Munichmom had the pleasure of E-meeting Beatrice Gentry, author of Piep, a book which will make you think twice about the word ‘diversity’. Piep, a peculiar half pig/half sheep creature, walks through the world being different, without realizing it…
Beatrice is a writer, illustrator and mother of two; she lives in beautiful Trier with her husband Travis.
We are very excited to have the pleasure to introduce her to you!!
BeeGee Beatrice Gentry
MM: Dear Beatrice, how did Piep come to life?
BeeGee: The mixed creature Piep (half pig/half sheep) came to life, because I mistakenly made up a word, while I was talking to my French colleague at work. I wanted to talk about a sheep (don’t ask me why) and I barely remembered the French word for pig so I mixed it up and said “Mouchon” – and there it was. I was like “Hey, I have a Mouchon at home, too. That would be a great character for an illustrated children’s book” and I thought of the German translation Schwaf. I was just back at work after my maternity leave with my daughter Claire, so I kept it in my head but did not really act on it.
MM: Did the illustration come first, or did the story come first? How did the German version come about?
BeeGee:I love to draw, illustrate and paint ever since I can think of. I did have a vague idea of the story and that it could be about the animals not accepting Piep. So right after I had my baby boy Dean, I started scribbling Piep and the other characters. With a newborn at home and a 2-year-old in daycare, I could dedicate enough time to the building of the story. My husband Travis actually came up with a whole written out script which helped a lot in the making of the book. We went back and forth whether or not to build it in rhymes and then one day while lying on the bed with Dean nursing, the whole rhyme came to me within an hour. I picked up paper and pencil and wrote everything down, called Travis during his lunch break to read it to him and he loved it (he can be very critical). It took me another week and a silent moment to write down the German version.
MM: How do your little ones experience being ‘other’ in Trier? And, how is life in Trier?
BeeGee: I think Dean is too small to realize, what is different about him and exactly that is what Piep is about. Children have such an honest and clear way to things. Aren’t we all others? However, Claire is just entering the age where it sort of matters to her. She would like to be Elsa and only ELSA from Frozen like the rest of the 99% of little girls her age. She is a Daddy’s girl though, so just yesterday she told me, that she would like to have little curls like Daddy. A week ago she wanted to be Cinderella. She is very self-confident, so I think she will be alright. She has friends of many different races. I somehow don’t like that word. My sister’s fiancé is Filipino for example, so even in our family it goes beyond black and white.
Trier is the oldest town in Germany at the Mosel river. There are many nice roman monuments to see. Trier calls itself “Grossstadt” but it can only do so because it is a University City. We are right at the border to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and surrounded by US Military installments. So we have many Americans coming to Trier and they bring the diversity and so do all the tourists. Life is nice here. It is not too small and not too big. Having lived in big cities like Stuttgart and Paris, I sometimes miss the variety of things to do on cloudy and rainy days, especially with kids. And then I feel very privileged to able to just go to a military base with my kids, since my husband is a teacher there and we are granted access.
MM: Where is Piep available? Is there an e- version of it?
BeeGee: It is available worldwide, on amazon.com and amazon.de and UK (even Japan) in both languages, English and German (Piep, das Schwaf), Barnes&Noble, thalia.de, buecher.de. Pretty much all online platforms. I am working on retail options. Piep is being sold in two bookstores in Trier and one in Luxemburg. People can also contact me directly over my official Facebook page to order a signed copy directly from me https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beatrice-Gentry/834901886555661?fref=ts
There also is an Ebook version out in German, where part of the funds go to my friend’s foundation for kids that suffer from MS. http://lesend-helfen.de/index.php/component/virtuemart/view/productdetails/virtuemart_product_id/255/virtuemart_category_id/235
May it be handicap, religion,culture, sexual orientation…..after all PIEP is not only about different race.
MM: What are you working on at the moment? Can Munichmom get a sneak preview of your next project?
BeeGee: I’ve been asked, when people will be able to read more about PIEP and her friends. In the next book, PIEP will be more active. In the first book, it’s more like the others talk about her, but she just goes her way. I am currently working on a story about a Flamingo that has a different upbringing than Flamingoes usually have.
So he is insecure about who he is and how he looks. It’s another book about diversity and tolerance, but I cannot really go deeper into the story without giving away too much. I am aiming for Christmas. Just this time I know, I will build the story and the words first, before I start drawing for the book. The flamingo and some of the characters have already been created and one more thing I can reveal: he lives in Paraguay