The Ink Splat is our monthly activity letter filled with inspiration sparking challenges and resources guaranteed to inspire your creativity. In this Ink Splat, the book and author spotlighted is Heart of a Tiger by Marsha Diane Arnold along with an author interview! Submit a response to a challenge and you may have a chance to be published online! What are you waiting for?
The Challenge: Bravery
Imagine that you are an animal that lives in a faraway place. Describe what it’s like living there. What is your name? What kind of problems might you encounter?
Try using this new word in your writing:
Valiant is an adjective meaning brave. The valiant cat reached her destination at last.
Submit your response HERE!
Check out a few featured responses!
I live in the jungle. My name is Monkeyeta. Majulie is my best friend. I eat bananas, coconuts, and other fruits. I like to hang on vines and swoop to the next one. I live in a big hole in a tree. My favorite thing to do is sleep. –Zorenza, 2nd grade
I am a sea dragon. My name is Dragabell. I live in Bahari Bay. It is very light at the top but as you go down it gets very dark. I mostly eat seaweed but I sometimes have dessert. My favorite dessert is iceweed. The humans call it ice cream. The bad thing about Bahari Bay is that any creature can come. Also the schoolteachers are so strict too. -Kelly, 3rd grade
I’m Shelly! Im Shelly! Im a baby green sea turtle. My mommy left me. I have many friends/ They are Mr. Clownfish Jr., Elisa Urchin, and Crablet Crusty. I live on planet Bluseus. A planet you thingymaboppers never saw or heard of before. I mostly feast on dead plants. Oh, my mouth waters. And she’s off! –Somerset, 3rd grade
Hello, my name is Buffa and I eat fish. I am a bear and my problem is there is not enough fish for me to eat. A lot of animals live here and I am happy except for not having enough fish. -Josephine, 2nd grade
Submit your response HERE!
Heart of a Tiger by Marsha Diane Arnold
The naming of children is a significant ritual in many cultures. Taking its inspiration from the Indian ceremony of the namakarana, this richly illustrated book then explores the naming, and the progress toward self-realization, of a small, ordinary kitten. Small and ordinary, but as we learn, this kitten is full of grit and determination and bent on earning a name that reflects his inner strength. In the process, he braves the dangers of the hunters and earns the trust of the great Bengal tiger himself.
Author, Marsha Diane Arnold, was kind enough to answer a few questions about Heart of a Tiger and her creative process. Thank you, Marsha Diane Arnold!
1) What inspired you to write Heart of a Tiger?
For years, when people asked me where I got the idea for Heart of a Tiger, I was uncertain.
Sometimes writers hear something or see something in their everyday life that gives them an idea for a story or character. But sometimes we’re not sure where our characters come from. Sometimes they just appear from nowhere and sit on our shoulder. They may make us smile, they may make us think, but they always touch our heart and they refuse to go away. Little Four, the main character in Heart of a Tiger was such a character.
In the story, he tells the Beautiful Bengal tiger, “In my heart, I am more than what you see.” I can’t say for sure where Little Four came from, but I believe it was from a deep longing within me to be more than I was. I wanted to be a picture book writer, but, like Little Four, had never had the courage to pursue it.
In Heart of a Tiger, Little Four has a dream, finds a mentor (the Bengal tiger), and finally takes action, which is what we all must do to reach our goals. So, in a way, through the story, I was showing myself the path to my dream, a published book.
Characters who come to us in this way are often parts of ourselves wanting to be expressed. So, express yourself. Magic may arise . . . or even better – stories.
2) Word choice is important in books with illustrations. What would you say is the most important thing to remember when working with words and pictures?
Sometimes I envy writers who are also illustrators. They can play freely with the words and pictures in their books. As a writer who doesn’t illustrate, I must always be aware of the choices and opportunities I give my illustrator in the text I provide.
I had no contact at all with Jamichael Henterly while he created the illustrations for Heart of a Tiger. (I know. That’s a surprising disclosure for many people.) I actually didn’t see any of the illustrations until my ten complementary books arrived in the mail. I was so nervous when I opened the book. But I loved Jamichael’s marvelous illustrations. A few of them were very similar to the vision I had in my mind when I wrote the story. When Jamichael and I met at the Washington State Children’s Choice Award ceremony for Heart of a Tiger, he told the audience, “Marsha and I are kindred spirits.” My editor had chosen my illustrator well.It’s important to leave room for the illustrator’s creativity in your text. If it doesn’t matter that your character’s skirt is red, then don’t use the word “red.” Allow the illustrator to choose. Remember that with every descriptive word you use, you take a choice away from the illustrator. Fewer words can bring your story to a whole new level, sometimes a surprisingly delightful one.
