Darlene Beck-Jacobson interviews Berrie Torgan-Randall author of Bella & Blue
Author/Illustrator Berrie Torgan-Randall Presents: BELLA & BLUE: BELLA MEETS BLUE + A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY
Posted on October 11, 2023
Today it is my pleasure to feature a new book for early readers by author/illustrator Berrie Torgan-Randall titled BELLA & BLUE: BELLA MEETS BLUE.
Here is my review:
Grandma and a therapy dog named Blue help calm Bella’s feelings and anxiety in a gentle and affirming way. Told in a graphic novel format with only a few words per page makes it perfect for beginning readers. The story hits just the right tone for helping young readers with big feelings learn that they do not have to be alone.
Bella & Blue: Bella meets Blue is a sweet story of a girl and her dog companion that kids will totally relate to. How did the characters come about?
Originally, my publisher wanted me to write and illustrate an early reader about a young girl and her pet monkey. I didn’t agree with this plan. Mainly because I had heard too many real life disaster stories of owning a pet monkey! So I suggested to my publisher that I would come up with a story about a girl and her dog. The publisher emphasized that the book series should be a social/emotional story so I created my character, Bella, who is a spunky 8-year-old who suffers from anxiety. My character, Blue, is a dog who helps calm Bella’s anxiety by jumping up on her lap and giving her a high five.
What comes first for you…story or illustrations? Tell us about your process.
I set a timer for six minutes and write down as many ideas as I can in my sketchbook. I choose one or two of the ideas and then sketch very loose thumbnails on a storyboard. I write a script to go along with the thumbnails so that my editor can figure out the sketchy thumbnails. Once the script and thumbnails are approved, I start working on the character sketches and tighten up my thumbnail sketches.
How did you decide the format for the story?
The publisher decided that Bella & Blue would be written as an early reader graphic novel much like the format for the series Unicorn and Yeti to appeal to newly independent readers.
What do you hope young readers will take away from the story? What do you want readers to know?
Many kids, including my own daughter, suffer from anxiety. Bella & Blue reflects an anxious child’s personality with humor and heart and helps kids see how having a supportive family and pet can help them cope with their anxiety. Bella also takes the lead and figures out how to solve problems that occur during the story.
What’s next in Bella & Blue’s adventures?
I am kicking around ideas of what adventures and challenges would be fun to write about and be appealing to young readers. The next book is dedicated to my son Kellen, so I am going to try to weave in his interest including board games, trying out different sports, and camping into this new adventure.
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Berrie has generously agreed to give away a signed copy of her book to one lucky reader chosen at random. To enter, please leave a comment below and share this post on social media. The winner will be announced later this month. USA only please.
Berrie’s Bio: I have been passionate about children’s literature since I was a little girl and have fed my desire by becoming a children’s librarian and by pursuing a career as an illustrator and writer of children’s books. I majored in art as an undergraduate and later pursued a Master’s Degree in Information Studies which enabled me to become familiar with current trends in publication related to children’s literature. It also confirmed my desire to write and illustrate books for children. My illustrations have appeared in Ladybug Magazine (May/June 2022 and Nov/Dec 2022), and Bella & Blue: Bella Meets Blue, my debut early reader graphic novel, was released on October 1, 2022 by The Little Press.
Bella & Blue – Early Reader Graphic Novel
Berrie Torgan-Randall Illustrator/Author 610-308-9253