Q&A with our Jen Arena, author of "Lady Liberty's Holiday"

Check out our Q&A with Jen Arena, author of Lady Liberty's Holiday, who is joining us at Book Culture on Columbus for story time on July 2.

1. How did you come to write Lady Liberty's Holiday?

A long time ago, I fell in love with a New Yorker cover that showed the Statue of Liberty relaxing on the Brooklyn Bridge. I tore the cover off the magazine and for years, I had it hanging on my bulletin board at work. Something about that cover just made me happy—it summed up my feelings about New York and summer perfectly. Many years later, my agent and I had a conversation about character-driven picture books, and as I was trying to think of a strong character to write about, that cover of the Statue of Liberty flashed through my mind. I began to wonder, “Why would she leave Liberty island?” and “Where would she go after she left the bridge?” and those questions became my inspiration for writing Lady Liberty’s Holiday.

2. What are you currently reading?

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

3. Do you have a personal favorite book of all time?

Oooh, that’s a hard one for a book lover to answer! It’s the type of question that needs to be narrowed down to "all-time favorite picture book" or "favorite novel from the last ten years.” I can tell you, though, what turned me into a reader—the Wizard of Oz series, particularly The Road to Oz, which was the first book I read in the series. I picked it up because it had a beautiful rainbow fairy on the cover, riding a sailboat across a sandy desert. I raced through that book and was so happy to discover there were more in the series. I loved them all, but I’ll always have a soft spot for The Road to Oz.

4. Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to the publication of?

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier. She’s such a talented writer/illustrator and I’ve completely enjoyed her books. I’ve bought copies of Smile for all my nieces and nephews when they got braces. (I have 12 of them, though some don’t even have teeth yet! My newest nephew was just born in April.)

5. What's next? Any upcoming book projects you can tell us about?

I’m very excited about my next book, Marta Big and Small! It comes out this August and is illustrated by Angela Dominguez, who won a Pura Belpre Honor this past year. It’s a bilingual book about an ordinary girl who encounters some extraordinary animals in the woods behind her treehouse. Not only is Marta pequena compared to el elefante and grande compared to el insecto, but when she comes across la serpiente, she shows she's very ingeniosa.

Next spring I have a book called Sleep Tight Snow White coming out from Knopf. I just saw Lorena Alvarez’s sketches last week, and they are gorgeous! I can’t wait to share that book with everyone, too.