Vroom! by Barbara McClintock

Hello, Barbara McClintock! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read. I recently re-read our conversation from when you visited on November 26, 2014. Wait a moment! I am writing this message to you on November 26, 2019. Wow!

Barbara McClintock: Greetings, John! Thank you for having me back as a guest on ‘Watch. Connect. Read.’! Oh my gosh, was it really five years ago to the day that you contacted me about visiting your blog? I think November 26th may be a very lucky day for us! I think I’ll celebrate by having a cupcake every November 26th from here on out - I’m always looking for good excuses to have cupcakes!

Hooray! I think that's a perfect plan. Thank you for sharing Vroom’s book trailer today and for finishing my sentences.

I wrote the words in purple, and Barbara wrote the words in black

Annie is named after my best friend from early childhood, Anne. My friend Anne and I loved making up stories and playacting characters we invented. all from the safety of underneath my family’s dining room table. 

Little Annie from VROOM! is very much me. I love hopping into my sports car and driving all around the back roads of northeastern Ct where I live. In my next lifetime, I want to be a race car driver! 

I’ve moved around a lot, and the places Annie drives are based on some of those places - North Dakota, New Mexico and the Southwestern US, St. Louis and the Mississippi River, New York City. There’s the concept and contrast of time in VROOM! that I really love - where she’s been, where she is now, where she’s going.

That concept of time is all about the joy of a road trip!

Vroom’s illustrations are inspired by my early childhood drawings, the cartoons I loved watching every Saturday morning, and a little Maurice Sendak thrown in for good measure. Every new manuscript I illustrate holds surprises, joys, and challenges for visual interpretation. For VROOM!, I took a fresh, simple, bold line drawing approach, as well as using bright, easy to read colors throughout the book. to match the spirit of adventurous little Annie. I wanted to make this a book I would have loved reading when I was in pre-school and kindergarten. 

I hope Vroom! inspires small children to have their own unstructured, imaginative play, unsupervised and undirected by the adults in their lives. Much like Max in WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Annie faces challenges and risks within the safe place of her imagination, returning to her room in time for a bedtime story.

In the very busy, over structured lives children lead, I feel it’s more important than ever to promote the freedom and joy of play. 

Three Little Kittens is coming out next June! THREE LITTLE KITTENS was inspired by my two new kitties who are full of crazy antics! I took the well-loved Mother Goose version of The Three Little Kittens and added a good stylistic dollop of Hanna Barbera cartoons and my early childhood drawings to the story and art mix.

In a nod to comics as an early introduction to graphic novels, I used word balloons, and plenty of mischievous kitten gestures and expressions throughout the book. 

And - spoiler alert! - as a turn around a the very end of THREE LITTLE KITTENS, there is a ‘love the stranger’ message that brought a few tears when my editor Dianne Hess and I worked around the hanging thread of a possibly unwelcome visitor in the original poem.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my zippy sports car! I have a silver Audi TT, and driving that car was definitely the inspiration for Annie’s adventures. If you ever want to meet a state trooper, this is the car to have! Who knew that having a sports car and a yen for speed would turn into something so delightful - for me and for Annie! 

Borrow Vroom! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


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