How to Be a Rock Star by Lisa Tolin and Daniel Duncan

Hello, Lisa Tolin! Happy Picture Book Month! Thank you for stopping by to celebrate and discuss all-things How To Be a Rock Star. Let’s start with the hilarious blurb on the back of the cover!!!

Lisa Tolin: Hi John Schu! First, thank you so much for having me! It means a lot to be able to celebrate with you on Watch. Connect. Read.

The blurb on the back came from a discussion with my editor, Stephanie Pitts, about whether we should ask for a blurb from someone Very Important. I made up a silly example and gave it to her: “I wish I had this book when I was a kid!” – Rock stars, probably.

It made us both laugh, so we kept it!

I'm glad you did! 

Scenario: A bookseller at your favorite bookshop asks you to fill out a shelftalker about How To Be a Rock Star.

Lisa Tolin: How to Be a Rock Star is a kid’s handy guide to rocking out. You’ll face critics, screaming fans and a little brother with a milk problem, but don’t give up! It’s all rock ‘n’ roll.

This book was inspired by the hours we spent jamming with our kids as a family band. (I got pretty good at drumming with chopsticks.) Sometimes my oldest son would get frustrated if his guitar strap got twisted or his little brother got in his way, so we told him, “You gotta keep playing! That’s rock ‘n’ roll!”

He took that spirit to heart and once told us, “Even if your diaper’s wet, you gotta keep playing. That’s rock ‘n’ roll!” I know Keith Richards would agree.

I wanted to capture the joy of playing together, and the persistence we all need to accomplish a dream.

Please share the four adjectives you think best describe Daniel Duncan’s illustrations.

Lisa Tolin: Kinetic, hilarious, joyous and rockin’! (Look for some amazing Easter eggs for rock fans.)

Please finish the following sentence starters:

”The Wheels on the Bus...” go ‘round a parent’s head for years. This was a longtime favorite for my son, but he would mix it up with a jazzy version, or heavy metal. He always rocked the house.

Picture books are an invitation to your kids to snuggle up and laugh with you. What could be better?

John Schu, you should have asked me about the best surprise in creating this book. How to Be a Rock Star is written in second person, so the main character could have been anyone. But seeing Daniel Duncan’s illustrations for the first time, I yelled out “It’s a girl!” like a midwife in a delivery room.

Thank you, Lisa! Congratulations! 

Lisa Tolin is a journalist and editor, and is currently Head of Special Projects for TODAY Digital. How to Be a Rock Star is her debut picture book. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two young sons, who provided the inspiration for this book. 

Daniel Duncan is the author and illustrator of South. He has also illustrated many books for children, including The Purple Puffy Coat by Maribeth Boelts and The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer by Mara Rockliff. 

Look for How to Be a Rock Star on August 2, 2022. 

In this hilarious, tongue-in-cheek picture book debut, one little kid who really loves to rock and roll explains everything there is to know about starting a rock band.

Becoming a rock star isn’t easy—especially if you’re a kid. From finding the right instrument, to mastering the best dance moves, to taking your band on the road, there’s a lot to consider! And that’s not to mention dealing with critics, crazed fans, and a little brother with a chocolate milk problem…Luckily, this book has everything you need to know to make it big.

This giggle-inducing guide to aspiring rock and rollers, chock-full of laugh-out-loud illustrations, is sure to leave readers both young and young at heart shouting for an encore!


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