Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Delightful Ava's Secret Tea Party by Donna J. Shepherd


It is a pleasure to have author Donna J. Shepherd visit the blog today.  She has written many books, including her latest confection,  Ava's Secret Tea Party.  It is illustrated by Bella Sinclair. 

Here is a synopsis of the book:

Has your child dreamed of meeting Tooth Fairy, Santa, Sandman, or Easter Bunny? Ava wants to invite them to tea, but how? The answer lies with one special character who knows them ALL! In the style of a classic fairy tale, Donna Shepherd has written "Ava's Secret Tea Party." Enjoy the tale, look for hidden teacups and chocolate chip cookies in the sweet illustrations, and have fun making the recipes and crafts included in the book!

I must tell my readers how much I love this book!  It has a beautiful story, and the illustrations are fairy tale worthy.  In fact, the book is written as an old-fashioned fairy tale.  Let's talk about Ava's Secret Tea Party.

NS  The book seems so very fresh and relevant.  Tell us about the writing of Ava.  


DS  This book has been a long time in the making. I wrote a rough draft in 2003. It was one of the first poems for children I had written. The bones for the book were all there, but it took a long time for me to flesh it out and be happy with it. For one thing, I had a time issue. I knew I wanted to have a tea party with the characters, but one character went to visit children every night, one dropped in occasionally, and two of them make their rounds just once a year. How then could Ava find a way to invite them all to tea? After many revisions, the answer became clear. The key was the one character who knew them ALL! 

NS  How often did the book go through a morph?

The first time I sent it to my critique group it was titled “Four for Tea” and someone astutely pointed out that there would be five for tea, so I promptly changed it to “Four for Tea and Me.” I’d written the story in first person and after a few more revisions changed it to third person and “Ava’s Secret Tea Party” was one step closer to becoming what I envisioned. Every time I changed anything in the file, I’d save it as a new document. At last count, I had over fifty files.

Ava's Secret Tea PartyNS  Are there any other books, films, etc., that remind you of Ava?

DS  It’s interesting that the movie “Rise of the Guardians” has come out at the same time that my book is finally released. The movie might be too intense for the younger crowd, but my book features many of the same characters, but in a much gentler setting.'

NS  I love the whole concept of this book with its recipes and fairy tale characters.  Children will long for it.  Tell us about the tea party theme.

DS  Since the book centers around a tea party, I came up with simple, kid-friendly recipes and crafts. My family liked tasting all the recipes that came out of my test kitchen!  All of my books for children have items hidden in the illustrations. Bella Sinclair’s sweet illustrations have hidden teacups and chocolate chip cookies in every one. If you look closely, you'll see other fairy tale characters having breakfast in the Starlight Diner. I’m honored to have Bella bring Ava and the characters to life. Her next book is already under contract with Harper Collins.

NS  Where can my readers find you and your marvelous work?

DS  I hope you’ll visit the blog at http://www.asecretteaparty.blogspot.com where you will find coloring pages, puzzles, more recipes, and of course, information on how you can purchase your own copy of Ava’s Secret Tea Party. And come visit me in Topsy Turvy Land (http://www.topsyturvyland.com) for even more fun.


NS  It was so wonderful to have you visit today, Donna.  Ava is quickly becoming one of my favorite children's books!  I hope many readers will treat themselves and their little ones and pick up this book.  They won't regret it!

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