Q&A with Diane Seufert Tait, Author of ‘Olivia’s Garden’

By Shelley Pierce | June 4, 2017
Image by Greenwood Press
by Shelley Pierce
June 4, 2017

Diane Seufert Tait is a violinist, herbalist and author of Letters from Italy and Olivia’s Garden. She teaches classes in practical herbalism and is also the steward of a Botanical Sanctuary, Eden Hyll, in upper New York State. Both her books can be ordered through www.greenwoodpress.ca.  Read on to learn more about Diane’s latest book, ‘Olivia’s Garden,’ a charming story about the inhabitants of a magical herb garden, and enter to win one of three copies.

1.  What is “Olivia’s Garden” about?

Olivia’s Garden takes place in a lush medicinal herb garden, tended by a musician/herbalist named Karen. She is very connected to all her plants and without really understanding where it comes from, has been using the advice whispered in her ear by Olivia the Faerie Queen of a place called Duffin’s Glen. It is Olivia’s mission to have Karen become aware of her presence and all that she has been doing in this garden she has come to love so much. She has even brought new plants for Karen when she has wished for them aloud! A crisis finally has the unexpected result of achieving just what Olivia desires. Mira the cat and Grandmother Sage are some other favorite characters for our little readers.

2. What inspired you to write this children’s book?  Was it borne out of a personal love of gardening?

I was writing my first book, Letters from Italy, when I attended a writer’s sanctuary. During one of the writing exercises, Grandmother Sage and Cally Calendula showed up on the page. Karen is a fictional version of me. I drew inspiration from many experiences I’ve had in my own magical herb gardens. Several years passed after that workshop until I was finally propelled forward with this project by my friend Karen Thompson when she offered to be the illustrator. My grand daughter had just been born and it was time to bring these characters to life.

Nature has always been my playground and I feel at this time in human history it is more important than ever to instill a love for our beautiful earth and all who live here with us to our children and grandchildren.

3. What is it about this book that will captivate children?  Will it instill a wonder for and love of gardening in them?

I have received a lot of feedback from mothers and grand parents who have been reading this book to their children and grand children. The kids love the characters and they love the details about all the forms of life in a garden. I have kept the story true to how things grow, how lack of water affects some plants more than others, how insects interact with the flowers, and how many little animals come and go every day. I want children to notice all the plants growing everywhere, even in the cracks of a busy sidewalk. We have a glossary at the end of the book which shows all the plants with page numbers and a little blurb so readers can go back and have a better look. Several teachers here in Ontario have used our book in their science lessons.

The age group is 3-7 and sometimes even a couple of years older:) It is written in 3 chapters with a beautiful full page illustration for every page of text.

4. I noticed that one of the main characters in the book is a head faerie named Olivia, which is also the name of your granddaughter, who the book is dedicated to.  I’m assuming this is not coincidence.  Does the head faerie capture the spirit of your granddaughter and does your granddaughter enjoy helping you tend your own garden?

My father used to make up stories for me, making me and my friends characters in those stories. I loved that! So, of course the bright, playful, mischievous, and brave faerie had to be named Olivia! Yes, she is very much like my feisty granddaughter.
She lives in Australia and only visits here every other year. They are coming this August and she will be 3 this time, so we will be playing in the gardens for sure! She was already helping me in her mother’s little garden in Australia this past January, very carefully watering each plant.

5. Will we be seeing more books in the future about Olivia and her garden?

Karen and I are currently working on book # 2 which will of course include Grandmother Sage and company, but also introduces 8 new characters – plant, insect, mammal and bird!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, June 11, 2017 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Which child in your life do you look forward to sharing this book with?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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  • sandy
    Comment added June 8, 2017Reply

    all of my kiddos

  • Ann Marie Mones
    Comment added June 8, 2017Reply

    I would love to win this and place it in a cradle I made, which I will be giving to my great niece. Having lost her mother and grandmother last year, the baby she is expecting will bring joy not only to her and her spouse, but also the whole family. She is very special to me, and I think this would be a lovely gift.

