Book Worm Series: When a Dragon Moves In
I'm absolutely over-the-moon excited to bring you a new series "Book Worm," where I review a book for you. I love books - I mean, I LOVE BOOKS! Our house is stuffed with them and my poor husband is getting tired of building bookshelves to hold them all. There's just nothing like escaping into a good book for a child, or an adult!
WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN
My first pick is a super silly and fun one called WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN by Jodi Moore. We ordered this one from our daycare's Scholastic Book Fair flyer - Ethan loves the beach, playing in the sand, and - like most little boys - loves all things dinosaurs and dragons!
Ethan, in his sweetest voice said, "Mumma, can you puh-leeze read this book to me? May pleazze??" What can you say to that? So I pulled him onto my lap (Liv was napping) and we read the book... I was so hooked from the first page! The story really encourages the imagination of the reader, and the illustrations are just beautiful. Since then, we've read this book countless times, its one of Ethan's new favorites. And Livi loves the pictures... she points to the dragon, looks quizzically at me and says "Eh?" and then at the little boy and says "Dada?" (She calls everyone Dada... or Girl...)
Jodi has been incredibly gracious in granting me this chance to interview her, I hope you'll enjoy this piece as much as I have enjoyed bringing it to you!
INTERVIEW WITH JODI MOORE, AUTHOR
How did you start writing children’s books?
My mother worked outside the home when I was a baby. Each night, she would surprise me with a different picture book, and we would snuggle up and read together. It’s no surprise that I quickly learned to associate books with love! To this day, my tagline as an author is: “Children’s books are hard-bound hugs.”
From the time I could hold a crayon, I began fashioning my own stories. But it probably wasn’t until shortly after my own two sons were born that I began to take my writing seriously. Memories of reading with my own mother washed over me and ignited that passion. I remember thinking if I can produce something that fosters that unique closeness – that loving bond – then I have created something very special indeed.
Children are my inspiration, so meeting them through school, library, festival and bookstore visits is fantastic beyond words! And I highly doubt there is a smarter audience.
Kids ask tons of questions, as well as love sharing their own stories and thoughts with me. They ask where I got the idea for Dragon, how long it took me to write it and get it published, and if the little boy has a name (they are delighted when I explain how the second person nature of the story invites THEM to be the main character!)
Then they pose the ultimate question: Do I think the dragon is real?
(Yes, I do.)
In one of my recent school visits, the children were fascinated to learn that my illustrator is from the United Kingdom. They wondered how I chose someone who lives so far away, rather than an artist from my own town. I explained that an editor usually selects an artist for a book, not the author, but emphasized that I could not imagine anyone more “perfect” to bring my story to life! (They giggled when I told them I have a fan-girly crush on Howard McWilliam, brilliant artist that he is!)
At some point during my visits, the dragon actually “moves in”, via a beautiful replica of the main character’s head, handcrafted by one of my sons. The children love to “pet” the creature and we share a mini art lesson. The prop is quite a hit, prompting questions such as what materials are used to construct it, how long it took to build and finally, “Does he bite?”
Finally, I’ve been asked (much to the mortification of my hosts) how old I am.
I absolutely love this question. In fact, it fits right into my agenda. One of my main objectives when I work with young people is to not only talk about what I do, but to encourage them to explore their own passions.
I tell them I signed my first picture book contract when I turned 50, which means you’re never too old to realize your dreams.
Where did the idea for Dragon come from?
The concept for WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN was completely inspired by my husband, Larry, and our two sons (which makes the fact that it’s my first picture book all the sweeter!) That Labor Day (2008) was our first time visiting the beach without our boys, who had left for college a week earlier.
Larry and I were both in the throes of Empty Nest Syndrome (admittedly, this is a chronic condition for me).
My husband brought his satchel of sand toys anyway, determined to carry on the family tradition of building a sandcastle. Of course, it didn’t take long for him to attract a little army of helpers, as children gravitated toward the “construction site” in droves.
(Note: I spent my time that afternoon flitting around to the ever-growing gaggle of anxious moms, explaining why a mature man would be building a sandcastle, seemingly alone, resulting in luring their precious babies toward him. Apprehension was replaced by relief and understanding smiles when I explained the whole Empty Nest thing.)
At one point, one of the toddlers stuck a piece of seaweed into the mouth of the castle. “Look!” Larry exclaimed. “A dragon’s tail! Our castle is so cool, a dragon moved in!”
The heavens opened and the angels sang. A story was conceived.
What's next for you?
I am proud and thrilled that my second picture book, GOOD NEWS NELSON (Story Pie Press) will be released this coming December. Nelson is a young paperboy who realizes that sometimes it’s not enough to just deliver the news; sometimes you need to do something about it to make the world a better place.
I’m also working on a young adult novel called DAMAGED GOODS. I recently explained to a group of primary school children that it takes quite awhile for a book to be published. One young lady said that worked out well, since by the time my novel is published, she will be just the right age to read it.
Did I mention how truly smart and inspiring children are?
Jodi Moore is the author of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN (May 2011, Flashlight Press) and GOOD NEWS NELSON (Story Pie Press). Jodi considers books, along with chocolate, to be one of the main food groups. She writes both picture books and young adult novels, hoping to challenge, nourish and inspire her readers by opening up brand new worlds and encouraging unique ways of thinking. Jodi is the proud and (admittedly) neurotic mother of two incredibly talented young adults and never ceases to be amazed at how far the umbilical cord really will stretch. She lives in central PA with her always-supportive best friend/husband, Larry, two laughing doves and an ever-changing bunch of characters in her head. In addition to reading, writing and chocolate, Jodi enjoys music, theatre, dancing, the beach and precious time spent with her family. Finally, Jodi thinks it would be really cool if one of her stories eventually became a Disney or Universal movie or theme park ride. Or a Broadway musical. Just puttin’ it out there.
Well Jodi, I'm a big believer that whatever you focus on comes back to you! For more about Jodi and her works, you can visit her website at www.writerjodimoore.com.