Sunday, April 15, 2012
Gosh, do you guys remember back-to-school shopping? I LOVED back-to-school shopping. Choosing new notebooks, new crayons and other art supplies, new pencils and pens, new shoes. . . and of course, new clothes!!!
A Dress for Me! written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Mike Laughead (Amazon Children's Publishing, 2012), the companion book to Shoes for Me! (Amazon Children's Publishing, 2011), is a fun and RELEVANT picture book that captures some of the excitement - and frustration - of back-to-school shopping.
Click here to read my review of Shoes for Me! and click here to read my first interview with Sue Fliess. Then check out the book trailer below for more about A Dress for Me!
Finished watching the book trailer? Don't you just love Sue Fliess' rhymes?
Sue steps Into the Wardrobe again today to talk about A Dress for Me! Welcome back, Sue! =D
Why do picture books matter? What keeps you inspired and motivated to write picture books?
First, all books matter! But I think every kind of book serves a different purpose – and all are important. A picture book (and I do not have a background in education) is the first type of book children are exposed to, so it’s really helping develop their little spongy and curious minds, and help them make sense of the world around them. Before they even understand what the words mean, they are absorbing the illustrations – but at the same time, making a connection between the words and the illustrations in some way – and that is a powerful thing. They are long enough to hold a child’s attention, but short and engaging enough for them to want to read them over and over. I can’t think of another vehicle that does this as well as a picture book.
I love writing picture books. When I’m writing something longer and I’m struggling, my reward is to visit a picture book manuscript I’m working on and tinker. (Though, many may call that procrastinating!) I write a lot of my stories in rhyme, and frankly, it’s simply fun to write them! It is so satisfying when I get that one turn of phrase just right, or I’m able to convey a storyline in one stanza. I’m around kids a lot – my own and my friends’ children too – and it’s something about the innocence of the age that picture books target that keeps me striving to make each story better than the last. Also, the competition is fierce, so I can’t let myself settle on anything. If I’m not feeling the love for part of a story, I know it’s not going to slip by unnoticed – by a publisher, but especially by a clever kid. Thankfully I have an honest critique group! I like the challenge of writing a story in very few words and now that I’m published, I feel I have a responsibility to children to write the best stories I can.
Why did you write a companion book to Shoes for Me!?
Why not? No, seriously, when I sold Shoes for Me!, I had a bunch of other manuscripts in the file. I’d actually written a couple other for Me! books, but they were too similar to what my publisher already had in the works. So after A Pet for Me! and A Sport for Me! were turned down I got smarter about it and pitched several ideas to my editor to see if anything resonated. They were open to seeing A Dress for Me! so I got to work. I was thrilled when they made an offer! I have a few other ideas up my sleeve, so hopefully you haven’t seen the last of these books.
I'm definitely looking forward to more for Me! books!
What do you hope children will take away from Shoes for Me! and A Dress for Me!?
Honestly, my only real hope is that children think they are fun, can relate to the topics on some level, enjoy the illustrations, and want to read them more than once. There are no heavy underlying teaching messages — I only hope they convey that it’s okay to be yourself, and that they can be empowered to make decisions even at a young age.
What are some of your favorite responses to the books?
From a mom: “My child has your book by her bed and asks to read it every night. It’s her new favorite.” From a 5 year old girl: “I counted the number of shoes. It’s 132.” “My favorite is the dress that shimmers.” And probably two of my favorites from a school visit: “Now that you are a famous author, do you live in a mansion?” I wish! The other: “Do you have an agent, and does she make more money than you?” That was from a third grader! [Whoa. *whispers* And what's the answer to that question?]
Do you remember the very first time you chose a dress for yourself? What was your favorite dress as a child?
I remember many shopping occasions with my mom and sister, mostly for back-to-school clothes. My mom never went crazy with the shopping, so we actually really appreciated getting new clothes. I loved that feeling of reinventing myself with new outfits. As if I had the right clothes, I could do anything or be anything I wanted to be. I don’t remember the very first time I chose a dress for myself, but I do remember a long plaid dress (we’re talking 70’s style) that I loved, and also a nightgown with flowers on it that I’d wished was a real dress I could wear to school. I have a picture of the plaid dress, which I wore to a photo shoot. Not surprisingly, I’m holding a book as a prop!
Awesome, Sue! Thank you so much for sharing that picture. =D
What is next for you? I read something about a delicious birthday book!
Yes! I have been having an unbelievable year. First, my third picture book comes out this July, Tons of Trucks, which is a touch and feel novelty book about all things trucks, with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books. I’m very excited to see it come to life, as it was one of the first manuscripts I’d written. This February I sold three more books! One is a picture book about a child who is gluten-intolerant celebrating a birthday, called Celebrate Me, Gluten Free, to Albert Whitman & Co., set to come out in Fall 2013. I also sold two stories to Random House, which will become Little Golden Books! Robots, Robots, Everywhere! will come out in Fall 2013, and A Pirate’s Life will come out sometime in 2014.
Celebrate Me, Gluten Free sounds FABULOUS. I don't think there's ever been a book like it before.
Thank you so much for talking picture books and dress shopping with me, Sue.