Q&A with Hillary Daecher and Angie Hohenadel, the Author and Illustrator of SOAR! with Lindsay Bandy

Hi, everyone! I’m excited to introduce you to a local author/illustrator pair

and their beautiful picture book, SOAR!

Soar tells the story of Ramone, a shy ruby-throated hummingbird who’s about to leave the nest for the first time. But his anxiety and fear keep him from taking off as he contemplates all that could go wrong. And you can check it out TODAY at Manheim Community Library!


Author Hillary Daecher graduated from Manheim Central High School.

She has been writing short stories since she was a child. Hi, Hillary!


Illustrator Angie Hohenadel is a high school art teacher

and artist in Lancaster. Hi Angie!




Lindsay: Hillary, as a graduate of Manheim Central, what’s your favorite thing about Manheim? 

Hillary: I have a lot of great memories from growing up, but one of my favorite things about Manheim is the strong sense of community.


Lindsay: When did you start writing/illustrating? Were you a creative kid?

Angie:  I’ve always been interested in art for as long as I can remember. My mom used to bring reams of paper home from her work at Donnelly when I was little and I would draw on every single piece of paper and practice drawing from famous artist’s works of art and from children’s books I had. I remember always being way more interested in images than in words…and I still am. As I grew up my passion in creating just grew and grew having really wonderful art teachers along the way! My mom has told me that she knew I was going to be an artist the first time I started making marks on paper 🙂

Hillary: I started writing when I was very young. I had a three-ring notebook beside my bed that I used to write poems and short stories in. I always had an extremely vivid imagination which helped foster the stories I wrote. When I was young I would make up different characters and tell stories about them too. Yeah, I would say I was always pretty creative.

Lindsay: How did you end up working together? 

Angie: A current art teacher at Warwick High School, Jenna Yanchocik, used to work at Lititz Elementary so she ultimately connected the two of us and it has been a perfect match!

Hillary: I agree with Angie completely, even though we didn’t know each other before beginning this process, after meeting each other and reviewing the other person’s work, we decided to go for it. When we submitted SOAR, we jumped in with both feet not knowing where we would end up. It has been so wonderful to collaborate together, she brings my words to life on the pages.

Lindsay: One of my favorite features of SOAR is the conversation starter section, because it really helps readers to connect with the story—and each other. I thought I would answer two of the questions, and maybe you could, too. Then our readers can share their own answers, either in the comments or at home with their families. Ready? Let’s go! 

Ramone is afraid to fly. Can you remember a time when you were afraid to try something new? If so, what emotions were you feeling? 

Lindsay: I remember being very scared the first time I flew in an airplane! It seemed so strange to be up in the air without any wings, and I was really worried that I would have motion sickness. But I was also excited to go to California!

Hillary: Wow, there are so many possible answers to this question! One that really sticks out is after I graduated from the University of Delaware I moved to  Washington D.C. by myself. I found an apartment online, moved in, and lived by myself for the first time in my life. It was really, really scary but my parents were very supportive. It was such an empowering experience to truly be on my own in a city where I didn’t know many people at all. I loved living in Washington and experiencing all the city had to offer, and while I was there I grew so much as a person. It was a fantastic experience!

Angie: Haha! I feel like I have had SO many in my 41 years on this planet! One recent example I can think of (that is strangely similar to Ramone) is when I was with 14 Warwick high school students on a learning trip in Costa Rica in June of 2019. We went zip lining through the jungle and I was TERRIFIED because I had never done it before. I was super positive to help all of my students with their fears but was experiencing so many emotions myself that made me want to turn around and back out. There were about 14 different connected ziplines and I made the jump off the first one and screamed the whole time…but once I got to the next landing I felt so incredibly proud and safe and exhilarated. After that first one I had so much fun and enjoyed the moment and experience.

Ramone’s mom gives him love and support to help him overcome his fears. Has someone in your life encouraged and supported you to overcome an obstacle? 

Lindsay: The very first time I flew in an airplane, my grandparents were with me. They showed me lots of love and held my hand. They told me about all of the times they had flown in the past, promising me we’d land safely on the other side of the country. And we did!

Hillary: My parents have always been so supportive of my dreams. I always wanted to become a writer and even though I was rejected by book agents, my parents encouraged me to keep trying. Their love and support helped keep the dream alive and I am so thankful for all they’ve done for me. Without their love and support, SOAR would not have been possible.

Angie: My mom has always been my constant in supporting and encouraging me in all I do. She is amazing in so many ways and I don’t know where I would be without her love and encouragement.


Lindsay: Lots of kids and adults will identify with Ramone as he worries about trying something new. We all feel worried sometimes, and 2020 has surely been a stressful year! What is one thing you do to relax when you’re feeling stressed or worried? 

Angie: Working out and being in nature are two things that really help me work through my anxiety, frustrations and stress. I love to do yoga and lift weights at the gym or at home and I go hiking a couple times a week year round with my husband and our dogs. Getting into nature always clears my head.

Hillary: Spending time with my family is a big stress relief. Like many families in 2020 we spent a lot of time together during the shutdown. Instead of stressing about the unknown, we spent time playing games, watching movies and just enjoying being together. My kids and my husband can always make me laugh and help ease any stress. Of course, my other go-to is a great book! I love getting lost in an amazing story.

Lindsay: Hillary, what is your favorite thing about Angie’s illustrations? 

Hillary: I am not sure I can truly describe how much I love the illustrations in SOAR, but here’s my best attempt. From Angie’s first sketch to the last page, she captured the true essence of Ramone and his emotional journey in a spectacular way. I had an idea of what the illustrations might look like as I wrote the story, but Angie’s talent surpassed all expectations. The colors and details jump off the page and enhance the story so beautifully.


Lindsay: Angie, which scene was your favorite to illustrate? 

Angie: My favorite page to illustration is where there are 3 Ramones showing his changing positions as he takes off in flight. It might seem silly but when you spend so much time painting and drawing and thinking about a character you get kind of connected to the story as it unfolds. So when I finally started working on that page I was so happy that Ramone had finally gotten into the air. I remember calling my husband up to my studio to tell him “Ramone was finally flying!” It is a sweet moment in the story and I am proud of how that page turned out!

Lindsay: Ready for our flash favorites? Here we go! Take a deep breath, think fast, and tell us your favorite…. 


Angie: Green

Hillary: Red


Angie: Cashews

Hillary: Peanut butter

Place to read 

Angie: Porch

Hillary: Couch

Time of day 

Angie: 8am

Hillary: Sunset


Angie: Groundhog and Dog (couldn’t decide…love them both so much!)

Hillary: Elephant

Book (for adults or kids) 

Angie: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Hillary: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (adults) The Velveteen Rabbit (kids)

Thanks for joining us and inspiring us all to SOAR through our fears!  

If readers would like to purchase their own copy of SOAR, please visit the publisher’s web site at: https://www.schifferbooks.com/soar-6891.html