Longtime friends and collaborators Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (Princess in Black; Friends) launched their latest work (their first picture book together), Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn, on March 23. The hour-long event that kicked off their virtual book tour was moderated by Maureen Palacios from Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, Calif., and included a reading from the book, a drawing demo with Pham, and a q&a session with attendees. Hale and Pham discussed the first story and drawings they created as a child, their award-winning titles (Hale’s Princess Academy received a Newbery Honor and Pham’s Bear Came Along won a Caldecott Honor), as well as major themes of Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn, such as celebrating the magic of friendship and believing in yourself. We’ve gathered some highlights from the event.

Shannon Hale (bottom) and LeUyen Pham (top r.) joined Palacios (top l.) from Once Upon a Time for the virtual launch event for Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn on March 23.

During their presentation, Hale and Pham discussed their childhood and reimagined their younger selves as kitty-corns.

Hale and Pham didn’t know each other as kids, but believe they would have been best friends growing up, as seen here through the power of Photoshop.

The author and illustrator discussed their inspiration for Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn, their longtime collaboration, and working together as a team.

Pham showed attendees how to draw a kitty-corn during the live illustration demo.

Once Upon a Time owner Maureen Palacios and manager Jessica Palacios dressed as kitty-corns. Photo: Isabel Lawler.

Pham in front of Once Upon a Time’s window display. She went to the store on March 24 to sign 300 books.