Oh, people. Are you loving that book cover as much as I’m loving that book cover? Are you craving a chance to know a little bit more about There’s a Giraffe in my Soup? Well, it’s your lucky day.
I’m soup-er happy to welcome Ross Burach to Picture Book Builders.
Ross, congratulations on your debut picture book! Please tell us about There’s a Giraffe in my Soup.
Thanks, Tammi! There’s a Giraffe in my Soup is a story of a boy who sends back bowl after bowl of soup in a restaurant, after finding a different, silly animal in each one. And then there’s the disbelieving, flustered waiter, who just can’t seem to get his order right.
What sparked the idea for this book? A giraffe in your soup perhaps?
Yes! It’s based on a true story! You know, I don’t have a specific recollection of exactly what sparked the idea, or really any of my ideas. It’s a very funny place inside my head. Full of very strange ideas. I love giraffes, and I love food, so at some point the two concepts must have collided. I let myself indulge my strange ideas in my sketchbook. In a section I call the ‘no judgement page,’ I write down any idea that comes to mind, no matter how weird or dumb I think it might be – no filter. Because, it’s sad to admit, but we negate a lot of our ideas before the pencil even hits the paper. Somehow, even in the privacy of my own sketchbook, I found that I was judging myself, and I didn’t like that. So this space has given me the freedom to put down ideas, many of which have blossomed into my upcoming books.
Did you face any particular challenges while working on this book?
Yes, I definitely faced challenges. I had this book loosely written and illustrated for almost five years before I pitched it. When I started working with my editor, Dave Linker. From the writing aspect, it was hard at first for me to let go of story elements. I knew the story one way. There were full spreads Dave wanted to remove, and I couldn’t imagine the book without them. When I did let go, which was difficult, I learned how much more a story could be with less.
My favorite animal to appear in the soup was the elephant. Do you have a favorite as well?
It’s too easy for me to say the giraffe, so I’m going to say the whale. I love how the whale is just chill. Like, yup, I’m in a bowl of soup, no questions asked, and he’s still just smiling.
Please give us a tour of your studio.
Ah, my studio. My wife and I recently moved from the East Village of Manhattan to Brooklyn, after our first baby was born. We lived in a studio apartment – basically an oversized closet. Two people, one room, and no walls for almost five years. So I had to create a studio inside a studio. It was basically a standing wall with a shelf for a desk, and I stored my supplies in the non-working fireplace under the “desk”. I also worked a lot in coffee shops, riding the subway, or sitting in the park. In our new apartment I’ve commandeered the kitchen table, and do most of my drawing there between meals.
If you had one key piece of advice for writers and/or illustrators, what would it be?
This is a great question. There is so much advice I would give, but the most important for me – and it’s not going to sound glamorous, and won’t ever end up on one of those motivational posters with a mountain – is to get organized. And that is my weakness, and probably the weakness of most creative types. So I have my book idea, but…ugh, I have to now figure out who to send it to, and then there’s a query letter, and then it might take 2-6 months before someone even responds?? I would kind of get the process started, attempt to write a query letter, then get frustrated and just tell myself the world didn’t really need another picture book (which is never true). Two to six months later, I’d be at the same point. At some point I picked up a book called Getting Things Done, by David Allen. I used it as a loose template, and forced myself to get organized. I created a chart on Google Docs with all of my researched information about publishing houses, agents, conferences, submission information, etc. And it just made the whole daunting process seem manageable. Within a couple of months, I’d registered for one of the conferences listed on my spreadsheet, shared my GIRAFFE manuscript in a critique group at the conference, and was signed by my agent, who happened to be running the critique group.
Scoop time! What’s next for you?
