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Spring 2015 Publishers’ Preview: Five Questions for Bob Shea

Publishers' Previews

This interview originally appeared in the March/April 2015 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Spring Publishers’ Preview, a semiannual advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

Sponsored byDisney-Hyperion

The author-artist of the popular Dinosaur vs. picture-book series, Bob Shea makes an easy-reader debut with Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret.

Photo: Colleen Shea.

Photo: Colleen Shea.

1. Why a cat and a pony?

BS: You know, there were many ideas before deciding on a cat and pony. Ideas that were, frankly, a million times better. See for yourself:

Square-Dancin’ Farmer and Middle-Manager Mastodon.

Jazz Hands and Glamour Clam.


Illustration © 2015 by Bob Shea.

My editor, Stephanie Lurie, said either, “These ideas are too good,” or, “Stop being an imbecile and make it a cat and pony.” I can’t remember.

2. What’s the biggest difference between creating a picture book and an easy reader?

BS: The advance.

Wait, no.

For me, the easy-reader format gives me more space for the story to breathe. It’s interesting, though; I get away with more sophisticated vocabulary in a picture book. The assumption is that picture books are shared with adults. But early readers are just that.

shea_ballet cat3. I’m intrigued by the changing background colors for each page. How do you decide what goes with what?

BS: Imagine the smartest answer to that question ever. Now imagine me saying that thing.


Before I start the book, I choose a family of colors. I pick the background to go with the mood and rhythm of the story.

4. If I had to pick one easy-reader masterpiece, it would be Minarik and Sendak’s Little Bear. You?

BS: Frog and Toad Are Friends, my hands-down favorite. I love their relationship, and the simple stories are really clever.

5. Bob, are you a secret ballerina/o?

BS: Uh, no (adjusts tutu), not as far as my wife knows. She thinks I’m bowling.

Sponsored byDisney-Hyperion

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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