Solon Springs native debuts on New York Times best sellersMENOMONIE, Wis. — Eliza Wheeler’s debut as a children’s book author has been impressive: Less than one month after publication, “Miss Maple’s Seeds” appeared on a New York Times best-seller list.
By: Jerry Poling/UW-Stout News Bureau, Superior Telegram
MENOMONIE, Wis. — Eliza Wheeler’s debut as a children’s book author has been impressive: Less than one month after publication, “Miss Maple’s Seeds” appeared on a New York Times best-seller list.
Some people might call that an overnight success, but Wheeler, a 2006 University of Wisconsin-Stout graduate, would say the seeds for her first book were planted as a child, nourished with inspiring teachers and bloomed after years of hard work.
Still, she was as surprised as any first-time author might be to see her work reach the No. 10 slot April 28 on the Times’ list for picture books.
“It’s really exciting for a brand new author,” Wheeler said in a telephone interview from her home in Los Angeles. “At the most, I pictured that my friends and family would buy this.”
What stands out about Wheeler is that she didn’t just write the 32-page book, published by Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Books of New York. She also was the illustrator.
Wheeler, who grew up in Solon Springs, is an illustrator by trade, having majored in art with a graphic design concentration, and happens to be talented enough to write her own books.
“Through illustration I realized I had stories I wanted to tell,” Wheeler said.
“Miss Maple’s Seeds” is about Miss Maple, a tiny woman who lives in a cozy maple tree house, gathers orphan seeds and raises them. Miss Maple imbues the seeds with motherly knowledge before letting them loose into the big world.
Publisher’s Weekly praised Wheeler’s work. “Confident artistry and an intuitive knowledge of what the world looks like to a very small person make a winning combination in Wheeler’s debut. Wheeler has clearly had a good time inventing fairy-house fixtures for Miss Maple: flower lantern boats and hollow-log houses make one yearn to escape our big, unwieldy world and inhabit hers.”
Wheeler’s story is an allegory for parents and teachers, who also must send their progeny and protégés into the world.
“They’re the caretakers. That’s the role they have to go through, and there’s the attachment they have to children and students. At some point they have to let go,” Wheeler said.