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Try Until You Fly! An Interview with Karl Edwards


Portland-based author and illustrator Karl Newsom Edwards’ debut picture book, Fly!, is an adorably lighthearted yet inspiring tale for children ages three to five. We caught up with Edwards to talk about his book, what makes reading fun, and why he decided to create stories for kids.

The Story 

Worm can “wiggle.” Ant can “march.” But Fly can’t do anything his other tiny friends can do. A story of perseverance and self-discovery told through a gaggle of expressive bugs, Fly! is full of action—briefly told. “There’s only 16 words in the whole book,” says Edwards. And yes, Fly eventually learns that he can indeed…fly!

The Action 

Fly! gets kids moving. They can “jump” with grasshopper and “roll” with the pill bug.  It’s a great story for a young child who finds it hard to sit still and listen.

How He Found His Inspiration 

After a career in advertising illustration, Edwards changed direction at age 60. Fly! is his first children’s book. “I always start with the drawings. All the characters came out of doodling,” says Edwards. “And I liked the word 'fly.' It’s a noun and a verb, and I wondered what kind of story I could come up with.”

Why He Wanted to Write a Children’s Book

I have tremendous empathy for children,” Edwards says. “If I had kids, I would encourage them to do whatever they’d like to do, rather than what they are supposed to do.” Life requires perseverance and fortitude, he says, and in the story, Fly uses those life skills to get to know his true nature and discover his own abilities.

What a Fly Can Teach 

“Failure is something to be embraced,” says Edwards. “It’s not to be shamed. It’s a learning experience. So dig deep, explore who you are, make your own mistakes, and find what’s right for each of you.”

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