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Ever heard of the picture book THE LOUDS MOVE IN? It’s one of my all-time favorites, with a cast of unique characters like Miss Shushermush, who eats quiet meals of leftover mashed potatoes. When the Loud family moves onto Earmuffle Avenue, the chaos begins and friendships are eventually [noisily] forged.
Ever since I read THE LOUDS I have been a huge fan of author Carolyn Crimi. So when I heard about her newest book PUGS IN A BUG, and then saw the illustrations by Stephanie Buscema, I nearly fell off my chair with an attack of acute cuteness. Punch-buggy green! Gotcha!
PUGS is a “catchy canine counting book” with a jaunty joy-ride rhyme and a groovin’ get-up-and-go beat. It’s so much fun to read aloud with its twists and turns in language—and in the road. Chugging along, the pugs meet up with a pooch parade, so there’s not only pugs in a bug, but bulldogs in a taxi and poodles on skateboards. This book proves that it’s not always about the destination but the journey. Beep, beep! Bow wow! I know you want to win it now!
So Carolyn and Stephanie are both here today to talk about the creation of PUGS…and yes, you can win it!
TL: Carolyn, are pugs your favorite kind of dog? Do you own a pug? Why PUGS?
CC: I actually love all kinds of dogs. I met a Newfoundland yesterday that I was ready to take home with me. Alas, she was a big dog and probably would not have fit in my car. But pugs are probably my favorite. They’re the comedians of the dog world. When I walk down the street with my pug Emerson people laugh. I kind of love that about him—he brings laughter with him wherever he goes.
Not that he cares about that. All he really cares about is food. If he had to choose between me and a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken I’m afraid there would be no contest. KFC would win, paws down.
Not only do I own a pug, I also own a VW Bug. It’s even green, just like the one in the book. I came up with the entire idea for PUGS IN A BUG the very first time I took Emerson for a ride in my car. That was way back in 2001. I still have both the pug and the Bug. I highly recommend both!
I’ve attached a pic of Emerson for your amusement.
TL: Aww, I love Emerson! His tongue is hilarious.
So you had the idea for the book over 10 years ago. How long did it take you to write it?
CC: Boy, I wish I had a timeline for this book, but I don’t have a clear idea of when I wrote the first draft. I don’t think it was submitted until 2003. Of course the whole submission process takes forever and a day. I also probably revised it a bunch of times to no avail. Then I think it took a while to find the right illustrator.
In other words, same ole same ole.
My first drafts don’t usually take long at all. Maybe just a couple of days. It’s the many revisions I do that take years. Yup, years. I’ll put something away for a while if it doesn’t sell right away. I’ll take another look at it years later and will sometimes be able to see the changes that need to be made. Sometimes I can’t see how to change it. I have a lot of unsold manuscripts lurking in my computer just waiting for the day when I can fix them.
I often tell new writers that this is not a microwave career where you stick in a hastily written manuscript and a six figure income pops out thirty seconds later. It takes oodles of revisions and a lot of “thinking time” to polish a manuscript into submission-ready form.
TL: I remember you once said that an illustrator never does what you imagine—they do far better than you ever could have imagined. What did Stephanie do with PUGS that really surprised you?
CC: Lots of things!
She gave them all hats, which I love, especially since I have been known to, um, dress up my pug on occasion. This lends a distinct personality to each pug. Genius!
Something else that surprised me was that two sweet little birds appear on every spread. (TL: Can you find them below?) That’s the kind of thing kids love to follow in a book. Also, toward the end a rascally squirrel jumps onto the back of the Bug, unbeknownst to the pugs riding in it. So fun! Stephanie has added so many details like this. It’s the kind of book that has endless surprises in the illustrations. I’m still finding things in it that I hadn’t noticed before!
TL: Stephanie, what drew you to PUGS IN A BUG?
SB: When I got the manuscript for PUGS, I was thrilled with the subject matter (I love drawing and painting animals) and was immediately drawn to it! The story had so much room for play, color and lots of fun character designs. I’m a big fan of Carolyn’s work, so it was an honor to illustrate one of her books.
