It's a pleasure to have Melissa Abramovitz on my blog today! In this guest post, she talks about the story behind her latest children's picture book, Helping Herbie Hedgehog, which she is promoting at the moment with The National Writing for Children Center. Let's give her warm welcome!
Long before I started writing professionally, I recognized the fact that I, and other people, learn much faster when someone – a teacher, parent, or others – makes the learning fun. Later, as the mother of two boys, I found that using humor or downright silliness made it so much easier to engage my children in doing chores or other things that they did not particularly want to do, like taking a bath. I also found that the childrens’ books they, and I, most enjoyed often contained humor. And I found that one thing toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary school-aged children get a kick out of is being right and correcting other peoples’ silly mistakes.
Most of the books, poems, and magazine articles I write are educational in some way, and while they are not all funny, I always try to make them fun, in line with my observations about what I and my children most enjoyed reading. Many years ago, I got the idea to write a series of funny poems about animal characters that need to figure out how to get places and go about other activities. Knowing how much small children enjoy being right, I decided to engage young readers in helping the characters decide what to do. For instance, if the character was traveling to the moon, should he ride a bicycle? The first character I devised was a lion named Laffy Lion. For the next poem I used a character named Klutz Kangaroo. I came up with several more characters to use in other similar poems about different jobs, sports, household appliances, and types of furniture.
One thing I think many people who include humor in their writing experience is uncertainty about whether anyone else will find the humor funny. I know I often wonder about this! The fact that my own kids, other family members, and friends laughed at these poems was encouraging, and this gave me the courage to decide to incorporate all these poems into a children’s book. I decided to make it an early chapter book/picture book, with each chapter devoted to different activities and concepts. But I realized I should use only one main animal character to unify the story. I knew my character had to be clueless, but I also wanted him to be lovable so children would want to help him out. I could have made the character any one of a number of species, but in the end, I decided on a hedgehog because they’re cute despite their prickles. The name Herbie just seemed to fit with “hedgehog.” My original title was “Can You Help Herbie Hedgehog?” to emphasize the interactive nature of the book.
About the Author
Melissa Abramovitz has been a freelance writer/author for 30 years. She’s the author of hundreds of magazine articles for all age groups, from preschoolers through adults; more than 40 educational books for children and teenagers; numerous poems and short stories; the children’s picture books ABCs of Health and Safety and Helping Herbie Hedgehog; and a book for writers titled A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write and Sell Articles for Children’s Magazines. Melissa graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in psychology and is also a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. She is a member of SCBWI, NABE, and The Working Writer’s Club.
About the Book
Herbie has places to go and things to do. But he needs some help ‘cause he hasn’t a clue! If you’ll help Herbie decide what’s right and wrong, he’ll be busy and happy the whole day long! Herbie the clueless hedgehog needs help figuring out how to get places and go about his day. Amusing delightful rhymes invite kids to give helpful advice while learning about everyday things in this early chapter book/picture book. Should Herbie ride his bicycle to visit his cousin who lives across the ocean? Will his TV set cook a meal? He really needs these kids’ help! Recommended for ages 2-7.
Title: Helping Herbie Hedgehog
Genre: Children’s picture book/early chapter book
Author: Melissa Abramovitz
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Purchase link: www.guardianangelpublishing.com/herbie-hedgehog.htm