Wacky Wednesday: An Interview with Jennifer and Colin White
November 11, 2009 in Creative Writing activities, Elementary Educators, poetry, six traits of writing, Wacky Wednesday, White Colin, White Jennifer, Writing Skills Tags: Author Interview, Book Giveaway Contest, Colin White, Coolhead Luke and Other Stories, Jennifer White, Wacky Wednesday
Yesterday, I shared with you a really cool book called On the Edge with Coolhead Luke. I also shared with you two of the silly poems and illustrations in the book and compared it to Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky’s work. To see this post and read about the book by the mother/son duo, you can click here.
Don’t forget to leave a comment or question on today’s post or yesterday’s for a chance to win this book. Comments need to be left by Friday, November 13 at 4:00 p.m. CST to be considered in the drawing. Now, on with the interview. . .
Margo: Welcome to Read These Books and Use Them. I’ve head a lot of positive comments about your poems and your artwork from yesterday’s post. Everyone loves the snake poem! So, where did you first get the idea to publish a poetry book with text by Jen and illustrations by Colin?
Jen: Ever since Colin was a toddler, he’s drawn faces. When he was ten, I took a look at one of his piles of drawings and picked up a particular image. It was a city bus filled with eccentric passengers. As I looked at it, I wondered what he was thinking as he drew it. At that moment, a couple of rhyming lines popped into my head…and then a verse. It suddenly occurred to me that I could choose a group of Colin’s best drawings and write poems to accompany them, and that maybe we could publish the collection as a book!
Colin: She kept it a secret at first, then she showed the poems to me and my sister, Devon. We really laughed.
Jen: That’s when I knew I had something.
Margo: So, true, if you can get your own children to laugh at your poetry, then others definitely will! How long did it take you to write, illustrate, and publish your first book, Coolhead Luke and Other Stories?
Colin: My mom used illustrations that I drew when I was 8-10 years old for the first book.
Jen: Yes, I used illustrations he’d already done. It took about 2 months of focused work for me to write the accompanying poems, and then another month for tweaks and edits. After we finished our manuscript, the publishing process took over a year.
Margo: First of all, Colin, let me say what a talented artist you were between the ages of 8 and 10. You are even more talented now. And, Jen, how cool to write the poems to go with the illustrations instead of the other way around. That’s an amazing process! How is the second book, On The Edge with Coolhead Luke, similar to and different than the first book?
Jen: Colin is a few years older now, and his images have developed to represent the themes that are common in middle school.
Colin: Also, for the second book, my mom wrote some of the poems first, and I had to draw the illustrations to go along with them.
Jen: Both books are similar in that they present funny poems and drawings for kids aged 8-12. Both also have a glossary of poetic terminology and a teacher’s guide in the back pages.
Margo: I love that you are writing funny poems and that you are including teaching material in the back of the book. That is my cup of tea! Your book reminds me a bit of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. What children’s poets do you like? What artists/illustrators do you like?
Jen: Thank you; that is an enormous compliment. As a child, I was a big fan of Dr. Seuss. I feel his influence in many of my verses.
Colin: I love surrealists like Salvador Dali and MC Escher. I also like the work of Matt Groening.
Margo: For those of you who don’t know, Matt Groening is the creator of The Simpsons. I can see a little of his work in yours, Colin, but you are also very original. Jen–who doesn’t like Dr. Seuss? How can parents and teachers use your experience with your son, Jen, in their own homes or classrooms—even if they don’t want to illustrate a book?
Jen: The grading structure in our education system rewards excellence across the board, but most kids are not equally good at all skills and subject areas. Every child has uniquely different aptitudes and abilities, and it’s important to celebrate their individual strengths. Whatever you see to be a passion in your child–that is what you can help him develop. Working in collaboration with Colin has been a wonderful parenting experience for me and a great esteem builder for my son.
Margo: Jen, I agree with you one hundred percent and often say the same type of things on this blog. That’s one of the many reasons I wanted to invite you and Colin on here! This is a wonderful Wacky Wednesday idea for classrooms, home schoolers, and parents. We can all learn to work on any projects that celebrate the passions of our children or students. Colin, if kids are interested in illustrating, what are a few tips you can give them for improving their skills?
Colin: I went to a lot of art camps and workshops. Just keep drawing and trying new things!
Margo: Yep, art is just like anything–writing, basketball, or playing the piano. You have to practice! How can people buy your books?
Jen: Both titles are available at Amazon.com:
Margo: Great, thanks. If anyone is interested in purchasing either of these books, you will have to buy them through Amazon, or you can contact Jennifer through her website to get an autographed copy. How can people get in touch with you/let you know they like your books?
Colin: We have a website at http://www.coolheadluke.com . There are some fun things to do there for kids.
Jen: Or email us! jenwhite (at) charter.net
Margo: Thank you, Jen and Colin, for answering our questions and sharing your creative process with us. I wish you the best success and look forward to a book 3! In the meantime, readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a Coolhead Luke poetry book!