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Interview with a Children's Author

This is Tish Rabe.

She is an author, a singer, a songwriter, an actress, a producer- name a job in the children entertainment business she's probably done it.

She worked on Sesame Street. She's written over 90 books for Disney, Sesame Street, The Cat in the Hat, Blue's Clues and more. Check out this link for a list of all her books

She has two books out with her own original character, The I Believe Bunny.

 Some of you know that I help her out with the facebook, twitter and blog for those books.  So I do get an "inside" look at the life of a children's author. 

Tish is currently in the midst of a very busy school tour for her books, but found some time to answer some questions about her career and The I Believe Bunny.

Did you always want to write for a living when you were a kid?

All my life I've loved doing two things- writing and singing. I always wrote poems, stories, plays that my brothers and I put on in the backyard, that kind of thing. Then in high school I had an amazing English teacher who had us write short stories and poems and I discovered I loved to write.

You went to school for music, how did you end up writing children's books?
In high school I decided I wanted to become a professional singer and went to Ithaca College School of  Music where I got a degree in Vocal Performance. When I got out of school, with the help of my high school music teacher, Dave Connor (somehow for me it all goes back to high school- I met my husband there too!)
I got a job in the music department of Sesame Street and after about a year I got an opportunity to sing with the Muppets! (Tracy's Note: SO COOL.)

What are your publishing "firsts"? First song sung on TV, first book published etc? How did you feel when they happened?
My very first book was for Sesame Street and it was called Bert and the Broken Teapot and it was based on something that really happened to me when I was in first grade. It was a huge thrill to see my name on the cover of a real book.
The first song I ever sang for the show was called "Swamp Mushy Muddy" and it featured Oscar and two Grouchette back up singers. I was one of them and I was amazed when my son was able to go to YouTube and in seconds bring up the clip of me singing with Oscar!

How did you come up with the concept for the I Believe Bunny?

I went to see Kenny Rogers in concert and he sings a beautiful song called "She Believes in Me" which got the word "believe" in my head. I had always wanted to create my own character and find a way to empower preschoolers and let them know that they can make a difference in the world. After the concert I went home and wrote The I Believe Bunny on a piece of paper and a new character was born!

What is your favorite line in The I Believe Bunny book?
I always write the last line of my books first because I feel that is the last message children will hear when the book is read out loud to them. The last line of this one is my favorites.
"Like the I Believe Bunny you may get a surprise. You CAN make a difference even a bunny... your size."

What's next for The I Believe Bunny?
I am working on a new book about being kind to others. With all the bullying that's going on out there I really
want kids to understand that they need to think about what they say and do and we need to get this message out to kids when they're little so they grow up knowing how important it is to be kind to others.  

Besides The I Believe Bunny, who is your favorite children's book character?
I created The I Believe Bunny books with a beautiful watercolor artist because I wanted them to look like the books by Beatrix Potter I loved as a child. I loved reading the little green books she wrote such as Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-duck and Pigling Bland (I always loved that name!)

How much say did you have in the design of the I Believe Bunny illustrations?
I discovered Frank Endersby from London with the help of a friend who is an Art Designer. I wrote on every page directions for him so he would know what images I saw in my head and he took my ideas further than I could have imagined. His paintings are perfect for what I was looking for. (Tracy's Note: they are really gorgeous, I couldn't imagine better work for The I Believe Bunny.)

What is your favorite part of school tours?
I love traveling around the country and meeting students and teachers wherever I go. I get a big kick out of the questions they ask me and I feel like a rock star when I arrive at a school and the kids are SO excited to meet me. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring children's authors? Any advice for mother's trying to get their young children interested in books?
It is much more challenging to become a children's book author today that it was when I started but it's not impossible. There is a web site  The Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators  that gives some tips. My biggest encouragement to parents and students is to read, read, read, read- read to your child and as soon as you can read books yourself. You truly cannot be a writer, if you're not a reader.
Before I leave my classroom visits I lead the kids in singing my Reading and Writing Song
Reading and Writing both are so exciting.
Read a book or write a story start right now!
Keep reading and writing everybody!  
-Tish Rabe

*if you are interested in getting Tish to come speak at your school/church group/homeschool workshops, check out THIS link to get information about her upcoming tours.*


miss jen says:
at: May 10, 2011, 7:05:00 AM said...

What a nice interview! I enjoyed learning about Tish Rabe. Keep up the good work!