Being a mom is a creative and fanciful business. Well, at least at the best of times. Many of us work hard to find ways to engage our kids, celebrate their interests, and encourage them to imagine and find stories in their lives. That’s why children’s books are a big part of my twins’ day.
I attended a writer’s conference this summer and met some amazing authors writing for kids. So I was excited to hear from Kelly Tooman, author of The Birthday Triplets: Granny Rosie’s Amazing Magical Day. Her mother Lynn Tooman-Cser did the beautiful illustrations. There’s so much about that collaboration that really got me interested to find out more about them.
It’s a wonderful book that my four-year-old daughter loves. She saw herself in sweet little Candi, Cookie, and Coco. Even their puppy Chocolate Pudding was a hit. The book has so many layers to engage kids, from the detail in each illustration, to the dancing, songs, birthday parties, and poor lonely Granny Rosie. My son liked picking out details in the illustrations and seeing what happens to Granny Rosie with help from the kids. Children are empowered in this book and they’re free to be themselves. It’s really enchanting and a great book to read over and over.
So have you ever wanted to write a children’s book? I have at times. I know the process isn’t simple. Anyone who’s written a 1,000 word blog post and tried to whittle it down to a manageable 300 words or so knows what I mean. There is a skill in being brief, engaging your reader, and keeping the tempo up. Not to mention finding that great story to tell.
I asked the author Kelly Tooman for more information about writing this book and how she worked with her mother on The Birthday Triplets. Here’s what she shared with me:
From Kelly Tooman
The Book: Our goal first and foremost was to write an exciting, imaginative story that made children want to turn the page to see what would happen next! This may be one of the reasons this book is so appealing to boys (that was a surprise to us!). So much is “fed” to children these days to keep them entertained to the point that they have so little time & need for their own thoughts and inner stories. I run creative writing workshops for children of all ages. I can’t tell you how many times it’s almost as if a light turns on inside these children when they are given the space to look at the world in a way that they never imagined. It’s lovely. They have so many stories of their own to tell.
Writing & Illustrating a Children’s Book: To truly engage with children, you have to remember what it is like to be a child. Lynn [Kelly’s mom, the illustrator] is much more in tune with this aspect than myself, as she can pull up all those memories of what it felt like at different ages. She also grew up in the country without many children or planned activities which nurtured the creative side of her. Many people imagine that writing a children’s book is simple, when in fact, it was one of the most challenging things I’ve done. It’s also incredibly rewarding. The challenge is to condense a complete concept into a few sentences, per page, that must serve to move the story forward. People are astounded when I show them my gigantic stack of revisions, as writing in rhyme is an additional craft to learn to do well.
The best advice I could give aspiring writers is to read hundreds of children’s books and to read many books on how to write for children. Regarding the illustrations, I was blessed to have a mother who is an illustrator, as it is extremely costly to hire one. The book has approx. 50 paintings, which took about a year and a half to complete. Lynn’s background in Humorous Design at American Greetings, gave her a foundation for painting with vivid colors-which translates easily into illustrating for children.
Candi, Cookie, and Coco: This never was about just writing a book for children; our goal was to create characters that are beautiful and timeless, in response to a culture that is losing its innocence. Candi, Cookie, and Coco celebrate kindness, bravery, and being your best (they each have these emblems on their shirts). Most importantly, the triplets teach empathy in each book when they enter one of Granny Rosie’s magical adventures to find someone who is sad and lonely on their birthdays.
Candi, Cookie, and Coco Birthday were created to be like the spirited girls of today, each with their particular weaknesses and strengths. Candi is brave, bold, impulsive, and loyal; Cookie-creative, sensitive, artistic, and often fearful; Coco is organized, curious, and strives to be her best and do the right thing (which often clashes with her sister Candi). We want little girls to see some aspects of themselves in the triplets, and learn and laugh with them.
Thanks, Kelly! I love hearing from writers about how they work and finding books that my twins want to read over and over. And check out The Birthday Triplets’ fun Facebook page. I love their birthday greetings.
The book is available on Amazon.com. If you want to read more reviews about the book or purchase it, here’s a link:
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