Monthly Archives: August 2016

I Will Not Eat You: Interview with Adam Lehrhaupt and Scott Magoon PLUS Giveaway

i-will-not-eat-you-9781481429337_hrDylan: Hey Adam! Hey Scott! Thanks for joining me here to talk about your upcoming 2016 title, I Will Not Eat You!

Scott: Hi, Dylan. You’re quite welcome, good to be here; thanks for having us.

Adam: Hey Dylan! (Waves to Dylan.) Thank you so much for hosting us. Super excited to be here with you. Hi Scott. (Waves to Scott.)

Dylan: Tell us a little bit about I Will Not Eat You!

Adam: I Will Not Eat You! is a story about breaking through barriers. Self-imposed barriers, like those between Theodore, the main character, and the world outside his cave. And interpersonal barriers, like making new friends. Okay, that’s maybe a bit too much mumbo jumbo. You probably wanted some plot, right? Theodore spends all of his time hiding from the world in his cave. He sees everything as either a possible meal or not worth his time. That is, until something new comes up to his cave. A boy. And instead of leaving Theodore alone, the boy encourages Theodore to leave his cave. Well, encourages isn’t maybe the right word. But, in any case, Theodore leaves his cave. And he’s none too happy about it.

Scott: I WILL NOT EAT YOU is a suspenseful, funny tale of the woods—it reads like a little stage play in your hands. Its a little Three Billy Goats Gruff, a little Three Little Pigs, part Where the Wild Things Are and part Pete’s Dragon. It continuously pulls you along as the plot drives page turns—and beyond that, Theo’s voice and animal sound effects will be fun to create at story time. I’ve read it to kids on my school visits and they are enthralled by it. They want to find out what Theo is and how it all works out in the end. 

Dylan: What was it like to work with each other?

Scott: For me initially, Adam was a bit like the eyes in the cave on the cover of I WILL NOT EAT YOU. What was he all about, I wondered. I knew Adam only by way of his book WARNING: DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK which was wonderfully mysterious, a little spooky—already the stuff of legend really—and so I wasn’t sure what to make of him. But after a few back-and-forths with him by way of Sylvie Frank (our editor at Paula Wiseman Books) I began to realize that he was much more like the inquisitive and mischievous boy character of I WILL NOT EAT YOU: poking around at the text to see how we could make the book even better. After that I was much more at ease and loved how he shaped the book well into the illustration phase. We’ve been in touch since and hope to meet up next month in person for the first time. Not in a cave though.

Adam: Oh, wow! It was SO AWESOME! Scott is such an amazing illustrator and I was a bit nervous at first. I’m a HUGE fan of his other books. The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot! Spoon! Mostly Monsterly! I LOVE his style. So, when Paula (Paula Wiseman at S&S) said Scott was going to illustrate this, I totally did a happy dance. Right there in the coffee shop. And it only got better from there. His sketches were brilliant. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how the book has turned out.

Dylan: Have you always been into writing/illustrating?

Adam: I’ve been writing stories since I was in the second grade. My first was called The Little Red Plane. It wasn’t a very good story. I really wanted it to be The Little Blue Plane, but Mike had the blue crayon. He wouldn’t give it to me. So red it was. I’ve continued writing over the years, and now I have the great pleasure of calling it my job. I love it.

Scott: Right after college I was burned out on writing and drawing and sort of withdrew into my own creative cave for awhile. I had been earning my degree in English (constantly writing, reading), working on drawing and writing my weekly comic strip (called Duct Tape Man) and needed a short break. Short break turned into something like 3 years. Other than that though, absolutely yes.

