Sunday, September 30, 2012

Great Children's Book Classics, Reprise

Have a look at several books that are worthy of a reprise.  These have weathered time and children's ever changing tastes reflected by society at large. 

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

This stylish series is about the very resourceful Elmer Elevator, who sets off to rescue a baby dragon.

Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans

“In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines… the smallest one was Madeline.”  A charming, timeless story for generations of children, Madeline is just whimsical enough to satisfy kids' wishes and dreams.

Frog and Toad, Arnold Lobel

This is the most interesting pair of storybook friends I know, and their friendship is endlessly appealing.  In fact, they remind me of a classic British book or film about two friends who are so comfortable with each other that everyone wants to be their friend, too!  Frog, who is eternally friendly and Toad, endlessly grumpy, entertain and amuse folks of all ages. 

Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne

In my opinion, this is the loveliest children's book out there.  Traditional and timeless, this whimsy is genius in every way.  Kids relate to its simplicity and to the characters and to the marvelous illustrations.  A book for every child for all time.  

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Betty MacDonald

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is a woman who lives in an upside down house in a town filled with misbehaving children.

Luckily, Mrs. Piggle- Wiggle is the proud owner of a magical chest left to her by her pirate husband, which contains a variety of peculiar cures for things like bad table manners and truancy.

Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Once again, every little girl's wish--to be placed in that Conestoga wagon and ride into Little House adventures!  How cool is that?  For that reason alone, this is one of my favorites.  It timelessness, believability and character strength of the people who inhabit the pages make it an on-going delight to young and older.

Do yourself a favor, and have another peek at some or all of these books.  Yes, they can be cross-over reads for kids and parents.  Give it a try!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Margot Finke, Author--Busy as a Mama Grizzley Bear!

It is my great pleasure to showcase children's author, Margot Finke and her exciting new book series on the blog today!  Margot is a fellow Guardian Angel Publishing author and a good friend.  A U.S. citizen, she was born in Australia, and memories of and experiences from that lovely country colors much of what she writes for kids.

NS  I am enchanted by your new book, Margot!  Where did you get the idea?
MF  It all began when I was a teacher’s aide.  I told stories about Australia and its unique animals to second graders, and my teacher friend said I should write them down.  I did, and the rest is history.  Mama Grizzly Bear, along with six other rhyming books, form my Wild and Wonderful series.  They tell fun facts about animals from the US and Australia.  Originally ebooks, with a publisher in Australia, all 6 are now with Guardian Angel Publishing ( GAP). They will still be available as ebooks, but will also be published as soft cover books.  Mama Grizzly is the first to jump into soft cover format, and the rest will follow over time.   I am thrilled with this wonderful opportunity from GAP.
NS  You are an American by way of Australia, where you grew up.  Many of your writings reflect your rich Australian heritage. Please tell us about your time as an Australian child and how that has well and truly influenced your writing career.
