Camille Andros - The Lion & Dragonfly Interview
"By reading The Dress and the Girl, I hope conversations about immigration are started. I hope readers are left with a reminder of the humanity in each of us. And I hope readers gain more empathy." - Camille Andros
In the charming The Dress and the Girl, a little girl and her favorite dress are separated when she and her family emigrate to the United States, until a chance meeting brings them back together in an unexpected way. We have found that kids love this timeless, elegant story of the immigrant experience and the new lives we create far from home, and it has been a treasured part of our Dresses and Daydreams collection since we opened Lion & Dragonfly. We were thrilled that author Camille Andros took the time to answer our questions about this lovely book. Enjoy the interview!
Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for The Dress and the Girl?
The idea came from two main experiences. The first was a tea party I was invited to where one of the guests came wearing a vintage 1950’s pink and white polka dot party dress. I wondered what stories that dress could tell. What places it had been and people it had interacted with. Who had it belonged to?
The second experience was visiting the Greek village my husband’s great-grandfather had grown up in. He was one of eleven children, and the only one who left Greece to immigrate to the US. My husband and I went to Greece and met his family that still lived in the village who welcomed us into their home, fed us from their garden, and made us feel so welcome. I thought about the nineteen-year-old boy who left that village, his family, and everything he had ever known to travel across the world to a country where he didn’t know a single person or speak the language. He never saw his family again, but I have the family I have now because of him.
From these two experiences, The Dress and the Girl was created.
How did you come to collaborate with Julie Morstad on this book?
Julie was my first choice to illustrate this story and it was with her style in mind that I wrote the story. When Abrams acquired the text for publication, I chose them in part because of the shared vision we had for Julie as the illustrator. I was over the moon when she was available and agreed to do the project. Here’s a link to an interview Julie and I did with Matthew Winner when the book came out. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/camille-andros-and-julie-morstad/id817756935?i=1000417957802
What was the collaborative process like?
Oddly enough, authors and illustrators usually don’t talk with each other during the book making process. Julie and I didn’t talk until after the book was published and we did an interview together. The book’s editor and art director convey any communication.
What is your favorite page of this book and why?
It’s hard to choose just one, there are so many beautiful spreads in the book, but if I had to choose just one, it would be near the end of the book when *spoiler* the girl is grown and sees her dress in a thrift shop window. The look on her face gets me every time.
What are you most proud of from this book?
I loved being able to send it to our family in Greece and honor Harry Androutsos in the book’s dedication.
What inspired you to become an author?
My love of picture books. It’s my favorite format for storytelling.
What do you think are the ingredients for a great children’s book?
Text and art that complement each other rather than each telling the same story. Beautiful illustrations, a story that makes the reader feel something, well done graphic design elements that often aren’t pointed out but are so important in a well-made book.
What is your favorite place to write?
Wherever I can be uninterrupted. ;)
What was your favorite picture book growing up?
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
What’s the last book you couldn’t put down?
Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
If you weren’t an author what would you most like to be?
A screenwriter for film or Television
What is your (other) dream career?
To be a writer for Outlander on Starz.
What do you hope your audience takes away from reading The Dress and the Girl?
I hope conversations about immigration are started. I hope readers are left with a reminder of the humanity in each of us. I hope readers gain more empathy. I hope readers will know better and do better than we have done. I hope refugee and immigrant children see themselves in the story and understand how extraordinary they are. I want them to feel seen, understood, and know there is hope.
What would you want your ten-year-old self to know?
What is for you will find you. And keep reading.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on several different picture books projects, an early reader series, and a novel.
Which superpower would you most like to have?
The power to heal.
What is your most prized possession?
My inner Jiminy Cricket.