Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ellabug by Gregory Turner-Rahman


Bayou Ellabug and her cousin, Gerard the Gator
 I am please to welcome Ellabug to Tales from the Bayou.  She visits us today riding on the back of her cousin, Gerard the Gator. Hello Ellabug!!!!

Don't you just love the picture her creator, Gregory Turner-Rahman did especially for her visit to my blog? I am so honored.

Ahem.  So, now what she came here for...a stop on her blog tour.

About Ellabug:  Ellabug is a delightful picture book story of a very lovable young ladybug, Ellabug, who lives with a diverse family—VERY diverse. Her dad’s a rat and her mother’s a chipmunk. All of her relatives seem to be of a different species from her.


 As Ellabug wonders about other families and wanders off to explore them, she finds a colony of ants. They are all alike. But being alike isn’t all there is to being in a happy family. Ellabug realizes that she wants to go back home, but where is she? Will Ellabug find her way home?

Gregory Turner-Rahman has done a wonderful job of both writing in rhyme and creating the beautiful illustrations for this book.

See Ellabug's video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-U48dm2Zt4-Rahman

About Gregory: Gregory Turner-Rahman is currently a professor at the University of Idaho and teaches history, how to create art on a computer, and how to think and communicate visually.

Hello Greg and welcome to my blog. I have a few questions for you that our visitors might like to know.

Where did you come up with the idea for Ellabug, especially her unusual family?

I made up Ellabug when my eldest daughter was very young. We’d read together every night. Actually, we still do – it’s always the best part of my day! She's a teenager now so she probably won't admit to this but when she was small she too loved that time together and wouldn’t want to go to bed. She would try to delay the inevitable by asking me to tell her a story. Ellabug was one of the more polished creations.

This story resonated because my daughter had entered daycare and we began to worry that she saw herself as different from the other kids. We are a multi-racial and multi-cultural family and she started to notice this at very early age. I thought the multi-animal family would be a fun way to talk about the issue to younger kids.

The story revolves around Ellabug’s family and its uniqueness so there is not a lot of action for a big part of the book – it’s a protracted introduction to the characters that surround her. Subsequently, I worked to make it interesting and all the animals truly individuals. Each one is meant to be scruffy and loveable like a well-loved stuffed animal.

I had so much fun creating the family I wanted to use the sketches from initial versions of family members in the final book. I thought about having the pictures of the extended family on the walls of Ellabug's house or as the endpapers (see below). In the end, it seemed like overkill. Although, I must say, I really love the duck with the combover.

Do you have any other books out that we might be able to check out?

Not just yet. Ellabug was my first publication. I do have several new stories in the works. I am starting the drawings for a story called Mike? that also addresses the issue of identity but in a very different way. Keep an eye out for it.

I see you did the art as well as the story. Which came first?

The story really did come first. For me it has to. It gives direction for the artwork. If I get too far along without having resolved the story then both sides of my brain claim dominion over the project. If the story is done, the left brain can relax and feel chuffed while the right brain struts its stuff.

Why did you decide to write Ellabug as a rhyming picture book?

Ok, so you know I created these stories for my daughter - what I am not telling you is that I was really awful at doing it. I couldn’t conjure them up on the spot. So, I’d often squirrel myself away and think up a quick little synopsis for the next night’s story. Ellabug was probably one of the first and it rhymes so that I could remember it. It worked so well that some 7 years later I was able to put it on paper.

Would you like to ask our visitors a question?

Is it important for a children’s book to have a message?

Please leave a comment for Greg or just say hello!

Purchase Ellabug or learn more about Ellabug and Gregory Turner-Rahman at:
http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-Turner-Rahman/e/B003I2B71I
Ellabug is published by Diversion Press
http://www.diversionpress.com/home

Monday, May 2, 2011

Halloween Kentucky Style

I am pleased to be part of a blog tour for Diversion Press. Today, I am reviewing Halloween Kentucky Style, by children’s author, Charles Suddeth.



About Halloween Kentucky Style: What’s scarier than a haunted house and a graveyard on Halloween? For Mike and Tommy, a couple of mischievous eleven year old boys, who feel they are getting a little old for trick or treat, it is the perfect setting to scare a couple of girl cousins. However, their carefully laid out plan turns on them as they find more than their accomplice haunting the old mansion.


This 42-page soft cover book for readers from 9-12 is filled with goosebumps and Halloween fun.


About Charles Suddeth: Although he was born in Indiana and grew up in Michigan, he has spent most of his life in Kentucky. He lives in Louisville with his two cats, Wendy and Binks. He is a graduate of Michigan State University. He has also done graduate work at MSU, Spalding University, and the University of Louisville. He is a member of Green River Writers of Louisville, a PAL member of I Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBW), and is active in the Midsouth division (Kentucky and Tennessee).
A few questions for you Charles:


Is Halloween Kentucky Style your first published children’s book?


CS: Yes, and it was published in October 2010 by Diversion Press.


I loved your characters, especially Danny. Where do you get ideas for your characters? 


CS: Thank you, but I don’t know where my characters come from. I’ve heard that writers put bits and pieces of themselves in their characters. The subconscious? Danny is the underdog—younger, left out of the fun, and subject to Mike’s tricks. I think most people like underdogs.


Are there any lessons to be learned from Halloween Kentucky Style?



CS: I wrote this so the reader could enjoy an adventure, but lessons always worm their way into my stories. I believe that’s true for most writers. Telling the truth, admitting you’re wrong, and coping with the unknown come to mind for me. But the lesson I really want kids to learn is that reading is FUN.


When did you know you wanted to write for kids?


CS: Originally I just wrote children’s books for my enjoyment—and my family’s too. I thought adult fiction was “real” writing. A children’s librarian explained to me that “Halloween Kentucky Style” was middle reader’s fiction, so I started learning about children’s writing. I also learned that writing for children was just as enjoyable as writing for adults, and it was just as important. I want boys to become book readers. Most girls already do read books, but I made sure girls were in the story, because I want just as many girls to enjoy it.


What writing organizations do you find the most helpful and why?


CS: The SCBWI (society for children’s books writers and illustrators) is a world-wide organization that is essential for children’s writers. I also belong to Green River Writers. They have over 300 members, and they taught me much about writing in general.


Do you have more books coming out soon?


CS: None soon. But I am waiting to hear from my editor about a sequel. I also have a publisher who has expressed interest in one of my picture books.


What advice do you have for new writers?


CS: There is only one reason to write—you love to write. If you are serious about writing, get help—books, other writers, writing organizations. And be patient—writing, editing, and getting published takes time and energy.


Would you like to close with a question for our visitors?


CS: Do you remember the first book (or series) that you read by yourself when you were a child? One that you really got excited about? Or is hard to narrow it down to one?


Thank you for taking the time to visit with us, and commenting. Please come back on Wednesday when I will be featuring Ellabug, also with Diversion Press. See more books by Diversion Press at: http://www.diversionpress.com/

For a copy of this book see Diversion Press or Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Halloween-Kentucky-Style-Charles-Suddeth/dp/1935290169