MF  The old saying is true, mate: You can take the woman out of Down-under, but you can’t take Down-under out of the woman. I have actually written a book about this, titled “Down-under Calling.” It tells about a grandmother in Australia and her grandson in Oregon.  It features letters back and forth between the two of them, interspersed with the problems they both must face in their daily lives.  The grandson is reluctant to write at first, but he and his friend soon fall under the spell of grandma’s stories.  She tells him of the fascinating Aussie critters that visit her garden, and tales of her growing up there in the middle of the 20th century.  This is a book written from my heart, and I would love to find a publisher for it. Hint, hint!
NS  Everyone wants to know how an author spends a typical writing day.  Do you follow a schedule, and if so, tell us about how you organize it.
MF  I have not done much actual writing lately. Too busy dealing with the upcoming publication needs of “Mama Grizzly” + “Survival by Walkabout,” the young teen follow up to my “Taconi and Claude- Double Trouble.” This is another Aussie outback adventure – full of danger, surviving a nasty medicine man, and the wild dogs that fancy Josh and Bindi for dinner. Sibling rivalry, a big lie, a nasty threat, and tales from the Dreamtime round out the plot. 
I have a wonderful writing room with windows that look out onto our back gardens.  My husband made me a super desk for everything I have to store or use for my writing. In winter, we bring in all the tender plants and display them on wall shelves here.  It becomes a jungle when everything outside has withered and disappeared – lovely.  Special lights keep the plants healthy. 
I am at my desk seven days a week, always writing, promoting, or helping clients write tight and terrific pages.  Sometimes it is hard to balance the needs of my manuscript critique clients with that of my need to write, blog, or just take a break.
On top of all that, I have breaking news about another three of my books.  My young teen ghost story, “The Revenge of Thelma Hill,” will be self-published any day now. I have never self-published before this, and oh boy, is there a lot for a novice like me to wrap their head around. Sometimes I feel as dumb as dirt.  But my good friend Agy Wilson designed a super cover for it, and has helped me SO MUCH.  I could never have done it without her.  Thanks Agy!!  I even get to promote all my other new books at the end of it.  How’s that for cool.  You will hear my shouts all over the US when it is published.
AND, as if that is not enough, I am in a partnership with Agy Wilson to self publish my two story books, “Kobi Borrows a Pouch” and “Oscar Hunts for a Friend.”   Agy is also illustrating  and animating them both. Hey, I don’t call her Awesome Agy Wilson for nothing,  you know.  All I know about animating is that it is a hot ticket now for picture books. I am simply breathless at the thought of it. 
All this began happening about the same time.  No wonder I am breathless.  I never seem to catch up on editing, learning, rewriting, and crafting assorted blurbs and synopses for the various books.  But hey, I am thrilled.  I am also one very fortunate lady to have my dreams come true – even if they all decided to come home and roost at the same time!
 NS  Please tell us where your fans can find you to learn more or get in touch.
Website: Books and Manuscript Critiques -
Oscar and Kobi - they kidnapped my blog - 
SHORT and SWEET – a FREE sneak peek inside 8 of my books -
FREE short story.  Taconi and Claude’s  BIG 21stCentuary Adventure – a fun adventure featuring  characters from 3 of my books -
The Revenge of Thelma Hill has just been published and isd now on Kindle and Smashwords - with more eReaders to come.
*My new, YOUNG TEEN BOOKS page:
MF  So much is happening fast this month, I can hardly keep up!!!
NS  Margo, you are a wonder, and I can hardly keep up with you!  Many thanks for giving us all this marvelous information regarding all you are doing.  You are an inspiration to so many people, and certainly to me!

