Today, I would like to welcome author, Kathi Appelt to Kid Lit Frenzy and thank her for talking with us about her new book WHEN OTIS COURTED MAMA and how she writes to make the language just right for a read aloud. Thank you Kathi for stopping by.
With all of my work, whether it’s a picture book for the very smallest child, or a novel for an older reader, I try to pay attention to the way it sounds. Because I loved reading aloud to my own children, and also because I had a father who read to me, a text that works for oral reading is important to me. Before I turn in my final drafts, regardless of the length, the last thing I do is read the whole thing out loud. Not only does this help me catch mistakes, but it allows me to consider things like rhythm, flow, and most importantly, sound.
When I was a student at Texas A&M, I took a poetry writing class, and one of the things that my professor said, almost as a throw-away line, was that the best thing a poet could do was to learn the names of the trees and flowers in our own backyards.
I’ve never forgotten that. And so now, I work hard to be sure to include the regional names of my story’s plants. I also pay attention the local wildlife. The flora and fauna of a place, to me at least, are what bring a story to life. Literally.
Writing OTIS was a kick because of the bounty of the desert Southwest. I loved thinking up things like “saguaro syrup” and “jalapeño flapjacks.” The aural vocabulary of the place makes my ears happy, and my mouth too.
As well, one of the reasons that I chose coyotes as the primary characters in this book was in honor of Coyote, the trickster animal of so many Native American stories. Obviously, my coyotes aren’t tricksters, nor are they related to the iconic Coyote of those tales. But I wanted to pay tribute to them nonetheless, even in a subtle way, and perhaps the best way to do that is to honor the oral tradition from which they originated.
My huge hope for this book is that it will be read aloud with such enthusiasm that by the end, everyone in the circle has a good ol’ howl. How great would that be?
For a taste of When Otis Courted Mama, check out the book trailer:
For further information and links, read on:
Kathi Appelt’s perfectly wonderful stepfather was a terrific storyteller, and she grew up to become a teller of stories, too. She is the New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books for children and young adults. Her picture books include Oh My Baby, Little One, illustrated by Jane Dyer, and the Bubba and Beau series, illustrated by Arthur Howard. Her novels for older readers include two National Book Award finalists: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp and The Underneath, which was also a Newbery Honor Book. In addition to writing, Ms. Appelt is on the faculty in the Masters of Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in College Station, Texas.
Follow sweet Cardell on all the tour stops:
Mon, Jan 5 5 Minutes for Books
Tues, Jan 6 Cracking the Cover
Wed, Jan 7 Sharpread
Thurs, Jan 8 Unleashing Readers
Fri, Jan 9 Once Upon a Story
Sat, Jan 10 Booking Mama
Mon, Jan 12 Geo Librarian
Tues, Jan 13 The Late Bloomer's Book Blog AND NC Teacher Stuff
Wed, Jan 14 Teach Mentor Texts
Thurs, Jan 15 Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Jan 16 The Fourth Musketeer
Enter the Giveaway below:
One lucky winner will receive a copy of WHEN OTIS COURTED MAMA by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (U.S. addresses only).