"Before becoming a children’s author, Janet was a daily newspaper reporter, children’s magazine editor, and a creator of coloring and activity books for Golden Books. She is the mother of four and the grandmother of four. When Janet isn’t writing, she enjoys gardening, exploring nature, visiting living-history museums, and spending time with her family. She grew up on a farm in Michigan and now lives in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin."
Because I've met her several times, I'll add that she's a charming and energetic person. In presentations of her books with kids her preparation, enthusiasm, and relaxed manner allow them to engage fully in the stories she shares.
|Guardian Angel Publishing, 2014|
In her latest release, A RAINBOW OF BIRDS, illustrated by Jack Foster, she creates a bird legend about how the rainbow came to be. Creation stories are always a success with young readers, and this one is a vibrantly colorful story (literally, full of color). It provides numerous cues and opportunities for kids to chime in (chirp in?) with repeated readings. I see potential for an eager group to generate a script from it, culminating in a colorful rainbow display at its conclusion. For the very youngest it also encourages naming/pointing to colors, playing with sounds, and careful observation of nature.
Speaking of conclusions, this is another of the many titles Janet has written that offer instructional back matter related to the topic as well as crafts and suggested activities.
I invited Janet to answer a few questions about this title and her writing in general. Thanks, Janet, for joining me.
This story is a bit of a creation tale. Did you read an original rainbow-origins-tale that helped you develop your story?
Janet: A Rainbow of Birds is an original bird legend. However, at the time I wrote the story, I was reading many legends, in hopes of retelling one. I can’t specifically remember reading any rainbow legends. I’ve always loved stories about how various things came to be.
At the time, I also was doing research on birds for other stories that I was working on. So the legends and the birds came together to inspire me.
One late summer afternoon, I noticed how excited the birds‘ singing sounded right after it stopped raining. What could the birds be so excited about? As it turned out, it was because they were creating a rainbow!
l Your language is charming and almost as colorful as the birds. Was its source strictly “writerly” or did you draw on nature for inspiration?
Janet: I love playing with words to find just the right one to describe something or to have a certain poetic sound. I also love nature, and had many hours of bird-watching, bird research, and listening to bird songs rumbling around in my brain when I wrote this story.
Like many of your other titles, the back matter offers many interactive options for young readers. How does that development play a part in your writing?
Janet: The back matter didn’t enter into the writing of the story. After Guardian Angel Publishing accepted the story, the publisher suggested that I add some activities at the back of the book. Since the book is out, I’ve had several parents and grandparents tell me they’re excited about doing some of the activities with their kids. They definitely see the activities as a bonus to the story.
Here's another bonus: You can read the story in the March issue of Guardian Angel Kids ezine: http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/
Thanks, Janet, for joining me here and congratulations on A RAINBOW OF BIRDS. I hope readers will check it out and also check out your other titles.
Many of Janet's picture books are about animals and nature. She also writes picture book biographies about little-known people of achievement. Recent titles include Eggs 1, 2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be?; Home in the Cave; Star of the Sea: A Day in the Life of a Starfish; Good Night, Little Sea Otter; and Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story. Janet has written thirty-five fiction and nonfiction books for children.