By Chana Stiefel
It’s Takeaway Tuesday—with a great Giveaway! BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, an adorable picture book by Annie Silvestro (illus. by Tatjana Mai-Wyss), debuts TODAY! It features a book-loving bunny who sneaks into the town library to borrow books for his forest friends. Annie shared some Kidlittakeaways with us, plus she’s offering a giveaway: A free signed copy of BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB to one lucky winner (U.S. only)! See details below.
How did you come up with idea for Bunny’s Book Club?
It’s a really fun memory. I participated in the parent show for my son’s preschool and my character was a bunny. I had some time “backstage” in my bunny costume and that’s where the idea began brewing for BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB.
What was the writing process like? How many drafts did you go through? How does the final version compare with the first?
I went through quite a few drafts of this story. Believe it or not, the original version had a real western flair. Ultimately my wonderful editor, Frances Gilbert, asked me to take it in a different direction. More animals were also added and involved over the course of the revision process.
Is the Bunny character based on a particular book lover? How much of your book is autobiographical?
That is such a great question! Libraries are so vitally important and special to me and have been for as long as I can remember. I really wanted to share that passion. That said, I definitely think my oldest son would resort to something drastic if he couldn’t get his hands on books for some reason. He cannot live without them.
The book is filled with lots of clever bunny references (Bunny wriggles his cottontail through the book slot; the library was “better than a field full of fresh, crunchy carrots!” Bunny’s whiskers twitch with excitement.). Did you spend a lot of time observing bunnies (and other animals)?
Not so much time observing bunnies, but lots of time trying to think like one!
My favorite picture books have new details that I notice each time I read and re-read. Tatjana Mai-Wyss’s illustrations accomplish that in a big way. Did your submission include illustrator notes? What was your reaction when you saw the illustrations?
I had a few illustration notes, yes, and our editor added a few more during the revision process. Otherwise I was not involved with that aspect of the book. Tatjana posted some sneak-peeks on Instagram that were like special little presents each time they appeared. I was overjoyed when I saw the illustrations in full. I absolutely love them! Each animal has such a personality! I love the details of the endpapers and the library card in the front. I feel very lucky and grateful.
What were some of your favorite picture books as a child?
I was a big reader as a child and loved so many – ones that stand out are SYLVESTER AND THE MAGIC PEBBLE, the BABAR books, STREGA NONA, the GEORGE AND MARTHA books, MADELINE, any and all Golden Books, and anything by Richard Scarry. I could go on and on…
Do you have a critique group? What’s your process for sharing stories?
Yes! I’m in two, actually—one online and one face-to-face. The support and feedback from fellow writers has been invaluable to me. It’s impossible to see something with fresh eyes after a while. Critique partners can offer vital perspective on what works and doesn’t work in a manuscript. I try to wait until a story is as polished as I can make it before sharing it with others.
What’s your takeaway for aspiring picture book authors? (Let me guess…spend a lot of time in the library?)
Ha! Definitely lots of time in the library! Read as much as you can and as many different types of picture books as you can. Read them aloud. What makes you like one more than another? What books don’t you like and why? What books do you love so much you feel compelled to buy them? It’s helpful to think about the answers to those questions as you approach your own manuscript.
About the author: Annie Silvestro is a lover of books who reads and writes as much as possible and can often be found shuffling piles of them around so she has a place to sit or someplace to put her teacup. Her debut picture book, BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Doubleday), will be released on February 7, 2017, followed by MICE SKATING, illustrated by Teagan White (Sterling). Annie lives by the beach in NJ with her husband and two boys who also love to read, and a cat who does not. Visit Annie online at: www.anniesilvestro.com and on Twitter and Instagram: @anniesilvestro.
Donna Cangelosi and Chana Stiefel are picture book critique partners & friends who are passionate about kids' books & are eager to share tidbits from their writing journey with other aspiring writers.