Welcome to the book world, BIRDS OF A FEATHER!

This gorgeous debut brought along its author, Sita Singh, to talk about its journey to publication. Congratulations, Sita!

Thank you, Tara, for having me here to celebrate the Book Birthday of BIRDS OF A FEATHER!

Sita, you know I’m fascinated by book origin stories. How did the idea for BIRDS OF A FEATHER come about?

BIRDS OF A FEATHER is a story of a colorless peacock who learns to love himself in a jungle full of color. Several things sparked this story idea. First, I wanted to write a story with peacocks at the front and center as they are a part of my childhood memories, and also because I’d realized early on that while there are many picture books featuring variety of birds and animals, there are next to none featuring peacocks. Second, I was inspired to tell this story from my daughter’s experience of being the only child of color in her classroom for almost four years of elementary school. Having watched firsthand how important self-acceptance is, in order for children to know and love themselves for who they are, is what inspired me to write BIRDS OF A FEATHER!

Could you share your fondest childhood memory of peacocks?

Although I often saw peacocks on our farm in India, my earliest and fondest memory  is from a visit to the zoo. As kids, my brother and I had gone to the zoo and I remember feeding a peacock and getting my palm tickled. Later, that peacock went on to flaunt his feathers and for the longest time the child in me thought he’d not only put on the show for me, but there was magic in the seeds I’d fed him. I think that fascination probably stayed with me.

In the story, Mo is a leucistic (colorless) peacock who is well-loved, but he still thinks he is not as beautiful as his brothers and sisters. How did this internal conflict come to be the focus of your tale?

Sometimes children struggle with self-acceptance issues arising from identity, or fitting in, or self-doubts, maybe not due to external biases or bullying but just because of feeling different, like Mo. As an immigrant and a mother to three first-generation Indian-American children, I wanted to write a story that would empower children to know their strengths and understand their uniqueness, and become confident individuals. Through the colorless peacock’s journey to self-discovery, and finally to self-acceptance, my hope is to help every child realize that there is no one else like them, and that it’s great to be unique.

What was your initial reaction to seeing Mo brought to life in illustration?

My heart skipped a beat when I first saw the colorless peacock that only lived in my head come alive, and dance and celebrate on the pages. I was blown away by the vibrancy of colors and textures Stephanie had used all around Mo to make him stand out. At the same time, I was moved by how she let the white peacock glow and shine bright through his entire journey to self-discovery! The way Mo was brought to life was beyond my imagination!

With this being your debut picture book, what about the publishing process was surprising to you?

After my manuscript was acquired by Liza Kaplan at Philomel Books and Stephanie Fizer Coleman came on board to make the art, I kept wondering on how everyone’s vision would come together. I had no clue at all! Every stage of the book making process came to me as a pleasant surprise. But what surprised me the most was how the collective vision of so many people involved in the publishing process not only came together to match mine, but it went above and beyond that. I’m still in awe of the trust, creativity, and teamwork that goes into publishing of a picture book.

If you were to imagine Mo today, what do you think he’s doing?

Well, that’s a fun question, Tara! I think Mo must be enjoying playing hide-and-seek with his friends. And every now and then, I’m sure he must be standing tall, screeching aloud, and flaunting his feathers to attract the peahens.

Thank you for visiting, Sita and Mo, and congratulations on your picture book debut!

Blog readers, Sita is giving away a copy of BIRDS OF A FEATHER.

Leave one comment to enter the giveaway.

A random winner will be selected later this month.

Good luck!

Sita Singh was born and raised in India, and moved to the United States in 1999. She currently lives in South Florida with her husband, three children, and an immensely cute and curious dog. An architect in the past, Sita now enjoys writing heartwarming picture books with a South Asian backdrop. When Sita isn’t reading or writing, she can be found trying new recipes in the kitchen, experimenting with food photography, walking with the dog, or movie marathoning with the family. Find out more about Sita on singhsita.com and connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @sitawrites