Jody Jensen Shaffer is the author of the new children's picture book Prudence the Part-Time Cow. Her other books include The Way the Cookie Crumbled and Benjamin Banneker: Self-Made Man, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, such as Ladybug and Highlights. She lives in Liberty, Missouri.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Prudence the Part-Time Cow?
A: Believe it or not, the Chick-fil-A cow inspired my story! In the summer of 2012, as my son and I were running errands, we noticed the Chick-fil-A cow in front of our local restaurant.
We tried to get a picture of it for my daughter who was partial to cows, but the light turned green, and we had to move on. We planned to get a picture on the return trip, but when we got to the intersection, the cow was gone.
I told my son it must've been a part-time cow. That phrase struck me, and I began brainstorming how and why a cow could be part-time.
Q: What do you think kids can take away from her story?
A: I hope Prudence's story gives kids the confidence and courage to pursue their interests, even in the face of criticism, and a belief in the value of kindness.
Q: What do you think Stephanie Laberis's illustrations add to the book?
A: Oh my goodness, Steph's illustrations are truly one-half of the story, as they should be for picture books! The expressions on the cow's faces, Prudence's pink bouffant, the genius of her inventions using found farm objects. Steph's illustrations are perfect, and I'm so lucky to have been paired with her.
Q: Who were some of your favorite authors when you were a kid?
A: I loved Norman Bridwell's Clifford books when I was a kid, and encyclopedias. We had a set in the basement, and I'd read for hours. When I became a parent, I fell in love with Cynthia Rylant, Arnold Lobel, William Steig, Peggy Rathmann, and so many others!
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm always brainstorming new stories and revising old ones. I'm out on submission with a few things, so I perpetually have my fingers crossed!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I'm launching Prudence the Part-Time Cow at the Barnes & Noble at Zona Rosa in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 16 at 6:30pm. It's open to the public and should be tons of fun. I'd love to see everyone!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb