Six Questions with Robin Currie
Award-winning author Robin Currie learned story sharing by sitting on the floor in library story times in Chicago area public libraries. Robin volunteers annually teaching English in developing countries. She has sold 1.7 M copies of her 40 picture books and writes stories that are designed to be read and read again. Robin's newest board book is How to Dress a Dinosaur (Familius, 2022).
Visit Robin's website to learn more about her and her books.
1. What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids?
As a librarian, I am looking for a great read-aloud book I can use to engage lively preschoolers. I think our world has enough grown up frowny and we need humor – belly laugh roll on the floor kid humor!
2. What do you feel you’ve gained from being a part of the children’s writing community?
The children’s writer’s community is the most giving, selfless group I know. Rather than competitive, they are supportive and encouraging, sharing ideas, tips, professional connections and genuinely celebrating the success of each other.
3. Do you work on multiple projects at the same time?
Absolutely! At any given time I have a list of ideas that MIGHT be good and a couple of probably so-so plots developing, several more ready for critique, and some waiting for the final tweaks to build a proposal. Then a bunch of rejects I am reworking.
4. Where did you get the idea for How to Dress a Dinosaur? What was your inspiration?
The idea for How to Dress a Dinosaur came when my youngest grandson was 3 years old and had many things on his mind to do with dinosaurs but few with getting dressed. James was in the dino phase all little boys seem to go through where he can’t pronounce “broccoli” but can say "Pachycephalosaurus” and correct my mispronunciation. He also owned dino themed shirts, hats, socks, jackets, and underwear. And hundreds of plastic painful-to-step-on in-the-dark dino figures. So how about a book that empowers the child to feel the capabilities of the dino channeled toward the mundane task of getting ready for the day?
5. What was the process or timeline for this book, from idea to publishing?
It was a brain burble in 2014 that first became a badly rhyming text – what rhymes with Diplodocus? (Hopped aboard a bus? Was oozing green pus? Superfu-i-us?) and then a lift-the-flap board book in 2015. (Do NOT lift the tail feathers!)
By 2016 I had dropped both those strategies and shared Dressing a Dinosaur, a 12-page board book, with my critique group. I spent a year tweaking, renaming it to How to Dress a Dinosaur and trimming to 181 words. They reviewed it in again in 2017 and thought Dino was ready to roar. Familius bought my manuscript in late 2019 and I was holding the book in my hands in March 2022.
6. If you could tell readers one secret about this book, what would it be?
Illustrator Alycia Pace captured the loving relationship between the little boy and mother perfectly! Mom is very creatively getting him to put on his socks and shirt by pretending to be various dinosaurs, but her patience is obvious running thin and by the time he resists getting in the car she has (very humanly) resorted to “Dinosaurs do if Mama T-Rex says so!” The concluding page pictures both of them smiling and loving. Moms have limits – but love is limitless!