I’m happy to report that the funny and fabulous Jody Jensen Shaffer took some time out of her schedule from saving the day to visit us at Picture Book Builders.
Jody’s here to share her latest and greatest, EMERGENCY KITTENS!, which was illustrated by Dave Mottram.
This is what Kirkus had to say about the book:
“These kitties will win hearts with a glossy-eyed glance.”—Kirkus
This is what I had to say:
Welcome to Picture Book Builders, Jody!
Thanks for having me, Tammi! I love PBB!
What inspired you to write this book? Perhaps an emergency that required the assistance of a trio of adorable kittens?
I wish! I’d love an emergency that could be handled by fluffy kittens! Alas, this one came to me as a result of deliberate brainstorming. And by that I mean sitting at my desk staring into space. Great fun. Have you tried it?
Tell us about creating this story. Did it involve lots of brainstorming? Lots of revisions? Lots of chocolate?
Always lots of chocolate! The title came first. I love combining things that don’t go together, like kittens and emergencies! But after I had the title, I had to figure out a story to go with it. What would emergency kittens do? (Save the day, obvs.) But how? And from whom? I worked on the manuscript for about a year, getting feedback from my critique buddies and revising, before my agent sold it in January of 2018 to the perfect editor, cat-lover-extraordinaire Frances Gilbert at Doubleday/Random House. What a great day!
What was your reaction to seeing Dave Mottram’s art for the first time?
Oh my gosh! I couldn’t believe how adorable Dave’s kittens were! I was thrilled to have been paired with him. He’s such a great illustrator and all-around human, don’t you agree?
YES! 🙂 [Side note to Picture Book Builder Readers–Dave Mottram also illustrated a couple of books that I wrote–Wordy Birdy and Wordy Birdy Meets Mr. Cougarpants.]
I love that this book does a SUPER (see what I did there?) job of incorporating the rule of threes. This is my favorite spread.
First, you give us three cutie kitty characters. Then you give us their names–Mimi, Twee-Twee, and Adorbs. Then you give us their opening greetings–Meow. Meow. Hi!
Can the rule of threes be found in your other books as well?
You caught me! I’m a rule of three kinda gal. It’s such a great structure for picture books that most of mine incorporate it. The rule of three helps build tension in just the right way.
If you could offer us one piece of advice, what would it be?
Study successful picture books from the last five years, figure out what the authors did, then pick up your pencil and dig in! [Was that one piece of advice or three? You know I love threes!]
Scoop time! What’s next for you?
I’m super excited for my February 2020 biography, Who is Jackie Chan?, to release from Penguin Workshop. And I’ve got several books releasing in 2021 and 2022!
Jody Jensen Shaffer is an award-winning poet and the author of more than 70 books of fiction and nonfiction for children, including Prudence the Part-Time Cow (2017 National Book Festival selection and 2019-2020 Missouri Show Me Award finalist), A Chip Off the Old Block, It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!, It’s a Field Trip, Busy Bus!, EMERGENCY KITTENS, Who is Jackie Chan?, and more. Jody’s poetry has been published in magazines like Highlights, Ladybug, and Clubhouse Jr. Jody lives with her family in Liberty, Missouri. When she’s not writing, Jody can be found watching baseball or walking her rescue dog, Sophie.
Visit Jody at jodyjensenshaffer.com or on Twitter @jodywrites4kids.
Jody is kindly offering a copy of EMERGENCY KITTENS! For a chance to win, comment on this post and/or share the link on Twitter. Please tag Jody at @jodywrites4kids and Tammi at @SauerTammi.