Guest Edition

Vivian Kirkfield–What Was on Her . . .

headshot in flowers 2021

Vivian Kirkfield

Happy National Aviation Day Everyone! And a special welcome to Vivian Kirkfield, the author of From Here to There: Inventions that Changed the Way the World Moves, a magnificent must-read for anyone who loves inventions or machines that help us move.

From Here to There is packed full of tales that include the beginnings of the bicycle, the gas-powered automobile, the Greyhound bus company, and of course, air travel. The details and tension of each story draws readers in, making them forget that they do in fact know Montgolfiers fly and bicycles roll. I zoom-read through each story, absolutely thrilled to get to the end and discover the triumph of each ingenious plan. Gilbert Ford’s illustrations are bright, vivid and fun—the perfect match for Vivian’s dynamic storytelling. Kids, parents, teachers and librarians will all love From Here to There and its unstoppable stories about machines that move.


From Here to There

                Inventions that Changed the Way the World Moves                       Written by Vivian Kirkfield, Illustrated by Gilbert Ford

Celebrating the invention of vehicles, this collective biography tells the inspiring stories of the visionaries who changed the way we move across air, water, and land. Perfect for fans of Mistakes that Worked and Girls Think of Everything.

In a time when people believed flying was impossible, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier proved that the sky wasn’t the limit. When most thought horseback was the only way to race, Bertha and Karl Benz fired up their engines. From the invention of the bicycle and the passenger steam locomotive, to the first liquid-fuel propelled rocket and industrial robot, inventors across the world have redefined travel. Filled with informative sidebars and colorful illustrations, this collective biography tells the story of the experiments, failures, and successes of visionaries who changed the way the world moves.


From Here to There is Vivian’s fifth picture book. When not writing, she blogs at Picture Books Help Kids Soar and challenges writers, both new and seasoned, to create their very best stories with the least amount of words. The entries range from lyrical to irreverent and are always, always fascinating. You can read this year’s winners at  #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest.

Vivian joins us today from charming Bedford, New Hampshire to celebrate National Aviation Day, talk about journeys both figurative and literal, and tell us What Was On her…

Earliest Trip from Here to There: I grew up in New York City and I remember a trip to Providence, RI to visit cousins. We took a train – I must have been about 5 years-old…I was used to trains because I lived in Manhattan and my grandmother lived in Brooklyn and we took the subway every Sunday to see her. Subways operate mostly underground. But the ride to Providence was on the railroad…what a thrill to watch the changing landscape as we sped down the track. And that memory came back to me when I researched ALL ABOARD, the chapter in From Here to There about the first intercity passenger steam train which changed more than how people got from one place to another. Before that time, most people never went more than a few miles from their home in their whole lifetime – and now, they could get to the city, work 8 hours, and get back in time for supper.

Most Memorable Research Trip: Most of my research is done with my fingers walking along computer keys to search the internet. But once in a while, I get the opportunity to do onsite research. I wrote a story about a Spanish-American sculptor and, when I found out I was going to accompany my son and his family to Barcelona in February 2020, I knew I would have to make arrangements to go to the Cathedral of Barcelona where the sculptor had sold little clay figures when he was a child. It was definitely a thrill to walk in his steps. But the most memorable research trip was when I went to Chicago and visited the graveside of Sarah E. Goode. My 6-year-old granddaughter brought flowers and we read Sweet Dreams, Sarah at the cemetery as we honored the life of one of the first African American women to own a U.S. patent. 

Last Hiking Path: My late husband and I did a lot of hiking, especially when we lived in Colorado Springs, right near Pikes Peak. One winter day, we donned our snowshoes and hiked up the back side of the mountain. Along the trail we came upon an abandoned miner’s cabin – or what was left of it. But it was the perfect spot to stop and enjoy the sandwiches I’d packed. Sitting there on a boulder, it was fun to imagine we were pioneer folk, taking a rest from the hard work of building our new home in the wilderness. 

Favorite Literary Expedition: Some writers shy away from writing nonfiction picture books because they feel it is more difficult than writing fiction. But for me, my favorite literary expedition is to dive into the life of an individual whose accomplishments changed the world in a positive way, like the visionaries in From Here to There. I especially love to find people who were not properly recognized in their own time, like Karl Drais, who invented the first bicycle because he wanted to find a faster way to move with his own two feet. Back in 1817, there were no cars or trains or buses…or bikes. The only way to move on land was to walk or ride a horse or be pulled in a carriage or wagon by a horse. But when the climate changed in 1816 because of a volcanic eruption in 1815, the oat crop in Germany withered and most people couldn’t afford to keep a horse. They say that necessity is the mother of invention – and Karl Drais put on his thinking cap and built a bike. I love finding stories that can spark the curiosity of children today and inspire them to make the world a better place.

