Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Author Interview: Bonny Becker

by Cordelia Jensen

Hi Bonny! 

Thanks so much for joining us on the Big Blue Marble Bookstore blog. I have been a huge fan of the Bear picture books since my own (now 8-year-old) twins were small. I love the dynamic between Bear and Mouse. For some reason, reading the books out loud I always read Mouse in a British accent! 

Did Bear or Mouse come to you first? Or their relationship?

Mouse came first. He popped into my head one day full grown as a pesky mouse who just couldn’t be gotten rid of! Then I had the delightful task of figuring out who my mouse would bug. I went through several animals in my head before I hit upon a bear and that seemed perfect.

Are there any more Bear and Mouse books coming soon? Have you ever thought about writing a book from Mouse’s perspective? 

Yes, there are two more Mouse and Bear books in the works. A Library Book for Bear comes out this September. And next year or perhaps the year after that will be A Halloween for Bear. I never thought about doing a book from Mouse’s perspective. I wonder who cheers him up?

Good question! Maybe another tiny animal . . . While having been familiar with the Bear and Mouse picture books for a long time, I just finished reading The Magical Ms. Plum. What a funny book! The kids and I were laughing and laughing. When the first tiny horse came out of the closet I was really surprised. The book has this surreal quality to it. Where did the idea for those books come from?

This book is a lot harder for me to track in terms of how the idea came together. I know I was working on a story about a boy who finds a tiny t-rex. One small enough to fit into his backpack. I just couldn’t seem to make it work! I think that got me thinking about other tiny animals and one thing led to another. I do remember the various elements—at school, a magical school teacher, different kids, different animals, a lesson learned—kind of assembled themselves one by one in my mind.

My kids were wondering what would happen to Lucy if she went into the closet . . . they would like a sequel so they can find out! If you had been in Ms. Plum’s classroom as a child, what animal do you imagine would have come out for you?

That’s a good question and a hard one for me! There are animals I would want to come out like a jaguar or a unicorn. Then there’s the animal that probably would have come out given my personality. I was a huge reader and a thinker and a little odd. I’m thinking maybe an owl? But then again maybe I needed a wild, funny monkey! I am working on a sequel, but it will be a new class not Lucy’s class. I like to think, though, that every kid in Ms. Plum’s class did get a chance to go into the closet. Lucy is such a good sport, I think I’d give her a unicorn.

It is interesting that in both the Magical Ms. Plum book and the Bear and Mouse books, there are small animals in unexpected places. (The Mouse in the cake maybe being my favorite.) What is your own relationship to animals? Do you have many pets?

I have animals in almost all my 12 books! And it’s not something I realized until I’d written about five or six books. My books include The Christmas Crocodile, the story of crocodile who gets delivered to the wrong address at Christmas, An Ant’s Day Off about the first ant in history to take a day off and, of course, the Mouse and Bear books. I’ve written about a lizard who wants to be an artist and one about the way various animals feel to the touch—like the wooly curls of a sheep or the slippery scales of a fish. Animals show up a lot in my work.

I had four sisters and a brother, so I grew up with a lot of siblings and a lot of pets. But I’m not sure if that’s the reason animals show up so much. They are good substitutes for people. They can be such distinct characters. You can have a lot of fun with them without making fun of people themselves

And now, our three for three book-related questions:

1. What were three of your favorite books as a child and/or teen?

All the Oz books, Mary Poppins, and the Narnia books. Anything with magic in

2. What are three books you’ve read recently that surprised you?

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green both surprised me by how caught up in the story I got. I don’t read much YA, but I was impressed! And The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine. I’m just starting it, but it’s full of fascinating facts about brain development and gender differences.

3. What are three books that influence/d your writing?

Charlotte’s Web, The Wizard of Earthsea, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Thanks so much for joining us, Bonny!

Bonny Becker is author of the best-selling Mouse and Bear books, including A Visitor for Bear, New York Times bestseller, winner of the E.B. White Read Aloud Award and Amazon’s Picture Book of the Year. Her latest book is A Birthday for Bear. Poor Bear is even grumpy about birthdays! Her middle-grade novel, The Magical Ms. Plum, won the 2010 Washington State Children’s Book Award. In all, she’s published 12 books for children. She is also an instructor for the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, an accredited program for a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing. Visit her at bonnybecker.com.

Thanks for reading!!! If you're local to the area, please let the bookstore know if you would like a copy of A Visitor for Bear, or any of Bonny's other books. You can email orders to orders [at] bigbluemarblebooks [dot] com, call us at (215) 844-1870, or come see us at 551 Carpenter Lane, in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Next up: In mid-March, come check out Jen's interview with Elisa Ludwig, author of Pretty Crooked and the upcoming Pretty Sly.

1 comment:

LinWash said...

I haven't seen this series, but it sounds delightful. I loved the questions, especially: "My kids were wondering what would happen to Lucy if she went into the closet . . . they would like a sequel so they can find out!" I love the curiosity!