3) You worked with an illustrator, Jamichael Henterly. Did you encounter any difficulties while collaborating with another artist?
As I continued to work with my editor, she realized I wouldn’t push my ideas for illustrations onto her or an illustrator. So she shared more and more illustrator sketches on future books. I saw many sketches of Brad Sneed’s amazing work for The Pumpkin Runner. For Prancing Dancing Lily and Roar of a Snore, my editor shared all the sketches John Manders and Pierre Pratt did. If I saw things that concerned me, I simply shared with my editor, who shared with the illustrator. But there were very few. John and Pierre are both brilliantly imaginative and they brought my characters to life. I love their work.
It’s important for the writer to trust their editor’s judgment and their illustrator’s creativity. The editor wants the illustrator to bring their own creative energy to the project, without the pressure and perspective of the writer. So do I.
It’s often thought that writers and illustrators collaborate on a picture book. In truth, this is rarely the case. Sometimes famous writers and illustrators do collaborate; sometimes husband and wife teams collaborate, but most often there is little or no contact between writers and illustrators of a picture book.
I see publishing a picture book as a team effort. I, as a writer, write the text. I send it to an editor at a publishing house, who decides whether or not he/she wants to make it into a picture book. If the editor and acquisitions team agree the story should be a book, the editor searches for the perfect illustrator. She knows many illustrators, she knows the style of illustration she wants, and she knows which illustrator will work best for my story. The choice of the illustrator is almost always the editor’s. I’ve been very lucky to have talented and professional editors and illustrators to work with.
4) Many of our young writers enjoy creating illustrations to go along with their stories. What advice would you give to them?
Keep doing both – creating illustrations and creating written stories!
I wish when I was younger, I’d decided to focus on art and drawing because when you’re a writer and an illustrator, it can give you an edge. You can clearly illustrate the vision of your story through your art.
But if you aren’t interested in illustrating, that’s okay. Write. I believe the right words can be as strong as illustrations when pulling a reader into a story.
5) What advice would you give young writers and illustrators in general?
When I visit students at schools, I often show them a poster with 13 large “nos” scattered around it and 1 tiny “yes” in the center. Why 13 no’s? That’s the number of rejections I had for my first book, Heart of a Tiger, before I got that one wonderful yes from an editor who loved the story as much as I did.
Always remember that it only takes one “yes” to be on the way to where you want to be. Perseverance is a powerful part of becoming a published author or illustrator.
6) What are you working on now?
Right now I’m busy with two projects.
One thing I’m doing is exploring the new digital realm of book apps. My Prancing Dancing Lily book app will be coming out by December 1st and will be available for IPads, IPhones, and Nook. The original Prancing Dancing Lily was a picture book published by Dial. It’s the story of a cow who doesn’t fit in with the herd. Sadly, it went out-of-print last year. So many children and adults love Lily. I was most excited when RipplFX approached me and offered to make Prancing Dancing Lily into a book app. Now, with the touch of a finger, readers will be able to see Lily whirl, do the stilt dance, moo, and more! Look for it in the ITunes store soon.
I’m also writing a course for Dr. Mira Reisberg of Picture Book Academy fame. We’ll be offering Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books by December 1st.
A lot will be happening in December!
There are always stories waiting to be told. I have a number of picture book manuscripts I’d like to get finish, but also several middle-grade novels I’m starting. Two working novels at the top of my list are Fortuna Freakmore and Noah and the Secret of the Yellow Dragon.
Thank you, Jena Brigantino and instructors, for inviting me to share with Young Inklings. I hope all of you keep writing and drawing and creating. And like Little Four in Heart of a Tiger, always choose the name that’s in your heart.
Thank you for the interview and the images, Marsha Diane Arnold.
Purchase Heart of a Tiger by Marsha Diane Arnold and browse her many other books HERE.
Visit Marsha Diane Arnold’s official website HERE.