We’re thrilled to host local debut author Cate Berry on Sunday May 20th at 2 PM to share her picture book, Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime! Mark your calendars and check out our Q&A with this wonderful author below.
BP: What or who inspired you to write Penguin & Tiny Shrimp?
CB: Although I didn’t know it at the time, my kids were the real inspiration for this book. They are only a year apart and so sleep was… challenged (haha). When I started writing for children years later I was given an assignment of writing a bedtime book. This story flew out of me right away. It’s the kind of book I needed when I was wrangling kids into bed as a new parent. I needed a reminder that joy and laughs are important. And I hope this book helps everyone connect at the end of the day with a book and a snuggle before sleep.
BP: What books did you love as a young reader? Did you have a favorite bedtime story? If so, what was it?
CB: I loved Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban. Frances was such a character! I loved how she sang to her soft-boiled egg. I adored her overall confidence. She was hilarious and determined. I think I always look for ways to champion characters that know their own minds. Kids don’t have many choices in life so it’s important for me to write books that let them live vicariously through characters in books.
BP: Charles Santoso’s illustrations are so wonderful! Did you have favorite illustrators when you were growing up, or books with pictures that made you want to read them again and again?
CB: Oh yes! Isn’t Charles great? I love how he has a secondary story line going on throughout our book with accumulating animals. Growing up, I loved the tiny details illustrators would draw into their books. Richard Scarry was great at this. I could read one of his books ten times and still find new hidden things. I think thoughtful illustrations really make kids re-read books over and over.
BP: What’s been the best part about getting your first book published?
CB: Getting to know other authors and illustrators has been the best part of debuting my book. I’ve heard it for years, but the KidLit community really is quite small. And, everyone seems so genuine. They want to help, mentor and give great advice. It makes me want to work harder to help others if I can.
BP: What’s your advice to aspiring writers?
CB: Writing is the one-stop cure for every problem that comes your way. Sell a book? Keep writing. Suffering a block? Write through it. Good new or bad news? Go write. The business side of book making is quite the roller coaster. But writing never lets you down.
BP: What are you currently reading?
CB: I’m usually in the middle of several things and I try and read across a lot of genres. I love to read classics in the summer so I’m reading Carol Shield’s The Stone Diaries right now. I’m also deep into Erin Entrada Kelly’s middle grade novel Hello, Universe and Lisa Cron’s Story Genius as part a writer’s craft group. I try and read poetry every day before I write because it’s so helpful. And of course, I read lots of picture books. I just read Tim Miller’s What’s Cooking, Moo Moo? Whew, it’s funny! I highly recommend it.
Enjoy this hilarious reading of Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime and come meet Cate Berry in person at BookPeople on May 20th at 2 PM! Can’t make the event? You can still order a signed copy online!