Happy, happy, happy Friday! I'm celebrating this fine spring day with author Paul Czajak! We chatted about monsters, spiders, picture books, and reading. I wrote the words in red, and he wrote the words in black. Thank you, Paul!
Monster Needs a Party tells the story of a Monster that needs a party. That of course is the short answer that everyone already probably figured out from the title. So I will expand.
It is Monster’s Birthday and monster wants to have a party! But when Boy calls all of his friends they all have plans and none of them can attend. Did I forget to tell you this story is a tragedy? I figured if I ever wanted this to make it to Broadway I had to pull a Disney and start with something sad. At least I haven't killed off their parents…yet.
Ok enough of that. To cheer up Monster, Boy brings him to Pirate Land, which is a pirate themed amusement park. They ride the rides, play the games and eat food that is bad for them. Of course what we find out in the end is that this was all a ruse set up by Boy so that they could throw Monster a surprise party. It’s all about friendship. Monster is Boy’s best friend and Boy wants to give Monster the best birthday he can!
Wendy Grieb’s illustrations are awesome! I could not be happier with them. They fit the feel of the characters. Monster is bold and has a larger than life quality to him so the illustrations needed to be that way as well. The colors she used and expressions she created all accomplished this and I couldn't imagine it any other way.
Seaver the Weaver is very different from my Monster & Me™ series. It is a much quieter book but I think the underlying messages the story conveys are more powerful. When I first wrote this book, I was only thinking about how teachers could use it not only for vocabulary but for the geometry as well. But then I noticed that the story was more than just that. It dealt with peer pressure, listening to what people have to say but ultimately being yourself, and, of course, inspiration.
|Download an activity kit for Seaver the Weaver.|
Did you know orb spiders had an extra toe to help them weave their circular webs? They also eat their web before they weave a new one each night. Yes, they are very cool.
|The Brothers Hilts | Image retrieved from here.|
The Brothers Hilts again are awesome! They have such a cool style to their artwork which is exactly what I wanted for Seaver. In the book, Seaver has a repeating line, “I like my web. It is unique”. So I knew the art had to be just as unique, and the Brothers Hilts delivered. If the art of Eric Carle and Tim Burton had a baby, it would be Seaver.
Picture books are discarded too soon! I feel like teachers and parents all rush to get their kids reading chapter books way too soon. Picture books have such a great way of expanding a child’s vocabulary because the picture is there to help define the words they are reading. Early readers and chapter books are great, but the vocabulary has to be at a reading level a child can understand since they have to read it. A picture book doesn’t have those constraints.
Reading is something I hated when I was a kid. I admit it. When I was in elementary school I was a TV watcher. I found books to be a chore. To this day I still remember the theme songs to the majority of cartoons and sitcoms that I wasted so much time on. Reading could never keep my attention—plus I was slow at it. If I were a kid growing up in this day and age I probably would be diagnosed ADD, possibly dyslexic, and placed on medication. Then one day at a swim meet, I must have been twelve or thirteen, a teammate handed me a book. The title was Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings. My friend told me it was really good. Of course, I’m thinking: It’s a book. How good could it be? But since the only thing to do at a swim meet is watch people swim, which is even boring to other swimmers, I figured I would give it a try. Well, that was it. I was hooked. I read ever book in the series and in the second series. I started reading anything and everything in the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre. I turned from never wanting to read anything to reading every day, all because of one book. I tell kids this story at all of my school visits because I feel many kids are in the same boat that I was in. They are told they need to read, but they don't like to read. So I try to explain: All it takes is that one book to get you hooked. Everyone has one. You just need to find it.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me…What does my family think of me being a writer?
And my answer would be, that is none of your business! How dare you ask me such a personal question. This interview is over, good day sir!