Sunday, December 2, 2012

An Interview with Author Deborah Underwood

Before becoming a children's author, Deborah Underwood worked as a street musician and in a business office. I'm thankful children's literature called her name.  She writes funny, irresistible, and endearing picture books that I constantly recommend to students, parents, teachers, and librarians. 

Deborah dropped by Watch. Connect. Read. to answer questions about her books, MerryMakers, writing, and reading.  Happy watching, connecting, and reading! 



Mr. Schu: The Quiet Book, The Loud Book, and The Christmas Quiet Book are three of the most adorable and delightful picture books. Renata Liwska’s pencil illustrations perfectly match and extend your phrases. Did you and Renata collaborate on how the characters would look? 

Deborah Underwood: Thank you so much! Nope, Renata is wholly responsible for the look of the adorable characters. In fact, when I wrote The Quiet Book, I imagined that the character would be a human kid—the same person throughout, since I thought that would make the book more cohesive. Thank goodness I let go of that idea!



Mr. Schu: I am MerryMakers’ biggest fan. What ran through your head the first time you saw the trio of dolls they created for The Quiet Book and The Loud Book

Deborah Underwood: I’m pretty sure it was, “Aaaaaaah, they’re adorable!!!” I was thrilled, and so happy that MerryMakers did such a good job representing Renata’s work.


Photo credit: Houghton Mifflin
Mr. Schu: What’s the best thing about being a children’s author? 

Deborah Underwood: There are lots of great things, like getting to make things up and working from home. But the best thing is being surrounded by people—kids and adults--who love and care about kids’ books.



Mr. Schu: You write it all: picture books, easy readers, chapter books, and  twenty-eight nonfiction books. Please give a brief booktalk on one book from each category.



A Balloon for Isabel (illustrated by Laura Rankin) tells the story of a determined porcupine who resolves to find a way around her school’s no-balloons-for-porcupines rule. Although I thought it was about porcupines and shiny red balloons, after the book came out a friend observed that it’s actually about injustice. I think he’s right!



Pirate Mom (illustrated by Stephen Gilpin) is about a pirate-crazy boy named Pete who gets more than he bargained for when a hypnotist turns his mom into a pirate. Arrr!



Terrible Terrel, one of the Sugar Plum Ballerina chapter books, explores 8-year-old Terrel’s discomfort when her single dad starts dating her ballet arch-rival’s aunt. Terrel and her friends implement some ill-advised schemes to break the pair up—a forged letter, a spider in an ice cube, and an anatomically correct human heart model are all involved—but Terrel ultimately comes to a new understanding of her dad.



101 Ways to Save the Planet is a collection of concrete things kids can do to help the environment: everything from eating green to making schools earth-friendly. With photos, quizzes, and sidebars throughout, it has a glossy-magazine-like feel. 
Mr. Schu: Please complete these sentence starters: 

Picture books are a fabulous opportunity for synergy: art and words combining to make something greater than the sum of the parts.

Reading is what saved me as a kid.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about hEr BeauTiful CAt, BeLLa!!! Hey, I didn’t type that. YoU ShoULD have! Yes, I should have.


I am giving away one copy of The Christmas Quiet Book
Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 12/2 to 11:59 p.m. on 12/5. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. :)




Please borrow The Christmas Quiet Book from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops

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