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Ring, ring! Ring, ring!

Who can that be?

Oh, it’s Laurie Keller and Adam Rex calling to talk about their new book PLUTO GETS THE CALL!

And making a surprise guest hosting appearance is none other than…PLUTO! (It’s kind of like how Brie Larson is filling in for Jimmy Kimmel. Yeah, just like that. Wait, does that make me Jimmy?)

Anyway…Pluto will be interviewing this dynamic picture book duo! Take it away, Pluto!

Now Adam, how did you get the idea to write about little old me?

Well, usually my books come out of totally unexpected ideation but this time it began with an editor asking if I might like to write something about our solar system. She was hoping if I wrote something like that, Laurie might want to illustrate it. It was the first time I’d ever written anything with another, specific artist in mind.

I’m not known for nonfiction. You don’t call me if you want 50 Facts About the Planets or whatever. So I started looking for the fiction that would underpin all the nonfiction, and your reclassification still feels like the biggest story to come out of the solar system in my lifetime. When I was a kid every list of planets ended with Pluto, but now my son learns something different. That seems like a big deal to me.

Thank you, Adam! I really am a big deal!

Laurie, do you want to draw any comparisons between me and your other round hero, Arnie the Doughnut?

Well, Pluto, that’s a very good question and the answer is yes! You and Arnie both have an infectious zest for life and a genuine excitement for whatever you do. You’re both seen as the “underdog” (or the under-doughnut-dog in Arnie’s case) but you never let the hard knocks crush your spirit. I’m inspired by you both!

And even though you don’t look anything alike, other than being round, you each have distinguishing features that you’re very proud of—you, with your big heart birthmark and Arnie, with his chocolate frosting and sprinkles! You’re a lot easier to paint than Arnie though—he always makes sure that I draw all 135 sprinkles and it takes a long time!

Adam, did Laurie contribute any clever asides to the story or do anything you didn’t expect? Just like I was not expecting to be de-planetized?

YES. I set out to write what I thought was a Laurie Keller picture book (you can ask her what SHE thinks about that), but it wouldn’t really be a Keller book without a lot of asides and marginal visual gags, and she wrote and invented nearly all of those. Including a line about smoothies that I’m sorry to say gets a bigger laugh than anything I wrote myself.

Well, c’mon Adam, everyone loves smoothies!!! Even an intergalactic comet!

So Laurie, what do you think about that?

Adam, you’re a great writer no matter what or who influences you at any given time. Just keep doing that Adam thang no matter how you do it! I was just happy to get the chance to illustrate one of your stories!

Adam, this book is PLUTO GETS THE CALL. Why didn’t I get a text instead?

I agree, the call was a mistake. Big-time roaming charges. But you don’t break up via text.

You sure fit in a lot of facts about me and the solar system. Did you count how many? (There’s more facts about me than anyone else, right?)

I fit in as many facts as I could while keeping the whole thing breezy and natural. I didn’t want anyone to zone out. I wanted them to feel like an affable new friend was giving them a house tour.

A house tour like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous? Awesome! My house tour is really SPACIOUS! (Get it???)

Well, thanks to the two of you for making me a star! You know, like Brie Larson, not like the Sun. No one can steal Sun’s spotlight.

And blog readers, you can GET THE CALL, too!

Just leave a comment below to win a copy of PLUTO GETS THE CALL!

One random winner will be selected soon. And notified via email. So you won’t really GET THE CALL, but close enough!


One of my favorite picture books of all time is ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT, cooked up by the inimitable Laurie Keller. (Why hasn’t it become a major motion picture? I sniff the heavenly aroma of sugary fried dough and box office smash potential!)

So while you wait for the selection of Storystorm prizes, I invited Arnie to the blog to interview Laurie’s latest character, Potato, about his quest for the perfect pair of pants. Take it away, boys!


Hey Potato! Thanks for meeting me at the bakery. Did you have any trouble finding it?

No trouble at all! I just took a Tuber Uber.


I see you have your new Potato Pants on! I was hoping you’d wear them.

Oh, yeah––I never leave home without ‘em! Pretty snazzy, aren’t they? Yep, when it comes to designing flattering pants for potatoes, Tuberto is your go-to tater!


I heard you almost didn’t get your Potato Pants––something to do with an eggplant. What was the problem?

He was waiting for me in Lance Vance’s Fancy Pants Store on the ONE day they were selling Potato Pants and I didn’t want to go in there because I was afraid he’d push me like he did the day before and ruin my brand new Potato Pants!

So, he’s a pretty pushy eggplant, huh?

Well, I thought so but it all turned out to be a silly misunderstanding. I’m a big enough spud to admit that. We’re actually friends now!


That’s cool! So, you really wanted this stripey pair with the stripey suspenders. Why do you like stripes so much?

I can’t explain it, Arnie. They just make me happy!

I feel the same way about my frosting and sprinkles!

I see you’re doing the Robot––I mean the PO-bot! Can you teach me how to do it?




But I can teach you how to do the DOUGH-bot!




