Today a previous guest author is revisiting my blog with her latest book and it’s another fresh take on a fairy tale.
Lynne Marie has visited my blog about some of her other amazing picture books four previous times! She is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019) and Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019), American Pie (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2022), and There Was a Blue Whale Who Tangled with Plastic (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2023). She’s also the Owner and Administrator of RateYourStory.org and a Travel Agent. She currently lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident water birds. Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland of www.theseymouragency.com. You can learn more about her at her website.
THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE ROCKET PROJECT is her latest picture book. I just love a fresh take on fairy tales, especially when they involve some mashups. In this story, there is a fairy tale school. Color me delighted to see Pinocchio, the Little Mermaid, and Cinderella all in the same classroom as the three little pigs. And who could forget the big bad wolf who in this case is a bit of a bully named Bibi. The story revolves around a common school assignment: the students must build a rocket with their own materials. BUILDING! That’s the baseline for the original 3 little pigs story! It’s a genius premise that delivers a few unexpected twists that I won’t dare spoil. This story has some sneaky science, friendship, and girl power principles all woven together that make for a fantastic read.
Welcome back Lynne Marie!
Me: You did it again! I love a fairy tale adaptation that can still manage to be fresh after so many revisions out there. I wouldn’t have thought of combining “The Three Little Pigs” and a well-known school science project. How did you come up with this idea?
Lynne: I wanted to come up with a book that could be stand-alone, and yet, possibly, be a series. So I combined something I love (fairy tales) with something that I thought had a marketing hook (STEM topics). I came up with six varied combinations of fairy tale characters and some kind of science and wrote pitches for them. Then I chose one to develop. The one that spoke to me the most and had the most “flesh” was the one about the three little pigs.
Of course, because the pigs are builders, I knew they had to build something – perhaps for a science project. Then I drew a bit from real life – my daughter Kayla’s toss rocket school project, the fact that my father called his three kids (jokingly) the three little pigs, and one of those pigs – my brother – shooting off a rocket in the living room. The elements came together nicely, and I knew that the wolf could be the school bully, so that just blended right in.
Me: There are plenty of fairy tales out there and retelling them happens frequently. It can seem daunting to want to tell one of them in a fresh way. What made “The Three Little Pigs” stand out to you in terms of retelling?
Lynne: As I often mention, it’s really important to read any and all comp books out there. Since I had done this work, I knew there weren’t any similar books published. And it wasn’t a true fracture or retelling, but an expansion of the pigs’ story as it took place after their failed attempts to build proper houses. But it does flip the script a bit as readers will see when they read it. So I think the unique approach, the use of important elements from the original story, and the STEM components made this stand up and out.
Me: I agree! First “Moldilocks and the Three Scares,” now “The Three Pigs and the Rocket Project.” Are you writing a series of these revised-fairytale-picture books? Can we look forward to more of them? (PLEASE say yes!)
Lynne: When I originally started writing in 1997 I went back to college to learn the craft. I took all the writing, children’s writing and literature courses they offered. One of them was folklore and fairy tales. Because I had loved those tales as a child, and the study of them just ignited my passion – YES! I have so many ideas that are fractures of fairy tales. I also have that stash of the five other pitches to develop if this book sells well. I can share now that this book will also have an associated coloring story book released sometime after the original. I personally can’t wait to color my own story!
Me: That’s so awesome! I loved the brilliant development of the characters. It just felt so natural that the wolf would be a bully or that the three pigs might have some sibling rivalry. Were they like this in every draft of the story? How many revisions did it take to get to these brilliantly well-rounded characters?
Lynne: Yes, this is something that was present from the beginning. I always say that story ideas don’t jump from your mind fully-fleshed, like Athena from Zeus’ head (a Greek Myth reference). However, this one was pretty close. It was one of those ideas where the puzzle pieces all fit together easily (without being forced) and there were no missing pieces. Keep in mind though, that I have been writing and studying the craft for many, many years. This one was polished by the 8th draft.
About the wolf being the bully – this was a natural inclination, as you say, but I did want the character to be not only familiar, but surprising AND I wanted to weave in a subtle teachable moment, so I did pivot from the usual tale.
Me: Yes. I loved what you did with this character in particular (no spoilers!). What is one thing that surprised you in writing this story?
Lynne: I often teach that writers should prewrite (imagine a story in their head), make sure it works and has all the necessary elements there before spending time writing and revising it. Yet I was a bit surprised (and a lot thankful) as to how that worked so well with this story. I had figured out all the details in my head beforehand, so when I started writing, everything just fell into place.
And while this doesn’t address writing, I was so thrilled at how Wendy Fedan, the illustrator, brought my characters to life in the most fun way possible. I am excited to share that we will be working on another project together, this time a retelling of a Greek Myth that explores SEL, perception and the meaning of perfect.
Me: Oh wow! That’s so exciting. I love Greek Mythology as well. The illustrations by Wendy Fedan are so adorable! Even the wolf character! Were there any illustrating surprises for you?
Lynne: YES! As I touched upon, her illustrations were perfect for the story. One thing I teach in writing is that characters should be kid-friendly and child-like and she really, really nailed that. Surprisingly, I think Bibi Wolfe is my favorite, although I can’t stop admiring any of her versions of these fairy tale characters – the pigs or the princesses and friends. Just looking at her art is inspiring – now I want to write books to feature each one of the characters in this tale!
Me: Yes please! When you were a child, who was your favorite fairy tale character? Have you already written a story for them?
Lynne: I just love your questions – so fun! It’s really hard for me to pick as I identified with so many of them and have such a passion for them. I was an adopted child, and they were basically all abandoned or orphans. But if I had to pick one, it would likely be Snow White, and then, Aurora and Cinderella. But I love all the more recent ones, as well.
As an adult, my favorite fairy tale movie of all time (although it is an original fairy tale) is Enchanted which is a nice mash-up of a couple of tales. Giselle is now my favorite fairy tale princess, although I realize she is not at all popular as such. And for those not aware of it, it features Amy Adams, Susan Sarandon, Patrick Dempsey (McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy), Idina Menzel (Frozen / Rent), and James Marsden, all great actors. And now that I mentioned it: Frozen! LOVE that one as well, which is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen.
Thank you for having me, Jena! It was so nice to wander down Fairy Tale Lane with you!
Thank you for stopping by my blog again Lynne Marie.
Dear readers, if you haven’t yet had a chance to read this one, I recommend tracking it down. It was just released last week! It’s a fun spin on the original fairy tale with some excellent added elements. You will not be disappointed.