Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Dad is the Best Playground by Luciana Navarro Powell

Need a gift to share with your family on Father's Day?  Look no further!

Robin Corey Books sent me a copy of this book to review as part of their Blog Tour (thank you).  This book is available at your local bookstore now.

I really enjoy children's books that talk about family and how much fun you can have with each other.  Ms. Powell has taken small games you can do with an adult that are interactive and will make you laugh.  My favorite game with my Dad was to play ride the horsie.  He'd cross his legs, I'd sit on his foot, and he'd bounce me.  And I'd laugh and laugh. What great memories.  Why not make some of your own?

As part of the tour, I gave Ms. Powell some interview questions to answer.  She did a very nice job of expanding on the questions and giving you more information about herself and her writing.

Here is the interview:

1.  How long have you been writing and illustrating? 

I have been illustrating professionally for about 15 years. Writing is a much more recent adventure, I have been doing it for about a year and a half.

2.  How many books have you had published?

I have illustrated lots of stories for textbooks over the past 8 years, for publishers like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I illustrated a bilingual board book called "I Take Care of Myself" for Me+Mi Publishing a few years ago, and last year I illustrated a bedtime book app for the iPad called "Goodnight Safari" for Polk Street Press. The companion book for "Dad" will be published next year, called "My Mom is the Best Circus", that I also wrote and illustrated. My last project was doing the art for a series of 4 board books about dinosaurs  called "Alphasaurus", "Colorasaurus", "Countasaurus" and "Shapeasaurus", for Chronicle Books, they will be out in July, September and October of this year.

3.  I noticed this book is dedicated to your husband.  How many children do you have?

I joke that I have 3 boys, ages 3, 5 and 40. The 40 year-old was the inspiration for this story.  (I love this.  What man ever grows up???)

4.  Did you get the idea for this book from watching your family?

The spark that ignited the idea happened one night when I was tucking my sons into bed and my husband got home late from work. He was later than usual so he missed our bedtime routine, but he was still full of energy and eager to play with them. I remember thinking "oh great, they are going to get all riled up again, here comes the playground!" As you know it's hard work to get kids settled down and ready for bed, so I was a bit annoyed with this sudden burst of energy.  However, I was still happy to see them play and have always been fascinated by how kids and their fathers play more physically and with more freedom than they do with us mothers- who are usually worried about someone getting hurt!  So this book is a celebration of the unique father-child relationship as it relates to the playground experience, a constant in the lives of young families.

5.  Did your Daddy play these kind of games with you?  (Mine did "ride the horsie" on his foot.)

I have very fond memories of playing "airplane" with my dad when I was 5 or 6 years of age. It was a Sunday morning routine. My middle brother and I would run to my parent's bed in the morning, and we would take turns on the "airplane". He would place us belly down on his shins, lie on his back and hold our hands, our arms stretched open, then with a rolling motion we would "take off", with sound effects and all. It was lovely, I can still remember our laughter!

6.  Do you plan to write more children's books or do you have something else in mind?

Yes, I got the writing bug now... I have new stories bouncing around my head, asking to be written.

7.  Are your own children excited about seeing your story in book form?

They were very excited, because they watched the whole process from sketching to final art. It was great when they were finally able to touch the real books. I hope they now understand a little bit better what I do. Before the books arrived all they could see was mom sitting at her office for hours and hours, drawing in her computer, they were probably thinking "THAT is work?"

8.  Where do you plan to go from here?  What's next?

I am in the early stages of writing my next book right now, in the very first draft. A little later this month I will start to illustrate a series of book apps for the iPad (I illustrated my very first app last year, a lovely bedtime story called "Goodnight Safari" by Polk Street Press), and any fun project that comes up and calls for my art style!

She sure sounds like a neat person to me.  What favorite family game did you have in your family?  Didn't remembering that make you smile?  Grab yourself a copy of this book and start making your own children's memories...

Happy reading.

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