I know it’s early, but I’m so excited for 2017. I have a second book coming out in the winter for HarperCollins – I Am Not a Chair – the story of a little giraffe (told you I like giraffes) who, on his first day on his own, keeps getting mistaken for a chair by the other animals in the jungle. Next up is a book I illustrated for the super brilliant Jen Hamburg, called Billy Boo is Stuck In Goo (Summer 2017 Scholastic). It’s a super fast-paced, hilarious story of a boy who finds himself in a strange predicament, and the crazy cast of characters who attempt to help him out. The characters were so much fun to develop, and I was given a lot of freedom to push the humor with the illustration. Then in the fall, I have the first of two books for my series Pine and Boof (HarperCollins), about two wilderness buddies, Pine the porcupine and Boof the bear. While the series has the quirkiness of my other books, it’s also a bit more sentimental, and I’ve really fallen in love with the characters. The second book in the series comes out in Fall 2018.
Many thanks to Ross for visiting Picture Book Builders!
Ross is serving up a signed copy of There’s a Giraffe in my Soup to one lucky duck commenter. I’ll share the winner on May 6.
*No animals were harmed in the making of the soup, the book, or this blog post.*
This looks like a super fun book….I can imagine my second grade students loving every page as they LOVE anything silly! Love your little studio….sometimes less is really more! THanks for the opportunity to win!
My maiden name is Longenecker, so it is easy to understand why giraffes are my favorite animals too! I have found that your advice is spot on, sometimes when I sit down to write I realize I just need to clean off my desk and start fresh. Starting fresh may mean working on a fresh idea, a fresh page or simply a fresh sentence. Thank you for letting us peek into your space.
This looks like such a darling book! I can’t wait to read it!
Congratulations, Ross! What an adorable book and it sounds like there is more of your brilliance to come. Yay!!
Your story sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to read it!
GIRAFFE SOUP looks hilarious! Can’t wait to slurp it up. Congrats on all of your success!
Giraffes are your lucky animal. Here’s more to giraffe picture books. Thanks for the giveaway.
Congratulations, can’t wait to read it!
I’ve had all sorts of interesting things in my soup (flies, ants, celery)… but never a giraffe! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on getting organized – my biggest failing. And sharing your sketchbook – great idea, the “no judgement” page. Can’t wait to read Giraffe in My Soup!
What a great story (the one your wrote and the one you shared with us). Thank you for all of this inspiration!
Sounds like a fun, silly book! Congratulations!
I’m posting a link to this on my Facebook page and on my blog today, which features “G.” Fun! I just won a copy of A Hungry Lion, so I won’t ask to be included in the drawing, but I do look forward to reading this one! What a super interview and giraffe story idea.
Great, fun book!!! My son’s favorite animal has always been giraffes and he’s almost 48! My 5 yr. old granddaughter who loves soup so much she has it every day, also loves giraffes, just like her Daddy. I’m sure she would love your book and laugh and laugh. She and I live together with her Daddy and teen age sister.
We will definitely look up this book!
My granddaughter loves giraffes. This one looks adorable! Congrats!
Great information. Thank you, I like giraffes also.
Can’t wait to read and share your book!
I read this book a few weeks ago and thought it was funny and the illustrations were great! I think it would give children the giggles during story time!
Congratulations Ross! You’ve shared so many helpful things…”no judgement page” in sketchbook, yes! “Get organized”…, working on it! Can’t wait to check out your book. Thank you for the interview.
Wonderful interview! Congrats to Ross–Giraffe looks hilarious! And I, too, love the “no judgment page.”
This looks fabulous – already requested it from the library, and would LOVE to read it. And I ALSO need organization skills – and a “no judgment page.” Fabulous!
My seven-year-old loves this book. I have read it at least a dozen times in the past two weeks. I would be honored to win this book since I will some day have to return the library’s.
I like your idea for a no judgement page Ross – I think I’ll try it. PS I love giraffes too!
Thanks for this fun post. I hope that I find a giraffe in my soup. LOVE it when animals appear out of nowhere, especially giraffes!
LOVE that cover! Congrats, Ross! Can’t wait to read this one!