MF  Thank you so much Nancy, for letting me chat with you and your readers. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Interview with Nicole Weaver-Award Winning Children's Author

It is my great pleasure to welcome my friend and colleague to the blog today.  Nicole Weaver is a teacher of languages and is a children's author who writes her books in those same three languages as well.  Hello, Nicole!

NS  My Sister is My Best Friend is your third children’s book to date.  Please tell the readers how this book came about and what your vision is for it.
NW  I got inspired to write My Sister is My Best Friend after I met my half sister for the first time in 2008.  We immediately became best friends.  My imagination took off.  I began thinking about what it would have been like if I had grown up with her.  I came up with a very positive story that portrays twin sisters who get along and enjoy each other's company instead of being yet another typical story about sibling rivalry.  
 My vision is my book can be one that inspires sisters from all over the world.  I want people to realize it is far more important to concentrate on positives.  I am by nature an optimist.   I love what you wrote when you reviewed my book.  Your words portrayed quite well my vision:

“The three languages, English, Spanish, and French add to the globalness, and the girls become "every girl." Similarities are so much more important than differences in today's tiny world, and Nicole's books prove this to be true.”
NS  Give us a bit of insight on your other two books and how they came to be.
NW  My first book titled, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle is based on true events of my childhood days in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  I lived with my father near the beach.    Sea turtles came to shore to lay their eggs within walking distance from my home.  I loved watching the mother turtles lay their eggs and later return to the sea.  One unlucky turtle was stuck on the beach and much to my dismay; my father and uncles had plans for the poor turtle.  In short, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle is about what happened at the beach so many years ago.    
My third book is very similar to My Sister is My Best Friend.  My Brother is My Best Friend is currently under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing.  It is a story about two twin brothers.  A blogger left a message on my blog asking me to write a book about twin brothers, and that is how I came up with the idea to write the manuscript.  Much to my delight, My Brother is My Best Friend came to be.
NS   I know you teach languages and incorporate them into your books as well.  Please tell us how you feel about the importance of doing this within your work.
NW  I write all of my children’s picture books in English, French, and Spanish because foreign language studies help students increase their vocabulary and thus make it easier to become better readers. Excellent reading skill is essential when taking tests. French and Spanish share many cognates with English. The study of either language will help a student with his or her other classes. Many studies show language-learning correlates with higher academic achievement in standardized tests. Armstrong, P. W., & Rogers, J. D. did a study with a group of third graders in 1997. The students were taught entirely in Spanish for thirty minutes a day three times a week. At the conclusion of the study students in the Spanish classes scored significantly higher than the group that did not receive Spanish instruction in math and language on the Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT)
Many schools are now making major efforts to offer world languages because such study will help students in other academic disciplines. 
As a foreign language teacher, this is why I take great pride in writing all of my children picture books as trilingual books.
I believe that all children should have the opportunity to become multilingual world citizens. I am convinced a solid foundation in world languages is an essential component to maximize students’ success in the global community and workplace.
NW   My readers always want to know how an author balances his or her day, particularly with a full-time job.  Can you tell us a bit about how you work this magic?
My full-time job as a French and Spanish high school teacher is so fulfilling it does not feel like a job.  I so enjoy teaching that I recently started teaching a class one night a week at my local community college.    
My love for other cultures and languages makes it effortless for me to write children’s picture books that I know will make a difference in our ever-growing global world.  I used to spend a lot of time watching television.  Now instead I spend my time writing. 
NS  What is next for you, and how far along is the idea or manuscript?
I am working on a manuscript, which is currently being critiqued.  I think the manuscript should be ready for submission soon.  I wrote a story about fraternal twins.  I thought it would be great to complete the series.  My first book is about two twin sisters, second book about twin boys and now the third about a boy/girl twin.
 NS   Your fans can find you at:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dots Around the World-Inspired by Peter H. Reynold's The Dot

According to Publishers Weekly, the fifth annual International Dot Day, inspired by Peter H. Reynolds’s The Dot (Candlewick), drew nearly 620,000 participants at more than 15,000 events worldwide on Saturday, September 15.

Reynolds led the festivities in his hometown of Boston, along with mayor Thomas Menino. But some celebrations were held in schools on the Friday before, while others will take place next month. Taken together, Dot Day will be feted across seven continents – yes, including Antarctica. As a result of the interest, The Dot Club Web site, which had served as the headquarters for Dot Day events, was relaunched earlier this week as a year-long resource for educators and families to support “creativity with a purpose.”

In The Dot, a caring teacher encourages a reluctant student to trust in her own abilities and be brave enough to “make a mark and see where it takes you.” Reynolds says, “It’s amazing to see that so many people around the world are finding inspiration to transform teaching and learning through creativity. I hope Dot Day will help to remind people that creativity and arts aren’t educational ‘extras’ – they are essential to the inventive problem-solving the world needs today.”

The Dot
is the first book in Reynolds’s Crea-Trilogy, which also includes Ish, about a creative spirit who learns that thinking “ish-ly” is more important than getting things just right. The third volume, Sky Color, was just published by Candlewick and is being produced as ananimated film by FableVision and Scholastic’s Weston Woods. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame for the iPad

I adore The Wind in the Willows.  My grandmother used to read it to me, so it is a mixed memory.  A warm memory of her and a lovely remembrance of the book, its characters, the setting and the time in which it was placed. 

Please see the trailer at the end of the post.

The adventures of Toad, Badger, Mole and Ratty take place along the river, which many think is the Thames, as author Kenneth Graham lived along it.

Now there is new life in the timeless story and characters, insuring the longevity of the classic.  What is it?  Have a look at The Wind in the Willows app for the iPad from Sam North, Author, Steve Dooley, Artist/Illustrator and Bobby Gilbert, Maths and Programming Magic.
I remember Toad roaring around leafy lanes in his motorcar. Today is is is now totally animated, and the reader able to steer the vehicle as it tears through the countryside. 
1338020966586Developed by creative team Bibliodome, from Chagford, in Devon, the app is suitable for adults as well as children.  Novelist Sam North adapted the tale for the app.  It was important for him to make sure the story remained true to itself.

