I’m honored to be the newest contributor to PBB, and especially honored to step into Linda Ashman’s shoes. I’ve been a fan of Linda’s books for many years. To celebrate my first post, today will be a double giveaway, meaning we’ll have two winners! One will receive my newest, ONE-OSAURUS, TWO-OSAURUS (more about that below) and the other will receive a copy of my friend Lezlie Evan’s new dino-themed picture book, I’M A FEEL-O-SAUR, published in April by Welbeck Children’s Books, illustrated by Kate Chappell. You’ll begin to notice a theme as my PBB post collection grows: envy that I didn’t come up with the idea first. Lezlie’s book is no exception, especially right now, with children dealing with feelings they might not have experienced in a less-strange year.
Here’s what Kirkus had to say: “Speaking directly to its kid audience, the upbeat verse text assures them that feelings change throughout a day and that’s OK, invites them to identify how they are feeling now, and offers practical tips for acting on or coping with positive and negative moods.… guaranteed to entertain.” ~Kirkus Reviews
So Lezlie, tell us how this book came about for you.
When my children were young, if they were acting grumpy, I would often say, “Are you feeling like a crank-o-saurus today?” My kids loved dinosaurs, especially my oldest, AJ – he was a dino-fanatic. For his 8th birthday, I surprised him big time by decorating his room in dinos. When he went off to school, I told him his present would be waiting for him when he got home. As soon as he went out the door, my friend who was an artist, came over and she drew big dinosaurs on his walls. We spent the day painting them, and then, for the finishing touch, I put a new dino-bedspread on his bed. When AJ got home he bounded in the door and shouted, “Where’s my present?” I said, “Go take a look in your room.” He was SO excited! Kids’ fascination with dinosaurs is timeless. My grandkids are now into dinosaurs. One day, when a couple of them were visiting, one of them was pouting and I said, “Are you feeling like a grumpy-saurus today?” He laughed, just like my kids used to and I thought, “Why haven’t I written that book?” And so I did. Right then. My granddaughter even helped write some of the text and my little grumpy-saurus grandson (whose mood had totally turned around) advised me on which emotions I should address.
In my own experience, my illustrators sometimes surprise me. Were little kids in dino costumes in your mind all along?
I pictured actual dinosaurs when I wrote the text. But writing is a collaborative process. My amazing editor on this project, Alli Brydon, came up with the idea to put little kids in dinosaur costumes and I LOVED the idea as soon as she shared it. I think Kate’s illustrations of the diverse group of little kids in a variety of colorful costumes turned out wonderfully. I love how collaboration strengthens a story and makes it even better.
Do you think this is an especially important time for a book like this?
Learning to identify, label, and express our feelings is critical to emotional wellness. Research shows that children who learn to express their emotions will grow up to be more socially well-adjusted and better able to problem solve. While talking about “feelings” is always important, the pandemic has been a time when children have felt an additional amount of stress, as well as a LOT of different feelings. So, yes, I think a book like this – that provides a way for little ones to identify what they are feeling and offers some coping mechanisms – is super important. Kids need to be having “feelings” conversations and building their emotional vocabularies and this book provides a fun way for them to do that.
Were there other feelings you came up with that didn’t make it into the book? If so, how did you decide which to include?
There are so many emotions that could have been included in I’M A FEEL-O-SAUR. We tried to make sure we covered a range of emotions while not being redundant. Since there are only so many pages we could include in the book, Joy-o-saurus, Sleepy-saurus, and Hungry-saurus didn’t make the cut. But I found other ways to include those emotions in the text.
Thank you for dropping by, Lezlie!
Thanks so much for spotlighting my book. You’ve made me a Happy-saurus! (As you can see, I am not a Shy-o-saurus when it comes to donning the dino-costume).
Lezlie Evans is an award-winning author of numerous picture books. You can find her on the web at Lezlieevans.com and on Instagram @Lezlie_evans.
Kim again: As for my new dinosaur counting book, I’m happy that “roar” rhymes so neatly with “four.” I never know where these ideas come from, but at some point, my brain substituted “osaurus” for “potato” in the old “One potato, two potato” rhyme. Kirkus gave it a star, saying, “Norman’s latest outing and first collaboration with Collet-Derby is storytime and read-aloud gold, featuring as it does a tight, patterned rhyme, an artful use of page turns, and a mighty “ROAR!” midstream—not to mention lots of dinosaurs…A dino-delight.” Published in March by Candlewick Press, the book is illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby whose design sense impresses me as much as his illustrating skills. Plus, he used all my favorite colors! I’m tickled that Junior Library Guild awarded it a Gold Standard medallion.
For a chance to win one of the featured books in today’s post, please leave a comment by June 29 and I’ll pick two winners at random.