I don't usually post on specific authors, but Bob Shea visited my children's school this week, and I had such a fun time with him, that I felt compelled to share his visit! To be frank, I was not all that familiar with his work. However, when our local bookstore, Books Inc, offered him up and told me how funny he was, I was listening. I am an absolute sucker for a funny author, especially one who enjoys a little sarcasm and has a clever wit. I was not disappointed!
Bob shared his Dino vs. series with us, which is a delightful take on the challenges kids face in various situations (being quiet in the library, getting to bed, wanting to get a peak at Santa) The twist - when kids actually do what they have been fighting not to all along, they are all the better for it. Thankfully the books are full of energy and fun, so the message is never preachy, but kids get it and parents nod their heads in an aha moment.
Bob also read his newest book Cheetah, which will be published in January as well as a book in progress A Delicious Mystery. It was the Delicious Mystery that took the cake for me. Funny stuff and any author who includes a cake made out of marzipan...yes marzipan...is a hero in my world. I have a small addiction problem to this German delicacy, so please forgive. My daughter and I were quoting both these books in between giggles on the way home, so I know they resonated with her as well!
I had the chance to ask Bob a few questions after his talk and I will summarize them here. These are not exact quotes, but simply my memory of the questions and answers, and to be fair Bob's answers were a lot funnier than my bad memory of them (sadly I was more worried about not looking stupid than getting his answers down.) BS stands for Bob Shea and is in no way intended to be an opinion on his comments.
Me: I would love to know more about your background. Were you an artist or author by training?
BS: I was neither. I started as a graphic designer.
Me: Will there be more Dino vs. Books?
BS: The next book will be Dino vs. School and after that Dino vs. Mom.
Me: I hope the mom wins!
BS: Of course!
Me: Can you share with me some of the techniques you used to do the pictures in the Dino vs. series?
BS: (this is a total summary because he was far more articulate on his medium than I could ever be. Please forgive my misrepresentations here) I used brush strokes for Dino and then scanned them in the computer. I then added color. Each page represents a poster. (He showed me pages that were pictures of wrapping paper he had taken, and even shared that the photos of his Christmas cookies in the book that were baked by him!)
Me: I love the fact that the illustrations have so much dimension and texture!
BS: (Smiled...I think in agreement!)
I loved hearing Bob read his books. Their clever humor jumped out at me as he emphasized the nuances in the story. Picture book writing, despite its inherent simplicity, is hard to do well, and Bob Shea just jumped on my radar screen as a tremendously clever writer. And I must not forget the illustrations, that even in the concept book, captured my imagination.
As a side note, Bob drew Dino stickers for every one of the children who attended his presentation. What a lovely gesture. My favorite part of the day was at pickup when I heard the kids sharing their day with Bob with their moms and dads, because getting kids excited about books is what it is all about!