Book Trailer Premiere: Can an Aardvark Bark? by Melissa Stewart; illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Hello, Melissa Stewart! Thank you for visiting Watch. Connect. Read. to premiere the book trailer for Can an Aardvark Bark? and to finish my sentences. 

Melissa: Thanks so much for premiering the Can an Aardvark Bark? book trailer, Mr. Schu. This is the first time I’ve ever created one, and I’m so excited to share it.  

Congratulations! :) 

Making the book trailer for Can an Aardvark Bark? was a BLAST! I’m so grateful to school media specialist Kim Keith (@capecodlibraryand the third graders at Marguerite E. Small School in West Yarmouth, MA, for agreeing to participate. They did a terrific job!

 I met Kim at a conference years ago, and she has been so supportive of my books. Her school can’t afford author visits, so I’ve been wanting to do something special for them. When I came up with the idea for this book trailer, I knew Kim would be the perfect person to collaborate with.

By the way, I’m not the only one who admires Kim’s hard work and dedication. This year she was a Massachusetts School Librarian Association President’s Award winner. Go, Kim!

Lots of other people also lent a helping hand. My husband played the music at the end. Sharon Abra Hanan (@wellfedpoet) let me borrow some of the equipment I used during filming. And Josh Funk (@joshfunkbooks) and Sarah Albee (@sarahalbee) both provided sage advice.

The idea for Can an Aardvark Bark? came from my nephew, Colin, and two cotton-top tamarin monkeys. During a family trip to Walt Disney World in 2010, we heard the monkeys barking, and that made him curious about what other animals bark. At dinner, we started compiling a list. We couldn’t believe how long it was by the end of our trip.

When I returned home, I expanded this list to include a variety of animal sounds. Over time, my list included more than 300 animals. I knew I had the makings of a book, but it took a long time to find just the right hook and text structure.

Illustration Credit: Steve Jenkins

Caldecott Honoree Steve Jenkins agreed to illustrate Can an Aardvark Bark? before it had even been accepted for publication. In 2014, we were both on the faculty of the Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Conference in Virginia and had a chance to discuss our works in progress. As I described how I was struggling with a manuscript called CALLS OF THE WILD, Steve said it sounded like his kind of book. And I boldly replied that I’d been thinking all along that he’d be the perfect illustrator. And then, he said, “Well, if you can get it to work, let me know.”

Later that day, Robin Page, Steve’s brilliant wife and frequent collaborator, suggested a few strategies that might help me as I revised. And they worked! A few months later, I emailed the manuscript to Steve. He liked it, and we agreed to submit the book as a team. I know that’s breaking the rules, but in this case, it worked.

Illustration Credit: Steve Jenkins
School libraries are the heart of a school, and teacher-librarians make them beat.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if there are any teaching materials to go with Can an Aardvark Bark? There sure are. You can find them here: 

Thanks so much, Mr. Schu. The children’s literature community is so lucky to have you as an advocate.

Look for Can an Aardvark Bark? on June 13, 2017. 


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