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by Chiêu Anh Urban

What better way to celebrate a book birthday than with a creative, passionate and supportive book-loving community. Thank you Tara for hosting this book launch, with 123 ZOOM zooming into the world. Hooray!

Want to hear a secret?  I’m not “into” cars and planes, like my husband, per se. My girly girls’ childhoods were dazzled with princesses, unicorns, fairies and pretty colors like purple and pink. It’s surprising to me that this is my second concept book featuring modes of transportation. Interestingly, what I do enjoy is drawing them.

The truth is, I’m very art-driven and I focus on design and format first when brainstorming ideas. My goal was to develop a playful, interactive book for exploring numbers and counting. So why planes, motorcycles, and ships? They can fly, swim and zoom at amazing speeds, make loud, interesting sounds, and be bright and colorful. That was the inspiration I needed to dive into a format where little ones can adventure into their imagination and become powerful vehicles that journey through water, land, and sky. Number characters represent the scenes, from the deep sea to the big galaxy. How I present the art is key; highlighting different perspectives of the same vehicles in aerial and front views.

Where’s the novelty—the interactive features?  This was the road maze that led to many dummies and production challenges. It’s been quite the journey, as novelty books go. I appreciate every speed bump, detour, and success along the way. My original idea consisted of cut-out vehicles on tracks that slide along the numbers, to encourage tracing and writing. This ultimately was cost prohibitive. I had to rethink the concept, and design a novelty that offered a similar experience, but was cost effective and inviting to touch. There was turbulence along the way, but also guidance and support from my amazing editor and agent. 123 ZOOM evolved with each spread featuring die-cut scooped out numerals and glossy, slick paths down the middle for tracing numbers, and discovering the many things-that-go. The dummy page pictured here was a work-in-progress, but the idea was to convey the novelty elements. There’s a seek-and-find element of surprise towards the end of the book, designed to encourage little ones to count backwards.

Its companion book, ABC ROAR, releases this July.  This hands-on novelty introduces the alphabet and animals in their habitats.  Thank you for letting me share my process and 123 ZOOM’s book birthday with you.

Enjoy a virtual no calorie treat and cheers to all ideas taking off!

Blog readers, to celebrate her book launch, Chiêu is giving away a copy of 123 ZOOM!

Comment once below to enter.

A random winner will be selected next month.

Good luck!


Chiêu Anh Urban is an author/illustrator, and format designer who specializes in developing interactive, playful books that provide fun learning and exploration for the youngest readers.

Chiêu’s novelty titles include 123 ZOOM and ABC ROAR (2022) with Little Simon/S&S, and board book series ILLUSIONS IN ART (2023) with Candlewick Press. She is the creator of Color Wonder Hooray for Spring!, Color Wonder Winter is Here!, Quiet as a Mouse: And Other Animal Idioms, Away We Go! and Raindrops. Chiêu holds a BFA in Communications Art and Design.  Visit her website at ChieuUrban.com to learn more about her children’s books, follow her on Facebook, Twitter @ChieuAnhUrban and Instagram @chieu.anh.urban.

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Coming soon:


TIME FLIES
"7 ATE 9/PRIVATE I" BOOK #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
April 26, 2022

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