Of the new technology, Sam North says:

I don’t think the birth of the digital age means the death of the book. The book is a perfect technology in its own right. But interactive story-telling on the iPad (and on readers like Kindle and on other tablets) will create a new and large market for itself. Children of all ages love the iPad; they have a natural hunger for the demands it makes on their intuition. However, careful attention has to be paid to the psychology of story, and the orchestration of the interactive elements. The interactive elements can, if handled badly, very quickly destroy the child’s imaginative immersion in the story.

For those who are traditionalists of the first water, here is an app vignette.  I had an email from Steve Dooley today.  He just returned from the University of Oxford where he did a presentation of the app to the Kenneth Grahame Society.  With a bit of understandable trepidation, he conducted the presentation.  At the end, the chairman of the society said:

I think I can safely say today we have seen a milestone edition of The Wind in the Willows that will introduce Kenneth Graham and the story to a whole new generation world wide.

The technology torch has been passed.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Study: 55% of YA Books Bought by Adults

Here is an interesting and important new post found at Publishers Weekly concerning adults who are reading Young Adult books--a first!

According to a new study, fully 55% of buyers of works that publishers designate for kids aged 12 to 17 -- known as YA books -- are 18 or older, with the largest segment aged 30 to 44.  Accounting for 28% of sales, these adults aren’t just purchasing for others -- when asked about the intended recipient, they report that 78% of the time they are purchasing books for their own reading. The insights are courtesy of Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age, an ongoing biannual study from Bowker Market Research that explores the changing nature of publishing for kids.

“The investigation into who is reading YA books began when we noticed a disparity between the number of YA e-books being purchased and the relatively low number of kids who claim to read e-books,” said Kelly Gallagher, v-p of Bowker Market Research. “The extent and age breakout of adult consumers of these works was surprising. And while the trend is influenced to some extent by the popularity of The Hunger Games, our data shows it’s a much larger phenomenon than readership of this single series.”
Indeed, 30% of respondents reported they were reading works in the Hunger Games series. But the remaining 70% of readers reported a vast variety of titles (over 220), only two of which commanded more than five percent of overall sales – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Breaking Dawn.

“Although bestsellers lead, there’s a long tail of rich reading that has interesting implications for the publishers of YA books in terms of discovery and consumer relationships,” said project editor Kristen McLean.

The trend is good news for publishers, as these adult consumers of YA books are among the most coveted demographic of book consumers overall. Additional insights from the Bowker study show these readers are:
    Early adopters: More than 40% read e-books, equivalent to the highest adoption rates of adult genres of mystery and romance
  • Committed: 71% say that if an e-book of their desired title was unavailable, they would buy the print book instead
  • Loyal: Enjoying the author's previous books has a moderate or major influence over the book choice for more than two-thirds of the respondents
  • Socially active: Although more than half of respondents reported having "no interest" in participating in a reading group, these readers are very active in social networks and often get recommendations from friends.
Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age is sponsored in the U.S. by Little Brown for Young Readers, Random House, HarperCollins, Scholastic, Disney, Penguin, DK, and Macmillan. To order a copy, contact Bowker Market Research at

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sesame Joins With MeeGenius on E-Book Deal--And a Deal for You!

 Here is a great deal on apps and ebooks!  Have a look.

MeeGeniusMeeGenius, the digital home for children’s books, today announced an exclusive partnership with Sesame Workshop to bring six Sesame Street e-book titles to the web, iOS and Android platforms.

The first release Celebrate School: First Day is available free of charge until September 19th at, with the coupon code “sesame.”

The additional Sesame Street titles, debuting every Wednesday throughout the month of September, are: Count to 10, Elmo and Abby’s Wacky Weather Day, Get Ready for School: Colors, It’s Check-up Time, Elmo and The ABCs of Cookies. Each title features lively audio narration and text highlighting.

MeeGeniusAn exclusive set of fun questions and activities at the end of each story extends the learning beyond the book and also helps build reading comprehension skills. Each e-book can be downloaded to the user’s MeeGenius library for $3.99-$4.99.

“Bringing Sesame Street e-books to the MeeGenius platform is a significant milestone for us,” said Wandy Hoh, MeeGenius, chief executive officer. “Sesame Street has an unparalleled reputation, reaching almost every young child as their first learning experience. MeeGenius is proud to now offer this great content to our ever-growing user base.”