Dylan: What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Adam: Can I pick two? I’m going pick two. Is that alright? I hope so. I’m picking two. Does anyone else hear Anthrax singing “Breaking the Law”? Okay, I digress. So, first is seeing the initial sketches from the illustrator. It’s unbelievable to see your characters come to life. But I also really love seeing the faces of listeners as they hear my stories. I do a lot of Skype visits with classrooms, and watching the students as I read is a wonderfully gratifying experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Scott: As I’m drawing my characters I see them come to life—and seeing them before anyone else does is pretty cool. Drawing Theo from I WILL NOT EAT YOU is a great example because he took on a couple of different appearances as I was designing him and I wasn’t sure what he’d wind up looking like until very late in the process. Another exciting part is building in some storytelling structures that help tell the story. For I WILL NOT EAT YOU it was the slow but deliberate zoom in on the cave from far away and each spread gets progressively closer. The reason for this is twofold: it slowly builds tension and brings the reader right up into the scene. Its fairly subtle—but maybe because of that it was exciting to be able to include that device.

Dylan: What inspires your creativity?

Adam: I get inspiration from all kinds of places. I read a LOT. Not just picture books and kid lit. I read all kinds of stuff. There are some really wonderful books out there, with great characters. Another thing I love is the way writers are developing their plots in movies and TV shows. There’s a lot to be learned there. I also get inspired by personal experiences. For instance, the first draft of I Will Not Eat You was written on a 6 hour car ride with my kids. I think you can see a bit of this in the interplay between Theodore and the other animals that approach his cave. Maybe even here the faint echoes of tiny voices asking, “Are we there yet?”

Scott: A little of everything—that’s my goal, anyway towards being in a state of constant inspireativity. From an artistic standpoint, I try to constantly “input stuff” in the hopes it’ll inspire me. For instance, I’ll read, visit museums, walk in the woods, cook—I even explored a couple of caves recently. Something that’s a little out of the ordinary or different. Wander. I work in new things of course but old and familiar things can also inspire me at the right time—movies I’ve seen before but that take on new meaning now that time has gone by. I also have a bunch of neat stuff in my studio that inspires me: toys, antiques, some of my childhood artifacts and so on. From a practical standpoint, paying my mortgage every month greatly inspires me. Last minute panic also inspires me.

Dylan: What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

Adam: I like to read urban fiction—vampires, Weres, Witches, Wizards. There’s usually at least two or three examples sitting on my desk. Yeah, guilty pleasure.

Scott: I’m not a fan of tuna salad. 

Dylan: If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

Adam: I’d still be doing something creative. I was an Art Director before pursuing this career, so I’d probably be doing that. Or a movie star. I think I’d make a great henchman. Like Oddjob from Goldfinger. I just need one of those cool hats. If anyone out there has one, let me know.

Scott: I’d be telling stories somehow—maybe singing American songbook standards. Have you ever heard a singer sing you a truly compelling and believable story in song? If done right, its remarkable; really powerful. That skill interests me. Tony Bennett can do it. Hardly anyone does it anymore—its almost a lost art. 

Dylan: What can readers expect from you in the future? Any other pairings as an author/illustrator duo?

Adam: I have a busy schedule next year with four books coming out. The first, I Don’t Draw, I Color (illustrated by Felicita Sala) comes out March 21st. It’s about being creative in your own way, not worrying about what other people do. That will be followed by my second chicken book, Chicken in School (iIllustrated by Shahar Kober) in May, Wordplay (illustrated by Jared Chapman) a playground battle between Noun and Verb in July, and Idea Jar (illustrated by Deb Pilutti) next Fall.

While I’m not currently paired with Scott for another book, I would love to work with him again. (Heads to the desk to start writing.)

Scott: They can expect me to continue to do books that offer something unique to my readers. Maybe its offbeat, maybe its funny, maybe upsetting but ultimately all of them will offer some hope as a core message. That things will be ok. Just like I WILL NOT EAT YOU does. Would love another Adam pairing! 

Dylan: Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Adam: If someone dressed as a knight happens to come into your cave, maybe try not to eat them. You just might find something better.

Scott: I’d like to say thanks for reading and to keep reading this blog!

Would you like to bid on an original print from I WILL NOT EAT YOU? Visit the Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival auction at http://www.32auctions.com/plumcreek2016.

