Teachers: take note of today’s picture book. This may be one you’ll want in your own classroom!
If you’re also a classroom teacher (like myself), then you too have been thinking for weeks now (if not months!) about heading back to school. You’ve been prepping your house, your storage, and your life for winter, getting those big tasks out of the way that you won’t have time for once school starts. You may even have spent money over the last few weeks on tons of supplies for changes in the public school system (like no more shared school supplies and social distancing), though you too are trying to not overdo it right now as you won’t get another paycheck for a while. After all, you have to make that summer budget last until payday mid-September (that is, IF you’re like me). This is all part of the teacher life that no one really knows about. It is a lifestyle. You prep and you plan for it as best as you can, but there are always unexpected things to deal with.
I won’t go into the fear and terror I’ve been experiencing over the last month or so given current circumstances in the world at large and public education. That’s not what today’s post is about and I’m pretty sure everyone knows what teachers–AND parents–are facing in that regard (no matter what side of the line you find yourself on). The unexpected I’m talking about are the things we teachers deal with as soon as we have students together in a classroom under normal circumstances and can teach a group of kids.
Every single teacher who has to deal with younger children (like myself) will have to teach them how to deal with their emotions at some point. It might be a child with a sudden burst of tears that have no known precursor, or a child who suddenly starts yelling and throwing his crayons. These little dramas can happen many times a day, throughout an entire school year. When they happen, having a book like today’s picture book in your arsenal to help “teach” kids what to do with their emotions helps greatly.
Artemis Roehrig is the author (along with co-author Corinne Demas) of three nonfiction picture books and two rhyming picture books. Many of her books were inspired by her time spent working at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Cape Cod. She currently works with invasive insects for the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts. She lives with her family and pet tarantulas, in western Massachusetts and loves to explore nature with her two kids. You can learn more about her at her website.
“The Grumpy Pirate” is a story whose title speaks for itself. Gus is a grumpy pirate (perfect name, right??). He grumps about everything, and while it’s funny to the reader, it’s not funny to his fellow pirate shipmates. However, Gus doesn’t see the effect his grumpiness has on others. The solution is both clever, amusing, and a great start to a conversation with young children about how to handle their emotions when they get the better of them.
Me: What is it that draws you to writing picture books?
Artemis: In picture books, every word counts, and I love imagining how a picture will fit around the words.
Me: I’ve known many grumpy pirates in my own classroom. Gus is such a believable character. What gave you the idea for this story?
Artemis: Don’t tell her I said this, but The Grumpy Pirate was definitely inspired by my younger daughter, who was going through a very grumpy phase, and makes fabulous grumpy faces!
Me: The illustrations are perfect. I love Ashlyn Anstee’s work. Were you able to communicate with the illustrator at all during her creation process? Or did you just leave her alone to create all on her own?
Artemis: I didn’t connect with her until after the book was completed, although the publisher did show me her sketches ahead of time. But as an author you don’t want to distract the illustrator’s creative process. Unless you have a prior relationship with your illustrator, I would say it’s generally discouraged to speak directly to an illustrator ahead of publication. I’ll admit I did follow Ashlyn’s Twitter though!
Me: Were there any illustration surprises for you? What is your favorite illustration in the book?
Artemis: I love Ashlyn’s surprise addition of the pirate crab! It’s just so cute 🙂
Me: What is one thing that surprised you in writing this story?
Artemis: How difficult it is to rhyme with “pirate,” but how easy it is to rhyme with “grumpy.”
Me: Any advice for other picture book writers?
Artemis: Get someone else to read your manuscript out loud to you! Especially someone who hasn’t read it before.
Me: If you were a pirate, what kind of pirate would you be and why?
Artemis: The pirate queen has a pretty awesome outfit, so I would say that! But realistically, I would probably be the pirate who gets in trouble for singing sea shanties instead of swabbing the decks!
LOL! Thanks for visiting my blog Artemis. Dear readers, if you have a grumpy Gus in your own life, this book might be of interest to you too. It creates a great start to a conversation about how our emotions can have an impact on others. Track down a copy and give it a read.