Hoh, a mother of three young daughters, launched MeeGenius in 2010 as a way to educate and stimulate the imaginations of not only her own children, but also an entire generation of early readers, who are growing up surrounded by technology.

MeeGeniusMeeGenius is geared towards children up to 8-years-old and promotes early reading skills, while preserving family story time.  It offers a selection of childhood favorites – both old and new.  Many of the titles in the bookstore are available for free and the in-app purchase e-books range in price from $1.99 to $6.99.

MeeGenius is also involved in a variety of education initiatives including free products such as MeeGenius for Teachers, as well as partnerships with YouTube EDU and Google’s Chromebook EDU.

If you haven't had the chance to peruse this new digital book world, please do so!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Interview with Cherie Colyer, Author of Young Adult Novel, Embrace

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Cherie Colyer to the blog today.  Cherie is the author of the young adult novel, Embrace.

Please give the readers a bit of information as to how you came to writing novels for middle graders and young adults.  Between the two genres, do you have a favorite?
When my boys were young, I’d read to them before bed. I used to love finding books they’d get excited about, and quite honestly I enjoyed the stories as much as they did. I used to tell my husband about ideas I had. He’d tell me that I should write one of them down, so one day I finally did. That was all it took for me to realize how much I enjoyed weaving tales for children.
I really don’t have a favorite genre. I enjoy reading and writing both.
Congratulations on your debut teen paranormal romance, Embrace, published by Omnific Publishing.  Tell us about it and how you came to write this particular book.
Cherie Colyer
Thank you. Embrace is a story about a sixteen-year-old girl who discovers there are unseen powers in the world, and she needs to embrace these powers to save her friends. Madison doesn’t like change, but this year everything is changing. Her world really spins out of control when her spunky best friend becomes panic-stricken, seeing things no one else can see and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own. Nothing can prepare her for what she discovers.
I was working on a different novel when I got the idea for Embrace. It started with an image of this girl running through the halls at school. She kept popping into my head until I finally asked myself who is this girl. Over the next few months Madison was born.
My readers always want to know about an author’s typical writing day.  Would you fill us in on how yours goes?
My weekdays are pretty busy. I wake up around 5:30, workout, then get ready for work. (Yeah, I have a pesky day job (that I love, if anyone I work with is reading this.)) It’s at night, after I unwind from the day and have had dinner that I find time to write.
My weekends are much more relaxed. I write whenever I have some free time, usually early in the morning.
I know you have a new agent.  Congratulations on that achievement!  Would you share with us what you are working on now?
Thanks! My agent is currently shopping around my middle grade ghost story. To keep my mind off submissions, I’ve been working on the sequel to Embrace. In book two, Madison and her friends discover they aren’t the only supernatural beings in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and these new creatures are more dangerous than ever. Let’s hope Madison will be able to hold on tight to those closest to her, because this time she risks losing more than just her friends.
Where can fans find you, and what social media do you use for that purpose?
I’m on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads and have a blog where I spotlight fellow authors and offer tip to writers. For more information on Embrace, please visit my website.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer

Everyone knows, and I daresay, loves Olivia the Piglet for her headstrong and opinionated manner.  She is certainly a character who lives large!  I am delighted to share this interview with author Ian Falconer conducted by Nathalie op de Beeck.

Why did you choose to take on the pink princess crowd in this new picture book?

I live in the Village in New York City, and it has become radically gentrified in the last 15 years. All of these little girls walk around with their wands and their tutus. There are squads of them roving the streets. And Olivia would want none of that.

The story came out of working with my sister, who is also my assistant, and doing the marketing. We oversee as best we can the kind of toys they produce. We kept running into this problem – they all wanted to do pink, pink, pink. I had to say, “No, no, everybody’s doing pink! How many pink tutus can you sell?” Marketing people just want to stick to something safe, I guess.

On the book’s pale-rose-and-aqua-green cover, you picture Olivia wearing that very tutu, holding a wand, and grimacing at herself in a hand mirror. On the reverse, she casts them aside. How does this image clash with our expectations of Olivia, who usually wears a daring red?
 Pink doesn’t make sense with Olivia because she is not that kind of creature anyway. In the first book she does a little ballet thing, but it’s not really her character. So the book emerged from my frustration with trying to get some good quality stories and dolls and outfits and things that reflected Olivia more than the standard tutu.

