Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 29, 2021


Lauren Soloy has written and illustrated a new picture book, ETTY DARWIN AND THE FOUR PEBBLE PROBLEM published by Tundra Books. Lauren has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States..

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book, so thank you for helping Lauren.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Etty Darwin and her famous father go for a walk to ponder life, science . . . and fairies! Inspired by the real-life daughter of Charles Darwin.

Etty loves make-believe.
Her dad loves science.
Etty believes in fairies.
Her dad would need to see some proof that they exist.
But they both love nature, conversation and each other.

A gorgeous rumination on belief and imagination featuring Henrietta (Etty) Darwin and her famous father, Charles. Etty went on to become a valued and keen editor of Charles’s work and a thoughtful and intellectual being in her own right. This imagined conversation between Etty and Charles as they stroll around Charles’s real-life “thinking track” explores their close relationship and shows that even science is nothing without an open mind and imagination.


The idea for Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem came as I was in the middle of designing a natural playground for our community, and was researching the benefits of getting kids into nature. I discovered that Charles Darwin had built himself a Thinking Path, and walked it twice a day, every day. I started reading more about Charles and his life, and the story began to take shape.

When I signed the contract for my first book, When Emily was Small, I had signed a two book deal. But I didn’t know what the second book was going to be yet! The time came to submit something, and I turned my Darwin story, and crossed my fingers.

In the version I first submitted to my editor, Charles was the main character, and Etty was there, supporting and guiding his thinking. The feedback that I got back was that it didn’t feel quite child-friendly enough.

I admit I panicked slightly, and began working on another story altogether. I submitted that one, and the feedback that time was “we like this, but we were hoping for the revised version of the Darwin story!”

So I went back to work. I thought back to days spent walking to school with my grandfather, and how he always listened to me, and let me work through questions on my own. I made Etty a more central character, with her father taking a more supporting role, because of those walks. The book is dedicated to my grandpa (and my husband!), and I will always be grateful that he got to see it before he passed.

I submitted it again, and we all agreed it was a stronger picture book. Now that I had my story, it was time to do the illustrations.

Since the story is set in an actual place that still exists, I knew I wanted to visit Down House and walk the thinking path myself before I tried to paint it. So that’s what I did! (And I’m so lucky and grateful that I did so before the pandemic started.)
I spent five glorious days exploring the English Heritage site where the Darwin family spent their days. Photographs weren’t allowed inside the house, but the staff let me set up with a chair and draw wherever I wanted, and it was amazing. I also took hundreds of photographs of the grounds (and, literally, the ground) so that it would hopefully feel familiar to anyone who has visited the site.

Illustrating this book was a lot of fun – I loved revisiting Down House in my mind and heart as I painted. I hope it connects with readers big and small, who are interested in exploring some of life’s big questions!


Lauren Soloy is the author and illustrator of When Emily was Small (Tundra, 2020) and Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem (Tundra, 2021), and the illustrator of I’s the B’y (Greystone Books, 2022). Lauren has lived on both coasts of Canada, always within reach of the sea.

She currently lives in a 140-year-old house in the wilds of Nova Scotia with her librarian husband, two curious children, an ever-expanding collection of books, two hives of bees, and one cat.  She has a Visual Arts BFA with Honours from the University of Victoria, and a certificate of Fine Furniture from Camosun College.  Along the way, she has learned to make a Queen Anne Highboy, a pottery mug, a hand knit pair of socks, a headstand, and a mess.  She is represented by Jackie Kaiser at Westwood Creative Artists.

Lauren’s studio – where she makes magic happen


Twitter: @lauren_soloy

Instagram: @laurensoloy

Lauren, thank you for sharing your beautiful book and journey with us. I love how you tell this imagined story of Etty and her father. Darwin had another daughter. What drew you to Etta? I also love how you drew on your own time with your grandfather for inspiration. After seeing the illustrations you did for the book and hearing how you visited Down House, I am convinced that you poured that inspiration into the artwork that fills this book. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This looks like an absolutely lovely book in every way, Lauren! Thanks so much for sharing the story of how it came to be.


  2. Love the idea of a Thinking Path. I bet that was incredible to walk it as Darwin did.


  3. I need to make a thinking path! This book looks wonderful – one that I certainly want to add to my library.
    (blog follower)


  4. What a wonderful idea and I appreciated hearing your journey to make this story a reality. Wishing you huge success with this book, Lauren.


  5. Reblogged this on Writer-Reader-Teacher.


  6. Thank you for sharing your book journey. I’m eager to get my own copy! I reblogged this post and tweeted it.


  7. Congrats on your new book, Lauren! (email subscriber)


  8. What a wonderful idea for a picture book. It looks lovely. Thanks for the pretty post. I subscribe to your blog by email.


  9. This a beautiful book! Thank you for sharing your submission journey. Congratulations on your publication!


  10. What a beautiful story and book. Awesome! Can’t wait to read!


  11. I’ve read this book already and it is absolutely delightful! The text is fun yet poignant and the illustration are perfect.


  12. What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather, Lauren, and such an insightful way to explore the musings of Charles and Etty Darwin.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Another winner from your daily blog. So glad I signed up! They brighten my day. I love the whole idea of this story, and the final product looks just amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is fascinating! Thank you for sharing, Lauren and Kathy. I am completely drawn into both the text and the art. I can’t wait to read and share this book. Wishing you great success, lauren!
    I am a blog subscriber and am sharing on Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for sharing your journey to publication for your beautiful book. I’m an email subscriber and shared:

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Beautiful book, thank you so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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