We are happy to reveal the cover of KidLit in Color author Kaitlyn Wells's new picture book, A Family Looks Like Love, which will be published on May 31, 2022 by Penguin Random House. Fellow KidLit in Color author Lisa Stringfellow interviewed Kaitlyn about her book.
Lisa: What were your thoughts when you first saw the cover?
Kaitlyn: First, all credit goes to my wonderful illustrator, Sawyer Cloud, who did a beautiful job honoring my vision for this book. She breathed life into these characters and imbued warmth and love from the very first page. As for the cover itself, I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s simplistic and refined. By focusing on the characters sans a distracting background, the reader is subconsciously reminded that love—that invisible yet tangible element—is all around. Even if you can’t see love, you feel its presence when you’re surrounded by those who care the most about you.
Lisa: What would you like everyone to know about A Family Looks Like Love?
Kaitlyn: I wrote A Family Looks Like Love from the broken pieces of my heart. It wasn’t easy discussing race as a biracial kid who grew up surrounded by people who “don’t see color” or only see color. Sometimes I felt like I had to accept other people’s assumptions about who I was and who my family should be. I felt silenced in order to make room for the louder (and fallacious) voices in the room. And when I did speak up, it hardly led to acceptance. On easier days, people assumed I was lying when I pointed to the white woman in the room as my mother. On harder days, my extended family decided it wasn’t worth knowing their Black relatives, and refused to shake my hand in greeting. And as a little girl, I found myself looking for ways to fit into the mold these people told me I needed to be in to gain their acceptance.
It’s taken a long time to realize I didn’t do anything wrong—their shortsightedness was the toxicity destroying my self esteem. Still, no one should have to go through that experience. A Family Looks Like Love reminds every young reader (and even young readers at heart) that what other people say about who you are and who your family should be is irrelevant. The only perspective that matters is your own. And it’s normal (and amazing!) for no two families to look exactly the same. I learned these lessons and more from my parents and friends who reminded me that love transcends skin color (or, in this case, fur color). I hope anyone who picks up A Family Looks Like Love feels empowered to shed any notions of self-hate, and embrace only the goodness that surrounds them.
Lisa: If a bookseller were hand-selling A Family Looks Like Love, what might they say to a potential reader?
Kaitlyn: A Family Looks Like Love is a heartwarming tale about a young pup who looks different from her doggy siblings, and has to work through her own feelings with inadequacy when other animals in the neighborhood doubt her legitimacy because of her appearance. A Family Looks Like Love reminds everyone that there’s more than one way for a family to look, and the more diversity, the better. While the inspiration for this book was based on the author’s experiences growing up mixed race, the message is meant for anyone who’s been told their family isn’t their own. All are welcomed and loved, no matter if your household includes adopted kids, multiracial parents, a single dad, two moms, multiple generations, non-traditional members—or all of the above!
And here is our cover reveal!
Lisa: Kaitlyn, please finish the following sentence starters:
Sutton Button… looks like my own little dog named Sutton, who doesn’t resemble her littermates either! Genetics, even in the doggy kingdom, can be wild!
Did you know… the flowering tree in the story is an apple tree?
Families are… beautiful, no matter what they look like. Family is the home you can always return to; the journal that knows your most embarrassing secrets; the light on your darkest days; and the heart that always beats for you.
You should have asked me…what I’m writing next! I have so many stories inside of me, especially stories full of joy. I’m working on picture books about a Black viral immunologist who saves the world (true story!), a sassy cat (hey, my cat Tanzie needs her own book too!), and a little girl just hoping to make her mother smile on one of her darkest days. I just hope I get to see these books in readers’ hands one day!
Lisa: Kaitlyn, thank you so much for sharing your cover on our blog today. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Kaitlyn: I’d love to stay in touch with readers. People can join my mailing list, and connect with me on social media.
Lisa: Thank you again, Kaitlyn!
Kaitlyn Wells is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among others. Her commentary on diverse literature can be found in The New York Times Book Review, BookPage, and Diverse Kids Books. Bring her chocolate or ask about her pets to become fast friends. A Family Looks Like Love is her debut children’s book. She lives in New York City with her wonderful husband, rambunctious dog, and demanding cat.
You can learn more about Kaitlyn at https://kaitwells.com.
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