The Next Big Thing!

The Next Big Thing! Is a blog tour that gives authors and illustrators a chance to share their work, and then tag others to share theirs.  Each blogger answers the same ten questions. The tour started in Australia, and has spread worldwide.  I was ‘tagged’ by the wonderful artist and author, Melissa Iwai.  Please check out her blog  It includes posts about her artwork and about cooking.  She illustrated her latest book, Truck Stop, with lovely cut and painted paper collages.  Melissa and I met at an Illustrators’ Lunch Group meeting, in NYC.  At the end of this post, I will tag two more Children’s Book Illustrators, for your next stops on the tour.  And now, the ten questions!

1) What is the working title of your next book?

The working title of the book I’m developing at the moment, is Grandma Anna; The Lady in the Moon.  It is filled with buttons and family stories.  But I will be talking here about my latest published book Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word.  The book was written by Bob Raczka and it has just come out in paperback.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/illustrations?

Bob Raczka can tell you where the idea for the book came from.  The inspiration for the illustrations comes from the playfulness of Bob’s poems. For example, his poem titled Breakfast: "after rest, eat fast as a beast.” I had fun thinking of a child eating breakfast like a 'beast.’  I imagined a boy chowing down, with his dog watching him.  Is the dog shocked, or waiting for his turn?

3) What genre does your book fall under?

This is both a book of puzzles or riddles, and also a book of poetry for children.  Children in third through fifth grades will have fun figuring out the poem ‘puzzles’, as well as enjoying the sound and content of the poems.

The ‘puzzle part’ is that each letter of the poem is located under its place in the title, instead of being clustered together as words. (You kinda have to see it to understand!) The reader must sound out the letters to figure out how where the words start and stop.  The ‘answer’ to the puzzle, the poem written out in the traditional way, is a page turn away.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition of the book?

I would choose a class full of children from the local public school, PS 10, to play the characters in a movie rendition of Lemonade. My house is only a block away from the school.  I hear the sound of recess bells and the children playing each day, just like the children in the poems.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Using only the letters from a single word, each of the poems in this collection captures a scene from daily life and presents a puzzle to solve.

6) Who is publishing your book?

Roaring Brook Press published the hard cover of the book.  Square Fish, another imprint of Macmillan, published the paperback version.

7) How long did it take you to llustrate or write the first draft of the manuscript?

It took 4 months to create the illustrations for Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word. First, I made a lot of pencil sketches for each poem.  Then I painted each image several times, in order to get a version that was simple but lively. The images are painted with black ink and wash and red watercolor wash.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

The books of poetry that I remember most from my own childhood, were those of A. A. Milne,  When We Were Very Young and Now We are Six. The poems are simple and beautiful, and express the wonder of being a young child. I loved hearing them read to me.  The children in the poems of Lemonade, are of school age, but still full of play and wonder.

Another book that I illustrated; Morning Noon and Night: Poems to Fill Your Day, is also full of playful poems about children’s experiences.  It is a collection of poems by different authors, edited by Sharon Taberski.

9) Who or what inspired you to write or illustrate this book?

In addition to Bob’s poetry, my own children and their classmates inspired the illustrations in Lemonade. I have two children, both boys.  I was lucky enough to get to spend time in their elementary school classrooms, working and reading with them and their classmates. 

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Well, I hope that my illustrations add an extra layer of life and fun to reading the book, in addition to giving clues about the poems.  Another wonderful thing about the book is that it seems to inspire children to try their own hands at writing and illustrating ‘poems squeezed from a single word.’

And that is the end of the questions.  Next up for The Next Big Thing, are the artists Donna Miskend and Diane Ting Delosh. 

Click here to visit Donna Miskend’s Blog,


and visit Diana Ting Delosh at The Hare Illustratére.

All images © Nancy Doniger Illustration. No reproduction permitted without written permission.