Would you like to WIN A COPY OF I WILL NOT EAT YOU?
To be entered to win, either comment on this blog, or retweet the interview on Twitter and tag @dylanteut!

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Unexpected Happy Endings

Candlewick sent me a copy of A Bike Like Sergio’s a few weeks back. I read it almost immediately, but it has taken me some time to pull my thoughts together about such an important book.

I predicted that in this story, the boy wanted a bike like his friend Sergio’s, and he would find a way to make the money.

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Spoiler Alert: The boy does not get a bike at the end of the story. But it is still a happy ending! And that’s what I love about it.

Ruben probably lives in poverty. We can infer that by the story. It seems like all of his friends have bikes, and he would like nothing more than one just like theirs. Unfortunately, his family cannot afford it.

When Ruben is at the store one day, a woman drops a bill. Before Ruben can get to her, he realizes it’s a $100 bill- and he hangs on to it and ponders about what the right thing to do is. He could use it to buy a bike… but of course, he’d have to cough up a story about where he got the money.

And so Ruben faces a tough situation. He sees the woman again in the store and gives her back the $100. It was probably very difficult. The woman tells Ruben that she was so thankful, and she really needed that money herself to buy groceries.

I predicted that Ruben would go home, tell his parents about the money, and they’d surprise him with the bike. But that doesn’t happen!

In reality, we like books to end nice and neat and with a happy ending. But that’s not what life is like for children learning right and wrong, and needs and wants. Children have to face the fact that even though they did something good and kind, there probably won’t be a big reward for it.

And that’s okay.

Because in the end Ruben is happy. He’s happy he did the right thing. He didn’t get exactly what he wanted- but he still found a way to be happy. And that’s an important lesson for children- you don’t have to get exactly what you want to find happiness.

This book releases this fall from Candlewick and I highly recommend it.

BE QUIET! An Exclusive Look at Ryan Higgins’ Spring 2017 Book

All Rupert the mouse wants is to star in a beautiful, wordless picturebook. One that’s visually stimulating! With scenic pictures! And style! He has plenty of ideas about what makes a great book, but his friends just WON’T. STOP. TALKING.
 
Children and adults alike will chuckle at this comedic take on bookmaking from acclaimed author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.
Ryan stopped by to answer a few questions about his Spring 2017 book, which is set to release April 4, 2017 from Disney-Hyperion.

Haven’t I seen these mice somewhere before?

Yes. They take over Bruce’s house in the next Bruce book, Hotel Bruce. Also, Dylan, you’re one of the few people to see my older work (from before I was published). I’ve been working with these mice, in some form or other, since I was a kid.

Where did you get the idea for this book?

I sketched up the first draft of this four years ago. I sat down to make a picture book without words and the characters had other ideas.

What makes this book unique?

I’m terrible at talking up my books… I suppose this book is different than most in that the characters take over. Approaching the 4th wall is not a new concept, but I don’t think anyone has done it before with a mouse wearing glasses and a mustache. I could be wrong, though. I’ll Google it later.

What are you working on now (besides your cool writing shed?) ?

Right. I’m personally building a studio in my backyard. I hope to be making books in it by this winter, but building buildings takes a long time. I still can’t think of the perfect name for the place…

Besides the carpentry work, I’m working on Bruce’s next adventure, but it’s top secret. I can’t talk about it — except to say it has a scene with a motorbike!

Anything else you’d like to share?
Nah. I’m pretty boring.
And now, here’s the cover…..!

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#pb10for10 Books I Need to Share

Honestly, this time of year is difficult for me. As I see other teachers setting up their classrooms and picking out which books to share with their class during the first few days and weeks, I long for a classroom to read these books to! (I do share them with my Reading Methods and Children’s Lit classes, though!)

So… if I still had a first grade classroom, I’d be sure to squeeze these books into my schedule within the first few weeks, because once I read them, I knew I needed to share them.

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Kelly DiPucchio Interview

Hey Kelly! Thanks for joining me here to talk about your upcoming 2016 titles!

