Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Q & A with author Susan Patterson


Sometimes, just sometimes we get a really exciting project and we love sharing these with you, our Toppsta reviewers! 

Earlier this year we ran a giveaway for the gorgeous book, Big Words for Little Geniuses and we had some really incredible reviews. One in particular from reviewer Amy really caught our interest so we offered her the opportunity to pose 10 questions to the author Susan Patterson, who co-wrote it with her husband James. These are the questions Amy sent and Susan's responses below. We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we did!

* Photo of Sue and Jim Patterson copyright David Burnett

Q & A with author Susan Patterson

1. My family and I absolutely loved reading 'Big Words For Little Geniuses' and the amazing words it contained. I have to ask – what is your favourite word? Mine is soliloquy.

I'm so glad your family enjoyed reading 'Big Words'. I've got a lot of favorites-- but I'd have to go with catawampus. It's whimsical and we have a cat, so I snapped a few pics of him chasing his catnip across the page. Total catawampus!

2. The English student in me loves the concept of the book. Teaching young children words such as juxtaposition, magnanimous and onomatopoeia in such a fun way is fantastic. What inspired you to write it? 

I've been dreaming of writing a children's book since I received my MFA at the University of Wisconsin. My route was circuitous, having spent a couple of decades as an art director/SVP for J. Walter Thompson, New York. But I finally got my book published.

Another piece of inspiration came from our son, Jack. Jack was a reluctant reader and so we were always looking for books he might like. At first he said, "do I have to?" and James would say, "Yes, unless you want to live in the garage! We read in our house." Jack ended up becoming a terrific reader subsequently scored a perfect 800 on his SAT's. Now, he's at an Ivy League University. Jack was an inspiration for James to start writing young adult and middle grade books. He's passionate about it. The next logical step was to get the littler set reading, too.

'Big Words' fits right into James and my love of literacy. Hopefully, 'Big Words' will be as much fun for the parents and older siblings to read, as it is for the younger kids. Maybe there's a word or two they didn't know-- or didn't know how to pronounce. And, of course, everyone's child is a genius! Let them become little bibliomaniacs!

Q & A with author Susan Patterson
Bibliomania word
The word "Bibliomania" from Big Words for Little Geniuses

3. My son is a keen reader and found the book especially interesting as he and I learned so many new words together. Neither of us had ever heard of arachibutyrophobia for example and loved finding out what it meant. He would like to know if you already knew all the words in the book and their meanings or did you have to look any of them up?

I love that one, too! I was so excited when I found Arachibutyrophobia. Some of the 'letters' had more 'humongous' words to chose from than others. The letter, 'A', was a tricky one. And then, of course, they have to be age appropriate-- so that ruled out a few as well (Antiestablishmentarianism). So tell your son, he picked a good one! And since I also love peanut butter-- it was perfect-- like PP&J!

4. The illustrations by Hsinping Pan in the book are wonderful and add so much to the enjoyment of the words. Did you have a clear vision of what the pictures for each word would look like?

Yes, Hsinping is incredibly talented. I love her style-- playful and graphic. She beautifully interpreted our scribbles into fantastical illustrations.

5. James has written so many successful books and often collaborates with other authors. Whose idea was it for you to finally write a book together?

I'd like to think I'm his favorite co-author! He is brilliant.

Q & A with author Susan Patterson
The word "Stelliferous" from Big Words for Little Geniuses

6. Will you continue to write books for a younger audience and if so are there any plans for a sequel to 'Big Words For Little Geniuses'?

Yes! We're starting another one as I'm writing this. So excited. It will be another Big Words, but this time, with a twist-- as you might expect from James.

7. I found the phonetics in the book extremely useful for some of the longer, trickier words but I'm sure my pronunciation could have been better. Having had your books adapted into films would you ever consider having 'Big Words For Little Geniuses' turned into an animation so we could hear the words being said and really learn to enunciate them with ease?

Actually, yes, we've had those same thoughts-- audio books would be nice, too. We used to listen to lots of audio books in the car with Jack, when he was little. When Jack was 16, he narrated both of James', "House of Robots" audio books. He won awards on both for 'his heartfelt, animated delivery with a cartoonish lilt'.

Q & A with author Susan Patterson
The word "Whirligig" from Big Words for Little Geniuses

8. From the time you have the initial idea for a book how long is it on average before it is finished and ready to sell in stores and online?

Process took about 18 months, soup to nuts. A very dulciflous experience. Our next one will take a year.

9. We read a lot of children's books in our house and we all have our favourites that we choose time and time again. Did you have a favourite book as a child and if so what was it?

My favorites were the, 'Little Golden Books' (Gingerbread Man, Sleeping Beauty, etc.)-- mostly because I liked the illustrations-- which were lovely. Dr. Seuss. The Cricket in Times Square, A Wrinkle in Time, Where the WIld Things Are, etc., and Charlotte's Web-- which I enjoyed reading all over again, with Jack.

10. I know you are passionate about literacy and reading for children. Any tips for encouraging young children to read more and any advice for parents on promoting literacy at home?

Get them books they are going to love. It should be fun, and not a chore. And James always says it doesn't matter what they're reading, just get them reading. He also likens it to sports-- you wouldn't be on a soccer team-- and just show up for matches. You'd practice! And you have to practice reading, too. But just like kids love sports-- they can also love reading. And the more they read, the more they'll love it and the more likely they'll become a sesquipedarian!

Q & A with author Susan Patterson
Book pages Placeholder Book

Big Words for Little Geniuses by Susan and James Patterson

Start your child off with an early love of reading with these big words that are wonderfully fun to say!

Our reviewer Amy says: "We absolutely loved this book. I especially liked it myself. 'Big Words for little Geniuses' is an A-Z picture book with a difference. When it starts with 'A is for Arachibutyrophobia (the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof your mouth)' you know that this book is unique. Some of the words featured are definitely hard to pronounce and the phonetic style breakdown of each word in brackets after it is very helpful. The book is so clever. It finds amazing words with bizarre pronunciations and makes them fun, magical and memorable. The illustrations are perfect and add to the humorous side of this book. Dulcifluous is a new favourite word of mine and my son loved Zamboni. At the end of the book there is another mini A-Z which gives you one more interesting word per letter such as Pandiculation and Taradiddle. I think this book has an amazing concept and although you may know a few of the words it will definitely help widen anyone's vocabulary for the better. I would give it more than 5 stars if I could." (Read to Flynn age 4)


16th October 2017

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