by Roger Zotti
When upcoming writers are ready to revise their manuscript, children’s author Janet Squires has some advice for them. “I read everything out loud,” she says. “Picture book, chapter book – it doesn’t make a difference. If I find myself stumbling through a passage, or subconsciously rephrasing a portion of the text, I know that’s an area that needs more work.”
Janet also suggests putting your manuscript aside for “a couple of weeks. Taking a break gives you a new perspective and a little distance will help you be more objective when it comes to revising your work.”
Janet wrote her latest book, The Gingerbread Cowboy (Laura Geringer Books), because “I’m a writer bursting with ideas. I’m fascinated by the power of the written word and constantly amazed by the possibilities of expression… The book is the classic Gingerbread Man story set in the American Southwest – home of roadrunners, javelinas, coyotes and, of course, cattle and cowboys.” And Janet hopes readers take away from her book “enjoyment certainly” and also a sense of accuracy: “I was factually accurate about the animals, using their correct names – horned lizards rather than horny toad, which is what we called them as children.”
In the book the Gingerbread cowboy has numerous adventures – such as dodging javelinas, long-horned cattle, cowboys, and a roadrunner. Then he meets up with the coyote! I’m not going to spoil what happens by saying anymore but, as Janet points out, life goes on: “If you look at the last page, you’ll note that [the family] is making more cookies. I always tell the children that’s because one cookie is never enough!”
Splendidly illustrated by Holly Berry, the book has received acclaim from various sources. It was “the Governor’s 2007 First Grade Book and a special edition of 100,000 copies was printed for distribution to every first grade student in Arizona,” Janet explains.
Scholastic included it in “its second school catalog. Pearson Education, the global leader in education publishing, was granted rights to use the book in its Open the World of Learning program.” Dr. Peggy Sharpe selected the book for her “What’s New and Best in Children’s Literature” list.
Mark Twain, Janet says, is one of her influences “for his body of work and for her perspective on the craft of writing that you’ll find perfectly relevant for today.”
Ernest Hemingway is another influence. She singles two quotes: “‘All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened’ and ‘when writing a novel a writer should create living people … not characters. A character is a caricature.’ That says a lot about being honest in your writing and really knowing who these people is that you create.”
Written for children between ages 3-6, sentence by delicious sentence Janet’s picture book exquisitely retells a traditional story with zest, skill, and artistry. Kids will find The Gingerbread Cowboy irresistible.
Follow Janet on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JanetSquires. She enjoys hearing from people and has created a blog (http://janetsquires.blogspot.com) “to discuss the reading, writing, and sharing of children’s books.