Anna Alter

Anna Alter

Anna Alter has created such books as Estelle and Lucy and The Three Little Kittens. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Ms. Alter teaches art education to preschool children. She lives in Boston.

Q & A

Where did you grow up?
Charlottesville, Virginia


What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
I grew up in a very creative family; both my parents are artists and my sisters were always involved with the arts as well. So drawing and painting came very naturally and was a big part of my life growing up, I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember.


What inspired you to write/illustrate your first book?
My first book was about my relationship with my sister, about sibling rivalry and learning to get along. I was inspired by my experiences growing up as an older sister.


Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
Yes, all the time. I think a lot about the issues that were really important to me as a child, and how I can explore those themes in my books. It is vital to my work that I keep a strong connection to my memories of childhood so that I can make my books as relevant as possible to the kids reading them.


What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?

I loved all of Beatrix Potter’s books as a child, I couldn’t get enough of the lush, meticulous world  she created and the creatures that lived in it. Some of my favorites were The Tale of Peter Rabbit and  The Tale of Jemima Puddle-duck. I also loved Maurice Sendak’s books, as well as Garth Williams and Mercer Mayer. One of my all time favorites as a kid was Everyone Knows What s Dragon Looks Like.


The ‘adult’ books I read are quite varied. Most recently I re-read To Kill A Mockingbird, and felt very inspired by the way Harper Lee wove together a child’s persepective with very adult issues.


What are your hobbies and interests besides reading and books?

I love to do yoga, travel to new places, take walks in the woods, look at artwork that inspires me, and make things by hand whenever possible. I also like taking pictures of my cats, George and Wilbur, and making up stories about them.


Who are a couple of your favorite author/illustrators? What is it about their work that inspires and interests you?
I still love Beatrix Potter for her meticulous eye and scientific mind. I love Maurice Sendak for the way he creates a world that is at once familiar and fantastic. I am also a fan of Chris Raschka and Ora Eitan, I love the expressive way they use color and shape. I’ve recently read most of Kate DiCamillo’s books and fell in love with the way she tells stories, in particular The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It gave me goosebumps the whole way through.


What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors/illustrators?
Get to know what really motivates you to make books and what you have to say as an individual. Delve into your personal experiences and let everything come from that place. This will help you to create something that is truly unique.



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