Are you at all nervous about how pink devotees will respond to Olivia’s rejection of such accoutrements?

I started the book about a year ago, and I had some doubts. But then I saw a viral video of a little girl filmed by her father in a store, in the pink aisle with all the girl stuff. She goes on a rant and says, “Why do boys get all these different things? We all have to get pink!” That made me feel very happy. I thought it was pretty spontaneous, or at least articulate enough to be non scripted.

As you wrote this manuscript, did you run into any controversy with editors around Olivia identifying “some of the boys” as wanting to be princesses as well, not unlike the child in My Princess Boy?
No, no one said a word about that. Either they didn’t dare or it’s simply a non-issue now. The line just sort of came out (no pun intended) and I thought it was funny.

Olivia wears basic black, models non-Western princess garb, and stands apart from the throng. Does her confidence represent your wish that children resist conformism?

I don’t mean to offend anybody, but it’s a way of asserting Olivia’s independence. There are no mean girls in this book. There’s no rival here. It’s just Olivia’s observation. There are alternatives.

Plus, a lot of things that happen to Olivia are largely in her mind, so I’d take it with a grain of salt. The Halloween scene [where Olivia dresses as a warthog and terrifies party-going princesses] probably would never happen that way in real life. They wouldn’t be running away in fear. But in her mind, she thinks so.

Have you read this book to child audiences yet, or thought about how it might be performed?
 No, I’ve just had the book a couple weeks, and I am terrible at readings and speaking in public. Children are a devastatingly critical audience. That said, this book particularly would be a good play.

If Olivia shuns fairy princesses, how do you account for the fact that she loves accessorizing and putting on lipstick, as she famously does in Olivia Forms a Band?

My editors just hated that – they thought that it was grotesque and none of the kids would like it. So my sister took it to school where my nephews went, and read the story to them, and they just thought it was the funniest thing in the world. I never underestimate children: they’re built to sort things out, figure things out, make sense of things.

Rather than fantasize about fairy magic, Olivia finds a heroine in Martha Graham. Your book dedication is a tongue-in-cheek apology to Ms. Graham, and you picture Olivia in a series of dramatic modern-dance poses. What gave you the idea for this comparison?

At first as I was drawing for the book, I had her in a black leotard doing angular dancing. And I thought, oh, that would be funny. But nobody will care, nobody will get the Martha Graham reference, and certainly no kid will. But it’s so funny, the two pages devoted to her dancing like Graham, that I had to do it.

Do you write and draw in the expectation that an adult will tell a child about Martha Graham or define the multi-syllabic words – like the moment where Olivia considers a career in journalism to “expose corporate malfeasance”?

That’s what I count on a lot, that children read with a parent who will explain what “corporate malfeasance” means. In my experience as a kid, we all loved big words. There’s a point in every kid’s life where they learn the word “immature” and start using it – “Oh, she’s so immature!” – without really understanding what it means. They like the sound of big words.

How does your creative work for young audiences overlap with the kind of satirical and edgy illustration you do for periodicals like the New York Times Book Review and the New Yorker?
Well, apart from the similarity of drawing techniques, I put myself in the mindset for the task at hand. I try to think with the fairly direct logic of a child for Olivia, and then with the topsy-turvy logic of, say, a New Yorker cover. It’s a bit like doing crossword puzzles—you get out of practice if you don't do them, but if you do them regularly, you begin to think that way.

Might you someday create a picture book that does not feature Olivia, or do you find most of your picture book inspiration in her?

Olivia is based on my niece, and my other sister has twin boys, so she’s always been jealous that Olivia got all this attention. So I thought, I’ll write an adventure story. I’m actually working on another book right now about two dachshunds, two boys.

Your niece Olivia famously has signed books and enjoyed being the model for your character. How does the “real” Olivia feel about pink these days?

I asked Olivia (who is a sophomore in college now, by the way), and she said, “Well, it depends on the occasion!”

Monday, September 3, 2012

Interview with Rita Borg, Author of "Meg the Egg"


I am so delighted to welcome Rita Antoinette Borg to the blog today. She has a new picture book, although she is the author of several more as well. Let's have our readers get acquainted with you, Rita!
NS  You are from Malta, and I’ve visited there, with fond memories of the warmth of the people and the beauty of the place.  Please tell us how Malta and the US helped define you as a person and, by extension, a writer.  I find your new picture book, Meg the Egg, so charming.  Please tell us how it came about and your expectations for it.

