Thursday, May 14, 2009

In the Coop with Erica Perl

Guess what? Chicken Butt! Heh heh heh. We chicks have been using that line for years and yep, it makes us laugh every time. And now, children's book author Erica Perl has taken that joke and ramped up the humor times ten. Illustrated by chick fave Henry Cole, Chicken Butt! is a non-stop snort fest of fowl humor for the whole family. You know why? Chicken thigh!

The Three Silly Chicks are very pleased to have Erica Perl in the coop with us today, on the last day of her intrepid Chicken Butt! journey through the wild and wooly blogiverse. To celebrate her safe arrival back home, she will be giving away a signed copy of Chicken Butt! and other treats to one lucky winner. That winner could be you, dear friend! All you have to do is go to Erica's blog, Chicken Feed, and leave a comment today. Easy-peasy! Erica will then pick a random commenter to win the goods. So what are you waiting for? Go go go! Scoot on over there right now and leave a comment! Then come back here, put your feet up, and enjoy our talk with Erica...

How do you know when what you write is funny?

I don't. I just cross my fingers and hope it is. Actually, I read everything I write aloud and I test it on real kids - my own, plus some that are not related to me. If they don't laugh, I know something's up.

Do you have any tips for writing funny books?

Don't write what you think kids WILL find funny, or what you think kids SHOULD find funny. Spend time with kids so you discover what they DO find funny. And also so you remember what YOU found funny at their age. That's how Chicken Butt! came about. I know both perspectives - kid and parent - in that particular goofy face-off intimately!

Has being funny ever gotten you into or out of trouble?

Growing up, I would have gotten into a lot more trouble had my mother not been funny, too (note: I did not realize this until much later). In fact, my mother has requested that when she dies, we have her gravestone engraved to say: "SHE WAS FUNNY." Seriously.

What are some of your favorite funny books?

I love James Marshall's books, especially The Stupids Step Out. I also love M.T. Anderson's Whales on Stilts and Daniel Pinkwater's The Hoboken Chicken Emergency. In fact, I think The Hoboken Chicken Emergency is perhaps the funniest chicken book ever written.

If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?

I wrote Ninety-Three In My Family because when I was a kid, I always wanted more pets than my parents would allow. So I decided to write a book about a family with all the pets I could possibly want. As zany as it looks (thanks to Mike Lester's fabulous illustrations), it's clear that this family has a lot of fun together.

Who do you like more, The Marx Bros or Three Stooges?

Marx Brothers, hands down.

What was your best Halloween costume?

I once insisted on dressing up as the school lunch menu. I wore a sandwich board with the week's menu written on it, plus a paper plate hat with plastic food. I like to think that I'm the only person who has ever trick-or-treated in this particular costume… not because it is so funny, but because it makes absolutely no sense.

What is your Dream Job for a Day?

Woozler. It's my invented Dream Job. It involves spending the day at the zoo, cuddling and woozling all the animals.

Clown V. Mime Deathmatch. Pick your winner.

It's a draw. Both are extremely scary.

Funniest dead person you’d like to meet?

Roald Dahl, who was apparently not funny (as in ha-ha funny) in real life. But I would still love to have met him.

Is there anything funnier than a chicken butt?

You know what's more?

Two chicken butts! No -- FOUR!

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Fair Godmother

My Fair Godmother
by Janette Rallison

Walker Books

ISBN: 978-0802797803

We three chicks freely admit to being picture book junkies. We dearly love a fun, simple story that goes straight to the punch in 32 fast-paced glorious pages. A great picture book is like the perfect dessert: a delectable pink-frosted cupcake providing immediate gratification. But when our busy schedules permit and we are not running around like…um…chickens, we often like to indulge in a nice long novel. As opposed to dessert, a novel is a full seven-course meal, a feast to be savored for as long as it takes to get to that cupcake ending.

Recently, we had the pleasure of a deliciously decadent read from start to finish. My Fair Godmother, by Janette Rallison, tells the story of Savannah, a high-school sophomore whose boyfriend dumps her for her older sister. Enter Chrissy, Savannah’s fair godmother (fair as in not all that good), to save the day. Only each time Savannah makes a wish, Chrissy manages to mangle it beyond all measure and go totally Medieval with the wish-granting. Who knew that getting a date to the prom could be so dangerous?

My Fair Godmother is one part fantasy, one part romantic comedy, and one part absolutely charming. Give this book to your favorite tween or teen, your BFF, the chick next door…anyone who likes a good, funny, clean read about wishes and proms and prince charmings. Oh, and did we mention ogres? Yes, ogres. And dragons too. (Trust us, you’re going to love it!)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Day Seven of NaPiBoWriWee--Wheeeee!!


