My "Writing the Picture Book" course at UCLA Extension has just come to a close. When a class has a great esprit de corps like this one, I'm wistful when it ends. One of the highlights of the six weeks was a visit from Naomi Howland. The students got to see her manuscripts, storyboards, sketches and dummies and hear about all the patient hard work that goes into writing and illustrating a picture book.
Naomi also read her wonderful new release, Princess Says Goodnight, which received a starred review from PW!
Here's a brief interview with Naomi for our customers at The Cat & The Fiddle:
What was your initial inspiration for the book?
When children see their teachers outside of school, doing something ordinary like grocery shopping, it is always such a surprise. I began thinking about how a child might wonder about other adults they see and about these adult’s lives. That got me thinking about bedtime routines, which led to thinking about how policemen and kings and queens might get ready for bed. It was a circuitous journey.
Did you need to do any research?
No- I have raised 2 princesses and one prince and am experienced in royal behavior and expectations. :o)
What was the time line between initial idea, and publication?
I have thought about this bedtime book for years and years, possibly ten years.
What could beginning writers or illustrators learn from your experience?
While you may have a good initial idea, you have to write and rewrite and rewrite some more. When I first submitted Princess Says Goodnight, it was about a king and queen getting ready for bed. Now it is about a little girl who imagines she is a princess. The characters changed though many of the activities stayed the same.
What do you hope young readers will take away from this book?
I hope this is both a fun and comforting bedtime book. Princess also uses some nice language and I hope that children want to know what those words mean.
Finally, where would you take the princess if she came for a visit to Los Angeles?
I would take a princess to the Huntington Gardens because to walk around the roses, outdoor sculptures, or through the buildings there would make any little girl feel like royalty. Also, she would have a fine time playing in the children’s garden. And I would buy her an eclair and some petit fours in the afternoon.
Thanks so much, Naomi. With David Small's buoyant art, and your classy rhymes, this book is sure to be a winner.