The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Gina Perry presents Small 

Where: Water Street Bookstore, 125 Water St., Exeter 
When: Saturday, Dec. 16, 10 a.m. to noon 
More info:

Never too small
Gina Perry releases her first children’s book

By Angie Sykeny

 After nine years of art classes and workshops, peer review groups and building her portfolio, Seacoast children’s author and illustrator Gina Perry released her first book Small last August.  She’ll present the book at Water Street Bookstore in Exeter on Saturday, Dec. 16. 

Perry studied computer animation at Syracuse University and started her career as a compositor in animation, then as an art director creating products for the scrapbooking market, but she always had the desire to create stories of her own. It wasn’t until she started taking art classes in her own time and meeting other writers and illustrators that she realized it was something she wanted to devote herself to full time. 
“Sometimes you don’t see a career as an option until you meet someone who’s doing it,” she said. “Once I did, I saw that [writing and illustrating] children’s books meshed with the way I think and the way I want to create art, and after that, everything came together.” 
She started with illustrating educational books for classrooms. She illustrated her first trade book, It’s Great Being a Dad, with author Dan Bar-el, which was published earlier this year, but she realized along the way that she didn’t only want to illustrate. She wanted to write. 
“I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the writing process,” she said. “I enjoy working with other writers as well, but I wanted to build a career of my own with my own stories and my own visions for things, and for that I knew I needed to tackle writing.” 
Small tell the story of a spunky little girl spending the day in the city with her mom and baby sibling. At first, the tall buildings and busy streets make the girl feel small, but after sliding down a big slide makes her feel like she can fly, she sets out on a journey to do the things she’s good at, such as drawing, singing and shooting a basketball. When she accomplishes those goals, she realizes that she is big in her own right, and that her size doesn’t prevent her from chasing her dreams. 
For Perry, the story is a personal one. 
“I was a small child and the youngest in my family and was also very shy,” Perry said. “My young daughter is very different from how I was. She’s outgoing and bold, and that inspired the second half of the book, which shows the fierceness of this little girl.” 
Perry wrote the first draft of the story while waiting in a doctor’s office. Once she had the draft, it took her a while to develop the story visually. She decided to set the story in a city and illustrate it based on her time living in Cambridge, Mass., and Syracuse, N.Y., and visiting New York City. The illustration of the girl resembles Perry herself. 
“People often say she looks like me,” she said. “I played with a lot of different ideas for her, but always came back to this girl with short brown hair like me. It just sort of felt right because of my personal connection to her.” 
The book is geared toward children ages 4 to 6, but the message, Perry said, is universal and resonates with people of all ages. 
“I’ve had adults come up to me and tell me that they were touched by it and that it connected with them, because many adults remember feeling small as a child,” she said. 
Perry has already completed another children’s book called Too Much! Not Enough! which is due out in August 2018. It’s a rainy day story about two monsters with very different personalities, whose friendship keeps them together no matter how messy life gets. Right now, Perry is working on another book that will be released in the summer of 2019. 
“I just can’t believe that this is my career now,” she said. “It was such a long journey to get here, full of uncertainty and rejection, so I’m thrilled to finally be doing what I love.” 

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