Thursday, March 20, 2014

Moo! {Q & A with David LaRochelle!}

I am so excited!  Not only am I going to share one of our favorite books, but I also had the opportunity to ask the author a few questions and it was so much fun seeing his responses.  Without further ado, let me introduce you to Moo!.

by David LaRochelle
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
 Perfect for: 3-6 years old

The majority of the story Moo! is made up of only one word: moo.  If I counted correctly, the word moo appears 57 times in the story.  It is written with a wide variety of text formatting and punctuation to help tell the story of a fun-loving cow who takes a car for a joyride.  He takes the car for quite a wild ride, and he experiences a number of emotions.  The illustrations and text work together to help the reader easily know how to read the word with inflection to match how the cow is saying "moo".

I love the story for three main reasons:
1.  It is a great story to teach how to read with inflection.
2.  Little ones who don't know how to read are proud of their ability to read this book by themselves.
3.  We haven't laughed so hard while reading a book in a long time!  We laugh every single time we read it.

I contacted Mr. LaRochelle, and he was really kind to take some time to answer a few questions.  I especially loved hearing where he came up with the idea!

1.  What are your top five favorite children's books?

Of course it's impossible to pick just five, and my choices might change depending on the day that you asked me, but five children's books that I love are:

Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Jill Barton. This book is so much fun to read out loud that sometimes I read it out loud to myself just because I like saying the words so much!

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood. The illustrations make me laugh every time, and the story is distilled to exactly the right few words.

Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee. Marla tells multiple stories through her illustrations of the six couples riding this roller coaster. There are new things to discover on every reading.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. Hilarious. Those pigeon's emotions are all too human. True story.

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary. I loved reading this story to my fourth graders when I was a teacher. It still makes me laugh and cry. Both the characters of Leigh Botts and the author to whom he writes resonate with me. 

What gave you the idea for writing Moo?

 I wanted to write a one-word story. I chose the word "Moo" possibly because my friend Gary and I both have cow noisemakers (cylinders that you turn upside down and they "moo") for which we've been creating imaginary adventures for many years. Initially I had hoped to be the illustrator as well as the author for this book, then in the mail I received a postcard from my friend Mike Wohnoutka advertising an art show he was having. On the front of the postcard was a painting of a cow, and I said, "THAT'S the cow for Moo!" We sent my dummy of the book and a sample painting of Mike's to an editor he had worked with, and she offered us a contract for the book within a month.

Do you have an author that has inspired you?

I'm inspired by wonderful books, like the ones that I mentioned. They make me want to write something just as good. The creativity of author/illustrators such as Lois Ehlert, Chris Raschka, and Paul Zelinsky also fuel my imagination.

What book are you currently reading?

I just finished reading In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz, a companion book to A Tale Dark and Grimm, and I enjoyed that very much (it's very funny, and also just as dark as the original fairy tales on which it is based). Last night I started reading The Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, which I've heard many good things about. It's a middle grade novel about a baby who is found floating in the ocean in a cello case and the eccentric man who raises her.

Which of your books have been your favorite to write?

I'm usually most excited about my most recent book, and that would be Moo! I loved the challenge of trying to tell a complete story using only one word (sharp-eyed readers will spot that I actually used six words). It's a story that has made readers of all ages (including adults) laugh, and that is extremely rewarding.

I'm also very proud of Arlo's ARTrageous Adventure!, the first book where I was both author and illustrator. It's a lift-the-flap book with over fifty flaps, and I had a great deal of fun thinking of all the different ways that I could make the paintings in the museum come to life.

Check it out.  I guarantee there will be laughs!
Happy reading!


1 comment:

  1. I adore this book and that adventurous cow! We just checked Moo! back into the library, and I had a hard time giving it back! My 9-month old and I read it multiple times a day and it was during those few moments where she happily sat still. :)

    So neat that you were able to interview the author! I'm excited to try out some of his favorites, too. Thanks Emily!