On Cupcakes and Pogo Sticks

peanut butter and cupcake I was meandering past the new picture book section in our local library when I saw it. A cupcake. On a pogo stick! What genius was this? Intrigued, I opened Peanut Butter & Cupcake (Philomel, 2014).

Peanut Butter is the new kid in town, and he sets out to find a friend to play with. But everyone seems to have something else to do. It’s going to take someone super nice, super special, and super compatible to be the perfect play pal for Peanut Butter. I wonder who it could be?

pbj_playing copyAccompanying the rhyming text are amazing photographs of 3-D objects. A slice of bread with a soccer ball, a hamburger walking a pair of hot dogs, a box of fries reading a book, an egg riding a unicycle. This could only be the work of artist, photographer, humorist, and now children’s book author, Terry Border.

Terry Border is the creator of Bent Objects, which started as a blog but lead to a number of art books, calendars, greeting cards, and jigsaw puzzles. Often featuring everyday objects with wire legs and arms, Border’s images are humorous, satirical, poignant, and in some cases, rather touching.

mummy1coffee-ringschristmasCan you tell us a little about the beginnings of Bent Objects?
Way back in 2006 I began making some tiny sculptures out of wire and household objects. When I realized that the final art should be a photograph and not an actual sculpture I knew I could use real food because things just had to last long enough for a photograph.  Somewhere along the way I decided to make jokes and observations and much to my surprise other people “got” it and started sharing my work.

What type of wire do you use for most of your work?
Usually 20 gauge to 14 gauge wire that is available at a hardware store. Ordinary stuff.

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What does your studio look like?
If it were empty you would swear that it looks like a small bedroom in a suburban 1980′s era house, because that’s what it is.  It’s always terribly messy. The fun part of my work takes place in my head. Looking at where I actually make it a physical reality isn’t so exciting. I do have a Homer Simpson clock on the wall though.

What came first with Peanut Butter & Cupcake…the images? Or the story?
The story, although it was influenced greatly by how I visualized what could be interesting.  That’s why I had Peanut Butter visiting so many other “kids” so that I could have lots of opportunities making small jokes about the different foods.

As a first time children’s book author, what was it like to write the story? Was it easier, or more difficult than you expected?
Writing the book was a lot more difficult than I expected to tell you the truth. Like a lot of people I thought it would be easy to write a children’s book. Well, it IS easy to write a children’s book, it’s only hard to write a good one.

My editor, Jill Santopolo helped a LOT with rewrites. She really helped put things together, shaped things up, etc. I couldn’t have done it without her help. I learned sooo much from this book. I think my second (which I’m working on now) will be better, and the third (if I get so lucky) will be much better than the previous two. I’m just now learning what I can do.  :)

Did you test the story out on any kids and, if so, were you surprised at the feedback they gave you?
I’m not one for preview audiences! ha!  I was confident in my ability to make some good photographs and hoped that would strengthen any possible shortcomings in the written department. Luckily (and like the old quote “I’d rather be lucky than good”)  I think it worked out.

How many slices of bread went into the making of the book?
I actually baked small loaves half the size of normal ones to make him from, and not all of the slices made the cut (rimshot). I probably put arms and legs on 25 or 30 slices to make both him and jelly.

What was the hardest part about composing a scene for your book?  
The big soccer match towards the end was the most difficult because it was so large with every character in it. Crumbs are constantly falling off the characters, and the more I move them around the more they fall apart. By the time I actually take the final photo the characters are usually barely able to stay together.

thebiggameWho made the cupcakes in the book? Num num num.
I have to make the cupcakes, because the ones from stores and bakeries are too soft and moist to work with!

Can you give us your special cupcake recipe?
Just buy the cheapest cupcake mix you can. The extras will taste “okay”, and the ones that are the stars of the show won’t be so moist that they’ll fall apart as soon as they’re on set! I hollow out a bit of the cupcake and make a little hot glue core for some wires in there. All the food is really food except for something to keep the wires attached to it if needed.

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What’s your next children’s book about?
My next book is to be called Happy Birthday Cupcake. It’s about Cupcake from the first book wondering what kind of birthday party she should have. Lots of funny pictures are being made for this one!

You can see more of Terry Border’s work on his website and his blog, including some amazing portraits of old paperback books. For those who have constantly told their children that a stapler remover is not, in fact, a dangerous creature, take a look at the second image below! Awesome.

GULLIVERHow-Business-was-done-(snak_MG_2273 copysnow white plusAnd the butter lived happily ever after (sorry, couldn’t resist).


All images are used with the permission of Terry Border. Images from Peanut Butter & Cupcake are used with permission of Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.

The BiblioFiles Presents: Sharon Creech

sharon creech bibliofilesJust posted! An in-depth interview with award-winning author Sharon Creech.

In a career that has spanned more than twenty years, Sharon Creech has produced distinctive works of literature for children and teens. Her books include Walk Two Moons, which won the Newbery Award in 1995  and inspired the companion novels Chasing Redbird and Bloomability. The Wanderer was a finalist for the Newbery Award in 2000, and Ruby Holler won the Carnegie Medal in 2002. Creech has also written books in verse, including Love That Dog, which was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal in 2001.

Powerful, emotional, humorous, gracious, sorrowful, scary, glorious, joyful, remarkable , playful, and heartfelt are words that describe the works of Sharon Creech. She excels at crafting stories that draw you in, make you think, make you feel, and make you a better person.

Her newest book, The Boy on the Porch, the story of John and Marta, a young couple who find an unusual young boy on their porch. The boy can’t speak but eventually begins to communicate through his musical and artistic talents. John and Marta form a powerful bond with the boy, one that truly defines what love, trust, acceptance, and family mean.

Ready to listen? Click here to go to the BiblioFiles interview!

The BiblioFiles Presents: Platte F. Clark

platte f clarkJust posted! An in-depth interview with Platte E. Clark, author of Bad Unicorn and its newly-released sequel, Fluff Dragon.

Max Spencer, middle school student, is about to have a very unusual day. It begins when he drags an old book from under his bed to use for a last-minute book report. Unbeknownst to Max, this book is the legendary Codex of Infinite Knowability, the most powerful book in three worlds, and Max is a descendent of Maximilian Sporazo, the book’s creator. Right now, however, Max is just hoping to avoid the school bully, Ricky “The Kracken” Reynolds, and hang out with Dirk, his hyperactive, game-obsessed best friend.

When Max unknowingly unleashes a spell from the Codex, he transports himself, Dirk, a girl named Sarah, and a disgruntled dwarf named Dwight into a future where humans are extinct and machines have taken over. It’s going to take more than Glenn, the Legendary Dagger of Motivation, to get them out of this mess. As if that isn’t bad enough, Max and his companions are being hunted by a unicorn. A bad unicorn. A nasty, petulant, human-eating unicorn. Princess the Destroyer has agreed to find Max and the Codex in exchange for an all-the-humans-you-can-eat rampage in Texas.

Bad Unicorn is irreverent, ironical, and completely hilarious. Clark composes an epic tale of good versus evil complete with nods to Dungeons & Dragons, computer games, malevolent sci-fi robots, zombies, and 80s arcade games. There’s even a dash of geek romance and an explanation of the true purpose of jackaolopes. Bad Unicorn has it all. The second book in the trilogy, Fluff Dragon, was released last month.

Ready to check it out? Follow this link to get to the BiblioFiles!