THE FRAZZLE FAMILY FINDS A WAY is a new picture book written by Ann Bonwill and illustrated by Caldecott-winning Stephen Gammell. (Whose work I adore.) This book is a perfect example of what can happen when strong words and pictures come together to create an even stronger whole.
     The Frazzle family has a problem - they can't remember anything. So their Aunt Rosemary comes to help with her lists and string. Still, nothing works until Annie comes up with a musical solution.
     I asked Ann and Stephen about their new book...

Q. Ann, your mother was a children's book librarian, so I imagine you've read a few. How did The Frazzle Family come to you?
A. Yes, I have read a few! I was very lucky to grow up around books, and reading so many has definitely shaped who I am as a writer. As a child I loved the characters of Frances and Little Bear. In those stories the parents were always so comfortingly perfect, but I thought it might be fun to explore a family where the parents could use a little help! Goodness knows that as a parent I don't have all the answers, so it was nice to have the parents learning from the children for a change. And fun to depict the love and warmth that can exist even amid chaos.
      Another of my favorite books from childhood is THE RELATIVES CAME, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that Stephen would be illustrating my book, too!

Q. Ann, I love how forgetful they are - children and adults will relate! Are you forgetful?
A. No, I'm really not forgetful. I'm more like Aunt Rosemary - the type A neurotic - for better or for worse!

Q. Stephen, I adore the frenetic energy in your work. Not just in THE FRAZZLE FAMILY but also in MUDKIN, and your Caldecott-winning SONG AND DANCE MAN. How do you bring such energy to your work?
A. Thank you, Elizabeth, for mentioning of my better efforts, I daresay...Energy, energy, what is that? Trying to do the right thing for the text, and hoping it looks like it just appeared before you turned the page. Picture books should have a magical and unique quality that is removed from the world we toil around in, and I suppose that's what I'm after in my books. Or, one might say, this probably couldn't happen in your day, but in the Frazzle's day, it's completely normal...and so hopefully, the reader/looker will say "I want to be there!"

Q. Stephen, Can you share your method?
A. No, it's a secret...I don't even know what a method is. A voice, or a point of view, or something you take at the first sign of a cold.

Q. Stephen, you've been in the children's book business a long time, but can you share how you first got into it?
A. Back in the early 70's, I went to New York, and visited a few houses, inquiring about work, and rather straight away, Barbara Lucas (then at Putnam) gave me my first book. I was delighted in being able to do this, and so just kept on, and other houses and editors began giving me work, and time went on until at some moment, I began to realize I was illustrating books. What a surprise! Still at it, thankful to say.

Q. Ann, I'd love to hear your path to publication as well.
A. I published my first book while living in the UK. I met my editor during a critique session at an SCBWI conference there. She did not decide to acquire the manuscript she critiqued, but she liked it well enough to consider my other stories, including the text that ultimately became my first picture book, POCKET'S CHRISTMAS WISH. After publishing four books in England, I found an agent in the US and have now sold several stories here, as well as some co-editions of my UK books. It's been an adventure and a dream come true, and a real learning experience every step of the way.

Q. Are there any special events coming up to help celebrate THE FRAZZLE FAMILY? Please share!
Ann: I've had some lovely school events to celebrate the Frazzles, and I hope to plan more for the fall. I really enjoy sharing my books with children of all ages, and it's been especially gratifying to hear the laughter that the Frazzle family's antics inspire.
Stephen: None that I know of. You know of any? If so, let me (or HH) know.

Holiday House is very kindly giving away a free copy of THE FRAZZLE FAMILY to one of my lucky commenters. (Must live in the US/Canada to win.) Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kristi Valiant said...

I love the idea for a picture book in which the parents could use help. So true of us all! And what fun energy in the illustrations!

Geo Librarian said...

This sounds like it would be a fun book to share with my students, demonstrating that everyone needs help sometimes.