What was your favorite childhood children’s book?
My favorite book from childhood is Harold and the Purple Crayon.
What drew you to it? It is such a simple little book. A boy uses his purple crayon to create worlds and then has all kinds of adventures in those worlds. The idea of creating worlds appealed to me as a child. It still does as an adult! I think that is the thing I most enjoy about writing - the ability to create worlds and get lost in the story.
What is your favorite children’s movie?
One of the first movies I remember watching as a child is Wizard of Oz. In those days (when we only had a handful of TV channels!), the movie was shown once a year and it was such a treat to sit and watch it with my parents. I still get choked up at the beginning of the movie when Judy Garland sings Over the Rainbow, and I still think those flying monkeys are frightening!
What brought you into the wonderful world of creating children’s books?
My granddaughter, Anna! I never thought I would ever write a book for children. Honestly, I’ve always been so focused on writing novels that it never crossed my mind to write any other kind of book. Then, one day Anna and I were watching birds through the window. She was only two, but was fascinated by the various kinds of birds. I retrieved a book for identifying birds and showed her some of the pictures. She loved it! We sat together for over an hour looking at a book that was written for adults. As we were looking at the book, I realized how much Anna enjoyed learning about the birds, even at the age of two. At that moment, I decided to buy her a toddler book about birds.
Later that same day, I looked online for some type of well-illustrated book that would also be educational. I wanted something with realistic photos and text that she could understand. I found nothing. Immediately, I started thinking about writing a book for Anna about birds. Within a short time that idea became the illustrated book for preschool and toddler kids, Let’s Learn About Birds. I was so excited about the idea that I created a series of eight books and named it the Curious Toddler Series. All of the books, of course, are dedicated to Anna. The series includes the titles: Let’s Learn About Dogs, Let’s Learn About Cats, Let’s Learn About Birds, Let’s Learn About Things to Drive, Let’s Learn About Jungle Animals, Let’s Learn About Wild Animals, and Let’s Learn About Farm Animals.
The series has been very well received. Someone just did a review of Let’s Learn About Dogs and wrote that their grandchildren asked them to read the book over and over again, and they are currently in the process of naming all of the dogs in the book. Really, it doesn’t get any better than that! I love that someone is sitting down somewhere and reading one of my books to a child. It brings me tremendous joy.
What is your current project? Tell us about it.
I just published a two-book project, again inspired by my granddaughter, Anna. I wanted to create a book that makes children feel loved - a book that a parent/grandparent/relative could read to a child and express how very much that child is loved. A story that would tell a child that he or she is loved no matter what they do or how they act. I started working with a wonderful illustrator who lives in London, Charlotte Ellis. Via email, I shared my ideas with Charlotte and we worked together to create not only a curly-haired little girl (Anna has curly hair!), but also an adorable little boy. The final result is two beautiful books (both with the same text), one featuring a boy in all of the illustrations, and one featuring a girl in all of the illustrations - I Love You When (For Girls) and I Love You When (For Boys). Charlotte knocked these out of the park. I love these books.
I read both books to Anna (who is now three) for the first time last week. As soon Anna saw the cover of the version for girls, she said, “That’s me!” She asked me to read the girl version to her, then the boy version, and then the girl version again. Just like the “Let’s Learn About…” books, the “I Love You When” books are a hit with Anna. My job is done. At least until Anna inspires another book for children!
What advice do you have for the little ones out there?
Enjoy every day. Spend a lot of time playing. Remember, everyone needs love. Be kind. Be patient. Give lots of hugs and kisses. It is the same advice I would give adults.
I Love You When (For Girls) http://www.amazon.com/Love-You-When-Girls-ebook/dp/B00AEVUG7C
I Love You When (For Boys) http://www.amazon.com/Love-You-When-Boys-ebook/dp/B00AESEZ54
Let's Learn About Dogs http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Learn-About-Dogs-Curious-Toddler/dp/1475291531
Thank you Cheryl for stopping by today. Wonderful interview!