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:

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:
Ellabug is published by Diversion Press


Kath Fearing said...

So creative! Delightful.

Rita Monette, Writer said...

I'd like to answer Greg's question. I think a children's book should be first of all fun. But I also believe the child should be able to connect in some way to the characters and their situation. When they do, they will come away with a message. Hopefully a positive one.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Thanks for hosting Greg today. Love that Gator and the family photo wall is a hoot and 1/2!! :)

Yes - any book should have some overall message, children's or otherwise. Why else spend the time with it (author, illustrator or reader)?

Gregory Turner-Rahman said...

Rita, I agree. if the story gets too preachy it might not be as interesting to younger readers. At least that is my experience. But if the story is fun, interesting, and/or really resonates with a child it seems that message makes the story much richer, as KC suggests.

Charles said...

I mainly wanted to say hi to Greg.
But I think all stories have messages, some are more overt than others. If the messages get too strong, they dilute the story.

Gregory Turner-Rahman said...

Hi Charles.

I agree. All stories have messages whether explicitly stated or not.

Sean McHugh said...

First of all, I've said it before and I'll say it again,... I LOVE ELLABUG! Beautiful artwork, beautiful story, AND it's a fun read!!

To answer your question, I don't think all children's books need a message. First and foremost, I think they should be entertaining, (which Ellabug is). I'm not against message books at all. I love them when they are done well and don't take away from the fun. As long as they don't beat the message over the child's head like an ABC After School Special, ...then again, I guess all writers have something to say. Okay. I guess I haven't made up my mind yet. One thing I am sure of is that Ellabug is WONDEFUL and I've become an Ellabug groupie!

Gregory Turner-Rahman said...

Sean, I need you to come hang out at my house when I am tired and cranky. If I get too tired or down on myself, maybe you could pop out from behind a door and say nice things to me. thank you, Sean. and thanks Rita!

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Just getting back from a three day festival. Just wanted to say I am also a big fan of Ellabug!! Lots of traffic on Thursday, Greg, even if they didn't leave a comment. Hopefully, you got some book sales. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Later Ellabug and later alligator!