Knock Knock (+ giveaway)

Back in 2015, I challenged myself to come up with a story that would invite a lot of audience participation. I also wanted to tell a story in a way that I hadn’t seen done before.

The happy result?

KNOCK KNOCK is my new book with oh-so-awesome Illustrator Guy Francis. It releases on July 31 from Scholastic Press.

This is what Kirkus had to say about the book:

“An amusing and lively read that celebrates a venerable literary form.”

And this is what School Library Journal had to say:

“Saturated colors, animated characters, and silly jokes will ensure repeated readers. An appealing read-aloud choice on hibernation and friendship.”

Nice, huh?

KNOCK KNOCK is about a bear named Harry who is all set to hunker down to hibernate, but his woodland friends have other ideas.

I have three favorite things about this book. 

One favorite thing? While the text for this book is almost entirely done in knock knock jokes, KNOCK KNOCK is a real deal story with characters, conflict, and commotion.

My second favorite thing? This book makes readers FEEL something. I’ve shared this book at lots of school visits already, and it always inspires a big AWWWWWW from the crowd at just the right spot. (Read the book to discover this moment for yourself.)

My third favorite thing? Guy Francis brought a ton of fun, energy, and humor to the story through his art. There are so many great and funny details. Guy’s art truly KNOCK KNOCK-ed my socks off.

Lucky for us, Guy stopped by Picture Book Builders.

Welcome, Guy! I am a huge fan of your books including the Clark the Shark series by Bruce Hale and Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom! by Kelly DiPucchio. What drew you to illustrate KNOCK KNOCK?

When I was first shown your manuscript I got pretty excited. It had so much of what I love in a book. First, it is funny! Funny seems to fit my art and personality. Plus it has heart, an added bonus. Second, it has animals—so much more fun to draw animals than people. Especially if they can wear pants. That is a great combination in my book… our book… whatever.

This book contains a wide variety of animals. Do you have a favorite?

Harry is my favorite by far. It was so much fun pulling his personality out of my scribbles. Besides him I guess I’d go with the bunnies because bunnies. Amiright?

YES! You are right!

Tell us a little about your process.

It might seem weird, but I envision most of the book in its finished state as I read the manuscript the first time. I often tell students that this is when my imagination turns on. Like full blast. I picture the characters, where they live, what they do, their friends, the smells, and textures. The whole story unfolds in my mind. Then the tricky part begins: getting the pictures out of my head and onto paper so that everyone else can see the craziness that is going on in there. During my initial read I also scribble out thumbnail sketches, figuring out the story and trying to capture some of those early ideas. Hey, I’m getting old, gotta those ideas on paper before I forget. Next I work up some rough sketches. I work out the pacing, timing, compositions, and the whole flow of the book. At the same time, I develop the characters and they evolve from sketches to more concrete ideas. Once my rough sketches are approved by the publisher, I move on to my final sketches, making revisions and polishing everything up. Again I get  approval from the publisher, and then it is off to painting. All of my sketches and development up to this point are mostly done digitally, and now I print my sketches onto a nice watercolor paper and pull out the paint. I use acrylics. After that I scan the final paintings and send them to the publisher, where their little book making elves put it all together.  Its magic.

Oh, and somewhere during that process I’m also going through the same steps on the cover design. So fun!

Can you give us a peek into your studio?

Yes. It’s just a big kid playroom. My family calls it Sub-Level2. I’m basically a basement dweller. My wife even lets me out on occasion to check the mailbox.

If you had one piece of advice for illustrators, what would it be?

I’ve been asked this question a lot and I’ve given longer answers but it all boils down to this: If you want to get better, draw a lot! The more mileage you put on your pencil, the better you will become.

Scoop time! What’s next for you?

My goal and dream for a long time has been to write and illustrate my own book. I have a handful of ideas I’m working on in various stages and I’m ready to buckle down and get one of them ready to go. Unless, of course, a brilliant story comes my way that is funny, has heart, and animals with pants.

