Deirdre A. Prischmann will happily give you a hug or high-five—whichever you prefer. No Hugs! is her debut fiction picture book. She lives in the upper Midwest with her husband and two girls, and she stopped by to answer a few questions for us.
Q: No Hugs! features two girls who disagree about whether they want a hug. What inspired this story?
DP: My daughters inspired this story! My youngest daughter Maddy was quite vocal when she wasn’t in the mood for a hug, which upset my older daughter Avie, who was simply trying to express love and affection for her sister.
Q: No Hugs! is a great jumping off point for discussing consent and bodily autonomy with young children. Do you have any advice for parents navigating these issues?
DP: There are some good resources on this topic online. But some simple advice is to listen to your kids. Let them have opinions and choices. Tell them it’s okay to ask questions. It’s never too early to let kids know that their body belongs to them.
Q: If you could tell your readers one secret about No Hugs!, what would it be?
DP: Originally, Alice’s name was Anna and she enjoyed hugging ladybugs!
Q: What was your favorite book that you read as a child?
DP: I have fond memories of reading Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I loved how Harold used his crayon to create different worlds and solve problems. The Poky Little Puppy and ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ stories were also childhood favorites. And fairy tales!
Q: When you’re not writing, what are your favorite things to do?
DP: As a professional entomologist I enjoy studying insects and educating people about creepy crawlies. I also like creating artistic masterpieces with my kids and making beaded jewelry. More recently, I’ve discovered the joys of yoga for beginners!
Q: In No Hugs!, what’s your favorite illustration?
DP: I think all of Sarah Jennings’s illustrations are fantastic! She has an amazing gift for communicating emotion through her art. It’s hard to choose just one image, but if I had to pick, I’d choose the last page—it’s a perfect representation of how kids can find creative ways to respect boundaries.