I can’t wait to get this book. I also love giraffes and this book looks like so much fun. And I’m looking forward to seeing I Am Not a Chair. What a hoot! Sounds like Ross is really on a roll. Keep it up!!
This book sounds delightfully wacky. Congratulations!
So enjoyed this interview. Thank you!
I can’t wait to read that book with my kids. Great advice about the no judgement page – starting one now!
What a unique, fun concept! I’m excited to read this one and all of your future work, too. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us, Ross!
Congratulations! This is such a great interview, and the book looks and sounds absolutely hilarious. The book trailer is great!
How fun! I can’t wait to see your books in print!
Congrats on your book. Looks so funny. And thanks for the post!!
Boy howdy, this books looks like a majorly fun read. I can’t wait to get my copy! I’m always interested how the young readers(1st Grade/Kinders) in my class approach reading a book that brings the funny.
Major congratulations on your debut picture book. And Tammi souper cool word play!
Well, this article has certainly made my day. My morning, anyway! I enjoyed it all and loved his suggestion about his “no judgement” scribble-y pages.
Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
I need to have a no-judgement notebook for my story ideas! Thanks for the inspiration.
This book look to be so much fun. Congratulations!
Ross: Your advice and words of encouragement made my day. Being disorganized must be a universal challenge for many creatives. I look forward to reading the book GETTING THINGS DONE. The template you created for better organization sounds like a great tool. I look forward to reading your delightful book THERE’S A GIRAFFE IN MY SOUP and your upcoming books you created. Thank you.
Your interview was filled with so much inspiration. I love the No Judgement Page idea. Looking forward to reading your Giraffe book. Beautiful Cover Art!
Congratulations on all your upcoming books! These illustrations are wonderful and I can’t wait to see the rest!!
This sounds adorable and I love the cover. Can’t wait to read it. Congratulations, Ross!
Looks like a super fun book!
Hmmmmm….get organized. Great but kind of scary advice. Lol! I’ll give it a try.
Such a brilliant idea. I can already picture my four-year-old laughing out LOUD at this book.
Ha! This book looks like a winner. Love the concept and illustrations.
I can’t wait to read this book. I’m going to find it somewhere today!
Thanks for sharing this great book. Can’t wait to read it!
Love this premise! One of those, “why didn’t I think of this,” ideas! Can’t wait to see the book.
I can’t eat soup but I love giraffes and whales. can’t wait to read this book. Congratulations, Ross on your debut PB!
Thank goodness no animals were harmed in the making!
what a fantastic story – look forward to reading it! and i think we all need a no judgement page in our lives.
Congratulations on your success! Can’t wait to read this book Ross – and thanks Tammi for bringing it to all of our attention.
Congratulations and wishing you the best on all of your projects. I love your idea of a “no judgement page” in your sketchbook.
Do giraffes rubberneck?
Congratulations Ross. You may not remember me but we went to school together (what almost seems like a life time ago) your book is adorable. I am so happy for you and wish you much success. I am looking forward to see what else happens with your characters.
Looking forward to tasting this story!!
Can’t wait to share this story in my new Storytime w/Toodles the clown series. I will be taking it on the road to pre school programs.
Wishing you great success with this and all your future stories.
Toodles, the clown.
aka Beth Stamp (friend of Ellen)
Way to go, Ross!! I can’t wait to see this book in person. The characters look hilarious. I’m so happy for you. 😀
I loved the trailer. It captures the quirkiness of the story. I agree that I love the elephant such an expressive trunk! Thanks for the tip as well. Getting and staying organized can be a battle!!
Thanks, Ross, for your great sounding picture book and your advice. I am currently in that place you described about writing query letters, sending, them and sending a manuscript. I like that you believe that the world always needs another picture book!
You sound as if you are well on your way in publishing. Congratulations.
Thanks, Tammi, for another interesting interview.
This was really inspiring for me, since I keep getting stuck myself. Thank you!
Thanks for this very inspiring story! I look forward to reading your books!
