Anastasia Suen

Developmental Editor

Pizza Pig

Pizza Pig
by Diana Murray (Author) and Maria Karipidou (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Kindness is on the menu! Pizza Pig’s pizza parlor is the place to be, where animals can order whatever their taste buds desire in this entertaining Step 2 beginning reader.


Guest Post by Diana Murray

Diana Murray writes poetry and books for children. She is the author of City Shapes (Little, Brown), Grimelda: The Very Messy Witch (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins), Ned the Knitting Pirate (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan), Doris the Bookasaurus (Imprint/Macmillan), Groggle’s Monster Valentine (Sky Pony Press), and many other picture books. Her poems have appeared in magazines such as Spider, Ladybug, Highlights, and High Five. Diana recently moved from the Bronx to a nearby suburb, where she lives with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle.

Q. Describe your writing process.
A. My process for writing begins with a comfy chair, my laptop, and a big mug of tea. When the weather is warm enough, I enjoy writing outside on my patio the best. If I have to go a few days without writing, I start to go nuts. So for me, writing is a compulsion, but it’s one that I welcome.

The way I go about writing early readers is similar to picture books, but a few things differ. For one thing, repetition is even more important. Repeating phrases offer kids a kind of break for sounding out words. This helps build their reading confidence. It’s also important to have clues in the illustrations that will help kids figure out some of the words. Finally, early readers have strict guidelines about the number of words per page and the syllable count and difficulty of those words. I find that working within these limitations is a fun challenge.

Q. Tell us about your latest book.
A. My newest forthcoming book is Pizza Pig (Step-Into-Reading, Random House), which releases at the end of February 2018. It’s about a pig pizza chef who makes “just right” pizzas for every customer. Since the customers are animals, this allows for lots of wacky pizza toppings, from worms and twigs, to tin cans. When a shy turtle comes into Pig’s shop and won’t take a single bite of her pizza, Pig must figure out why. The tension builds as he tries lots of different combinations until he finally realizes what Turtle is looking for. Maria Karipidou, the illustrator, did a wonderful job bringing the story to life.

This is my first early reader and I’m sooooo excited about it. I’ve had many wonderful moments reading these kinds of books with my kids when they were younger. Watching them move from struggling as new readers to becoming more confident and actually enjoying the experience was simply magical. It thrills me to be part of this milestone for other kids.

See the book trailer.

Thanks for sharing your new book, Diana!

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


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  1. Diana,
    What a cute book. I have a grandson who needs to read this! I’ll order it today. I also appreciate your describing your process. i’ve been interested in doing an early reader but did not know where to start. I hope you have a lot of success with it.

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