Have you checked out the latest boxes of Cheerios®? They have a very special surprise in them – a children’s book! Cheerios and Simon & Schuster have partnered to encourage parents and kids to read together. Since 2002, Cheerios has giveaway away over 50 million books on package and donated more than $3.5 million to a non-profit that provides children from low income families the opportunity to own their first books. It’s a wonderful program and we applaud both Cheerios and Simon & Schuster for this great program.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Laurie Isop, author of How Do You Hug a Porcupine? and winner of the 2009 Spoonfuls of Stories Contest. Laurie is a very down-to-earth mom with an imagination that brings children and adults to wonderful worlds of possibility. We know you will enjoy her as much as we did!
Laurie, did you ever imagine you would be a published author?
I was always hopeful I would be and when you have hope it’s an inspiring thing to have! When my boys were little I made stories with clip art on the computer and used their names in the story. It was a fun project and gave them a positive connection to reading. As for me, it made me “feel” published. After that I started writing more seriously.
What inspired you to enter Spoonfuls of Stories contest by Cheerios?
My sister told me about the contest so I entered. I learned a lot along the way. I still remember the day I received the call that I won the contest. I was STUNNED. It was a miserable afternoon and when I picked up the phone, I heard a lovely voice. At first I thought it was a solicitor and almost didn’t answer the phone! When she told me that I won, I was so excited and emotional. First thing I did was call my mom to tell her the good news.
Where did you get the idea for your book?
It was a process really. My family was sitting around the dinner table talking about people who are difficult to warm up to. You know, the kind who are cold and “prickly”. I realized there was something here that could be a story concept. Kids love animals and are receptive to learning from animals so an animal would be part of the story. My family brainstormed – there are fun animals, cute animals and animals that might not be so easy to love. (Editor’s note – we love that a book for children was the result of a family, meal discussion.)
What do you hope parents and children will get form reading your story?
I hope they see the basic message of being persistent and that things that are difficult can be done. You just have to keep your options open because there is always a way!
Writing children’s books is in many ways more difficult than writing a novel. What made you want to write this genre?
Children’s books have their own sets of challenges, but I like that challenge. It’s a challenge to get it done, but when you met that challenge there is a sense of completion. I actually had my mailman, UPS man and the kids read the various stages of How Do You Hug A Porcupine? When the book was finally published my family thought it was so wonderful. It was like seeing a baby for the first time. I examined it like I was looking at a newborn. It was real and surreal at the same time. We toasted our new arrival and drank plenty of wine to celebrate!
Why is reading to children so important?
It’s all about connection. Reading to a child, sitting close to him, drawing her into the story and escaping from the digital world all brings a positive impact on your relationship with your child and teaches them to love to read. Each child will love a different sort of story. You have to just see what type of story they connect with and follow that lead.
Will there be more books?
YES! Stay tuned.
Laurie at a glance
Describe your ultimate day – Oh it’s a luxury to even think about it! I would sleep in and have breakfast with my husband. It would be 70º and sunny, chores would be done so I wouldn’t feel the pressure of completing them! I would do some yoga then head to the water and the islands nearby. Oh – I’d also go to the spa and then have about 2 free hours to write.
What is always in your fridge? Leftovers!
What is your favorite mom phrase? HA! “I’m on my way home, please make sure you pick up…”
If someone was going to write a book about your life, what would the title be? The One Woman Band
WIN A Copy of How Do You Hug A Porcupine?
Laurie is giving away an autographed copy of How Do You Hug A Porcupine? It’s easy to enter!
Mandatory Entry - like Laurie Austin-Isop on Facebook and leave a comment on our blog that you did so
Extra Entry - Check out Laurie’s website and let us know one interesting thing that you learned about her as an author.
You can never have too many copies of this adorable book. Run out to your grocery store and pick up a box of nutritious Cheerios. Enjoy reading the story and having a healthy breakfast!