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by Tammi Sauer
I have been a part of Storystorm (formerly known as PiBoIdMo) ever since Tara introduced it back in 2009. Each year, as a guest blogger, I have shared one of my idea-getting strategies. I’ve mentioned everything from “celebrating the weird stuff in your life” to starting with a setting to playing with various structures. Each year, I have also accepted the challenge to come up with at least 30 picture book ideas.
And, each year, do you know how many of my 30+ ideas are good ones?
25? 10? 5?!
The answer is 1. Occasionally 2.
My other 29+ ideas? They are okay ideas. But okay ideas do not result in offers.
During PiBoIdMo 2013, I jotted down this snippet of an idea: funny rules for having an unusual pet.
I felt the idea had potential. But I needed a story. I needed a beginning, middle, and end. I needed a character readers could care about. I needed conflict. I, um, needed a lot.
Also, around this time, I had been wanting to write a book using the how-to structure.
Then one spring day, while I was in PetSmart with my son, everything clicked.
I saw a rack filled with brochures. Each brochure provided information on caring for a particular pet. There was a brochure on dwarf hamsters, a brochure on guinea pigs, a brochure on geckos.
I suddenly knew exactly what I needed to do! I was going to write a pet care guide for a lion!
My favorite part about working on this manuscript was that I wanted the text to play the straight man to the art. I wanted the text to read as if caring for a lion is easy. I wanted the art to show that it is anything but. Because of this, I included more art notes than usual.
CARING FOR YOUR LION sold at auction to Sterling.
We ended up finding the perfect illustrator in Troy Cummings. Not only did Troy get the humor of the manuscript, but he amped it up to ridiculously wonderful proportions. Plus, he created the purrr-fect case cover for this book. (I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I won’t reveal it here.)
This is what Kirkus had to say about Caring for Your Lion:
“Sauer’s terse text, presented as the steps in the care manual for the lion, are tongue-in-cheek smile-inducing, as are accompanying black-and-white diagrams from the manual. However, their interaction with Cummings’ full-color, digitally created illustrations of a light-brown-skinned child and the full-grown male lion that was delivered instead of a kitten are laugh-out-loud fun. Allow plenty of time to giggle over the details.”
I am so grateful to Tara for creating this challenge. Because of StoryStorm, the following books got their start:
- Nugget & Fang (HMH, 2013)
- Your Alien (Sterling, 2015)
- Your Alien Returns (Sterling, 2016)
- Caring for Your Lion (Sterling, 2017)
- Truck, Truck, Goose! (HarperCollins, 2017)
- Wordy Birdy + a sequel (Doubleday BFYR, 2018, 2019)
- Knock, Knock (Scholastic, 2018)
- Go Fish! (HarperCollins, 2018)
- The Farm that Mac Built (HMH, TBA)
- Quiet Wyatt (HMH, TBA)
Plus, I recently received an offer on a book that began as an idea in StoryStorm 2017. I think this world needs Tara Lazar Day. Until then, I came up with one small way to celebrate Tara. One of the aforementioned books is dedicated to her.
Tammi Sauer is a full time children’s book author who presents at schools and conferences across the nation. She has sold 29 picture books to major publishing houses including Disney*Hyperion, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Sterling. Tammi and her family live in Edmond, Oklahoma, with one dog, two geckos, and a tank full of random fish (but no lions). Visit her at tammisauer.com.
Tammi is giving away a Caring for Your Lion prize pack to one lucky commenter. A random winner will be selected in two weeks.
This pack may or may not come with a real lion.
You’ve been warned.
I’m a sucker for monsters.
And in Aaron Zenz’s new picture book, monsters are suckers for suckers.
When Aaron told me about MONSTERS GO NIGHT-NIGHT, I have to admit, I got a bit panicked. I have a bedtime book coming out, too! But leave it to Aaron to create a fresh and giggle-worthy take on the bedtime ritual. We may have written on the same subject, but his book is a monster all its own. A snuggly one.
On first glance, if MONSTERS GO NIGHT-NIGHT seems like just another going-to-bed read, you’d be monstrously mistaken. Yes, like children, monsters like to eat bedtime snacks, put on pajamas and give kisses. But…monsters do it in their unique monster way.
The page turn surprise is key to the humor in this book. The child reading the book is told “Monsters eat bedtime snacks” and is then presented with a range of delectable options–milk, bread, carrots or an…umbrella? You must turn the page to find out what the monsters prefer.
There are many monsterly midnight conundrums to solve. What kind of pajamas do monsters wear? What do monsters snuggle with? What do monsters take baths with?
You guessed it, chocolate pudding! (Pass the whipped cream shampoo, please.)
The illustrations use contrasting colors to POP those adorable creatures right off the page. There’s a blue monster on an orange background, a yellow monster on a purple background. While the monsters are bright and bold, there is also something soft and lovable about them. Maybe that’s because of the monsters’ creator…and I don’t mean Aaron. I’m talking about Elijah. Who’s Elijah, you ask? Watch this:
Parents, MONSTERS GO NIGHT-NIGHT is my new top-rated pick for bedtime with toddlers and preschoolers. If you aren’t snuggled up with a tuba by book’s end, I guarantee you’ll be cuddling with your own little monster.
Win a copy of MONSTERS GO NIGHT-NIGHT! Just leave a comment below. One comment per person, US addresses only, please. A winner will be randomly selected in early September. Good luck!
SORRY FOR THE DELAY!
Geesh, I am full of apologies lately. I’m so far behind in everything, which might not surprise you if you read my Emu’s Debuts post about “balance” being overrated. Being a mother, an author, managing my book launch and Multiple Sclerosis…phew. Wanna be an intern? Inquire within. Better terms and conditions than Kramerica Industries!
First I’d like to THANK YOU for backing my friend Ryan Hipp’s Kickstarter project, LITTLE STEPS. Ryan has exceeded his goal with more than a week to go. HIPP HIPP HOORAY!
Next, here are the winners from the past two giveaways! (Selected with the help of Random.org.)
WATCH YOUR TONGUE, CECILY BEASLEY by Lane Fredrickson:
Tina M. Cho!
NUGGET AND FANG PRIZE PACK from Tammi Sauer:
CONGRATULATIONS! Watch for an email from me.
And that’s all folks. But stay tuned—lots of book reviews coming soon, including a rare “poisonous” foray into YA fiction! I’ll also be walking you through what it takes to plan a book launch, which today includes getting quotes for COOKIES. Sweet!