Tag Archives: Yvonne Morrison

2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Interview with Yvonne Morrison

Yvonne Morrison’s book Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite), illustrated by Donovan Bixley, has been voted for by kids all over New Zealand as a finalist in the Children’s Choice Picture Book  category. Little Red is also on the judge’s finalist list. She and Donovan collaborated last year, on the Children’s Choice award-winning The Three Bears (Sort Of).

Yvonne is a zookeeper, swing dance instructor, former school teacher, and children’s book author of such bestsellers as A Kiwi Night Before Christmas, A Kiwi Jingle Bells, Down in the Forest and The Three Bears (Sort of).

  1. I remember last year, you were struck by the idea for The Three Bears (Sort of) and wrote it very quickly. Was it more difficult following this up with another fairytale-inspired story – How did this come to you?

I used to be a primary school teacher, and I was visiting an ex-colleague who asked me to read Three Bears (Sort Of) to her class and conduct a follow-on writing lesson for her staff to observe as professional development. I used Red Riding Hood as a model of how to alter a fairy tale, and then the children had a go at doing their own. When my publishers suggested a follow-up to Three Bears, it was natural to turn to Little Red, as I’d already had a head-start. Once you really start thinking about the original story, the ideas flow. Why DOESN’T Little Red notice the wolf isn’t Granny right away? And how DOES a wolf swallow a Granny whole?

  1. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

Really, it was a breeze. I simply supplied the manuscript, my editors queried a few things (and rightly so), I tidied up some bits, and then it was good to go to Donovan Bixley for the hard part –  illustrating! I think he faced some considerable challenges in this book – we had discussions about how gruesome the drawings could be… it’s not easy to convey swallowed grannies and slit-open wolves in a tasteful manner, but Donovan achieved it!

  1. How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?

To be honest, I didn’t try all that hard. I tend to write books that amuse myself, and hope that by not talking down to children, they will pick up on whatever level of humour they are ready for. I also hope that the adults reading my books aloud are also amused by the stories, since they may be hearing and reading them frequently. Donovan helps in this by providing clever illustrations that work on all levels.

Incidentally, I also slipped in my own personal ethical philosophy by having the wolf end up at a wolf sanctuary. I’m always hoping that little things like that might lead to a teachable moment, or spark a classroom debate, and get kids thinking about such questions as the nature of good and evil – is a carnivorous wolf evil simply because he seeks to eat humans? I would like to think that both Little Red and Three Bears are encouraging questioning and skepticism in young people.

  1. Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?

I haven’t this time. At this point, I have a book dedicated to each of the people I love, and now I’ve run out of people!

  1. Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?

The first fractured fairy-tale I read is still my favourite. It’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka. I also like anything quirky, like It’s a Book by Lane Smith, and of course my fellow finalist, I Am Not A Worm! by Scott Tulloch. I am pleased that publishers are becoming more open to non-traditional manuscripts and hope that this trend continues!

  1. What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?

I can’t choose just one thing! Here’s four: dancing, because it keeps me fit, lets me listen to great music and brings me joy; travelling, because it teaches me about different cultures and gives me new experiences to draw on; helping animals, because animals think and feel just like we do but are unable to speak for themselves, so I choose to be their voice; and eating, because food is awesome!

I am about to embark on a new adventure that will combine three of these things – my husband and I have just got a job in Vietnam managing a centre for endangered primates. We will be helping with rescues of gibbons, monkeys and lorises destined for the pet or traditional medicine trade and rehabilitating them for wild release. We will be living on an island in the jungle! And of course we will be seeing lots of South-East Asia and eating some amazing food.

Hopefully this adventure will fill me with fuel for writing too!

___

If you want to know more about Yvonne, check out her website here: http://www.yvonnewritesbooks.com/mybookskids.html

For reviews of Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite), check out the Booksellers NZ review here: https://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/book-review-little-red-riding-hood-not-quite-by-yvonne-morrison-illustrated-by-donovan-bixley/

And my review here on the blog.

This is day seven of the blog tour featuring each of the finalists in the Children’s Choice category of the awards. Earlier today I posted Donovan’s answers to the illustrator’s interview for  this title and you can find that interview here – https://bestfriendsarebooks.com/2015/06/30/2015-new-zealand-book-awards-for-children-and-young-adults-interview-with-donovan-bixley/.  Yesterday’s feature was I am not a Worm, by Scott Tulloch, whose interview can be found here: http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/nz-book-awards-for-children-and-young_2.html.  Monday’s feature will be our third picture book, Doggy Ditties from A to Z, by Jo van Dam and Myles Lawford will be covered back on Thrifty Gifty http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/.