TL: What kind of tricks do you use to keep so many similar-looking characters diverse? Did you name the Pugs as you drew them?
SB: I didn’t name them, but I did add in little pug accessories so that the reader would know each pug was different (and so I could keep track, haha)!
TL: LOL! Yes, I love all the little details like the bow ties and hats, although I confess the girl with the flower in her fur is my favorite. Or maybe it’s the cool jazz dude. Or the one with the pink horn-rimmed glasses. Oh, I can’t choose!
What was your favorite spread to illustrate?
SB: I have to say, I enjoyed most of the spreads. I think my most favorite spreads to paint were the pages at the beginning of the book. It was really fun to push myself with the landscapes and scene changes. If I had to chose one? I think the spread with the 3 pugs driving into the city was my favorite to paint. The entire book was painted in gouache and cel-vinyl (animation) paints on watercolor paper.
TL: Do you do any Photoshop or computer work once your paintings are finished?
SB: Nope, I work 100% traditional. Sometimes we’ll have to clean up a little spot here or there, and of course in the proofing stage if something isn’t bright enough we’ll bump it up. But other then that, I don’t use Photoshop in the art stages at all.
TL: How do you hope readers will react to the illustrations?
SB: Like any job I do, I always hope the readers enjoy the visuals and pick up on the sense of joy I get out of painting a book.
TL: I think that is totally obvious with this book—the bright color and playfulness just jumps out and slaps a seatbelt on you. Sit down and enjoy the ride!
Carolyn, you have published so many terrific books—WHERE’S MY MUMMY?, HENRY & THE BUCCANEER BUNNIES, DON’T NEED FRIENDS—and now PUGS is added to that list. Can you even pick a favorite?
CC: Well, I have to say based on the writing alone, I like my book DEAR TABBY the best. I love all my books, but I think DEAR TABBY is the funniest. And while I don’t believe in heavy-handed message books, if you read the last page you’ll know my philosophy of life. More importantly, I had a ton of fun writing it!
TL: And those are the best books–the ones that gave the author the most pleasure often give the audience the most fun. Your joy and enthusiasm shine through.
Thanks, Carolyn and Stephanie! I know everyone will have a blast with PUGS…so let’s give them a chance to win it!
See the pugs on the cover above? Which is your favorite? And just what *is* that pugs name? Name that dog! (Which also happens to be another book illustrated by Stephanie.) I hope you come up with names as creative as Carolyn’s nicknames for Emerson: Sir Scratch and Sniff, Mr. Wiggle Butt, The Mayor and Circus Dog.
You get an extra entry for each share on social media—just mention it in the comments.
Comments close the end of April 30 and a random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter.
Good luck and thanks for stopping by!
Beep, beep! Bow wow!
March 29, 2012 in Children's Books, KidLit, Picture Books | Tags: Ame Dyckman, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Carolyn Crimi, dan yaccarino, Giveaway, Giveaways, kaleidoscope, marie letourneau, pugs in a bug, puzzled by pink, Salina Yoon, Sarah Frances Hardy, stephanie buscema, the tiptoe guide to tracking mermaids | 13 comments
Thanks to everyone who visited Salina Yoon’s post about her newest and most challenging novelty book, KALEIDOSCOPE. The winner of the signed copy is:
Congratulations, Donna! Be on the lookout for an email from me…
Didn’t win? No worries. There’s more giveaways coming in the next two weeks. Yes, it’s a busy Spring over here! Here’s a sneaky peekie (what my five-year-old calls it):
Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino’s BOY + BOT
Sarah Frances Hardy’s PUZZLED BY PINK
Carolyn Crimi and Stephanie Buscema’s PUGS IN A BUG
Ammi-Joan Paquette & Marie Letourneau’s THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS
It’s a Picture Book Palooza!
Plus, don’t forget, if you’re not already subscribed to my blog via email, join today to be entered into a SEPARATE “new follower” three-picture-book-prize-pack giveaway on April 1st (EXTRA YARN, BOY + BOT, ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT). I’m not foolin’! Just enter your email address in the left column.