Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Thanks for joining us in another interview with one of our amazing honorees. For this session, we were able to speak with Robin Hollo, the Mom’s Choice Award-winning author of How Many Kittens Can One Girl Have? Robin knows that kids and kittens just seem to go together, but asks young readers: Can there be too much of a good thing? Robin’s love for cats and her volunteer work at shelters make her the perfect author to answer that question. Through this wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated book, young children will learn about the joys — and responsibilities — of pet ownership.
MCA: Robin, we’re delighted that you can speak with us today. First, please tell us about yourself.
I am the youngest of seven children. I grew up in Rhode Island and later moved to Texas in 1998. My husband and I love to travel the world and look for locations where we can engage in animal adventures specifically. We love interacting with different animals and learning about them and their habitat, and we have so many funny stories from it all.
However, through all our travels and encounters, our favorite animals will always be our rescue cats at home! I do love to bake and dabble in many types of crafting when I am not working at my full-time job in Technology or writing children’s books. In fact, The Enchanted Hollo began as a place to share my baking and crafting projects, and only in 2021 did it become my official website for all of my children’s books. I have a strong background in technology, marketing, and finance and currently, I manage my own website, marketing, and financial needs for The Enchanted Hollo. It’s a busy life but I love it! Family, friends, and colleagues often refer to me as a Renaissance Woman!
MCA: With so many different interests, what inspired you to become a writer?
I found my love for writing in 1980 when I was in ninth grade. I had always loved English (straight A’s) and I landed in this advanced English class with an amazing English teacher. He inspired my creativity and love for writing and encouraged me then to think about writing as a career and to publish my works. I remember I was tickled pink when he asked for a copy of one of my assignments where we were asked to write a short children’s story in essay form. He asked for a copy to bring home to his children to read. That small essay inspired me and blossomed into my third book, Skeedaddle Chronicles – Tom’s Tale. While I continued to write, squirreling away my work year after year, I didn’t decide to publish any of my work until 2021. I felt it was time to share some of my stories and hopefully along the way inspire someone to read more, learn more, and perhaps even write a story of their own.
MCA: It’s wonderful to hear how school teachers can inspire their students in this way. What was your inspiration for writing How Many Kittens Can One Girl Have?
I have always been encouraged to write about what I know or what I love. I definitely love animals of all kinds, but I have a special affinity for kittens! Over the years we have learned about how cats can be very territorial, but — given the opportunity — the cats tend to let you know the natural limit to the number of cats “one girl can have” to ensure that we maintain a happy and healthy home for all involved! Our rule of thumb is one cat per bedroom!
I love writing for children and inspiring them, but also leaving them with a life lesson they can carry with them. I think it’s important that children have the opportunity to learn important life lessons through reading and understanding why there are certain limits imposed on them. It seems only natural that my love and understanding of cats would make a great picture book for younger children who are starting to find interest in a pet of their own.
MCA: What are some of the key lessons, then, that young readers will find in this book?
I love to inspire young minds. I find children have amazing imaginations and if you take the time to engage them, you will find a very fun (often funny) but always interesting conversation. I feel How Many Kittens Can One Girl Have? gives parents a nice lead-in for a conversation with their children about responsible pet ownership. It touches on limitations and why they are important in a fun and bright book. When I read the book to children at local schools or libraries, I always pause to ask them what they think Pearl should do. We later take the time to talk about not only pet ownership but about making the right decisions when things go wrong. It’s always a fun and interesting conversation! I personally believe it’s critical to engage children in these kinds of discussions at a young age to help them be more outgoing and successful in life.
MCA: Encouraging kids to take ownership not only of responsibilities but also decision-making about their pets sounds like a win-win. Now let’s turn to The Enchanted Hollo — is there an “enchantment” aspect to all your books?
The Enchanted Hollo is a play on two things. First, my last name is Hollo and the name evokes the thought of a woodsy hollow, which sounds magical and mysterious. It seemed only natural to add “Enchanted,” since I believe books should enchant the reader’s mind. All of my books have a sense of magical enchantment to them as well, some more subtly than others. In this book, Pearl is able to communicate with and understand all the kittens. In others, like A Halloween Night Caper, the enchantment comes with the mysterious tale of a Halloween night adventure of five school friends. In Skeedaddle Chronicles, we meet a small boy named Ben who is able to understand the farm animals — and they all work together to save Tom Turkey! My newest book, which is in the works, is rich with magical enchantment where our main character is transported magically to another place where… well, I’ll leave the details for next time.