Thank you so much for joining us at Picture Book Builders!

Thanks for inviting me to spend some time with you!

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Bio:

In grade school, Guy Francis’ friends would exchange part of their lunch for drawings. His teachers would often let him stay in at recess or skip the school play practice to work on special art projects. And at home he always had some crazy project in the works. He knew then that art would be a part of his life.

Find Guy online at guyfrancis.com.

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GIVEAWAY:

For a chance to have someone KNOCK KNOCK on YOUR door with a first edition copy of KNOCK KNOCK, please leave a comment. Winner will be notified in my next post.

_________________________

WINNER:

Congratulations, Marcia Berneger! You reeled in a copy of GO FISH! Marcia, please contact me at tammi at tammisauer dot com and pass along your address.

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer is a former teacher and library media specialist. She has sold 29 picture books to major publishing houses. In addition to winning awards, her books have gone on to do great things. Mostly Monsterly was selected for the 2012 Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program. Me Want Pet! was recently released in French which makes her feel extra fancy. And Nugget and Fang, along with Tammi herself, appeared on the Spring 2015 Scholastic Book Fair DVD which was seen by millions kids across the nation. Her latest books include I LOVE CAKE! and Ginny Louise and the School Field Day.

110 Comments:

  1. What a dynamic duo you two are, Tammi Sauer and Guy Francis. I can’t wait to read KNOCK KNOCK.

  2. Great interview! Thanks for posting this. As an author, it is fascinating to read about an illustrator’s perspective and process. I’m excited to read this book! It sounds like one my kids and students will love. I am curious to know whether your manuscript had many illustration notes to convey your vision of the story. There is so much conflicting advice on whether to include illustration notes when submitting picture book manuscripts.

    • I only leave notes that I feel are necessary. I never want to infringe on an illustrator’s creative freedom.

      This is part of the first page of my ms. I usually have my art notes in brackets and in italics.I don’t normally do an explanatory art note at the beginning, but apparently I did for KNOCK KNOCK. 🙂

      [Bear gets ready for bed and sets his alarm clock for spring. Just as he shuts his eyes, uninvited guests arrive at his door one after the other. Bear gets increasingly frazzled as the onslaught of visitors cram into his house, delaying him as he tries to settle down for his winter hibernation. Just when he can’t take it anymore, one last friend shows up and sums up why they are all there.]

      [Bear is all set to fall asleep.]
      Knock, knock.
      Who’s there? [Bear gets out of bed and trudges to his door.]
      Justin.
      Justin who?
      Justin the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by!
      [Before Bear has a chance to react, his friend happily comes inside.]

  3. I superly (new word) enjoyed Tamm’s presentation at SCBWI. I signed up for her 3-day workshop, but the mudslides changed everybody’s plans. Now another new book awaits. YAY! KNOCK, KNOCK! WHO’S THERE? Ima. IMA WHO? Ima sucker for knock, knock, jokes. Can’t wait!!! Thank you, Tammi for making me laugh every time I open the cover of your books :O)

  4. Kathy Mazurowski

    This sounds like so much fun! Thanks, Tammi and Guy for brightening up my day!

  5. Kaitlyn Sanchez

    How did you determine which animals to put in? Such a fun group of charcaters!

  6. Kim Pfennigwerth

    Love reading about the process, seeing the pictures, and cannot wait to read this and get it into my grandchildrens’ hands!

  7. Can’t wait to read your new book but until then:
    Knock Knock
    Who is there?
    Broken pencil.
    Broken pencil who?
    Never mind it is pointless.
    Sorry, but I couldn’t resist! 🙂

  8. This sounds so fun! I already had it on my to-read list, now I can’t wait!

  9. Knock knock. Who’s there? Ima. Ima who? I’m a huge fan of Guy Francis and knock knock jokes! I love this book!

  10. Great post! So interesting to see how the story and illustrations came together- I can’t wait to read the book!

  11. This book looks like so much fun. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  12. Tammi, I love how you experiment with picture book structure and cannot wait to read this book. So clever! Guy’s illustrations are beautiful! Congratulations to you both!

