I used to really hate Mondays, especially when I was in high school. They haven’t gotten any easier as an adult, but … I think it’s safe to say we respect each other now. This is why I got such a giggle out of today’s picture book.
Lucy Branam lives and writes in Jacksboro, TN. She is a young writer who hopes that as she ages, her bio will get longer and more interesting. She is the author of the picture books Roof Octopus (2018) and Monday (2021), both from Sleeping Bear Press. Aside from writing, Lucy also enjoys art and is a graphic designer for a non-profit. Sometimes she goes for runs. Often she reads. But she is always daydreaming. You can learn more about her at her website.
MONDAY personifies the days of the week in a way I haven’t quite seen before. They’re not people, per se, but … creatures? Each one looks different and has their own personality. There have been other books recently doing similar anthropomorphizing of the days of the week, but this story and these characters feel “true to life.” In this story, Monday is a grumpy gus (no surprise there) and he doesn’t quite fit in with the other days of the week. He doesn’t like this and decides to just stay home one week. Then chaos ensues as it always does. It’s a clever approach to a well known subject and something even kids can relate to.
Me: This is your second book with Sleeping Bear Press. How did you manage to get two great stories published with them? Can you tell us about your book journey?
Lucy: In September 2015, I attended SCBWI’s (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustration) Midsouth chapter’s fall conference in Franklin, TN. I signed up for a critique with a member of the conference faulty and submitted my Roof Octopus manuscript as my piece. I was paired with Sarah Rockett, an editor at Sleeping Bear Press. She enjoyed Roof Octopus and suggested that I make some changes to it and send it back to her. I did just that, and I got the news in January 2016 that Sleeping Bear Press wanted to publish it! I had a great experience working with Sarah and Sleeping Bear, so I have sent other picture book manuscripts her way. Monday was one such manuscript and luckily it was chosen for publication.
Me: Wow! That’s a great success story! I’ve seen several books about the days of the week, but never one written with such fun characters and such a small word count. I felt like you truly understood what each day of the week was about! Was it like this from the first draft? How many revisions did it undergo?
Lucy: Looking back at my earliest story notes, I had even then given the days certain traits; some traits stuck with the days into the final version. As I revised, it became more concrete what each day loved to do. It went through quite a few revisions, although a couple key plot points stayed the same from the start: no one liked Monday and one week Monday didn’t show up. I was five or so drafts in before I added the section where Monday tries doing all the things that the others days are good at (I believe that idea came from a critique group suggestion).
Me: That was a great suggestion! How did you develop each character into such well-rounded personalities? Did you do any background character work like character maps or character interviews?
Lucy: I didn’t do any character maps or character interviews. Early on, to help me picture the days as characters, I assigned a dog breed to each day of the week that I thought suited the personality I was going for. That was a fun and helpful exercise.
Me: LOL! Another great idea. Monday feels like he doesn’t fit in with the other days. Yet, just like everyone else around him, he’s needed and necessary. Why is this an important message you want to share with young readers?
Lucy: As a bit of an oddball myself, I’ve always struggled with feeling like I don’t fit in. But at the same time, I’ve always felt a sense of pride in being different. I think with Monday, the idea I want to get across to readers is that you are never going to fit in everywhere, but you will fit in somewhere, and being yourself is the best way to find that somewhere.
Me: Aww! I love that. The illustrations by Kevin M. Barry are absolutely perfect. These characters don’t look like anything I’ve ever seen and yet, they seem perfect in their design. Did you see any of the work as it was being developed? Were there any illustration surprises for you?
Lucy: The first piece of art I saw was character sketches for each day, and I just loved them! The art as a whole is so bright and fun. I got to see interior spreads along the way, from black and white and very sketchy versions, to the more refined and colored final art. One illustration surprise for me was seeing that Monday had made a carrot cake for his wannabe-Friday- party. My grandmother, who I called Nannie and who I dedicated Monday to, was famous in our town for her carrot cakes. So I just love that unintentional nod to her.
Me: Wow! That’s truly an amazing unintended inclusion. Any advice for other new picture book writers?
Lucy: Classic writing advice is to do lots of reading, writing, and rewriting, and I think all of that can apply to picture book writing, too. And if you have an idea for a picture book and you think it might be too bonkers, don’t fret. One special thing about picture books is that anything is possible!
Me: That is SO true! What is your favorite day of the week and why?
Lucy: Thursday because it’s close enough to Friday that it gives you a sense of relief, but it doesn’t have all the busyness that Friday/the weekend can hold. Also I was born on a Thursday so we go way back.
LOL! Thank you for stopping by my blog Lucy. Dear readers, if you haven’t had a chance yet to check out this book, I highly recommend it. It’s unusual and funny in the best ways about the days of the week we all know. You won’t want to miss this one.