Photograph by Sam Bond Photography
DIANNE: Congratulations on your debut, BEARS MAKE THE BEST READING BUDDIES. What a fun book! Having spent so many years teaching kids how to read, I appreciate how you’ve nailed all the details – slipping in “buddy reading” tips like “They sit side by side, knee to knee, and put the book between you, so you both can see.”
You’ve obviously spent plenty of time in the classroom and know that kids love hearing the “story behind the story.” What was the spark that got this story idea rolling?
CARMEN: A big warm bear hug to ReaderKidZ for featuring us. Thank you! It’s funny I tell kids that you never know where your story ideas are going to come from so always be on the lookout. The spark that got this story rolling was two-fold. I was working on a nonfiction picture book project at the time about spirit bears, a rare sub-species of the american black bear. I had bears on the brain. And I was up volunteering at my children’s school when they were assigning kindergartners their fifth grade reading buddies and I thought, wouldn’t that be funny if a girl came to school with her own live bear as her reading buddy. And that my friends is how I came up with the concept.
DIANNE: You’ve captured an important piece of reading in the early grades – paired reading – in such a humorous way… Bears sniffing out good books, using their “super-sensitive ears” for listening while a child sounds out the words, and offering “warm bear hugs” when the reading is challenging. Kids are sure to relate! (Oooh…! Bears make the best writing buddies, too! I can see teachers inviting young writers to write their own Bear/reading/writing
CARMEN: My best writing is in the morning when I’m freshest. Exercise helps my brain work better so I try and fit in an early walk before I start writing. Then for me it’s the old adage of keeping my butt in my chair. No lumbering. No sniffing out a good book (not now). I keep my paws on the keyboard and type. I do like to write free hand with a pencil too. So many times, I’ll rewrite a ton of words on a piece of paper to brainstorm. I also like to revise one sentence over and over again until it feels right. Then I read it out loud to see if it rolls off my tongue. Do I stumble over any words? If I do, it’s back to rewriting. I don’t write every day because I also work with award-winning authors and illustrators and bring them into schools, libraries and special events. So I must balance my days with email correspondence, contracts, and talking on the phone with event planners and librarians. I LOVE librarians don’t you?
DIANNE: A first book is tremendously exciting, and busy! Book launches, school visits, and the like. But as writers, we’re always also working on the *next* story. What can your readers look forward to?
CARMEN: Well, I’m happy to say there’s another BEARS book in the works. So if you enjoy Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies then ROAR about it! While you’re at it, ROAR about READING and always get lost in the magic of stories!
DIANNE: Thanks for stopping by ReaderKidZ, Carmen! I know we can count on our readers to ROAR about reading BEARS!