Psst! Tammi here. Do I have a (doggy) treat for you! My pal Janee Trasler and her pup Pixie Belle are filling in for me this month.
Please welcome Janee and PIxie Belle!
Thank you, Tammi, for inviting me to write a guest post.
You know what, Picture Book Builders? Choosing just ONE picture book to write about is tough. I simply couldn’t decide, so I let my adorable puppy, Pixie Belle, do all the hard work. Who’s a good girl?!
Her pick is DOZENS OF DACHSHUNDS: A COUNTING, WOOFING, WAGGING BOOK from Bloomsbury, written by Stephanie Calmenson and illustrated by Zoe Persico. Nice choice, Pixie Belle!
We both had questions, so we were really happy Stephanie stopped by to give us the scoop on this charming book. What a treat.
JT: Wow, Stephanie. You have written an impressive number of books over the years. How many books do you have under your belt?
SC: I started out as a classroom teacher, but have spent most of my working life talking to children through my writing. I guess there’s a lot I want to say because I’ve written over 100 books with more to come. I’ve written fiction and nonfiction, in poetry and prose, in picture books and chapter books. I also collaborated on many books with Joanna Cole, best known for her Magic School Bus series. We felt very lucky to be friends, and luckier still to be friends who could write together.
PB: That sounds like a l-o-n-g list of books!
JT: Yes, it does. What’s your secret for staying relevant as the market and audience changes?
SC:I don’t worry too much about changes of the moment, believing that children will always love books that are fun to read, reflect their feelings, and teach them something new.
PB: Your doggy’s name is Harry, right? He’s furry handsome. Did he give you the idea for the book? Does he like treats? Can he come play with me?
JT: Good question. This book has almost as many layers as it has dachshunds. How DID you come up with the idea for DOZENS OF DACHSHUNDS?
SC: The answers to your questions, Pixie Belle, are yes, yes, and yes! Harry is my treat-loving dog, who inspired me to write this book. When I brought Harry home, he was five months old and a sad, scared pup. He needed some friends to cheer him up and I was thrilled to learn about the Dachshund Festival in New York City’s Washington Square Park. Seeing hundreds of dachshunds happily gathered together, many in costumes, was irresistible for a children’s book writer. It took me a long time, though, to figure out what book I wanted to write. Finally the dachshund lover and former teacher in me got together and led the way to this counting, woofing, wagging book.
PB: I especially like the Dachshund Chart.
JT: Yes! What gave you the idea to add such a useful extra?
SC: Dachshunds are remarkable in many ways, including their variety. It was important to me to show that dachshunds, like people, come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, and we love them all.
JT: The art is wonderfully inclusive (people AND dachshund-wise). Illustrator Zoe Persico did a fabulous job here. What kinds of art notes did you include? Were there any surprises in the artwork?
SC: I have been writing for a long time and have always noted on my manuscripts that I wanted a wide representation of people in my books. This time I added that we needed a wide variety of dachshunds! I was veryfortunate to be paired up with Zoe Persico, a fabulous artist who shares my strong feelings about inclusion.
The surprise I had was the way she succeeded in countably and gracefully fitting seventy-eight dachshunds on one spread. That was a tall order for any artist, even when the dogs are short.
PB: Is Harry one of the dozen dachshunds in the book? Does he like to dress up like the doggies in the book? What’s his favorite costume? I love him.
SC: Harry’s the dashing dachshund in a top hat, leading the way. He’s always been very agreeable when it comes to wearing costumes. I don’t know about a favorite, but he’s been very comfortable wearing a hat to keep the sun from his eyes.
It’s been great fun talking with you, Janee, and with you, Pixie Belle. We know and love several Chiweenies, including Joanna Cole’s granddog, Gracie. And now we know and love you.
JT: Thank you for chatting with us, Stephanie. Pixie Belle and I will be reading this book at LEAST a dozen times.
To learn more about Stephanie, please visit her website: https://stephaniecalmenson.com/.
P.S. Pixie Belle also picks these picture books:
For a chance to win a copy of DOZENS OF DACHSHUNDS: A COUNTING, WOOFING, WAGGING BOOK, leave a comment on this post. For an extra entry please share a link to this post on Twitter. Be sure to tag Janee @janeetrasler, Stephanie @CalmensonKidBks, and Tammi @SauerTammi.