Thursday, September 28, 2017

Q&A with Melissa Bixby

Melissa Bixby is the author of the children's picture book Loose Tooth Trouble. She taught for 15 years in the Schaumburg, Illinois, schools, and she lives in Illinois.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Loose Tooth Trouble?

A: Well, my son Bobby was in kindergarten and during dinner one night he actually told us that his tooth was loose and when he wiggled it, it hurt.

We all started coming up with some incredibly outrageous ways to help him remove his tooth, and laughed all the way through dinner. At the end of dinner Bobby said to me, "Mom, you should write a book about that," and the next day I did just that. 

Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?

A: My purpose in writing the book was to add some humor to a situation that can cause children a great deal of anxiety sometimes. We can all remember the anticipation of the Tooth Fairy when having lost a tooth, and the story will reminds us what it's like to wait for a bothersome loose tooth to finally fall out so the tooth fairy can visit.

Another theme I tried to incorporate into the book was that sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution, and oftentimes your parents are the best source of information available. 

But overall, I wrote and published this book to try and encourage others to do the same. When I go into schools to read aloud the book to the students, I follow up with a presentation titled Let Loose Your Words, where I encourage everyone to write their stories down and share them with the world in whatever format you want.

I hope that at least one or two people leave the room feeling motivated to go home and start writing! 

Q: What do you think the illustrations add to the text?

A: I absolutely fell in love with the illustrations that Adam Barney did for the book. It was like he climbed into my mind and saw exactly what I wanted on the page. He took our ridiculous and outrageous suggestions and drew the illustrations to match perfectly! 

Then as a family, we decided it would be awesome if we could incorporate our newest adopted pet, Joey the Cat, into the pictures because she was a sly little cat that seem to always be underfoot and usually following Bobby. The fact that he has her hidden on every page was an added bonus and just made the book all the better in our opinion! 

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?

A: I have always been a huge fan of Judy Blume since I was a young girl. I still enjoy all of her books, the ones from the past and her most recent works. And one of my most favorite authors is John Green. He has written some amazing novels. 

But my true love has always been picture books. All of them! I love reading them to my former students and son, and talking about the pictures and the story together as a finished piece of art.

I absolutely love illustrated books that allow the reader to truly immerse themselves into the story. Of course some of the first picture books I can ever remember reading had very basic low-quality illustrations, and it amazes me every day how far we have come with technology. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Our family is currently working on another children's illustrated book that will hopefully engage children and adults alike, as it focuses on a topic that is very relevant to the technology of the present.

We have spent a lot of time camping this year, and a lot LESS time on technology so it gave me an idea for the upcoming story that I'm hoping is appreciated by all ages.

Of course, Bobby is the main character again, and Joey the cat will make another appearance in the illustrations. We are very excited about adding this future book to shelves all over the world! 

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: With every book purchased, I send a list of teacher-created activities, puzzles and follow-up questions that go with the book. All these activities are also available for download, for free, on my website.

I also love to visit schools in person, and via the Internet, to read the book aloud, and answer questions. As a former teacher, those visits remind me how much fun I had as a teacher, and allow me the chance to encourage kids to share their stories and creativity with others! 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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