MCA: Are your books all part of a series or can they stand alone?
My Kitten books are all stand-alone. I have three versions of the book: one where Pearl is white, one where she is Black, and the most recent, where Pearl is Spanish (the book is actually translated into Spanish as well). Other books I have written have the unique quality of being either stand-alone or part of series. The Skeedaddle Chronicles will be a series of three books. The first is already out and is called Tom’s Tale. The Skeedaddle Chronicle books will be written so that a child can read them in any order and/or pick just one story to read that would not require them to read others in the series. However, they do follow along the same farm story line with the lead character, Skeedaddle the squirrel, telling all the tales. I am working on book 2 for The Skeedaddle Chronicles now. I have been thinking about adding to The Halloween Night Caper with another book or two, but that one is on a back burner for now. The newest book (still all hush-hush) is in the works and will be a series of three books. I have a co-author for this book, and we are about halfway through our first draft. It is going to be AMAZING!
MCA: If you could ensure that readers of How Many Kittens Can One Girl Have? walk away with a single main lesson, what would it be?
I think I would like readers to take away the more subtle message that even when our best intentions go wrong, there is always a way to make things right. Kindness and consideration for our animal friends is always important to remember. Our pets cannot speak for themselves so we often have to stop to consider how they must feel and what we can do to support them and keep them healthy and happy.
MCA: What kind of response from readers have you received?
Children have loved hearing Pearl’s story over and over again. It’s simple, short, and has a big heart. They have loved how the illustrations accompany the story beautifully and the kittens inevitably look like someone’s kitten in the crowd! Parents have loved the short bedtime story and the message it brings to children about responsible pet ownership. One of my favorite messages I receive from someone that sums up the book nicely is, “It’s a beautiful picture book with a great message and a really big heart.”
MCA: You do volunteer work at animal shelters. Would you tell us more about that? Do you recommend that people get cats from shelters rather than buy them?
I am a huge advocate of volunteering and donating to animal shelters. If you want to have a great weekend, volunteering at an animal shelter is the best way. You can socialize kittens and puppies to help ensure they are not afraid and learn to be more friendly, so they find good homes! Other days I help clean cages, feed animals, or even wash and fold blankets. I run an annual food drive at the technology company I work for, and we donate hundreds of pounds of food each year.
With the exception of one feral cat, all of our cats have come from shelters. We find them to be so grateful to have found a home with us and we are equally grateful for the years of love and fun we share with them. In fact, the name of Pearl’s cat, Nugget, is the name of our youngest kitty. He was found trapped in a wall at an apartment complex. At three weeks old he needed a foster, and we took him in with the understanding we would keep the little guy. I find it impossible to foster! I just fall in love with them all! I bottle-fed him every two to three hours, and he and I are bonded like a mother and son. He is a unique little cat and I wanted to honor him by using his name in the book. I often let the kids I am reading to see a picture of the “real” Nugget and they just love the fact he is a “real” cat!
MCA: There’s no question that volunteering can be so rewarding, and the need is undoubtedly vast. What’s next for you, personally and professionally?
Personally, I am looking forward to a beach vacation at the end of summer with some close friends. I have been working hard to bring new books to life and doing book signings for my current ones, which are all posted on my website www.theenchantedhollo.com. I am really looking forward to a week of sun and fun!
Professionally, I work full-time at a leading technology company and was just awarded one of the highest honors “Hundred Percent Club.” That and my recent Mom’s Choice Award have really been humbling. I am so grateful to share my success with readers. In addition, I was just awarded 5 Story Monster Approved Awards for How Many Kittens Can One Girl Have? and A Halloween Night Caper. Currently, I have the two books I mentioned that I am working on. The next book in the “Skeedaddle Chronicles” and a VERY exciting new book that I am writing with my co-author, that will turn into a series of three magical books. The interesting part about this new series is you can almost believe it could happen to you… Keep an eye on my website for more details!
MCA: Congratulations on your latest honors, Robin! Thanks again for joining us here. We wish you the very best in all your amazing endeavors!
You can learn more about Robin Hollo and her award-winning book, How Many Kittens Can One Girl Have? by visiting her MCA Shop pages. Autographed copies of my books are available here:
- “A Halloween Night Caper!”
- “How Many Kittens Can One Girl Have?”
- Skeedaddle Chronicles – Tom’s Tale
- How Many Kittens Can Pearl Have?