  • Ann Marie Mones
    Comment added June 7, 2017Reply

    This is such a beautiful book! My great niece is expecting and I would love to place this in the cradle I made for her, and give it to her during her baby shower.

  • Liz Vermaas
    Comment added June 7, 2017Reply

    All three of my lovely granddaughters enjoy coming to help out at the neighbouring garden plots that my daughter and I cultivate in the Pemberton Creek Community Gardens.
    The youngest, who just happens to be named Olivia, is three and has the most curiousity about how things grow. It would be mostly for her that I would love to win this book.
    Herbs are a big part of my life and I am teaching the magic and medicine of what Nature has given us to enjoy as well as use for healing to my girls.
    The black cat posing on the cover could easily be one of my own, brother and sister, Otis and Etta, who also enjoy my herbs...haha. The girls love to try to guess which is which.
    This lovely book would be a grand edition to their library here at my home.

  • Marcy Lautanen
    Comment added June 6, 2017Reply

    I would actually share this with my friend Eloise who would read it to her grandchildren.

  • LeAnn Harbert
    Comment added June 6, 2017Reply

    I will read this to my granddaughters.

  • Amy Waterman
    Comment added June 6, 2017Reply

    I would give it to a friend who has a granddaughter named Olivia. I think she would love it.

  • Cindy Vincent
    Comment added June 6, 2017Reply

    I look forward to sharing this book with my granddaughter Harper Hannah.

  • Ann Marie Mones
    Comment added June 6, 2017Reply

    My older sister lived on the family farm where my mother had been born. She and her husband raised their 5 children there, and my oldest niece and her husband moved back in to take care of my sister and her husband. They had 3 children. Many years ago my brother in law passed. Last year in January, so did my sister. Shockingly, my oldest niece who had been caring for my sister, was killed in a horrific motor vehicle accident in March last year. Now her daughter and her spouse are expecting their first baby! New life in the family, and joy after so much sorrow. I would love to win this book, to place in the cradle I made that I am giving to them. It sounds magical and would be such a lovely gift for my new great, great niece or nephew!

  • Carol Yemola
    Comment added June 6, 2017Reply

    This would be a wonderful book to read to my 6 year old twin granddaughters.

  • Ed Yemola
    Comment added June 6, 2017Reply

    My daughter is expecting a baby in July. I would love to give this to my new grandbaby as a birth gift. I would write a personal message on the inside of the cover and would read it to her when she was old enough to understand.

  • Susan
    Comment added June 5, 2017Reply

    My niece would love this book.

  • Karen Pearman
    Comment added June 5, 2017Reply

    I would share this wonderful book with my granddaughter, Rosalina, she's my youngest grandchild. The older ones have followed and helped with the gardens since they could walk. I tried to teach them all about different herbs, and how we can use them for the health and healing of our bodies! I'm looking forward to sharing this as well! ❤?

  • Marianne
    Comment added June 5, 2017Reply

    After living in Phoenix for many years, I have returned home, to the Midwest to be near family. One of my greatest joys is to have, again, a lovely seasonal flower and vegetable garden to work in. Another one of my joys is my niece's little 3 year old daughter. I think his would be a lovely book to share with her, as my niece is starting to garden, too.

    Comment added June 5, 2017Reply

    My granddaughter is an avid reader and she would love this

  • Karen
    Comment added June 4, 2017Reply

    I want to share this story with my grandaughter, Gemma,or as i call her Dottie Grace. I am a master gardener in Washington state and we like to spend our summers in the garden reading.

  • Lisa Steele
    Comment added June 4, 2017Reply

    As a Maine Master Gardener, volunteer work is a big part of my training. I would love to share this book with some of the kids who attend the garden field days or fairs where the University of Maine has a table set up. I'm also an aspiring herbalist and would love to share some of the awesomeness of herbs with the children.

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