Joy Morgan Dey shares the story behind her story …
In Agate: What Good Is a Moose? the animals are named for birthstone gems. Originally, they had random gemstone names. When illustrator Nikki Johnson and I took the book to the classrooms at Holy Rosary elementary school in Duluth MN for a trial run presentation, we found that the kids whose birthstones happened to be mentioned in the book were very pleased. But. Other kids wanted to know, “Where’s my birthstone?
We went right back to the drawing board. We dropped some critters, added some and moved things around, so that the animals could be named for the American National Retail Jewelers Association’s list of birthstones, in order. As a result, the whole idea for the book came across in a more unified, powerful way. Like Agate, we felt pretty humble.
You can learn a lot from your target audience. Now Nikki and I always test new stories in the classroom. We are enormously grateful to the kids at Holy Rosary.
We’ve taken Agate to a lot of schools and libraries over the past few years. I tell the story and conduct a Q & A and Nikki paints a moose. Time permitting, the kids paint, too. We learn something from them every time.
Learn more about Joy Morgan Dey…
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