks. Could that tiny present really be what he had waited all year for? It has to be the smallest gift he has ever seen! So Roland wishes for something bigger . . . and bigger . . . and bigger. But he’s still convinced there must be a bigger gift somewhere in the universe. Will he know it when he sees it? Peter H. Reynolds’ spare, free-spirited illustrations and heartwarming text make this be-careful-what-you-wish-for story the perfect holiday gift.

The Smallest Gift of Christmas

  1. What inspired your latest book or book series?

If your readers are in a rush, they should skip ahead to question two. If not, nestle in with a cup of tea and dig in.

The Smallest Gift of Christmas had an unusual genesis. My publisher, Candlewick, dreamed up the title and imagined that the book would be published in a tiny edition. They approached me and asked if the title inspired a story, and told me that if it did, they’d love me to write and illustrate it.

I wracked my brains to come up with a story or two. Nothing I drummed up was worth turning into a book to be added to the piles of holiday books already out there. I decide not to do it, which disappointed my wife, Diana. Here we were, two unhappy people because of a picture book. . . and THAT was the spark! Making children’s books is a delightful thing, as is the celebration of Christmas. WHY would there be a sad face on Christmas?

I saw the character, Roland, pop into my head — arms folded, brow furrowed, making a great big foot stomp as he looked at a wee gift that he had waited 365 days to receive. The story flowed out onto one sheet of 8.5″ by 11″ paper (I was thinking the art would be postage stamp-sized). I kept it small to keep the detail to a minimum. Later, Candlewick decided the book would be printed at a normal size, but the discipline of keeping it simple was helpful and appealed to my “less is more” way of making books.

  1. If I were to ask the main character of your latest book what you least understood about her or him, what would he or she say?

He’d probably want me to know he is a very good kid at heart despite his greed-gone-wild moment. I’d reassure him that we have all had “out of character” experiences that serve to remind us of the “we” we’d rather be.

  1. What lessons has writing taught you about life in general?

Everyone has a story to tell, and that you have the power to redirect that story to be something wonderful and meaningful.

  1. What’s your favorite quote?

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” ― John Quincy Adams

  1. What is perfect just the way it is?

Being alive.

  1. Prince or Michael Jackson?

I’ll just respond with what comes to mind when hearing their names. Both are creative geniuses. Originals. Not afraid of being themselves. I would have liked to paint with both of them. A watercolor session with Prince will have to suffice. If we do, we’ll toast to the King of Pop.

  1. In five words or less, what do you most want people to know about you?

“I’m cheering you on.”

  1. What song best describes your current mood?

“Popcorn” by Gershon Kingsley — I have so many ideas popping like popcorn in my head. It is a very creative time in my life. My son Henry Rocket (who I dedicated The Smallest Gift of Christmas to) is now coming up on three years old and is really re-energized my storytelling. Might be that I am running out of time too. My “hourglass” has turned upside down (if God decides to give me that much more), so I feel an urgency to tell the stories I feel I need to tell.

  1. From Proust, which living person do you most admire?

That’s an easy one. I’m kidding. Out of seven billion-ish, it’s impossible to pick one. I admire those who are helping, inspiring, and teaching others. I also admire those who have endured challenges and show us what bravery looks like. I am also partial to storytellers. My mother is an amazing woman (and all of the above.) Okay, let’s move on or we’ll be here all day.

  1. What question didn’t I ask that you wish I had and what would your answer have been?

Q: Would you like a cup of tea while we have this interview?

A: Yes. English breakfast. Milk. No sugar. Thank you!


Peter, it was simply delightful to share your joy here on the Tenerview. Thank you for what you do on behalf of children (and adults like this one) everywhere!

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