I love when authors and illustrators agree to finish my sentences. This week's special guest is Stacy McAnulty. We chatted about Ed, Mike Boldt, picture books, school libraries, and home perms. I wrote the words in green, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Stacy!
Elaine, Emily, Elmer, Edith, and Ernie are the excellent Ellis children. In this book, you only see them being successful and excellent. But we know they must fight and falter. That’s what people do. That’s what families do. Still, Ed, the faithful dog, sees only their strengths. That’s dog-vision. Seeing only the best in the ones we love. (Fun fact: In early drafts of this manuscript, there were eleven Ellis children. Then I cut it to eight. And finally trimmed it to five—a number that ends in an E. Close enough.)
|Illustration Credit: Julia Sarcone-Roach|
Ed is a young, scrappy, and hungry mutt. (Sorry, had to get in my Hamilton reference.) Sure, Ed is a dog, but he’s really anyone who has ever wondered if he/she is good enough. As kids, we probably all compare ourselves to our siblings and then we enter school and compare ourselves to our classmates and friends. And it doesn’t completely stop when we become adults. I compare myself to other parents, other writers, and women in general. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, I can do this at 3 AM if I want. So Ed is me! And maybe Ed is you! Wow, that got deep.
|Explore Julia's website.|
Julia Sarcone-Roach’s illustrations should be framed and hung on the walls. Preferably my walls. Julia is an amazing artist. Each spread in Excellent Ed is full of emotion. She brings Ed to life. (I also love that the cover is mainly green and yellow—Green Bay Packer colors.)
The Dino Files series began as a present to my son. He wanted a “real life dinosaur” for his fifth birthday. I couldn’t find a Spinosaurus or Iguanodon anywhere. So I wrote a book about a couple of kids who are luckier than my son. They discover a dino egg that’s not quite extinct. If I’m going to be completely honest, I think I want a “real life dinosaur” more than my son does. When I grow up, I plan on working at Jurassic Park.
Mike Boldt and I would make a great team in Pictionary. Of course, he’d have to do all the drawing and I’d do all the guessing. And if the category was “prehistoric creatures,” I’m certain we’d take the gold. That is, if I didn’t fall over laughing. Mike’s pictures are always hystericalf. (Spoiler Alert: Page 93 in book 3 is my absolute favorite picture. My kids were rolling on the floor.)
Picture books are breakfast—the most important meal of the day. To translate my horrible metaphor, picture books are crucial to a lifetime of literacy and learning. There’s plenty of data to back it up. And we all know, you can’t skip breakfast. By 11AM, you’ll be starving. If kids don’t get their fill of picture books, there will be a void in their lives, and they might never find the joy in reading. It may make them hangry. Picture Books: Part of a balanced life. (I’ll be right back. I need a coffee, a donut, and a picture book.)
School libraries are portals. You step inside and you are safe from other parts of the school. Maybe it’s the stress of tests, or fear of bullies, or physical inadequacies that are highlighted in gym class, or overwhelming lunch rooms. The library transports you temporarily away. Now take another few steps into this portal and you may land in a magical realm, or on a pirate ship, or in a village on the other side of the world. Or, maybe, that portal will show you a character that’s experiencing the same pressures you’re currently facing.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what advice would you give 10-year-old Stacy? And if I may answer… 1) Keep drawing because art matters, and you enjoy it. 2) Don’t be embarrassed to ask teachers for extra help. 3) Just say no to home perms.
Borrow Excellent Ed from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.