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Will Hillenbrand

The fourth in the Bear and Mole series, ALL FOR A DIME! follows Bear, Mole and their new friend, Skunk, as they try to sell their goods on market day. When Mole and Skunk don’t have much success, they end up selling to each other, passing the same dime back and forth. Will Hillenbrand, acclaimed author and illustrator, discusses this delightful new picture book.

Will, ALL FOR A DIME! A Bear and Mole story is your fourth in the Bear and Mole series. Tell us about it.
In this story our animal friends find out what it’s like to try to sell something. Who knows? They may even get rich! I created a new character just for this story. And she is a little stinker! These friends have all made something special for Market Day. They can’t wait to see how well they do. For some reason, Skunk and Mole don’t have a lot of success at first. Only until they play musical chairs do they find out the success to their day.

In ALL FOR A DIME!, Bear, Mole, and Skunk head to the market to sell some goods. When Mole and Skunk are unsuccessful in selling, they end up passing the same dime back and forth. What was your inspiration behind this story?
The idea for this story happened a long time ago. My brother, Pete, and I used to . . . well, we didn’t sell lemonade but we drew on t-shirts for the neighborhood kids. I don’t know if we made a lot of money but we had a lot of fun. So did the neighborhood kids.

What do you hope young readers will learn from this story?
There’s a lot of power in a friendship. And when we do things together, whether they’re successful or not, it’s always best when we’re together with friends—friends who accept us for who we are and love us for what we are and what we do no matter how different we may be from them.

When did you know you wanted to become an author and illustrator?
Long ago when I grew up, I thought if I could be a fire truck that would be the best thing in the world! I didn’t know there were authors and illustrators. I did know there was a person named Virginia Lee Burton who made books about Mike Mulligan and books called Maybelle the Cable Car and Katy and the Big Snow. I thought if I could be anything, I’d want to be a fire truck (I knew I was not going to be a professional football player).
It was, however, when I went to the Art Academy in Cincinnati for college that I decided I was interested in finding out what it might be like to be an author and illustrator of children’s books. Wanting to be an author and illustrator and becoming one took a little while for me. And I’m still trying to get better.

If you could give any advice to young authors and illustrators, what would it be?
In Off We Go!, the third book in the Bear and Mole series, Mole is learning to ride a two-wheeler. You might have done that yourself and might recall a few bumps along the way. And that you had to try again and again and again to master the thing that was difficult, like balance in this case. You never get better at anything when you stop trying.
My mother told me I was born with a pencil in my hand because I’ve always loved drawing. And I’ve never stopped. I’ve gotten better because I try to get better at doing this every day. I do that because I absolutely love to draw and make stories for my favorite people. And those people are you.
For me, life isn’t about how much money you’ve made. Maybe you only make a little. Well, maybe there’s more than one way to be rich. In this story, I think we see our friends finding that to be true. This book reminds us that making your own fun with friends is the good life!

About the Author

Will Hillenbrand

ABOUT WILL HILLENBRAND

“I have lived almost all my life in Ohio, where, in my neighborhood, I grew up surrounded by stories. My parents owned a barbershop, where I listened to conversations that seemed to me to be stories about adult life. I spent hours at baseball games, sharing the stories about the teams and players that make up the mythology of baseball. My grandmother lived nearby, and my three brothers and I would keep her company during thunderstorms while she told us stories about her early life on a farm.

“Although I regularly visited the nearby library, there weren’t many books in our house. But we had an encyclopedia from which my father read aloud ‘The Night Before Christmas’ each year, and I remember the sound of his voice giving life to the words as I conjured up pictures in my mind.

“Drawing was how I captured the stories that I heard. My older brother sketched cartoons, and I began by copying him. I drew mostly at the kitchen table, but also used my crayons on stairwell walls. My first art class was as a sophomore in high school, but I discovered that all those years of listening and drawing had given me a good eye for putting ideas together as pictures.

“I went to art school at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Although my father was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make a living, after graduation I found work in advertising. After taking a class in picture book art at Ohio State University, I decided to try illustrating children’s literature. Now it is my full-time work. I spend a lot of time in schools sharing my picture books and how I create them. It’s important for children to enjoy the process of art and not worry too much about the finished product.

“I really work in three worlds at once: the world of the imagination, the world of myth, and the physical world; children seem to live comfortably in all three. Successful illustrations link these worlds together and give a visual voice to the story. As I begin to draw, I try to keep the child’s viewpoint foremost in my mind. For each book I keep a journal of my sketches, and each one has a child’s drawing tucked inside to remind me that a child’s imagination is the starting and ending point for my art.

“My studio shelves are lined with books, toys, and folk art animals to help me with ideas for my drawings. My pencil is my favorite art tool, so I begin the illustration process with pencil sketches made in my journal. I’ll then scan some of them into my computer to experiment with size and composition. I also use the computer for page layout but still like to use traditional media to make the final illustrations. I live with my family in Ohio.”


For a behind-the-scenes look, visit Will’s studio as he explains the creative process behind his books.

For more on Will Hillenbrand, visit his website at www.willhillenbrand.com.

Photo Credit: Ian Hillenbrand

Books by Will Hillenbrand

First Star: A Bear and Mole Story , Reinforced
All For a Dime!: A Bear and Mole Story, Reinforced
ASLEEP IN THE STABLE, Reinforced
DOWN ON THE FARM, Paperback
Down on the Farm, Board Book
THE GOLDEN SANDAL: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story, Paperback
Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story, Reinforced
Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story, Paperback
Off We Go!: A Bear and Mole Story, Paperback
ONE FINE TRADE, Reinforced
Spring Is Here: A Bear and Mole Story, Paperback
WHAT A TREASURE!, Paperback
What a Treasure!, Board Book