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Photo credit by Tayer Marie

Tell us a little bit about One Little, Two Little, Three Little Children.

Thanks for inviting me, Dylan! One Little, Two Little, Three Little Children came to me out of the blue one day when I heard the opening lines of the book as a song in my head. I jotted down the lines and it didn’t take long before the whole song had pretty much sung itself. As sometimes happens, I got sidetracked with other projects and the manuscript remained tucked away in my computer files for nearly six years. One day I was scrolling through my saved documents and I came across the file. When I read it, I was touched by its simplicity and sweetness and I felt like it had a message the world needed to hear. I think it was only a few weeks later my agent, Steven Malk, sold it to Balzer + Bray. Mary Lindquist did a beautiful job illustrating the book and I’m very proud of the way it turned out. I hope it conveys the idea that families, no matter how they look or how they’re structured, are more alike than they are different.

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Tell us a little bit more about Dragon Was Terrible!

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Oh, Dragon. Where do I begin? He’s terrible. He scribbles in books. He plays tricks on the guards. And he even takes candy from baby unicorns. I had a great time writing this story. Some stories, like babies, come into the world with big voices and this was one of those stories. I don’t ever plan on using author intrusion in any given piece so it’s often a surprise to me when the narrator in my head ends up in the text. Greg Pizzoli illustrated the book and his art is hilarious. I think my favorite part is Dragon’s graffiti on the castle. I’m looking forward to sharing this book with kids this fall because it’s terribly fun.

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Tell us a little bit more about Everyone Loves Cupcake!

Everyone Loves Cupcake is the follow up to Everyone Loves Bacon published by FSG. While there are some similarities between the two stories there are a few big differences. The illustrator, Eric Wight, and I both agree that we think Cupcake might even be funnier than Bacon but I guess that’s up to readers to decide.

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And, there’s quite a buzz over your first 2017 release, Antoinette.

What can you share with us about that book?  Well, as you can tell from the title and the cover this companion book to Gaston features one of the poodle puppies. But Gaston fans needn’t worry because our favorite Frenchie makes several appearances in the new story. I felt a great deal of pressure writing this follow up book because I knew expectations would be high. I didn’t want to just retell Gaston’s story from a different point of view. I felt like the plot in the second book had to be unique and stand on its own four paws. Christian Robinson’s illustrations, once again, are exquisitely charming and elevate Antoinette’s adventure to a whole new level. I can’t wait to share the story with readers on February 14th, 2017.

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Have you always been into writing?

Hmm….not really. I have always been into reading. My interest in writing didn’t develop until I was in college, although I was always a fairly competent writer. I think most voracious readers naturally become decent writers because we’re subconsciously absorbing good storytelling skills with every great book we read.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Of course there are a lot of things I love about my job but most exciting for me would have to be seeing the art for a book for the first time. I’m always fascinated to see how an illustrator takes the words I write and then builds an entire world out of them.

What inspires your creativity? The magic beans in my coffee! Also meditation, other books, and nature. Even as a child I required a lot of alone time. When my appearance schedule is packed it definitely hinders my creativity. I’ve learned over the years that I absolutely need to create quiet space for my writing. I’ve never been the kind of person who could write in coffee shops or with music playing in the background. Ironically, even going to a writer’s retreat would be a creative road block for me. Only my dogs are allowed in my office when I’m writing!

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us? With the exception of picture books, I pretty much only read sacred texts and books about spirituality and the paranormal now.

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing? I’d probably be selling incense and essential oils in some bohemian crystal shop.

What can readers expect from you in the future, after Antoinette? I have a picture book about a brave raccoon coming out with S&S/Atheneum called Super Manny. It’s adorably and wonderfully illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. I’m also super excited about a new book I’m doing with Zachoriah OHora and Disney-Hyperion called Poe Won’t Go. It’s about a stubborn elephant who blocks the main road in town, causing an uproar from its citizens.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog? I’d like to leave your readers with this important advice from Cookie. It comes from my forthcoming title, Everyone Loves Cupcake.

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