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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose lives near Detroit, Michigan. She loves to swim - in fact, some people think she’s a mermaid. She also likes to practice yoga and eat ice cream, though not at the same time.

Lisa is also the creator of The Missing Voice Picture Book Discussion Group on Facebook. The mission of this group is to discuss and promote diverse picture books.

Lisa's the author of 5 picture books including The Singer and the Scientist illustrated by Isabel Muñoz (Kar-Ben Publishing 2021), A Zombie Vacation illustrated by Angeles Ruiz (Apples & Honey Press 2020), The Pocket Picture illustrated by Alex Willmore (Rourke Ed. Media 2019), and Shmulik Paints the Town illustrated by Catalina Echeverri (Kar -Ben Publishing 2016). As well as a six book early chapter book series – Star Powers (Rourke Ed. Media 2019

For more information on Lisa, see our early interview (here)

Her newest picture book, Señor Saguaro King of the Desert, released on January 1st.

Welcome back Lisa, what was your inspiration for Señor Saguaro King of the Desert?

One of the first trips I ever went on with my ex-husband was to the Saguaro National Park in Arizona. I am a Michiganer so a desert in Arizona was like landing on the Moon. It was so foreign and strange from everything I have ever known. I was especially in awe of those majestic plants and how they managed to live under such harsh conditions.

It is a pretty awe-inspiring National Park! What is the most fun or unusual place where you’ve written a manuscript?

My daughter has special needs, so I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms. Once she had an all night test, so I wrote from the couch in her hospital room.

How long did it take from the first draft to publication for Señor Saguaro King of the Desert? Was this similar to your other books?

This was a book that was never going to be a book. The first draft was written over 15 years ago! I thought it was too "teachery" for trade publication and put in away. Then in September of 2019 there was a call for manuscripts with a southwest theme from a small publisher. I submitted, and two weeks later I received an offer. During Covid, the illustrator had to stop working on the book and another illustrator was hired to start all over. Then, as Covid continued, the company's a miracle the book was ever born!

I am so glad it made it through the publishing maze. Is there something you want your readers to know about Señor Saguaro King of the Desert?

This is a book I specifically wrote with teachers in mind, I wanted this book to be able to be used in classrooms as part of the science curriculum. I wanted teachers to be able to read something informative and still fun! Kids love to learn, but also they love to play. So I wanted this book to have a Sesame Street heart and be learning through play. Also, at a time when there has been such an increase in stress in children and a need for social emotional learning, this book also depicts how different creatures can work together to make everyone stronger.

Text © Lisa Rose, 2023. Image © Emma Graham, 2023.

Wow! I love the idea of melding the nonfiction elements with the heart and fun of Sesame Street. What was the most rewarding part of the publishing process for Señor Saguaro King of the Desert?

My illustrator and I never spoke during the creation of the book, but after, on social media, we were able to form a friendship. Writing is hard, but writing friends make the journey so much more pleasant.

I'm glad you two connected. What was the hardest, or most challenging part of writing and/or researching Señor Saguaro King of the Desert?

I think the most challenging part was using the dialogue to tell a story.

One of the "rules" is not to write entirely in dialogue. I am glad you worked out a way to do it and to do it as a bilingual book. This will be a great mentor text for others. Did anything surprise or amaze you when you first got to see Emma Graham’s illustrations? What is your favorite spread?

Text © Lisa Rose, 2023. Image © Emma Graham, 2023.

I liked Emma's illustrations because they were so bright. Also, I liked how the cactus prickles look like stars. It made the cactus look even more majestic.

I love the way she gave him a nose and a moustache, too! Are there any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?

I have been trying to write a lot more funny books. Books that kids will want to read again and again. There is a time and place for serious books--but they are never the books kids finish and want to read again.

Good luck with them. We'll keep our eyes open. What kind of marketing and promotion have you or your publisher done for this book? Do you have any marketing suggestions or ideas?

There is teacher's guide on my website that shows how the book meets Common Core State Standards for:

Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening and Next Generation Science Standards.

And I am available for in person or virtual authors visits. Pease see

Last question, what is the best advice you’ve ever gotten - whether it’s regarding writing/ illustrating or not?

I'm a swimmer. I spent so much of my life racing as fast as I can into a cement wall. Writing is similar. You are always hitting cement walls. So just like swimming, you to have to find a way to make a flip turn and just keep on going.

© Virada olímpica

That's such a great analogy. Here's to learning to master the flip turn!

Thank you so much Lisa for coming back, it's always such a pleasure to talk with you.

Be sure to come back by on Friday for the Perfect Picture Book #PPBF post on Señor Saguaro King of the Desert.

To find out more about Lisa Rose, or contact her:


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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