Candice Ransom on
“Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten”
My entire career has been based on doing things backwards. I didn’t get my MFA in children’s book writing until I’d published over 90 books. I began by writing YA fiction and worked my way backward to books for the very young. I feel like Merlin in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, who said, “I was born at the wrong end of time, and I have to live backwards from in front.”
Candice gave at Hollins University.
This is Candice, age 5, on the right, with her cousin.)
Right off, I found myself in the weeds. I’d never attended kindergarten. I didn’t know what kindergarteners do! I talked to a local teacher and watched the neighborhood kids. I paid attention to five-year-olds in stores and the library. I read lots of character-driven picture books and analyzed the texts. One day I woke up knowing that Amanda Panda’s favorite color was brown, that she had a rock named Hartley, and that she wanted to be a school bus driver.
Once Bitsy danced onstage, the story took off. I could picture Bitsy as drawn by Christine Grove. There was an advantage to knowing how the characters would be rendered by the artist. The little movie playing in my head was based on Christine’s sketches in my notebook.