The Honest Toddler Gets a Book of Her Own (sorta) – An Interview with Bunmi Laditan
I don’t actually do interviews.
I don’t! Honest! I tend to turn them down when asked, even when I adore the book.
Then I read this:
If the author’s name doesn’t sound familiar, how about “Honest Toddler“? Any of you out there follow that feed? If you have, are planning to have, or have already had a toddler, then that Twitter feed feels right and good and natural. And its creator is none other than Bunmi Laditan. Now she has a picture book coming out, and I can tell you right there that internet success, delightful though it may be, does not always translate to keen picture book writing. I picked the book up and decided to give it a quick once over a couple months ago. And to my infinite delight, I found it to be one of the funniest picture books I’ve read in a very great while.
The premise is misleadingly simple. In it, a little girl, asks her daddy to help her determine once and for all who mommy actually belongs to. This may sound crazy, but I’ve never encountered a picture book that involved a daughter slambang crazy about her mom. Can anyone else name any? Because as far as I can tell, this is it, folks!
So I caved. They asked if I wanted to do an interview and I said yes. I’m not made of stone, people! A brief word or two with Ms. Laditan about the book:
Betsy Bird: I may have identified a little too closely with this book, since I am a mommy with a daughter that LOVES me me and also me. And yet, for whatever reason, I’ve never seen this kind of possessive relationship in a picture book before (girls loving their mommies to the exclusion of the other parent). So the obvious question is, is this based on a true story?
Bunmi Laditan: The Big Bed is based on the Honest Toddler (a character I created) who’s main goal in life is to live on red juice and fruit snacks and of course, stake a claim in the parental bed. The character is inspired by my middle child who is outspoken, brave, and always tried to get into the big bed!
BB: @HonestToddler is one of those Twitter feeds that sustains me (right along with Emo Kylo Ren) and many others like me as well. Were you approached to write a picture book thanks to the blog or was this always something you had in the back of your mind and wanted to do?
BL: I was approached to write the picture book by Joy Peskin, an editor at Macmillan’s children’s book department. She loved the blog post about the Big Bed and was so excited to turn it into a book. Her excitement was contagious and the project took on a life of its own.
BB: You are a mom. You read your children books. Many books. Many books you love and many books you loathe. What is the best book, in your opinion, to read repeatedly to a child and what is a book that you wish to bury in a deep dark pit, never to have to read it again?
BL: My kids love Eric Carle and The Snowy Day is our all time favourite bedtime book. We’ve all memorized it at this point an they take turns finishing sentences. I’m also a huge fan of Robert Munsch, Shel Silverstein, and Sandra Boynton.
BB: Did you have any particular book in mind when you wrote THE BIG BED? Anything you modeled it or the characters off of?
BL: I provided the words and Tom Knight, a wonderful illustrator, took the lead with the illustrative vision.
BB: Like most picture book authors you were paired by your editor with your illustrator Tom Knight. Was this how you envisioned the book looking? What has struck you the most about his art? Was anything changed between the first proofs and the final product?
BL: Tom and I didn’t work together at all, but his expression of The Big Bed story was everything I wanted and more. The day I saw the cover I just about cried with excitement.
BB: Any chance we might see more books from you in the coming years? Are you working on anything now?
BL: Yes! I’m working on a book of poetry for mothers that I can’t wait to see come together. I’m also finishing the sequel to my first novel “Confessions of a Domestic Failure: The Diary of a First Time Mom.”
Thanks to the folks at Macmillan and Kelsey Marrujo for setting up this interview. And seriously, folks. If you’re looking for the funny picture books of 2018, here is where you start.
Filed under: Interviews
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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