You should be darn proud, peeps! Give yourself a pat on the back and an extra glittery gold star. A brownie with a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s might be in order, too. Rewards are important! Here in the coop we keep a vat of bean dip for just such occasions.

For this last assignment, think of something in your childhood that made you extra proud. Were you the winner of the spelling bee in first grade? Did you stand up to the biggest bully on the block? Were you the best jacks player in the neighborhood?

Think of those moments today and see if you can craft a story out of one of them. Or use the above photo for inspiration.

Still stumped? See if you can use at least one of the following words in your title:


We heartily recommend the blog for your next venture—revision! The authors on this blog are all teachers, too, and have excellent advice for writers of all genres. Don’t stop now!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Day Six of NaPiBoWriWee

At this point in the week we kind of sort of hate picture books and everything that has to do with picture books. This includes:

Writing utensils

We don’t know why, we just hate walruses today.

But we will keep on keeping on! Just two more picture books to go! We’re in the final stretch! People are handing us cups of water as we limp towards the finish line hugging our pens and notebooks to our chests and gasping for air!

In the spirit of NaPiBoWriWee, try writing about a contest today. See if you can include the above picture somehow, or try using two of these words on the first page:


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Day Five of NaPiBoWriWee

Do you hate Paula Yoo as much as we do now? Why did we ever agree to go on this odd odyssey with her? Are we nuts? Is she?

Unfortunately, we’re in too deep now, Peeps. Onward!

Today’s “assignment” is to poke through old family albums. Look at the pictures and try to remember how you felt when the photos were taken. Think back to those important moments in your life—first day of kindergarten, first lost tooth, first time you tied your own shoes. See if you can craft one of your memories into a story.

Really think about the child you were. What did you love to do? Did you play with dolls or make tree houses? What did you love to read? Write for that child. You'd be surprised at how many stories are lurking in your own childhood.

Or brainstorm a list of:

Favorite toys you played with as a child
Favorite foods
Favorite games
Favorite (and least favorite!) teachers
Favorite pets

See if you can base a story on something from one of your favorites list.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Day Four of NaPiBoWriWee

Today is “Get Out of the Freakin’ House” Day. Write somewhere new! The wonderful thing about writing picture books is that they are completely portable—all you need is a notebook and a pencil. So take your act on the road and see if your Muse visits. Try writing at one of these places:

A diner
A museum
A park
The zoo
The beach
Under a tree
On top of a tree

One silly chick has had great luck writing in airports—go figure!

You can use the above picture to get started today, or try using two of these words for your title:


Use a pen with purple ink. Seriously. It helps.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Day Three of NaPiBoWriWee

One surefire way to come up with a new picture book idea is to go to a bookstore (preferably an indie!) and read the newest picture books. We swear this isn’t cheating and we guarantee it works! We have no idea why, but think that perhaps it has to do with feeding our heads with fun images and words.

Speaking of fun images and words, try working with today’s picture. Or use this phrase somewhere in your story:

“She spoke to warthogs all the time, but had never met a warthog quite like this one.”

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Day Two of NaPiBoWriWee

Have you ever seen something happen in the grocery store or at the bank and thought, “Gee, that would make a good story!” If not, keep your eyes and your ears open this week, because now that you are in Picture Book Mode, you just might see more stories. It’s kind of like when you learn a new word, and suddenly it seems as though everyone is using that word. Be aware of story possibilities all around you.

To help you with opening yourself up to stories, take some pictures at the park. Make notes about overheard conversations while you ride the bus. (You do keep a pen and a notebook with you at all times, right?) One fun exercise we’ve heard of is to sit down at a cafe and use snippets of conversations from different tables and incorporate it all into the same story.

“But that’s eavesdropping!” you might say. And to that we say, “Why yes, indeed, it is.”

See if you can incorporate at least three of these words into today’s story:


Or use the above picture to start your story.

Or, hey, do both!

Or neither!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Day One of NaPiBoWriWee!

It’s Day One of NaPiBoWriWee and we thought we’d start it off with a loud “peep!” To help you get your creative juices flowing, we are giving you a new chickie pic to use as a story starter every day this week. Look at today’s picture closely and see if you can answer these burning questions.

What are these chicks doing?

Why are they doing it?

Your first answer might be, “They’re crossing the road.” Go beyond your first answer!

If you’d like to make this more challenging, see if you can include the following words in your picture book:


Have fun!