I’ve been dreaming about Paris. Holiday lights on the Champs-Elysées. Hot chocolate at Angelina’s. Flower shops dripping with mistletoe. All those very French and very delicious pastries.
Since I can’t get away to the City of Lights, I’m doing the next best thing: Chatting with KatelynAronson, the creator of my favorite French pig, Piglette!
Piglette is charmante, adorable, chou! In other words, cute three times over. Like me, she’s a big fan of flowers and pastry. In the eponymous Piglette, our posh pig takes her love of flowers to Paris and becomes the perfect assistant at a perfumery. In the second story, Piglette’s Perfect Surprise, she returns to Paris and takes on pastry. Both Piglette stories are loaded with Parisian culture. They are fun and funny, with the perfumery owner throwing out lines like, “Ooh-la-la! You are just the snout I am looking for!” But these stories aren’t just fluff. Piglette is a bit of a philosopher, always learning from life, which adds a satisfying and grounding ending to each of these stories.
Piglette. Piglette can be a bit particular by her siblings’ standards. She always wants everything to be perfect. While her many brothers and sisters like rolling in the mud, Piglette prefers pampering in a mud bath. While her siblings eat slop, Piglette prefers pastries. But what she’s most passionate about is flowers. She loves to smell the lilies and lilacs in the pasture. So Piglette decides her precise nose is destined for the perfume shops of Paris!
But Piglette soon realizes that there’s nothing more precious than the pleasant scents of home, and she finds a way to bring a little Parisian perfection back where she belongs. Debut author Kateyln Aronson and #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Eva Byrne have created an unforgettable, playful piglet who stays true to herself and the message that home is where the heart is.
Piglette’s Perfect Surprise. Piglette returns to Paris in search of the perfect present for Madame Paradee. When Piglette comes across a posh patisserie, she decides she will make the most extravagant cake the public has ever seen. But despite all her practice, her cake does not turn out as planned, and Piglette learns that sometimes perfection can be found in the simplest pleasures.
Piglette was the perfect debut picture book for Katelyn Aronson, because even though Katelyn now lives in the middle of green pastures like Piglette, Paris has long been her favorite playground! In her early twenties, she worked as manager of an independent children’s bookstore in California. At that time, Random House held a bookstore window contest with the grand prize being a trip to Paris. Katelyn won (!), caught the Paris bug, and moved to France a few years later.
Katelyn now works in Switzerland as a language teacher in an international school, but still lives in France, on the Franco-Swiss border. She joins us today to talk about Paris and Piglette and to tell us What Was on Katelyn’s…
Favorite Parisian Street: On the Rue Saint Honoré, you’ll find my very favorite coffee/tea/pastry shop—Café Verlet. It’s a two-story coffee house with cozy seating upstairs. They also make the most beautiful candied fruits that gleam like jewels in the window. I love to drop in at Christmas time!
Favorite Pastry Shelf: Fresh macarons (which don’t stay fresh for long). I participated in a culinary workshop in Paris to learn how to make macarons for my birthday years ago. I also had fancy macarons served for dessert at my wedding.
Speaking of weddings, in France, there is a traditional wedding cake called the pièce montée which is a carefully constructed tower of pastry puffs and caramelized sugar. (The Brits referred to it as the croquembouche.) Here is an example, made by Fauchon.
More recent versions of the traditional pièce montée make use of other pastries (macarons for instance), and that was my inspiration for Madame Paradee’s Eiffel-Tower shaped birthday cake. I dreamt up a tower made of treats—all the treats!
Pitch for Piglette: Turning up her nose at all things “piggish,” Piglette leaves her farm and family in pursuit of perfection. She follows her snout to a perfumery in Paris, and thinks she’s found paradise. Until a strange wind blows in from far away, bringing her a whiff of home…
I only had to pitch the first book. Penguin Random House requested the second book only months after buying the first. Piglette 1 hadn’t even been published yet!
Mind about Piglet vs. Piglette: Since the pronunciation is quite different, no agents or editors who offered on Piglette ever thought of Piglet. Nor did I, as my original title was Pâquerette, A French Piglette. Pâquerette is the French word for a wild daisy, but we eventually got rid of it, since few Americans would have known how to pronounce Pak-er-ett. In the end, Piglette was simply perfect, and perfectly simple!
Winning Bookstore Window: Sadly, I have yet to unearth the photographic proof of my winning window. That was along time ago… I do remember that I had a model plane swooping in, and a giant postcard from France. I seem to remember a hot air balloon suspended there, too. Maybe some day I’ll find a snapshot or two in my parents’ storage back in California? I hope so, since winning that contest marked a special turning point in my life. I realized that with enough effort, I could make my dreams come true. And I went on to do just that.
Mind Today: There is one thing that is always on my mind, and that is: what will my next story be? Each of the books I have coming out are so very different from one another. Whimsical, serious, funny, rhyming, starring animals, kitchen condiments, people, mermaids! What will my goofy brain come up with next? I don’t know—but I love the surprise of creative inspiration. With a brand new year just up ahead, I can’t wait to announce my sixth picture book, and after that, find out what my seventh book will be! Creating stories from scratch is what makes me tick, and I’m the luckiest girl in the world to be able to do just that.
Thank you so much for having, me, Sandra! I hope we’ll get the chance to meet up in Paris,
or wherever, very soon. Until then…Bonnes fêtes !
Thank you, Katelyn, for dreaming about Paris with me! And yes, Bonnes Fêtes to everyone!
You can stay in contact with Katelyn Aronson at katelynaronson.com, on Twitter at @MademoiselleK8, on Instagram at @AuthorKatelyn and on Facebook at @katelyn.aronson.
If you would like to order Piglette or Piglette’s Perfect Surprise, click on the books below.
Awww this is lovely, ladies! I had a pièce montée made for my son’s Swiss wedding party! I’ll have to share a photo. 🙂
Really!?! That’s fabulous! Please do share a photo, Julie!
Magnifique! Cheers! À ta santé 🙂
Merci, Donna! Here’s to a lot of pastry in your life over the holidays!
To you as well, Sandra <3