One out of every five U.S. residents functions at a "below basic" level of literacy, struggling with tasks such as rea... More
Please Welcome Peter and Brenda
RT: Congratulations on the journey of becoming children's author and illustrator! I have enjoyed our conversation about the journey to It's Just So...
Peter: Thanks, Terry. We are having so much fun.
RT: In our interview on the Family Bookshelf, Brenda talked about different ways to share It's Just So... with a child. It is a great how-to guide for sharing all kinds of books.
Peter: Yes, “picture walking” is something that is easy to do, but sometimes we are in such a rush to get into a book that we forget about it. Asking questions as you read is also great. It helps make reading a shared experience AND you get to hear what your kids think!
It is about taking time to "devour the delicious details" as Brenda says.
RT: Lizzy's first day of school is packed with learning! She tells us a little something about all of the subjects in her day. One of them is geography, and Lizzy learns about animals from Australia. What was it about mammals Down Under that drew you to focus on that part of the animal kingdom?
Peter: Okay. First of all … they are simply fun to draw and the names are fun to say. Another motivation was that Aussie animals are unique to one place on this vast planet. And last but not least, it gave us a wonderful excuse to be “Wombatty.”
RT: Given its back-to-school theme, this is the perfect time to introduce It's Just So... to readers. What are you most looking forward to in sharing the book with children this fall?
Peter: Well, I think I'll let the lead author answer this one!
Brenda: Happily! Of course we hope that our little book finds its way to shelves for "back to school" days, but we really hope that it becomes a "comfort read" for young readers who have jitters about other kinds of new experiences.
It’s Just So… speaks to perspective and having an open mind about anything that is new, different or, best of all, unexpected! Wouldn't it be amazing if we could help children approach all kinds of challenges with enthusiasm, confidence, and joy?
RT: This is Lizzy’s debut as a storybook character. Has she given you ideas on other parts of her life that she wants to share with the world?
Peter: Brenda is way ahead of you. Our concept for Lizzy is that she can playfully help children with their social and emotional growth. For example, in her next tale Lizzy will be exploring and dealing with how “change” impacts her world.
Just as the start of school was the backdrop for this book, the change of seasons (and all the fun an educational aspects that go along with that) will be the backdrop for the next book. Rest assured humor, made up words and colorful characters will help anchor Lizzy’s next adventure.
RT: Your sons are starting their senior year of high school this year. When they were younger, though, what kinds of books did you like to read with them?
Peter: I wasn't much a reader as a boy, so I really discovered books for children more as an adult. I would read with my boys every night. haring those nightly bedtime stories really pulled me into the joy of these literary gems: from Make Way for Ducklings to Green Eggs and Ham, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? to The Giving Tree. On the truly adventurous nights we would tackle Dr Seuss’s Sleep Book and become part of the evening’s "Audio Telly O-Tally O-Count."
Brenda: You're right, we don't get to read with our boys anymore. Reading is still part of our family life, though. Now we recommend books tot hem, and they recommend books to us. When my son was younger, we adored reading rhyming books and any stories where we could use silly voices or “act out” in some way. Dr Seuss, of course, was a huge hit, as were Are You My Mother, Good Night Moon, and Runny Babbit. Later on we devoured books like the Walter Moers series, beginning with The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear.
RT: Peter, you mentioned that you weren't a reader as a boy. When did you become someone who liked books?
Peter: Things really changed when my Sixth Grade teacher pushed me to join the Newberry Book Club in our school. I could not understand why she chose me of all people. But she was quite wise as it turned out. My interest was piqued and I ultimately pursued English Literature as my college major! My favorites were the late 19th and early 20th Century works of European and US novelists. That said, upon becoming a dad, I discovered the true literary masters were Shel Silverstein. E.B. White and the Honorable Dr. Seuss.
Brenda: Sadly, I was not a big reader as a kid either. My recollection is that reading was something I had to do for school that was followed by reports and tests. It wasn’t until I became a Mom that I truly discovered the joy of reading. We couldn’t get enough of that wonderful mind expansion and bonding at reading time… which was as many times a day as we could squeeze in.
RT: We couldn't agree more! Books are just the "backdrop" to amazing, shared experiences. Thank you both for joining us in the Reading Tub and sharing your stories, and Lizzy's too!
RT: Read more about Lizzy's colorific, fizz-astro-fantastical story on the Family Bookshelf.