It seems appropriate that we celebrate a birthday book giveaway for the new year! THE NIGHT BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY is written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Amy Wummer. Natasha stopped by recently for a chat about her latest...

Q. Hi Natasha! Congratulations on the release of your 17th "The Night Before..." book. Wow, is it really that many? How long have you been doing these?
Yes, it really is 17 and there's another one being illustrated, and two more ideas in my head! The first one, The Night Before Easter, came out in 1999 so I've been writing and publishing the Night Before books for fifteen or so years.

Q. It's a sweet gig - how did you land it?
Well, I had two picture books out but I was experiencing a dry spell in selling any new manuscripts so I took a job at an elementary school as a reading tutor. That's when I got a letter from Grosset & Dunlap that they were interested in The Night Before Easter after another editor had referred the story to Grosset. It was supposed to be just one book about the Easter Bunny, but the story proved popular so my editor suggested I write more. It organically grew over time, adding back-to-school titles as well. So it wasn't planned to be a series from the start, but I'm glad it became one!

Q. The rhyme of "The Night Before Christmas" is so familiar. Are the stories difficult to create?
No, for the very reason that The Night Before Christmas is so familiar and ingrained in our literary and childhood culture. I feel it's a bit like cheating that the original story has already set up a structure for me to write towards. In each story I include some of the familiar refrains such as "The children were nestled all snug in their beds, etc." (except I put my twist on it) to tap back to the original story. If I am having difficulties coming up with story direction, I have a great editor in Jane O'Connor who helps me improve the story.

Q. Do you write poetry or rhyming stories outside of the series? How do you feel about writing in rhyme?
Actually, my very first published book, Hippity Hop, Frog on Top, had a rhyming refrain in it which went like this: Hippity hop, frog on top. One frog, one frog tall, could not see over the wall. (Then it counts up to ten frogs.) I grew up with Dr. Seuss so I like the rhythm of rhyming. I have also written some poetry that rhymes. But I do prefer Haiku when I write poetry. Less words.

Q. Are there any odd factoids behind these books that we'd find interesting? I'd love to hear!
The Night Before Thanksgiving is inspired by my family's trips to Massachusetts to celebrate Thanksgiving at either my grandparent's farm or my aunt's house; they traded off years. My mom has a big family and some of them were spread out, so it was an ordeal to get us all together, and sometimes there'd be a snowstorm. That book also makes a nod to one of my favorite Christmas movies which is A Christmas Story where the Bumpus hounds eat the turkey. So I wanted there to be a moment where the readers thought the turkey might be dropped and eaten by the family dogs.
     Also, in the Valentine's Day book: The artist in the book painting hearts on kids' faces is the artist, Heidi Petach, in illustration form. She also put the Valentine's Day book on the bookshelf in the illustration.

Q. How will you celebrate your latest release?
It's on the same day as my anniversary (#26!) so my husband and I will be up in Estes Park, CO snowshoeing and hot-tubbing. There might be champagne involved.

Sounds wonderful! Congratulations!

Natasha has kindly agreed to give a signed/dedicated copy of THE NIGHT BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the continental US to win. Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Intruderlady said...

Would love to let my kids to learn to read English. Now they only learn dutch.

Kelly said...

Huge congrats, Natasha (and what a perfect 26th anniversary gift!!). And, thanks for hosting, Elizabeth!

h2hlady said...

Natasha, 26 years <3 <3 such a blessing!
Congratulations on your newest book too. I can't wait to read it!

I remember as a child the nights before MY Birthday... the anxious feeling, daydreaming about the next day, "wishing for..." what was on my heart at the time. ;o) I have seen the same feelings on the faces and in the hearts of my own children (5). Birthdays are a time when your soul reawakens and say "OK Self...What are we gonna do THIS YEAR?" It's almost like our own personal New YEARS Day every year! :o)

I have an in-home Christian Day Care and I would be honored to share your beloved book with my day care students. The youngest one is 29 mo old. I also have a 38 month old who already reads at about a 2nd grade level!! (No I did not teach her, her Mama taught her. She has been in my care for about 6 weeks.) I have older children after school. They are ALL avid readers though!! I believe the children in my care would truly enjoy ( AND relate well too!) your new book: The Night Before My Birthday.

May God continue to inspire you. Thank you for sharing your GIFT of writing with all of us!!

Anonymous said...

My children would love reading this book and the pictures... awesome.

Rebecca said...

I'd love to have this one to share with my storytime kids! :)

Michelle M. said...

The children at my library would love it. It would make a fabulous story time addition.

Snezhana said...

Congratulations on your book! It's my daughter's birthday next month, it would be a perfect gift for her