Oh, no! I laughed so hard I ripped my Potato Pants!


I’ll call for help! Oh, YOO-HOO, MAKEUP!


No, I’ll just scooch right over to the Tater Trouser Tailor. Thanks for everything, Arnie!

Thanks, Potato!

What is it now, Arnie?

Oops, sorry, Makeup––problem solved. But as long as you’re here…do you mind arranging my sprinkles into stripes? Diagonally? By color? Pretty please with frosting on top? Thanks!



But I wonder if vertical stripes might be better on me?




Well, we all know that Arnie is a diva doughnut (just like Mariah Creamy).

Thanks for stepping in to interview Potato, Arnie!

Since I am such a ginormous Laurie Keller fan, I am so mashed today to offer a copy of POTATO PANTS! 

Just leave a comment below to enter! A random winner will be selected after the Storystorm prizes!

Good luck!


laurie-kellerby Laurie Keller

It looks as though you’re almost to the end of PiBoIdMo—CONGRATULATIONS! It’s impressive that you signed on for that big undertaking. I’d like to try it myself some time!

I’ve read through many of the previous PiBoIdMo posts and they’re all so inspiring and helpful. I’ve been trying to think of what I could possibly add to all the great writing tips and personal experiences people have shared and the one thing that comes to mind is to TRUST YOUR OWN INSTINCTS with your ideas and writing. It seems like such an obvious thing to say but of all the things I’ve learned over the years about writing, learning to trust my own instincts might be the most important.

I have a massive collection of books and they are a constant source of inspiration. There are certain authors and illustrators I can’t get enough of and their styles have had a huge influence on my own work.

inspirational authors-illustrators

There have been times when I’d be working on a story or illustration and it just wasn’t working and I’d realize days or weeks later that the reason was because I was unconsciously trying to emulate someone else’s style. After working and reworking it again and again, eventually there would come a day when I’d be in just the right mood and my own “voice” would “speak up” and things would finally gel. I’ve learned the hard way that when I try to draw or write like people I admire it only ends up being, at best, a poor man’s version of their style.

When I do school visits, I talk to kids about writing and we draw together, too. I show them how I draw an otter (based on my book, Do Unto Otters) and then I encourage them to turn it into a character—a pirate, a rock star, a scientist or whatever—and then hopefully later write a story about it.


I let them know that even though we’re all drawing an otter, each one will be unique and different from anyone else’s. I love that about drawing and it’s the same with writing. We could all write a story about a banjo-playing pelican (don’t you dare though—that one’s MINE—I just thought of it!) and there’s not one of them that would be alike. You have your own unique way of telling a story so do all you can to develop that.

Lots of people have asked me to review their manuscripts over the years and I’m still surprised at how many try to write just like well-known authors—namely Dr. Seuss. Editors aren’t looking for another Dr. Seuss. There was and always will be only ONE Dr. Seuss. They want to hear fresh, NEW ways of telling a story. What if Dr. Seuss had tried to write like William Shakespeare? “Would thou liketh them in a box? Would thou liketh them with a fox? Those are the questions!” Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it? With all due props to Mr. Shakes, thankfully, Dr. Seuss trusted his own instincts. To any Dr. Seuss wannabe’s—yes, he is a wonderful source of inspiration but take the qualities you like in his work and DO YOUR OWN THING with them. We can’t wait to see it!

light bulb ideas

As far as book ideas, they can come from anywhere, as you know, and there’s no one right way to get them. There will be times when you know what you want to write about and other times an idea may just pop into your head. When you can’t think of what to write about there are lots of techniques for generating ideas and to get your brain thinking in unexpected ways (you must know many of those exercises by now). As a writer, there aren’t many things that make me happier than when I get a book idea I’m excited about. There’s no way of knowing which ideas will be popular with readers so I’ve learned that the most satisfying thing you can do as a writer is to write what YOU like and tell it in YOUR voice. The rest will fall into place.

I heard a saying once and I’m paraphrasing here:

gut feelings

That really resonated with me and I think it’s spot on when it comes to writing. HOWEVER you come up with your book ideas, trust that gut feeling—your writing road map.

CONGRATULATIONS, AGAIN on completing your challenge. I wish you all the best with your writing. HAVE FUN and DON’T QUIT!!!


LK booksLaurie Keller is the author-illustrator of many picture books including The Scrambled States of America, Do Unto Otters, Open Wide: Tooth School Inside and Arnie the Doughnut. She has a new early chapter books series, The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut, and the second book in the series will be published in February 2014. Laurie lives in Michigan, deep in the woods along the shores of Lake Michigan. Visit all her characters at and like her on Facebook.

Laurie is giving away an ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT PRIZE PACKAGE! It includes: Arnie the Doughnut picture book (one of Tara’s all-time favorites!), Book 1 in The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut series: Bowling Alley Bandit andArnie the Doughnut and 4 Other Fantastic Adventure Stories” Weston Woods/Scholastic DVD.

Arnie prizes

This prize pack will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

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As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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