Join me in welcoming fellow rhymer and picture book author, Lori Degman, whose brand new picture book, COCK- A-DOODLE OOPS! (Creston Books) hits shelves tomorrow! She is also the author of ONE ZANY ZOO (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010) which won the 2008 Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories New Author Contest. Well, let’s get started.
LAURA: Thanks so much for joining us. I always love chatting with authors – especially authors who love playing with meter and rhyme as much as I do.
LORI: Thanks so much for having me, Laura! I feel the same way – there’s nothing like talking to another rhyme geek!
LAURA: The premise of COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! – in which Rooster takes a vacation, leaving the responsibility of waking the farmer to the other animals – is adorable. What inspired you to create this story? Did you perhaps grow up with a rooster at home?
LORI: No, I didn’t grow up with a rooster or live anywhere near a farm (though my brother used to make strange animal-like noises sometimes). I’m not sure where I got the idea for the story. Originally, I wanted to write a “boy who cried wolf” type of story and I thought it would be funny if a rooster crowed at all times of the day, out of boredom – or maybe he had insomnia – something like that. Anyway, that story somehow morphed into rooster leaving the other animals to do his job. At first he went on strike but that was a negative concept so I had him go on a vacation instead.
LAURA: Writing a picture book is hard enough, let alone adding the extra elements of rhythm and rhyme. But as the reviews attest, you have a gift for it. The Kirkus Review, for example, describes COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! as full of “puns and foolery pitched just right for newly independent readers” and they praise you as having a “gift for rhymes and language that is clever rather than forced”. What’s your secret for great story-telling?
LORI: I’m very flattered by the comments in the Kirkus Review! I really think the secret to writing good rhyme is persistence (good writing of any kind, for that matter). I’ll admit, I have a good ear for rhythm and that helps a lot! But, I work painstakingly to make every beat work so it flows smoothly. Also, my love for puns comes in really handy when writing in rhyme and especially about animals. There’s so much material to choose from.
LAURA: I can tell from your website that you have a barn-full of great book launch events and opportunities for your readers. Tell us a little bit about what you have planned.
LORI: My first book launch will be on Saturday, May 10th at 11:00 at Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville, IL. My second launch (along with Deborah Zemke) will be on Saturday, May 17th at 11:00 at The Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park, IL. On Friday night, May 16th at 6:30 pm, Deborah and I will be at The Book Stall in Winnetka, IL for a storytime. All three events will include an interactive reading of the book, animal masks for the kids to color and of course, snacks!
LAURA: Finally, teachers and parents are always looking for ways to tie picture books into the curriculum or extend the enjoyment with post-reading activities. Do you have any extension activities your readers might enjoy?
LORI: A writer friend of mine, Marcie Colleen, created a teacher’s guide for me and it’s great! She ties the activities to different areas of the curriculum. Teachers and parents can find it on my website or they can download it for free from Teachers Pay Teachers. There are also coloring pages kids can download – they’re masks of each of the animals (created by illustrator, Deborah Zemke) to color and cut out.
LAURA: Thanks so much for joining us today, Lori. To learn more about Lori and her books visit her website and blog. She’s also active on Twitter and Facebook. Her books are available at bookstores everywhere or online.
LORI: Thanks so much again, Laura! This was a lot of fun!