#kidlit Book of the Day: Feet, Go to Sleep #booktour begins…
Feet, Go to Sleep
by Barbara Bottner (Author) and Maggie Smith (Illustrator)
Booktalk: The sun has set and dinner is done, but Fiona is still excited about the day and is not at all ready for bed.
So her mom helps her settle down with their nightly ritual of sending each part of her—from her toes to her nose—off to sleep. As Fiona relaxes her body, she recalls a marvelous day at the beach where feet were for stomping in the waves, legs were for running after cousins, tummy was for holding strawberries, and arms were for catching beach balls. And bit by bit, memory by memory, Fiona slips from a great day into a good night.
“Toes, go to sleep,” said Fiona.
Toes were for gripping flip-flops on the way to the beach.
Barbara graciously agreed to an interview…
Q. When did you start writing?
A. I began writing when I decided I wanted to illustrate books for children. I figured if I wrote the story, I’d automatically have a better chance of doing that and I was correct, at least back in the day when I began. I had no idea I had any ability as a writer but I went for it and was lucky to be mentored by some wonderful editors in New York. Then, if they spotted something they thought they could develop, they would sit and talk with you and give you books and generally be very encouraging, which, needless to say, made me work very hard. I began to study the field, immerse myself in it. My third attempt was contracted by Putnam’s, What Would You Do With A Giant. At the same time, I got a job teaching at Parson’s, The New School and by teaching writing, I learned writing. I would have been astonished if you told me then, I’d go on to write novels, movies, journalism. For me, it was only a ticket to get to illustrate.
Q. Describe your writing process.
A. My process is very different now. It used to be strained and tortuous, but now it’s fluid, and my unconscious is onboard so I get ideas all the time. Ideas are not the problem. Structure used to be, but after decades, it’s easier. What helps is that I enjoy the process. I used to be athletic, so it’s like getting up to bat. Pitch me a good ball, and I want to knock it out of the park. The pitch is the core idea., That can come from anywhere. I ‘ve gotten attuned to finding ideas from everywhere, people, jokes, songs, attitudes; never need to ‘look.’ Then, very early, or sometimes the originating impulse is character or attitude. I was an actress for a short while in New York, so I enjoy character. I used to love to ride the subway, which to me was a character parade. Character begets dialogue, which is probably my favorite thing to write. I may get these things going way before I am even close to finding a story. It’s good to be fluid with story—flexible. I once did a book that originated fifteen years before I nailed the story. (Nana Hannah’s Piano) Mostly it sat in a drawer, but it began as a story about a woman who wanted and didn’t want to sell her piano and when it was finally contracted, it was about a boy who hated his piano teacher and his grandmother who played the piano. I believe stories reveal themselves and often not all at once.
Q. Tell us about your latest book.
A. My latest book is Feet, Go To Sleep. I read a paragraph in a novel where the protagonist was soothing herself to sleep. Since I have done yoga off and on, and meditation also, I realized this method works to relax people and kids could use it too. But it’s not didactic, Fiona remembers her day as she goes through her body to let go of the day. Maggie Smith did wonderful illustrations. It’s not the typical book I write, there is no snarky main character, no snappy dialogue, no external conflict. But I think it’s a useful book for parents. There are some areas like bedtime, that probably will always need a new take. I never approach a story with the idea of why it might sell, by the way. I am not strategic. I prefer to go inward and find the authentic connection between me and children. When I teach, I encourage my students to find their inner age, which acts like a guide to their unique material.
Toes were easy. They went right to sleep.
“What’s next?” asked Mama.
“Feet, go to sleep!”
Feet were for stomping in the waves at the ocean’s edge.
It’s the first day of the Feet, Go to Sleep blog tour with our amazing author guest, Barbara Bottner!
Feet, Go to Sleep by Barbara Bottner
Blog Tour Schedule
5/12 Booktalking #kidlit
5/14 Wrapped in Foil
5/15 Teaching Authors
5/16 Big Hair and Books
5/18 Frog on a Blog
5/19 Chapter Book Chat
5/20 In Bed With Books
I want to thank Barbara Bottner for asking me to organize this tour for her. It has been a pleasure working with her and the bloggers hosting each stop. Visit each book tour stop for a unique look at the career of this publishing legend. Check out her new book Feet, Go to Sleep and try Savasana with your little ones. . .
Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.