November is Picture Book Month, and I want to help share pictures books!
Since this month only comes around once a year, and given the fact that I am an author and illustrator of picture books myself this hits home with me. I want to have a full share in this month, so I will dedicate this entire month to blogging about picture books. I will be having interview’s with some fellow KidLit authors and will share their books with all of you.
I would like to introduce you to Jessica Adams. Jessica grew up in Catawissa, PA. She attended Southern Columbia Area High School. After high school, she attended Bloomsburg University for two years, and then Thomas Jefferson University for two years. She graduated with honors with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Jessica still lives in PA with her husband, Greg, and two daughters, Janiece and Janelle. Her daughters are her inspiration for writing children’s books.
She has children’s picture book series entitled The Underground Toy Society. In this series, there are a group of toys dedicated to helping each other, while helping kids learn to love and appreciate what they have. The Underground Toy Society travels underground with the aid of their friend, Murry Mole. They find toys that need help or a child to love them, whether it’s from a child who grew up, or a full house with too many toys, or simply a forgotten toy.
Jessica, when did you decide to become a writer, and why?
When I was a little girl in first grade, I used to write short stories to take into school for show and tell. When I was in 6th grade, an author came to my elementary school for a visit. I was fortunate enough to be picked by the art class teacher to prepare a huge banner to welcome her to the school. I remember coloring a yellow duck for her arrival. I was so inspired by her and her children’s book. I thought it would be so neat to write a children’s book. I never actually pursued a career as a writer or illustrator, but I’m not sure why. It was not until I had my children with massive amounts of toys in the house that I decided my childhood dream of writing a book and writing about my idea of The Underground Toy Society needed to be fulfilled.
Why did you choose to write in this genre?
It has been in my heart since first grade, writing little stories to take in for show and tell.
Being a mother, how does this affect your writing?
Being a mother is the reason my dream finally came true. My children were the final piece of the puzzle to complete my stories about The Underground Toy Society.
Do you feel being a parent gives you insight into the minds of your readers?
I like to think so. I wanted to give kids the feeling that they could do anything, to inspire them. That is why I decided to allow my children to help with the illustrations in my books. I know most people will judge a book by its cover. But what is that teaching our children? We don’t want people to judge us by our looks, so why judge a book by it’s cover? I wanted to inspire everyone to appreciate the little things in life. Things don’t need to be elaborate to be good. I think kids can relate to the illustrations. My kids certainly love the pictures. My kids picked the picture for the front cover of my first book. I was reluctant to oblige because I know people will judge the book by the cover. I agreed because the books came to be because of my kids. So I had to let them pick the cover image.
Oh, that is such a sweet backstory. What is the inspiration for your story/stories?
When I was a little girl, I told my mom I was worried what would happen to my toys and my sister’s toys when we grew up. I thought the toys would miss each other if we each took them with us when we moved out of the house. My mom told me not to worry. She said the toys would find each other. So from then on, we always talked about The Underground Toy Society.
After I had my children, we began to receive many toys and gifts from family and friends. There was a misunderstanding from a Facebook post I made, and some family members accused me of being ungrateful of the gifts my kids received. They accused me of not allowing my children to have any toys. It made me very sad they thought I was ungrateful and didn’t let my kids have the toys and gifts. They had no idea how many toys my kids did have. My kids kept wanting more and more toys, yet there was no more room in the house. It was then I decided that my ideas about The Underground Toy Society needed to be told. Now, when my kids don’t clean up, I act all sad and say it is so sad their toys are not being taken care of and that The Underground Toy Society will have to come and help them find a child to take better care of them. My kids clean up pretty quick then.
How do you think you’ve evolved in your writing?