RB  As a three year old, I immigrated to New York City with my family in 1966.  It was the beginning of my adventure to know and care about one of the biggest and strongest countries in the world. Malta is the complete opposite of the United States. She is a very small country in the Mediterranean Sea. Though I love my adopted country, the U.S, I know that a part of me, my roots, are in Malta.
Product Details People often ask me which country you love the most. Honestly, I miss the States, the land of my childhood. And it is here, in my writing, that this question is answered. Somehow, I always write about Mothers or Motherhood.
Sometimes the Mother is attacked, as in Meg the Egg; other times my books show mothers as a dominant person in a child’s life. Mothers are a special theme in my heart and in my picture books.
Home is another special theme. Everybody needs a home and wants to go there after a long day. I go “home” every two years or so to the U.S though I am not a citizen. However, my immediate family lives here in Malta; so with them I am home here. I am not about to leave them behind me. I feel that every immigrant and U.S citizen should see the United States as a true home and feel proud of her. If not, they should leave the country and return to the place they really call home. Like every country, the United States needs to be loved and honored by her occupants, too.
NS   I find your new picture book, Meg the Egg, so charming.  Please tell us how it came about and your expectations for it.
 RB  My youngest daughter, Meghan, was afraid to go to bed at night by herself.  She’s fifteen going on sixteen now. But the theme of Meg the Egg has been incubating in my head for quite awhile.

First, I thought of a rhyming word to go with Meg. The eggshell and its purpose came to mind. Then I took Meghan’s problem and decided Meg would be afraid to hatch. My usual mother theme came up and I decided the only way Meg would want to be brave and become motivated to hatch would be if her own mother would land into trouble. Yes, the book can be scary with Howls (a fox) but isn’t life scary, too? Snow White and the original Three Little Pigs are scary, too Children should be prepared for any eventuality; picture books help children face fear. 
NS  Tell us how much time you devote to writing daily and how you organize your time.  (I find that everyone wants to know this about an author!)
I am the worst organized person in the world. But what I do everyday makes me happy.
I write.
I visit schools for storytelling.
I am the official storyteller for a local bookshop.
I market my newest book, Meg the Egg.
I have three kids and my husband is a medical doctor.
I am studying for a B.A. Creative Writing course that last about 7 years.
I have a house to maintain.
I read a lot.
How do I take care of all these things? I do my best.  I wake up at about 6 o’clock in the morning and handle my emails. I love reading and mailing out emails. I wish I had more fans.
I write about 750 words a day in a five day week. That comes out to be 3750 words per week. Saturdays and Sundays are dedicated to my family.  I also rewrite my manuscripts and course lessons as much as I can until 2 o’clock in the afternoon when my youngest arrives from school.
NS   In your website, you speak of the importance of two ideals:  creativity and imagination.  Please tell us a bit about how you try to weave both of these into your writing for kids. 
AB  We all need a dose of these two magical words to help us through life.  Einstein is quoted to have said that Imagination is more important than intelligence.  What a genius he was! These two abstract thoughts help us in good and sad situations. They are what really make us humans. They help us see and understand and hope beyond what is reality and what could be a really boring life!  They keep us linked throughout our lives to our inner child who does not want to grow up into an adult. They keep me writing books and poetry for myself and my audience.
NS  Tell us about your other picture books and what can we expect for the future.
AB  My picture books are mostly about animals like hedgehogs, frogs and birds.
 I have one published bilingual book in Maltese and English: On a Lonely Tree (2000)
Another published book in Maltese translated to The Lost Sock (2011)
I also have three self published bilingual Maltese-English picture books:

                     The Frogs’ Great Escape (2003)

                      Rebecca’s Choice (2005)

                      Don’t Cross the Road, Holly (2009)
And an anthology of twelve short stories for children between 6-9 years old called Seasons. (2007)
But only Meg the Egg can be purchased on Amazon.

NS  You can be found at:
AB  If you have any other questions about my book or about writing in general please don’t hesitate to contact me on:

website :
and my Facebook page

It's been a pleasure having you visit the blog today, Rita.  All best wishes with your continued success in writing for children!