  13. Becky Scharnhorst

    Tammi, I don’t know how you do it, but every book you write quickly becomes a favorite of mine. I can tell already that this one will be added to my growing collection of Tammi Sauer books. And the illustrations in Knock Knock are awesome! Guy’s got a gift for drawing animals in pants. 🙂 Thank you for a great interview and for some insight into the process.

    • Once I had the idea to tell a story using knock knock jokes, it took me a bit of time to come up with a lot of name-related knock knock jokes and put them in escalating order of commotion. The big thing is I wanted this story to have some heart, so I knew the final univited guest’s joke had to be juuuuuust right.

  14. Cindy Schumerth

    The vivid colors in this book are terrific. From just these few illustrations I can get a feel for each of the characters personalities.
    And of course the writing is clever as always, Tammi. Looks like another winner!

  15. Tammi, I can’t wait to read a story done in Knock-knock jokes. Brilliant!

  16. Genius!!!

  17. This looks like such a FUN book! I can’t wait to read it! Great job Tammi and Guy!

  18. Yes, such fun! Definitely going to knock on this door! http://www.literallylynnemarie.com

  19. Great interview and peek into the process (as usual). Very helpful for a non-illustrator such as myself. I would love some additional posts about the relationship between the text and images and how much room for play you leave the illustrator. Did the manuscript have any art notes? Who determines pagination and which lines go where in relation to the art? I am unpublished, so pardon my inexperience! Thanks again for this helpful insight!

    • Brian, some of my past posts share information about the relationship between the text and the art. I know for sure my previous post on my book GO FISH! did. You should check it out.

      As for art notes, I only leave notes that I feel are necessary. I never want to infringe on an illustrator’s creative freedom.

      This is part of the first page of my ms. I usually have my art notes in brackets and in italics.I don’t normally do an explanatory art note at the beginning, but apparently I did for KNOCK KNOCK. 🙂

      [Bear gets ready for bed and sets his alarm clock for spring. Just as he shuts his eyes, uninvited guests arrive at his door one after the other. Bear gets increasingly frazzled as the onslaught of visitors cram into his house, delaying him as he tries to settle down for his winter hibernation. Just when he can’t take it anymore, one last friend shows up and sums up why they are all there.]

      [Bear is all set to fall asleep.]
      Knock, knock.
      Who’s there? [Bear gets out of bed and trudges to his door.]
      Justin.
      Justin who?
      Justin the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by!
      [Before Bear has a chance to react, his friend happily comes inside.]

      As for pagination….sometimes an editor asks me to do it, sometimes the editor does it, sometimes the illustrator does it. It was pretty easy to paginate this one.

  20. I have often tried to come up with good stories for children. I love to write and draw. To do children’s stories seems to be such an easy thing when you look at a children’s book….but then when you try to write one…one realizes it takes a special talent.
    And…to draw for them….Guy Francis is incredible. I love his style and freshness. Very fun.

  21. This concept sounds amazingly great for little ones! And I always love to learn about the illustration process! Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. I am so excited to read your book! Can’t wait. The sneak preview promises witty dialog, engaging story, and a heart-warming ending (I see a surprise party in the works). Congrats to both Tammi and Guy on a sure to be loved children’s book.

  23. This book looks perfect for a silly storytime! Can’t wait to order it!

  24. Definitely going to need to get this for my grands! I went to high school with Guy and was amazed at his talent way back when!

  25. Such a fun idea, Tammi! Can’t wait to read!

  26. Sounds like a book kids would love!

  27. Leave it to you, Tammi, to come up with such a fun read aloud story…and with a bear, no less! Thanks for sharing Guy’s process and wonderful illustrations.

