The Chicken Butt Blog Tour – Every Perl Has Her Oyster
This coming Saturday pleases me exceedingly. You may have noticed that there are four butt-related picture books that have come out in 2009 thus far. Well three of the people involved with the books will be presenting at my library soon, in a program that is bound to be hilarious (info at the end of this post). And one of them is here today. Meet Ms. Erica Perl, author of this year’s Henry Cole illustrated joke bonanza Chicken Butt. As part of her blog tour, I sat Ms. Perl down (which is to say, emailed her) to ask her the tough questions. No holds barred. Anything goes. As least as far as chickens and their tushes as concerned.
Fuse #8: I’ve been referring to 2009 as "The Year of the Rear" due to the sheer proliferation of butt-related picture books. Aside from the obvious, whence this complete and utter obsession with all things heiney-related? I find it weirdly coincidental, is all.
Erica Perl: Hmmm… I also wonder why all of our books came out around the same time this year. Perhaps it is a full moon (tee hee). All kidding aside, I would say that they bring well-needed smiles to the world at a time of strife, BUT the truth is that my book – and the others, I presume – has been in production for quite a while. So I guess it’s just a cultural zeitgeist of some sort. I do love the phrase "YEAR OF THE REAR."
Fuse #8: I know. It has a lovely ring to it. So would you consider your book a joke book? I know the kids love those joke books, and this one seems to follow along the same path to some extent. What would you call it?
EP: My book has a joke in it – albeit a nonsensical one – BUT I wouldn’t call it a joke book per se. Rather, it is a story about what happens when a kid starts telling jokes and gets carried away. And about what happens when a parent makes a rule and a kid finds a creative way to circumvent it. In other words, it is pretty much the story of my experience as a parent!
Fuse #8: Where did the idea of the book come from? I’m ashamed to say that I’d never heard of the Chicken Butt joke before. But I clearly had a very sheltered childhood.
EP: You’re not the only one to tell me that! I now know that the world is divided into people who told this joke incessantly as children and people who never heard it (I draw no conclusions on either side, by the way). I’m actually in your camp as well – I was chicken-butt-less as a child and first heard the joke from the extremely serious scholarly types I hung out with in law school.
Fuse #8: Actually, I just read a scene in Katy Kelly’s new book Melonhead that clearly contains a chicken butt joke reference. So I stand corrected. Now would you consider doing a sequel? I mean, the possibilities are endless, are they not?
EP: I would love to, especially if it meant working with Henry Cole again – he did such a great job! Kids have been asking me to write "MONKEY BUTT!", so perhaps that will be next. We shall see…
Fuse #8: Did you workshop this title at all? Which is to say, did you try it out much on kids while you were writing it, or did it all come to you in one fell swoop?
EP: Originally I wrote this book as a board book with flaps you could lift – sort of an irreverent novelty book aimed at hipster parents of toddlers. But when I showed it to kids who were just learning to read, they really dug it – it was totally their sensibility. So I began to expand the idea and the two voices – grown up and child – just grew out of it from there. And the kids I showed it to – even the most reluctant readers – really wanted to read it themselves, which told me that it was working.
Fuse #8: Awesome. So finally, the dreaded question no one wants to answer: Whatcha working on now?
EP: I have four more books coming out soon-ish: a young adult novel, a middle grade novel and two picture books. I’m currently working on two picture books and two collections of stories… I jump from project to project so I’m never sure what I’ll finish first. But I’m certain you’ll be among the first to know!
Ms. Perl’s blog tour has included and shall include Maw Books, Tales from the Rushmore Kid, Motherreader, A Pen and a Nest, Hen Blog, Write for a Reader, Chicken Spaghetti, and Three Silly Chicks. There is a prize drawing of Chicken Butt! and other fun prizes, so register by visiting any of the participating tour blogs during the week (this one counts) and then leave your comment on Erica’s blog.
And in case you’re interested in the program at my library, here are the details:
Saturday, May 16th, 1:00 p.m.No Ifs, Ands, Or . . . .When authors Auyn Halliday and Erica S. Perl discovered that they were both writing butt-kicking picture books they decided to put their heinies in gear and let everyone know about bottoms on their whirlwind tour of New York City! A hilarious program of fun and fannies. Now they’ve teamed up with illustrator Tracy Dockray for the most fun you can have on a Saturday afternoon!In Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo by Ayun Halliday (illustrated by Dan Santat) what is it about zoo residents? Is it because they’re cooped up all day with nothing better to do? Is it because they lack the appropriate clothing for their unusual size and shape? Is there no laundry service? Whatever the reason, whenever you go to the zoo, what can you be sure to see? Heinies, and plenty of ’em. From demure to bodacious, Ayun Halliday and Dan Santat are finally willing to show us the true appeal of the zoo–There are always heinies, and lots of ’em.Jokes more your style? In Chicken Butt by Erica S. Perl (illustrated by Henry Cole) a classic schoolyard joke has been recast as an irreverent picture book, with call-and-response parts for parent and child. The word repetition in Erica S. Perl’s text, and wonderfully comic illustrations by beloved artist Henry Cole, make this a particularly inviting book for new readers, as does the opportunity to "trick" a parent or other adult into participating in a very silly joke. The humor builds to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Warning: Kids will want to read this one over and over and over again!And for the youngest of all, there’s the good old-fashioned The Tushy Book by Fran Manushkin (illustrated by Tracy Dockray). Baby tushies. Grown-up tushies. Animal tushies. Tushies are all around us! Even the word, TUSHY, is fun to say. C’mon, say it with us: TUSHY! TUSHY! TUSHY! Here’s a celebration of this squeezably soft body part, with humor and warmth that readers of all ages will relate to.Ayun Halliday is the author of many humorous books for adults including NO TOUCH MONKEY and DIRTY SUGAR COOKIES. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family. Erica S. Perl is a full-time writer and part-time chicken. She is the author of Ninety-three in My Family (Reuben Award, Book Sense Pick, Slate’s Best Books), which School Library Journal called a "comic masterpiece," and Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early, which received a starred review from Booklist . She lives with her family in Washington, D.C. Visit her at ericaperl.com. Tracy Dockray’s first picture book was DELIA AT THE DELANO, which was privately commissioned by Ian Schrager to celebrate the opening of his South Beach boutique hotel. She is also the new illustrator of the Beverly Clearly books from HarperCollins (cover and interior art). For children ages 4 and older.Children’s Center at 42nd Street
The New York Public Library
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
5th Avenue and 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018212-621-0208
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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