We are so excited that local children’s author, April Jones Prince, will be joining us at Parker Road’s Literacy Celebration THIS SATURDAY and even more excited that we were able to get to know her a little better before the big event! We hope you enjoy the below Q&A. Thank you, April, for your time!
Tell us a little about yourself, and how you got involved with writing.
I grew up in Minneapolis, where my dad worked for a book publishing company. Oh, how I used to love visiting his office! The people were upbeat and creative, the projects were innovative, and the scent—paper, ink, glue—was heaven. By the time I was in third grade, I decided I wanted to be a children’s book author.
Over the years, I wrote many stories and often made them into little books. There is something so gratifying about creating a book you can hold in your hands, share, and save forever! (When I watch my own kids, and when I visit schools, I love seeing and hearing that this is something kids still do for fun.)
I went to college at UNC-Chapel Hill and studied Journalism, then moved to New York and worked as a junior editor for HarperCollins. There was such celebrated publishing history there, from Goodnight Moon to Frog and Toad to Shel Silverstein. I was hooked for sure. Despite my youthful ambitions to be an author, I probably would have stayed on the editor’s side of the desk forever if I hadn’t met my husband and moved to Massachusetts. When I moved, I continued working for Harper as a (shhh!) ghostwriter. The 13 nonfiction books I researched and wrote gave me so many ideas for my own books, I dove in to writing for myself.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
Most of us write about things we’re curious and/or passionate about, and, as many young writers know, ideas can come from almost anywhere. Ideas for my books have come from talks with illustrators, from other books, and (shhh!) even from watching TV.
Perhaps most of all, ideas come from things we see and do, from the mundane to the exceptional. I got the spark for Dig In! while at a Pizza Hut in Maine with my husband and digger-loving boys, Charlie and William. The inspiration was a mash-up of that moment and the many Big Truck days we had attended right here in Shrewsbury. As Charlie and Will outgrew their days at Parker Road with Mrs. Johnson and Ms. Pullman, the digger fascination shifted to make room for our next passion: pirates. I bet you can guess what my forthcoming picture book is about!
When I visit schools and see what kids choose to write about, I am reminded how important it is for us to give our children rich and varied experiences from which to form their own ideas and develop their own stories. This happens at school and in the community every day. As evidenced by Dig In!, living your life is hands-on research.
Tell us an interesting or “fun fact” fact about yourself or one of your books!
Since the element of threes is crucial to so many stories, I will give you three!
About me: Yes, I was born in April! Kids often wonder about this. 🙂
About one of my books: While researching Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing, I learned that despite elephants’ great size and weight, these amazing creatures are quiet when they walk because of the way their foot bones and pads are structured. According to the zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo, an elephant can sneak right up behind you and you don’t even know it. Amazing!
About children’s books in general: Did you know that the author and illustrator of a picture book don’t collaborate or have any direct contact during the bookmaking process? Sometimes a few comments go back and forth via the publisher, but it’s surprisingly separate endeavors. Even after all the books I’ve worked on, I still find that incredible when you consider how closely the words and images of a picture book work together.
THANK YOU, APRIL!
We hope to see all of you this Saturday, March 28 from 9:00am – 11:00am (doors open at 8:45am) at Floral Street School for our much anticipated Literacy Celebration!