Anna Dewdney’s passing in 2016 was felt deeply by so many of us who created lasting memories around her unforgettable characters and stories. We are fortunate to be able to visit her books time and again, and even more fortunate that there are new ones yet to explore.
In the new Little Excavator, Dewdney examined what it’s like to be little in a big world. Little Excavator is eager to help the big rigs at the construction site. But Little Excavator isn’t big enough to CHUG CHUG CHUG! like the Dump Truck as it loads dirt to lug or MOUND MOUND MOUND! like the ‘Dozer as it pushes up the ground. Little Excavator wants to smooth out bumps and dig up dirt, but he is just too small. As the big rigs around him WORK WORK WORK! they finally find a job that no other machine can do … except for Little Excavator!
We connected with Anna Dewdney’s longtime editor, Tracy Gates, who gave us an introduction to this adorable new read and offered us five insights into how Little Excavator came to be:
- Anna first got the idea for Little Excavator when she bought a very old house in Vermont that needed a lot of work. “I began working with excavators during house construction and also when my nephews would come over to watch them.”
- Anna wrote the very first version of Little Excavator in 2006, the year after Llama Llama Red Pajama was published. It changed a lot since then!
- Anna could’ve driven some of the trucks in this book. She had a commercial driver’s license, which she obtained when she taught at a boarding school and sometimes drove the school bus!
- One of Anna’s favorite non-truck characters in Little Excavator is the little dog. When she wasn’t painting or writing, Anna was often walking or running with her dogs in the woods near her home. Here is a photo of her bulldog Rollo sitting in a tractor bucket!
- Accustomed to painting animals — especially llamas — Anna wasn’t interested at first in painting machinery, but as “Little E” become more real to her and more of a character, the more comfortable she got with giving him life.