Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Next Big Thing! ~ a global blog tour

I’ve been tagged by Brian Rock, author of The Deductive Detective, to participate in The Next Big Thing!, a global blog tour about children’s books that started in Australia. (Go check out his post!)

I’ll be talking about my brand-new early reader, Joe and Sparky Go to School, illustrated by the hilarious Frank Remkiewicz of Froggy fame.

Where did the idea for this book come from?
Kids! After meeting lots of elementary students as a visiting author, I thought it would be fun to send Joe Giraffe and Sparky Turtle to school with them. But I didn’t have the story’s conflict until my son came home from school wearing a star sticker for good behavior. Joe and Sparky each try to earn a star, with Sparky succeeding and Joe, well, not so much . . .

"Paint something you love" does not mean "Paint your friend."

What genre does your book fall under?
Early Reader

Which actors would star in a move rendition of your book?

Joe Giraffe is loud, adventurous, and tall. Sparky Turtle, on the other hand, is cautious, grumpy, and bald. So let's cast . . .

Will Ferrell as Joe Giraffe

Ed Asner as FDR Sparky Turtle

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The endearing and mismatched pals accidentally latch onto a big yellow bus and leave the cageless zoo for their first trip to school.

Who published your book?
Candlewick Press

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
A week or so, but the revision process was much longer. In the original version, Joe and Sparky wait by the boys' restroom, but don’t go inside. My brilliant editor asked me to bring them inside of the bathroom, and that scene is now an entire chapter. Joe and Sparky believe they've discovered a magic pond. The water disappears -- AND IT COMES BACK AGAIN!!

What other books would you compare this story to within your own genre?
Reviewers have compared the story to Amelia Bedelia and Frog and Toad. I’ll take it!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My two sons (who had lots to say about the bathroom scene), their school, and bits of our everyday life. For example, our town library's guinea pig, Rudy, makes a cameo appearance as the class pet.

What else about this book might pique the reader’s interest?

Joe and Sparky Go to School is the third book in a series. For more Joe and Sparky shenanigans, read Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels and Joe and Sparky, Superstars!

Now I’m sending you across the pond to meet the Next Big Thing, author-illustrator Paula Bowles. She’ll be talking about her adorable and uplifting picture book What Goes Up! Check out her blog on August 12 for her answers!


  1. I have loved reading all the Joe and Sparky books to my grandchildren. The antics of Joe and Sparky keep the kids laughing and your wry sense of humor makes them fun for me to read aloud. Keep them coming!

  2. Wow! Thanks for the kind words, Karen! I'm thrilled that your grandchildren are enjoying Joe and Sparky. I'll try to keep them coming. :)