Fayston children’s book author Sarah Dillard has been nominated for a Gourmand Award for her picture book ‘Blueberry Cake’. The Prix Gourmand rewards the best cookbooks of the year. Dillard called it “the Oscars of cookbooks”. Although “Blueberry Cake” is a picture book, not a cookbook, it includes the author’s family recipe for blueberry cake.
“I had so many memories of having blueberry cake with my grandma,” Dillard said. “When my mother was sick, I did it for her.” His mother grew up in Maine in the blueberry business. Family history as well as a love for the classic children’s book “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey inspired Dillard to write the book. “‘Blueberry Cake’ is inspired by my childhood and the books I loved.” She said she gets a lot of emails from parents whose kids love the book and are now asking for blueberry cake. “It becomes the family tradition of others,” she said. “Recipes are stories.”
Dillard is the author/illustrator of 12 children’s books, including the “Mouse Scouts” chapter book series and the “Extraordinary Warren” graphic novel series. Her picture book “I Wish it Would Snow” was inspired by life at the foot of Mad River Glen. “I’m inspired by the world around me,” she says. “I draw, I invent stories and I walk in the woods. It’s my ideal day.
She is a presenter for the Children’s Literacy Foundation, based in Waterbury and serving low-income, at-risk, and rural children in Vermont and New Hampshire. She shares the process of creating books with children and excites them about reading and writing. Although she’s done many virtual tours over the past two years, she said, “There’s something really wonderful about visiting places in person and seeing kids get inspired by them.”
She studied English and art at university and launched a career as a freelance illustrator, taking on projects such as illustrating greeting cards and eventually children’s books. “I’ve always wanted to do children’s books,” she says. “I started writing and continued to work.” She eventually started writing and illustrating her own books.
Asked about the role of nature and animals in her books, she replied: “There is something accessible in books with animals. They are more accessible… I have a dog. I spend a lot of time in the woods, walking around. As a child, I loved animal books.
There will be a ceremony for the Gourmand Award in Umea, Sweden in June, which Dillard plans to attend. “Blueberry Cake” is one of four finalists in the fruit category. It, along with Dillard’s other books, can be found at The Collection in Waitsfield. The book will be on display for nearly three months at an exhibition on sustainable gastronomy at the Alfred Nobel House and Museum in Karlskoga, Sweden.