Congrats! The story sounds fun and that cover is awesome! The “I am Not a Chair” idea sounds hilarious. I imagine both of them will keep kids (and adults) laughing and reading it over and over again.
Love the trailer!
It’s a fun, curiosity builder and anticipation creator video for readers.
Most fave character: Giraffe!
Also love your studio and the way you made dummy/mockup.
Can I offer you custom FREE design with one of the character in your book on t-shirt/hoodie/mug (either one of your choice)?
Let me know so I can ship it for you.
I love funny books . . . and giraffes, too! Congratulations on your books!
A sure fire winner! Great interview. I am ordering some soup soon to see what arrives.
Congratulations, Ross! I can’t wait to get read this book and all the others to come! 🙂
I’ve already read this book, and it is a delight! My students and my children (2&4) love it!
Can’t wait to study the story and the art.
Your upcoming stories sound like such fun! I’m looking forward to reading them.
Great thoughts on getting organized…and I love the idea of the no judgement page. I plan to try it.
Boy how I wish I had grandchildren to read this to. What a delight. Good job, Ross.
Ross, it’s an amazing place inside your head, and I love the way you indulge in your wacky ideas! You send a positive and empowering message. On a side note, I found GETTING THINGS DONE helpful too! Your ridiculous talent + commitment = smashing success. Congrats!!
I cleaned a mountain of papers from my desk today, so perhaps that will help with my creative process. 😉 There’s a Giraffe in My Soup sounds fun and I’m anxious to read it!
This looks like SUCH a fun book! I too love giraffes! Definitely one to look out for.
Congrats on this debut. Love giraffes, too. My fav line from this interview was, ” I learned how much more a story could be with less.” We must all learn to let go. I also need to learn the organization trick. Hope I win your book.
Thanks for sharing this interview. My kids and I checked this book out at the library, and they thought it was so funny.
Wonderful interview! Thank you so much Ross and Tammi! 🙂
This is a book I want to see. Looks like lots of fun! Congrats, Ross!
Such fun! Giraffes have long (ha!) been my favorite animal 🙂
I love the idea of a no judgement page – thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to meet the giraffe and discover who else is hiding in that soup!
Ross, I have the perfect reader for your PB! My nephew will love the concept, illustrations and humor in There’s a Giraffe in my Soup. Thanks for sharing!
Many thanks to everyone who commented. 🙂
If you haven’t commented but would still like to be included in the giveaway drawing, please comment by May 5.
The winner will be revealed on May 6. Ooh.
Such an adorable book. My grandkids would love this especially since it has their favorite animal, a Giraffe!
I love the idea of a “no judgement” page and will use this for both my drawing and writing! Also, getting organized is one of my big challenges. Thanks for the book recommendation.
Ross – thanks so much for sharing your journey. Can’t wait to read this one!
Love it! Thanks, Ross, for sharing.
I love his quirky sense of humor. I also love the picture of his “office,” on the wall above a fireplace. When you’re a writer you find a place to write, no matter how small. Congratulations on all your success.
I may have already commented on this post…but I just reread it and wanted to say I can’t wait to see the book! It sounds delightful! Thanks!
This looks like such a lovely, funny book! Please pick me as the winner!!!!
I love zany picture books – those and the really sentimental ones tend to be the ones that I go back to again and again (and again). People that are good at wacky PB’s are really good at them, and I can’t wait to read Ross’s books! The trailer was fantastic ?
Oh, my gosh. I’m excited for this one. Okay, I think I’m going to love visiting that “very funny place” inside Ross’ head. Thanks for putting it out on the page!
cute, cute, cute!
Congratulations Ross! What a great idea for a book. I can’t wait to read it. It sounds like there is hope for those of us unorganized writers – does it work in other areas of your life??
I love the idea of a “no judgement” section for all of my off the wall ideas.
Thanks for the great post.
The book concept sounds wonderful. Congratulations on this book and the future ones coming up.
Pingback: No Bunnies Here!, interview with Ross Burach–plus GIVEAWAY