by Roger Zotti
photo by Michael Linnard
After Tamara Martin and Vernice Quebodeux’s latest work, a children’s illustrated poem titled “The Flea & the Ant” (Little Red Tree Publishing), was read to several local Girl Scout Brownies, the youngsters wrote their responses. Elana, 7, writes, “I like the rhymes,” and Bridgett, 8, believes “this is good for kindergartners because they learn about bugs.” From Kelly, 8: “The flea should be with his friend.” Hannah, age 7, says, “It was a good story and I like how it sounds.” Rave reviews – and rightly so – for this captivating book!
Enchantingly and vividly illustrated by Tammy Hunter, the poem is about picking and knowing who one’s true friends are or, as the authors write, “The shaggy dog could tolerate/ The presence of a flea,/ But not an ant upon his ear,/ That just could never be.”
“The Flea & the Ant” is the first in a series of fourteen books. “Each book has a moral and teaches a lesson about life,” Tamara says of her first children’s venture. And the idea, Tamara explains in her Introduction, “…began the moment my mother [Vernice] witnessed me drawing characters for our little story on the kitchen table.” At the time Tamara was five, had just moved from Lafayette to Eunice, LA, and was lonely because she didn’t have any friends. So she and her mother “discussed, in great detail, the need for making the right sort of friends. The story emerged and together we planned every page of the illustrated book. Sadly, most of my early sketches have long since disappeared, apart from the front cover…but with the help of illustrator Tammy Hunter it is finally complete more than forty-eight years after it was first started.”
After several books in the series are published, Tamara hopes to visit elementary schools and “establish a reading group with children.” More specifically, the series is designed for children ages two, three, four, and those in kindergarten.
Tamara explains, “They are the ones to be read to. The print is big enough so that as children are learning to read, they can pick out different words. With the pictures, which are big too, they can point to flowers and colors. I’ve always enjoyed dealing with children because they have such a fresh, clean slate to work with and their ideas, responses, and questions are honest and interesting.”
Michael Linnard, Tamara’s husband and CEO of the New London-based Little Red Tree Publishing, says, “We’ll be launching a new website called Little Red Acorns for children. So for the other thirteen books in the series, they’ll be able to log on and ask questions. Those books will have the Little Red Acorns imprint.” Tamara adds: “We’re going make the website interactive because then children will be able to ask an author or publisher questions and even submit things. Maybe that will spur them on to write and be published one day.”
For more information about “The Flea & The Ant” visit www.littleredtree.com. You’ll also learn about Tamara’s first book, the splendid “Sundays in the South,” and other books from Little Red Tree Publishing.