Kid Lit Frenzy is excited to welcome back Toni Buzzeo. This time for a little Q & A. Thank you to Abrams Appleseed for organizing the interview and giveaway.
In looking over the books that you have written, there are a wide range of topics and styles of books. Where do you get your ideas?
I’m an author who finds the entire world a source of new ideas! As I tell kids in my school and library visits, I might be reading something, viewing something, listening in on something, or simply making my way in the world and suddenly, there it is! The idea for a new story. Some of those ideas are flimsy and don’t stick, but the ones that stay in my mind, knocking periodically with some force on the door of my imagination, are the ones that ultimately become complete manuscripts and perhaps even books. Each idea comes with its own built-in perfect audience. Sometimes that audience is quite young, as with Whose Tools? but sometimes the audience is older, as with my first biography, A Passion for Elephants: The Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss, illustrated by Holly Berry (Dial, Fall 2015). The story decides whom it is meant for!
WHOSE TOOLS? is done in a board book style with flap pages. Was this something that you envisioned or did this come from working with Jim Datz?
Aren’t Jim’s illustrations so much fun?! The format arrived to Jim along with the text of the manuscript. However, the text of the manuscript was complete long before my editor and I settled on the format. I’d first envisioned a die-cut peek-through design but I’d forgotten that that format requires that the design work in both directions, from the front AND the back of the page with the peek-through. Next, I envisioned a lift-the-flap format, with the tools in a large mobile tool case as you might find on a job site. However, my editor reminded me that if the tools were hidden behind flaps, the purpose of the book would be to guess the TOOL, not the worker using the tool.
It was my brilliant critique partner and fellow children’s author Dianne Ochiltree who suggested the gatefold design, which was the perfect solution!
Are there any other projects that you are working on that you can share with us?
As I mentioned, A Passion for Elephants: The Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss debuts this fall, along with the sequel to Whose Tools? entitled Whose Truck? about the various professionals in our communities for whom trucks are a part of their work.
My third fall book is entitled 12 Days of Christmas in New England, illustrated by Liza Woodruff (Sterling, Fall 2015) about two cousins who enjoy the Christmas holidays together traveling around the six New England states and enjoying the sites and experiences each state has to offer.
I’m also currently revising a manuscript entitled I Live with Dinosaurs about a young boy who is pretty certain that his new neighbors are dinosaurs and whose friend assures him it’s not the end of the world, since he, himself, LIVES with dinosaurs. It’s a rollicking romp of a book with a surprise twist at the end.
What writing routines do you have? Do you have any special places that you like to write?
I am not a writer with rigid routines. I suppose that comes, in part, from living in so many places. In my home state of Maine, I have a beautiful writing cottage where I write when I am home.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts where I rent an apartment to be near my grandbaby, Camden, I write in the glorious old reading room in the Cambridge Public Library, just down the street from my apartment. And in Sarasota, Florida, I have a sunny office in the little condo where we winter. I often see egrets hunting for lizards among the hibiscus bushes outside of my office window.
Who do you count as your writing mentors, and the authors who influenced you as you developed as a writer?
I am lucky enough to have two face-to-face writing groups, one in Maine and one in Florida. My fellow group members are my writing mentors and friends: Cynthia Lord , Terry Farish , Sara Pennypacker , Dianne Ochiltree , and Linda Shute . My most enduring mentor, the author who helped me to write my very first manuscript and launch my career, and who continues to support me as a writer and a very close friend, is Jane Kurtz .
What is your favorite indie bookstore?
My hometown—that is the town big enough to have a bookstore—is Portland, Maine and my favorite indie in Portland is Letterpress Books !
About the Author:
New York Times Best Selling author Toni Buzzeo wrote the 2013 Caldecott Honor Book, One Cool Friend. She creates award-winning picture books for children that celebrate the importance of family and new adventures in a wide and welcoming world as well as the fun of learning through books and libraries. A former elementary school librarian and secondary teacher, Toni Buzzeo is an experienced public speaker who travels nationally and internationally speaking as a visiting author in schools, at international and national library and reading conferences, and in district and regional staff development trainings. Her books for teachers and librarians encourage excellence in teaching and collaborative practice among educators. For more information check out Toni's website
Don't forget to fill out the rafflecopter to enter to win a copy of WHOSE TOOLS? Participants must be 13 years or older and have a US mailing address in order to win.