  28. I’m looking forward to this one! Congratulations Tammi and Guy!!

  29. Knock Knock! Who’s there? Lettuce. Lettuce who?
    Lettuce read that book! I and my grandkids love knock knock jokes!

  30. Wow! Another brilliant book, Tammi! I can’t wait to add it to my collection!

  31. Knock, Knock sounds like a fresh & funny take on bedtime books! Congratulations!

  32. I love the subtle changes Guy made in some of the facial expressions of several characters throughout to really punctuate the vibe of the scene! Can’t wait.

  33. Oh, I bet this book is gonna be a big hit! Funny! Congratulations!

  34. As a former preschool teacher, I’m so looking forward to reading Knock, Knock.
    We had a 3-year old who came to school EVERYDAY with a knock knock joke. We decided to make our own Knock Knock joke book. All 18 children participated. We made copies for all the kids and parents. The children are freshman in high school now but I still have my knock knock joke book! Love all your books! With vibrant illustrations, this one is a definite winner!!

  35. Danielle Hammelef

    Thanks for the interview today. I love knock knock jokes and puns–all kinds of word play. This book will be fun to read over and over.

  36. Can’t wait for this one, Tammi. I can already tell I’m going to love it. Thanks for interviewing Guy. It was fun hearing about the book from both of you.

  37. Tammi, I have been dying to get my hands on this one ever since the sneak peek a few months ago! Great post about the process. You guys made a great team!

  38. I love how you used knock knock jokes, Tammi! Fun illustrations, Guy. Thanks for sharing!

  39. I am knutty about the knock knock premise of this book. So clever! Congratulations, Tammi and Guy!

  40. So clever, Tammi! This looks like a blast! Looking forward to reading it soon!

  41. These books look so fun to read. I cannot wait.

  42. Thanks Tammi! This looks like such a fun book and a great way to tie in the always kid- friendly knock- knock joke.

  43. I am looking forward to reading this book. It’s looks like a fun and silly story that kids will love. Thank you for sharing such a great interview. The illustrations look like so much fun. I can’t wait to share it with my class.

  44. What a delicious interview! I can just feel the energy in this book!

  45. Knock, knock jokes + audience participation + hilarious art = a book I can’t wait to read and share

  46. This looks so fun! Thanks for sharing!

  47. Funniest idea I have seen – EVER!! The bright artwork matches the tone of the book perfectly, too!

  48. Tammi – hope you can visit us in Abilene soon!

  49. Tammi-Hope you can visit us in Abilene soon!

  50. Can’t wait to read this book. My family is huge fans of Cowboy Camp, Oh Nuts, Ginny Louise, Princess in Training, Mr Duck…

    This looks like it’s going to be another hit, especially with children. All kids love knock, knock jokes!!!!

  51. Our family is a huge fan of yours. Favorites in our house include Cowboy Camp, Oh Nuts, Princess in Training, Ginny Louise…

    Can’t wait for the release of this book. Sounds like it’s going to be a hit, especially with children. Every child loves knock, knock jokes!!! This is sure to be a success.

  52. Oh my gosh, I LOVE knock-knock jokes. The illustrations you’ve shared with us are fabulous. I can’t wait to read this with my grandkids. I know it’s one they’ll want to hear this one over and over again, and you know what that means… more snuggle time for me.

  53. This looks like a lot of fun! What a genius idea to write a book (almost) all in knock knock jokes. I can’t wait to read it. Congratulations, Tammi and Guy!

  54. This will be the ultimate read-aloud!

  55. Valerie Bottcher

    This looks like a very fun book to read. Not only are jokes/riddles/knock-knock’s fun to read for kids, but the colors and details of the illustrations are nothing less than a burst of energy! Both kids and parents will delight in this book ! Congrats to the ever-talented Tammi (I’ve read many of her books), and Guy, who is “knew” to me !

  56. You always bring such humor to your books, Tammi. Guy tells the story wonderfully through colorful illustrations. Can’t wait to read it!

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