Take 5 with children’s author Allison Hill

What exactly is art? who defines it; who does it, and where in Atlanta do poets, comedians, and artists gather and create? We’ll use this space to catch up with a few… some you may know; for others, we hope you will be happy to meet their acquaintance.

Allison Hill (Provided)

My mother once told me that when I was about three years old, she should read One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish with me every day, and if she tried to skip a page, I would stop her. Well, I still have my original copy and other children’s books I’ve collected over the years, most recently Ruth Forman’s delightful hardback boxed set, Shine.

So, reading Allison Hill’s first book, Lolly the lobster left out, was a joy and reminded my inner child to go out and play, precisely what the adult needs to do more often. Hill, who lives in Buckhead, said she would advise her younger self that ambitions have no expiration date, that she should relax and enjoy the journey, and that the universe will provide her with the experiences she needs to achieve its long-term goals.

When Hill isn’t traveling, her favorite place is at home in Buckhead, where she spends time with her husband, Geoff, her dogs and friends or listens to music (which we’ve collected as a Spotify playlist at the end of these questions and answers). .

Your interview about moving to Ogunquit, Maine during the pandemic caught my attention. While visiting Maine a few years ago, I saw my first real snowflake. I felt like a first grader cutting them out of construction paper when I looked around and saw them falling from the sky in precisely these designs. Forgive my nerdiness about Maine and snow – I imagine Ogunquit was part of your inspiration; talk about how Lolly the lobster left out was born and how it ended up in a children’s book.

I love that you are passionate about snow! The best part of Maine is the natural beauty in every little detail, so I feel you on the snowflakes! My parents met and eventually married in Ogunquit, and it has always been my family’s memorable summer getaway. I remembered a funny story my father told my daughters about a lobster that lived in the woods, and thinking about how they ended up, that’s where the book began.

Lolly, in my mind, has become an adorable lobster girl who is perceived as scary due to her hard shell and bright red body. With all the bad rap diversity and inclusion programs receive today, I thought this story could be a great message about opening hearts and minds and not judging someone. book by its cover. For me, DEI is as simple as understanding others. I started writing (maybe with a glass of wine) and the words flowed, inspired by the beauty of Maine.

To make Lolly a success, I worked with Sandie Sonke, whose illustrations for another project captivated me. I wanted Lolly’s look to contrast with what people generally think of lobsters, so we made her girly, and Sandie turned a bow I suggested behind her antennae into a flower. Lolly came to life and felt like a true friend.

One of the lessons I learned from the pandemic was how essential art in all its forms is because we found creative ways to access it: when we couldn’t access it, it gave us find. Can you share some pandemic lessons that inspired Lolly the lobster left out and what do you want children and adults to learn?

Pandemic documentaries 10 years from now will blow us away when we finally reveal everything we’ve learned. It was emotionally difficult for me as a mother and in my role within DEI. We packed up and drove to Maine, thinking it would take a few weeks. This turned into months where my daughter’s graduation was canceled, politics ran wild on social media, George Floyd was murdered, and people were unemployed and struggling.

As a parent, I was afraid that my children would be influenced by all the negativity in the world, the blatant racism, the lack of respect for others. They needed to grieve their losses, and we also wanted to teach them (without preaching) about deep disappointments. There were kids without internet to do their homework or money to pay their bills. So we thought of an idea to help others, and thus our family cookbook was born, with 100% of the profits going to Feeding Family, Feeding America.

I wanted my girls to think about the pandemic not as losses, but as positive memories of being together, working together, laughing and being proud of something, which aligns with Lolly and her message of love and acceptance. My best friend from college is a therapist, and we worked together to add tips to the back of the book about how to talk to children and support their feelings, which also applies to adult relationships.

One inspiration for your nonprofit, Eat Laugh Give, which provides necessities like food and kitchen supplies to families in need, is that the kitchen is the heart of the home and brings families together. Our little green and yellow kitchen was where my family ate, discussed their problems, and had our Saturday night ritual where my mother did her hair for church the next day while we watched. Hey Haw and Lawrence Welk. Thinking about your nonprofit, how can a shared meal bring people together, and how does your nonprofit use this philosophy to support its mission?

I love your mother’s story! And that the kitchen was used for two very different but very related rituals. Even though we didn’t eat dinner together every night because of extracurricular activities, sports, and everything else, the heart of our home was still the kitchen and the place where we bonded as well. Homework at the counter, talking about our days, watching (insert Dance Moms, The Kardashians, Under the bridge). I love cooking and would make dinner; Sometimes when the girls were little, they would create different recipes that Geoff and I pretended were delicious. Ha! Regardless, 95% of family time at home was spent cooking, and research shows that’s the case for most people. Breaking bread together goes as far back in time as anything else. In 2022, we piloted an idea to help families by spending time around the table together providing them with food and cooking utensils, taking on larger projects like renovating a kitchen. We hope this will inspire other families to do what they are passionate about to help others.

There is an “art” to everything you do, from leading and monitoring to creating and building. Your Plan for launching a DEI program appealed to me, particularly your emphasis on culture. As I read it, I couldn’t help but wonder about the motivations behind your other projects, like your children’s book and your nonprofit. What inspired you to embark on these trips? What do they have in common that attracts you to them?

That’s the best question! At the heart of it all, what inspires me is to make the world a happier place…relationships matter, people matter…people are also different and come from different experiences. So, all the work I do is centered around connections – and it seems like most of the projects I work on connect, intersect, and reinforce each other. There are never different projects: they are all anchored in the same values.

There are lots of ways to do this, like helping other families with their cooking and providing a tool like Lolly for families to have fun and be silly with character voices and stuff, as well as a way to talk about the feeling of being excluded or about others. who are left behind. My daughters also have great ideas for future plots. I can’t wait to see how the characters come to life over the years. Profits from the book will help fund the kitchen renovation so that everything lives in the same ecosystem.

If you wrote a book about five things you’ve learned through your work and life experiences that could help us be more like Luna, who helped Lolly find her way without judging her, what would they be?

The title of my book would be Little things are big thingsand here are five things I learned about sweet Luna and her friends:

  1. “I am better than anyone, and no one is better than me.” Treat everyone, from the CEO to the hourly worker, with the same respect and thoughtfulness. Be kind and be confident.
  2. Proactively interact with others who are different from you. Become a volunteer, ask a colleague to help you on a project, ask questions, be curious. You can learn so much from other people’s experiences. This is part of why I enjoyed working in international roles: so much exposure to different nationalities, cultures and customs.
  3. How can I help? What are your natural talents, passions and abilities that can serve others?
  4. Smile. It’s amazing how much a smile can brighten someone’s day. I like to smile and say hello in a crowded elevator. It’s funny.
  5. Give compliments. If you think so, say so. One day I came home from school and my mother was in the best mood ever. I asked her why she was so happy. A woman at the grocery store stopped and told my mother, who is very humble, that she looked beautiful and that she loved her outfit. I was struck by the fact that a small comment can raise morale for a long time. People probably think I give too many compliments, but I don’t care. If I think it, I say it.

Hill’s book, Lolly the lobster left out, is now available wherever books are sold. There will be a story time launch on Saturday, May 18 at Fox Tale Bookstore.