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Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley

Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley joined forces a couple of years ago to create the wonderful The Three Bears (Sort of).  It is a real favourite of mine and a book that I come back to again and again. When I saw that Yvonne and Donovan were collaborating on a new picture book, this time retelling Little Red Riding Hood, I knew that it would be fantastic and hopefully just as good as The Three Bears (Sort of).  I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

In Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) Yvonne uses the same storytelling technique that worked so well with The Three Bears (Sort of).  A parent reads the story of Little Red Riding Hood to their child (Small Blue Polka Dot Pyjamas) who keeps interrupting to question the story and poke holes in it.  This child is very switched on and has lots of questions like ‘Why was she called that?,’ ‘Don’t wolves usually hunt in packs?,’ and ‘Why didn’t he just eat the girl right there – and then go to Granny’s for dessert?’ The very patient parent answers all the child’s questions, adding their own twists to the tale.

Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) is another perfect picture book from this award-winning team.  I absolutely love this book and have to tell all the kids, parents and teachers I know all about it!  Yvonne Morrison sure knows how to tell a story and she gives readers a delightful twist on the traditional tale that is full of humour and a dash of sarcasm.  Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) is a great book for reading aloud, to children of any age, and it is especially fun to have two people reading the two different parts.

Donovan Bixley is one of my absolute favourite illustrators and his illustrations for Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) are stunning.  There are so many things I love about Donovan’s illustrations for this book that I have to list them:

  • The little details in the illustrations, from the wolf pattern in the wallpaper at the beginning to grandma reading Call of the Wild.
  • The wolf’s wonderful expressions, especially when he’s choking down grandma.
  • The range of materials that Donovan incorporates in to the story, including diagrams and maps that help to prove the child’s points.

Donovan has also done the brilliant design for the book.  I think that it’s this design that makes the book work so well and gives it that special appeal to children.

Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) is a book that every family should own.  It is a book that will get shared again and again, never loosing its appeal.  I can certainly see why children from around the country have chosen this book as a finalist in the 2015 Children’s Choice Award.  I can’t wait to see which story Yvonne and Donovan do next!

Check back tomorrow to read an interview with Donovan Bixley and Yvonne Morrison about how they went about creating Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite).  You can also enter here to win a copy of this wonderful book.

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Win Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley

My Best Friends Are Books is part of the blog tour to celebrate the Children’s Choice Award in the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  Tomorrow I’m hosting interviews with Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley here on the blog and you can read my review of their wonderful book, Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite).

Thanks to everyone who entered the competition.  The winner is Chris.

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Picture Book Nook: The Three Bears (Sort of) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley

If you think you know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears then you better think again.  I’m sure you’ve never had a child pointing out the loop holes in the story as you read it before.  This is exactly what happens in Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley’s new take on the story, The Three Bears (Sort of).

A mother starts to read the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to her son before bed, but he doesn’t just sit there quietly and listen to the story.  This boy is both switched-on and rather annoying.  His mother can only read a sentence or two before he points out an issue with the story.  First, he wants to know what sort of bears they were (Grizzly bears? Polar bears?). He also points out that daddy bears don’t live with mummy bears (mummy bears raise their cubs alone), that bears don’t have thumbs so they couldn’t pick up a pot for the porridge, and that bears would probably just eat fish instead of porridge.  Every time he questions a detail of the story you wonder why you hadn’t thought of that yourself.

The Three Bears (Sort of) is an entertaining and unique retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears that adults will enjoy as much as children.  Yvonne Morrison’s text will have you in stitches! It’s full of sarcasm that adults especially will love and she’s captured the voice of an inquisitive toddler and the mother (who’s making it up as she goes along) perfectly. Donovan Bixley’s illustrations are absolutely wonderful and really match the humour of the story and the way it’s being told.  The hands of the mother and son can be seen on some of the pages, as they draw or add pictures into the story.  Donovan’s Goldilocks looks both cute and bratty, and I love the facial expressions of the bears.  I think Donovan is New Zealand’s own Anthony Browne, because of the way he adds extra details into his illustrations that add another layer to the story.  On the very first page, above the publication details, there are some interesting objects on the mantelpiece, including soft toy bears, a card for a locksmith, and a postcard from Svalbard.  You’ll also notice the tree patterns on the wallpaper.  I also really love the way that Donovan has designed the book, with the son’s interruptions inside a box on the page and in a different, childish font.  This makes it clear to see when the son is talking and when the mother is talking.

It’s perfect for reading aloud one-on-one or with a large group, and it’s ideal for acting out, as one person could be the mother and one person could be the son.  This is how we’ll be performing it at our Three Bears Breakfast at Shirley Library in Christchurch next Saturday (16 March).

5 out of 5 stars

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