Dream Travel List: Back in 2019, the year my three debut picture books launched, I was invited to speak at the SCBWI conference in Sydney, Australia. I’d saved a bunch of air miles and took a trip around the world – spending three weeks in New Zealand with a critique buddy who lives there and then flying to Switzerland to spend two weeks there with another critique buddy who resides there, and then taking a train to Bologna to meet up with several other critique buddies there. That was a dream trip, for sure, and I’d be happy to return to any of those places or go to visit new ones. But for me, it’s all about the people – the best part of the traveling is meeting up with old friends and making new ones! 

Office Wall: Sometimes things are meant to be. When I moved last year, I gave away a bunch of furniture – downsizing, they call it. The bookcases I’d owned were tall and overpowering in my new space and so, after we moved in, I got rid of those as well. But now I had a problem – boxes and boxes of books and nowhere to put them. And what could be sadder than a reader whose books are all packed away? But the Universe was kind. Across the street lives an older gentleman who is downsizing, too. He gave me two AMAZING bookcases that had belonged to his grandmother. One sits in my living room – the other resides on the wall behind my desk – filled with my picture book collection, it is the perfect backdrop for Zoom meetings and it fills my heart with joy! 

Mind: How lucky I am! I wake up every morning and feel like I am on vacation. I always loved reading picture books…and now I am writing them – how amazing! And if my books encourage kids to have hopes and dreams and plans of what might be – I will have done what I set out to do. 

Thanks so much, Vivian! I loved hearing about all your journeys from here to there. I also discovered from your photo that we were in Bologna at the same time. In fact, this selfie was taken just a few yards from where you are in the photo above. I like to think that we took them at the same time and just missed seeing each other. In any event, here’s to more literary journeys for all of us!


Vivian Kirkfield is a retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education. She inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. Her nonfiction narratives bring history alive for young readers and her picture books have garnered starred reviews and accolades including the Silver Eureka, Social Studies Notable Trade Book, and Junior Library Guild Selection.

You can stay in contact with Vivian at viviankirkfield.com, on Twitter @viviankirkfield, on Facebook @viviankirkfield, on Instagram @viviankirkfield. and on Linkedin @viviankirkfiled.

If you would like to order From Here to There: Inventions that Changed the Way the World Moves, click on the book below.


Stop by again on September 9, National Quiet Day, when Stef Wade will talk to us about the fabulous combination of Q + U (Thus, QUiet Day!) and her most recent book Q & U Call It Quits. Which–eek–makes me ask, what happens to QUiet then? 

Please also mark September 20 on your calendar. Aimée Sicuro will be giving us the inside story on her gorgeous illustrations and telling us what inspired her most about The Stuff Between the Stars.

If you would like to know more about me and my writing, please visit sandranickel.com.

21 thoughts on “Vivian Kirkfield–What Was on Her . . .

  1. Vivian you are and will always be an inspiration. It was wonderful to learn more about your world and life journeys! You have made me feel welcome as I navigate this new path. I look at Mirka’s print from Four Otters daily and it reminds me of your talent, her talent and your giving spirit. Thank you again. Sally

    • Awww…now I’m blushing, dear Sally! But so happy that I had a small part in helping you to feel at ease in this incredible kid lit community. And I’m so glad you are finding joy in Mirka’s amazing print!

  2. Lovely interview of a dear friend and critique buddy whom I’ve know for many years. I loved having her stay with me when she was in my country down under and can’t wait for her to return again some day. She is like a beam of loving light each day. A generous sweetest lady I have ever met.

    • As always, you are shining that welcoming beacon, dear Diane. You and Ian were the best of hosts – and I definitely fell in love with New Zealand. In my bookcase, I keep the albums you created for me and the one we had made at the Sky Tower on your anniversary – the last night I was in NZ. And when I need a little lift, I flip through the pages and smile at the great times that we had.

  3. Thank you for sharing these uplifting experiences and Vivian’s wonderful books! I’m so inspired to get out and discover and keep putting words on paper.

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