ruthspiroRuth Spiro is my hero. She’s the only children’s book author I know who invented her own holiday. And what could be more fun than Bubble Gum Day? Celebrations are “popping up” all over the place!

Bubble Gum Day participants raise money to support schools by blowing bubbles. And, of course, they read Ruth’s hilarious picture book Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist.

Never heard of a bubble gum artist? Lester comes from a long line of artsy ancestors, but he hasn’t inherited traditional talent. One day Lester visits his Uncle Edgar, whose inspiration has waned. When Lester’s bubble bursts, Edgar’s statue gets covered in pink, donning her with a lovely tutu. Hmmm, where have I seen that ballerina before? Sure, Lester helps his uncle out, but he still hasn’t found his fine art calling.

Lester might create drab doodles and pitiful paintings, but he soon discovers his unique talent for blowing beautiful bubble art. Spiro’s clever tale offers tons of fun for kids, but it also winks at parents with spoofs of Picasso, Seurat and other masters sprinkled on its pages. Lester‘s theme is about finding your place in the world, despite what others think. In fact, it serves as a wonderful lesson for aspiring authors.lesterfizz Write from the heart. Find your voice. Keep writing no matter what anyone else says.

Ruth Spiro’s journey to publication was a pretty sweet ride. Lester was her first picture book manuscript and her first sale. The story was also a winner in the 72nd Annual Writer’s Digest competition. But how did she start writing?

Ahh, glad you asked. I knew I liked Ruth’s work for a reason. In 2000, she took a class from one of my favorite picture book authors, Carolyn Crimi (The Louds Move In, Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies). She gained a firm writing foundation and then found inspiration from her family.

One day her daughter said, “What if I could blow bubbles like that guy at the birthday party who made animals out of balloons? Wouldn’t it be cool if I could blow a bubble shaped like a dog?” With that, Lester’s story was born. And Ruth’s career took another turn.

“Once I sold my book and started selling articles to magazines, I also started receiving calls and emails from ‘friends of friends’ who were looking for advice on breaking into print. It seemed everyone had a drawer full of poems or a children’s book manuscript, but they didn’t know what steps to take next.

“I realized I was spending a lot of time putting together resources and reading other peoples’ work, so why not make it official and get paid for it?”

Ruth created the Writing for Moms program to help other women develop their craft and sell their work. Several of her students are now published authors, too.

And now the burning question: what kind of bubble gum does Ruth prefer?

“I was actually a Bazooka gal until Bubble Yum came out–so soft and sweet! While I don’t like to state a preference for a particular brand, I find Dubble Bubble is a good all-around bubblegum, and I usually have a big pink bowl filled with it at my events and signings!”

As if I needed another reason to attend her signing! Oh Ruth, you had me at “Bazooka.”

lesterfizzLester Fizz, Bubble-gum Artist
Story by Ruth Spiro
Illustrations by Thor Wickstrom
Dutton Juvenile, August 2008

Want it? Sure you do!