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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hacket

The Backstory: JUST FLOWERS

Erin Dealey joins The Backstory with her latest, JUST FLOWERS (Sleeping Bear Press, 2024) with illustrations by Kate Cosgrove. Keep reading to learn what inspired this beautiful story and for your chance to win a virtual visit or a picture book critique!

AH: Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind JUST FLOWERS.

First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.

ED: Thanks for having me on your blog, Andrew, and for helping me spread the word about JUST FLOWERS (Sleeping Bear Press/ Illus. Kate Cosgrove). It’s a story about budding botanist Izzy and the grumpy new neighbor who only cares about his roses. Every time a new flower or plant –other than his roses– pops up in the neighbor’s garden, Izzy can identify it, to which the neighbor says, “Take it away!” So Izzy does. Think 1 part friendship + 2 parts random acts of kindness + lots of flowers that soon make the entire town blossom. Will Izzy ever get the neighbor to accept the bloom of friendship?  

AH: Erin, you and Kate have created such a sweet story! Izzy's kindness is so genuine and I am sure many children will be naturally inspired to emulate her choices.

AH: What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?

ED: Ideas are everywhere. The inspiration for JUST FLOWERS came from an Instagram thread where people posted gorgeous flowers from their gardens each month. I’m NOT a great gardener but I was hooked by the Latin names of the flowers, which are very fun to say. (Try: Galunthus.) This made me think they would make a great read-aloud.  

AH: It is fascinating to see how you grew the rest of the story around this idea.

AH: How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now JUST FLOWERS? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?

ED: I had a basic idea of the structure and then made a list of the flowers I might want to include. I loved discovering each delicious Latin identification. As the story unfolded, and Izzy gave the flowers away, the next fun challenge was to match the flowers with people in Izzy’s community. For example, the Mums should go to the Pediatrician, right?  

AH: I appreciate the thoughtfulness that you put into pairing the community members and the flowers. It sounds like it would have been a fun puzzle to figure out.

Did JUST FLOWERS undergo any major changes/revisions from the original version? If so, what led you to make these changes?

ED: Izzy’s name changed a few times, but ultimately, Izzy was the most fun to read aloud. (Every word counts in a picture book!) The ending changed a bit (no spoilers) and we narrowed the scope of the growing season so a few flowers were transplanted from the manuscript…

AH: Every word counts is right! I love the attention you gave to how each word would sound and work together as a read aloud.

Are there any books/authors that you feel influenced your work on JUST FLOWERS?

ED: Interesting question! The only book I kept going back to was EXTRA YARN by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. I love how Annabelle’s generosity literally warms the hearts of everyone in her town. 

AH: And I can see that influence in JUST FLOWERS. The joy that Izzy brings to the whole community radiates off of the page and provides a great lesson to young readers.

Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?

ED: As I mentioned above, inspiration is everywhere. For example, my book DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5 (Harper Collins / Illustrated by Luisa Uribe) was inspired by a Christmas card from my friend author/illustrator Dow Phumiruk, of a beautiful angel holding Earth in her hands. 

AH: Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?

ED: I really wish I could share more, but the next project hasn’t been announced yet, so all I can say is that I signed a new picture book contract, and I have worked with this wonderful illustrator before. 

In between children’s books, I write stage plays and screenplays. You can read the one acts (for free) at Uproar Theatrics. 

AH: That is incredible news! We will try to wait patiently until you can share more. And thanks for sharing the one act play. I can't wait to read it!

Where can people connect more with you?


Other links: 

TwitterX @ErinDealey 

Instagram @ErinDealey


AH: Readers be sure to connect with Erin on social media and check out her website and wonderful blog. While you are at it please consider supporting Erin and JUST FLOWERS in any way you can.

This could include:

- ordering from your favorite indie

- marking as want to read on Goodreads  

-leaving a review

- making a library request

Erin thank you so much for sharing about JUST FLOWERS! I loved learning all about how this fabulous book came to be.



Erin is offering one winner their choice of either a virtual visit of 30 minutes with a single classroom OR one manuscript critique of a picture book manuscript (less than 600 words/ fiction only).

Ways to enter:

1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!


2. Leave a comment on this post.


3. Post about this interview on social media and tell me in the comments that you did.

Each method earns an extra entry!



Erin Dealey is a screenwriter, playwright, blogger, and award-winning children’s author of 20+ picture books (so far), including JUST FLOWERS (Illus. Kate Cosgrove /Sleeping Bear), the award-winning DEAR EARTH… (Harper Collins/ Illus. Luisa Uribe), and PETER EASTER FROG (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Illus. G. Brian Karas). Dealey's original career goal was Olympic Gold Medal tetherball player. When that didn't pan out, she became a teacher, theater director, actor, mom, and author--and welcomes any opportunity to visit schools around the world. She lives in northern California with her husband. Find her online at and on TwitterX @ErinDealey & Instagram @ErinDealey.



Andrew Hacket  is a writer, second-grade teacher, and father of three. He is also the author of the upcoming Ollie, the Acorn, and the Mighty Idea,  Curlilocks and the Three Hares, and Hope and the Sea. Andrew recognizes that being a kid is hard and he writes to create ways for kids to see themselves in stories and characters, to accept and overcome their insecurities, or to escape for just a little while through the power of their imaginations. 

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11 commentaires

31 mars

I love this!!! I am a flower freak. You can ask my neighbors and my husband. Ha-ha! I can hardly wait to get this book. I try to remember all the latin names of the flowers I have and you are so right they are fun to say. Congrats and continued writing success Erin!


31 mars

Sounds like a really sweet story! Can't wait to read it!


Thelia Hutchinson
Thelia Hutchinson
29 mars

Thank you, Erin, for sharing. Congratulations on your new book. You can't go wrong with flowers.


Jennifer Lowe
Jennifer Lowe
29 mars

Thanks for sharing the behind-the-scenes story of your book! Just Flowers looks delightful, I look forward to reading it!


Cathy Ballou Mealey
Cathy Ballou Mealey
28 mars

I wish I had a green thumb like Izzy! This looks beautiful Erin - cannot wait to read it!

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