5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Aaron Zenz


Aaron Zenz is as nice as anyone I have ever met. He cares deeply about kids and reading, AND he is a super talented author/illustrator. I’m thankful that Aaron throws himself into Nerd Camp each year. He comes the entire time, and doesn’t stop learning and sharing until camp is over.

Aaron was kind enough to answer my interview questions about his new book Monsters Go Night-Night. Before we get to the interview check out this awesome drawing my daughter drew, and Aaron’s version of her monster.


AJ’s Monster


Aaron’s version of AJ’s monster

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Monsters Go Night-Night?

The book is a fun guessing game, turned on its head. For each bedtime ritual (taking a bath, brushing teeth…), we try to pick which of the four items on the page the monster will use. Of course, the correct answer will be the wrong-est one. And while the answers might be obvious, it’s fun shouting out the nonsense words. And it’s even more fun turning the page to see the monster actually using the ridiculous things!


2. What is best part about being a book creator?

Crafting worlds! Bringing characters to life! Knowing that before I came on the scene, these personalities and places didn’t exist, but now they do.


3. What’s the hardest part of being a book creator?

All the things that don’t have to do with book creation, like paying rent and feeding hungry mouths.


4. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?

I think I could be pretty happy exploring Perelandra. I’d have a blast hopping floating islands, eating exotic fruits, and checking out all the fantastic creatures.


5. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom?

Create all kinds of things. Make drawings and photographs and stories and sculptures and games and jokes and music and plays and characters and maps and codes and snowforts and experiments and comics and puppets and machines. Don’t be afraid to make messes. Don’t forget to clean them up when you’re done (so you have room to make the next one).


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Michael Rex

When I was a kid my dad was a long haul truck driver. He would be gone from 4-10 days at a time. Each summer I would spend a handful of days with him in his rig traveling the country. One of my favorite things about his job was when he would bring the truck to school. All my classmates got to move through the truck and check out its amazing features.

I fondly remember the days when my dad was a trucker. When I first saw With Any Luck, I’ll Drive a Truck my heart was taken back to riding around in a big rig listening to the Beach Boys. I’m very confident that kids are going to dig this one. Trucks are awesome (so is this book)!

I’m excited to share my interview with illustrator Michael Rex. He did a wonderful job with his illustrations in With Any Luck I’ll Drive a Truck.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

5. Can you tell us a little bit about With Any Luck, I’ll Drive A Truck?

It’s a really fun rhyming book about a little boy who grows up loving trucks that was written by David Friend, and illustrated by me! I spent many hours researching the trucks to make them as accurate as possible. When I could, I took pictures of real vehicles at construction sites and parking lots. I wanted to give the readers as much information about trucks as I possibly could in the drawings. The three little stuffed animal friends that the child has in the book were inspired by seeing real stuffed animals tied to the fronts of trucks.


4. What’s the hardest part of being an illustrator?

The drawings in this book are very detailed, and time consuming. While I love to draw, as I get older, the long days spent at my draft table are harder to get through. There are so many things I want to write about, or other things that I want to draw, that I sometimes have a hard time focusing. But in the end, all of the hard work is worth it.

truck interior 2.jpg

3. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom?

Try to do things the way you think they should be done, even if you end up being wrong. Your main goal as an artist is to put something unique and individual into your art. If you are only thinking about what others expect you to do, you’re not being true to your work.

truck spread 1.jpg

2. What is best part about being an illustrator?

The best part of being an illustrator is seeing an image in your head and being able to get it onto paper without too much struggle, or too many mistakes. That, and listening to music all day long.

1. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Erica Perl

ferociousfluffity 2

We were very lucky to have Erica Perl attend Nerd Camp last week. She was amazing with our junior campers. Erica is a gift to children’s literature. Erica answered a handful of my questions about her new bookFerociously Fluffity.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Ferociously Fluffity?

All the kids in Room 2-D are desperate to hold Fluffity, their adorable new class pet, even though their teacher, Mr. Drake, tells them to wait. When an opportunity presents itself, the students give in to temptation and quickly learn the wisdom of Mr. Drake’s warning. Fluffity bites kid after kid, and her chomping leads to a wild chase through the halls. Who will stop the haywire hamster, and how? Especially when her next victim is… Mr. Drake!


2. What is best part about being a writer?

Sharing my books with kids! Plus, my publicist said she’d bake me a delicious rhubarb pie when I finished this book.


3. What’s the hardest part of being a writer?

Apparently, my publicist was kidding about the pie. 


4. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?

Hmm, that’s a hard one. Actually, it’s not. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


5. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom?

Read everything! Write the kinds of things you love to read, even if you’re convinced that no one else will want to read them. Drawing, dancing, running and all kinds of non-writing activities can give you great “aha!” moments for your writing… just make sure you write them down before they escape. Don’t be tempted to edit while you write – editing interrupts the flow of your writing and works better if you come back and do it later.


The Yarn is Joining School Library Journal


Yesterday, School Library Journal Executive Editor Kathy Ishuzuka announced that The Yarn is joining SLJ. The show will pretty much be the same. We may have an ad or two in some of the episodes, but we will still have complete control of the content. Hopefully the ads will help Travis and I cover some of the expenses we have from running the show. It will be fun having our own spot on the SLJ site. It should help our listeners find episodes easier.

Thank you all for supporting our audio show. We love making it, and we can’t wait to see what stories we get to share in the future.