Last month, I wrote about the joys of indie children’s books. One of the books we discussed in the WriteOrWrong Virtual Book Club was Build With Bricks by Ray Allen Price. (You can watch our full discussion on Facebook.) Ella Clarke called it, “Very smart, life lesson book by Ray Price! Loved the themes, the play on words, and the weaving of a well known children’s tale. Enjoyed tremendously. Highly recommended!” And in my review, I said:
This clever retelling of “The Three Little Pigs” offers life lessons with contemporary twists and smart humor. Children will relate, and parents will nod in agreement, as piggy Mudball expresses frustration with the parents’ insistence on learning about bricks. Mudball will soon learn why these lessons are so important. The colorful illustrations with humorous little details are worth a second book. Overall, a fun story to share with your children.
I interviewed Ray about his book. Here is what he had to say.
What inspired you to write the book?
My daughter was my biggest inspiration to write Build with Bricks and to become a children’s book author. When she was in kindergarten, I would volunteer to be a parent guest reader for her classroom. I would buy a picture book and some cookies and give them to the classroom. After I did this, my daughter Alivya said, “Dad I know your a writer, can you write a book for me?” So after that I sat down and started work on Build with Bricks.
Who are some of the children’s authors that inspired you?
Laura Numeroff, Marcus Pfister, Shel Silverstein, and Sam McBratney are just some authors I admire as some of the best in the business. Children’s books that stick and have a lasting effect are so powerful, and I think these authors have created stories like that.
What made you choose to base your story on “The Three Little Pigs”?
I like the message of hard work pays off. I think in today’s world that message can get blurred because we see people on videos and they are famous. But hard work is such an important message for kids to remember. There are few shortcuts in life. I take martial arts and we learn a move, but we go over that move repeatedly to get better at it and there’s no shortcut to that. “The Three Little Pigs” is such a classic, familiar story that people can recognize and get behind that message and story.
What do you think is harder, writing for children or adults?
Children are harder to entertain, lol. You never know what they will like or not like. Children’s stories are some of the very first stories we as humans hear or see. So that lasting effect lives on in their memories forever. It’s important to get the story right. But your also writing for adults too because they buy the books for children. So writing a children’s story is like writing for both children and adults because you want a story that children will gravitate towards and ask their parents to read again and again, and you also want the story to be enjoyable and fun for the parent reading it.
Tell us about your process of getting illustrations for your book. How did you choose the artist, and how did you get the pictures to fit with the story?
This is a really good question because there is a lot involved in illustrations. Because I self publish the story, I take the responsibility of project manager. When I write the script, I add italics near certain paragraphs that are what I envision the scene to look like. Some times it’s detailed and other times it’s limited because I don’t know how things look entirely. So the illustrator and myself go through the entire manuscript and we talk through each scene and I give them as much creative freedom within reason. Some things evolve over the course of illustrating the book. For Build with Bricks, the artist Mandy Huey is a friend of my wife. I met with Mandy and we discussed the book and her experience with working with children and her portfolio impressed me that I wanted to work with her on this project. She has been great because it’s so important finding an artist that understands what you are trying to convene. And to see someone take your words and turn them to illustrations is a really incredible feeling.
What role did your children play in writing and editing the story?
My daughter Alivya read the story. I think she read every draft of the story lol. It was so important for me to get this right for her especially. I would ask her did this work for you? Did you understand this? Was this funny? She even looked at all the artwork from beginning to the end to make sure it looked right. She was very influential and important part of the process.
What books do you have coming out next?
I have a series of books coming next, with the first one releasing later this year. My Brother is a Werewolf is my next book, and I cannot wait to share picture book with everyone. My Brother is a Werewolf is about a girl named Brie who accidentally turns her little brother into a Werewolf. She will do anything to fix him because cleaning up werewolf poop is as bad as you think it is.
Check out Build With Bricks and Ray Allen Price’s other books wherever books are sold.