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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Marie-Therese Miller and Review of Dogs

Marie-Therese Miller teaches Children’s and YA Literature at Marist College and has five grown children and a grandson.

She started writing professionally 22 years ago. Marie-Therese has a home office, but can usually be found, pen in hand, hunched over a notebook on her bed-- books and articles strewn around the floor. She’s a night owl and works into the wee hours of the morning. Marie-Therese enjoys all aspects of creating nonfiction books for kids, from the research and interviews to the writing and editing. She writes about all sorts of topics, but her most recent books have been focused on social science subjects. Her undergraduate degree is in psychology and all things psychological still interest her.

Marie-Therese is the author of 32 nonfiction books for children and teens. She has written series on Working Dogs, U.S. Military Branches, and Sesame Street character guides, as well as Let’s Talk About It: A Sesame Street Guide to Resolving Conflicts (2022), Social Media Addiction (2022), Five-Minute Friendship Starters: A Sesame Street Guide to Making a Friend (2022), A Dog's Best Friend: A Sesame Street Guide to Caring for Your Dog (2021), It's All Art! From Drawing to Dress-up with Sesame Street (2021), Handling Depression (2021), Sly as a Fox: Are Foxes Clever? (2021) Crayola Our Colorful Earth: Celebrating the Natural World (2021), Parents Here and There: A Kid's Guide to Deployment (2021), Teens and Cyberbullying (2020), Rock Climbing (Extreme Sports) (2020), Feelings Like Mine [Families Like Mine, Parents Like Mine, Homes Like Mine] (2020), Dealing With Psychotic Disorders (2020), Racing and Lure Coursing Dogs (2018), Understanding Friendship (2019), Feeling Good About You (2019), Rachel Carson (Conservation Heroes) (2011), and Managing Responsibilities (2009).


[For general information about Marie-Therese, see our earlier interviews (here), (here), and (here).]


Her newest book, Dogs (Early Animal Encyclopedias), releases tomorrow.


​​Welcome back Marie -Therese,


What was your inspiration for Dogs (Early Animal Encyclopedias)?

I have always loved dogs. When I was little, I begged hourly for a dog, but my mother was allergic to them. Then, we spent a weekend with friends who had a poodle. My mom didn’t sneeze once. That next Christmas, the doorbell rang. My parents asked me to answer it. There on the doorstep was a black poodle wearing a big red bow bigger than her head. She was mine, and I was thrilled! In addition, I remember poring over a dog encyclopedia with my second oldest daughter. We read and dreamed about what type of dog we would welcome into our family. So when the dog encyclopedia project was offered to me, I jumped at it.


Such a perfect match! What was the toughest part of your research and/or writing of Dogs? Did you learn something while researching or writing that will help you with future books?


Actually, the research for this book was pure pleasure. Each day, I looked forward to learning about various dog breeds. After all, I feel confident in my knowledge about the various dog breeds, so if another dog book is in the offing, I am ready.


Sounds like it was a lot of fun to work on. Did you get to include all your research? If not, what was the hardest bit(s) not to include? the story?


I had done lots of research about the history of dog breeds. The role that each dog breed played in the past gives insight into the breed’s overall temperament, and it is fascinating to learn. However, some of that research had to be edited from the manuscript because of word count restrictions.


Well, maybe it will be useful in another dog book one day. What's something you want your readers to know about Dogs?


Dogs is a terrific book for any reader who loves pups and wants to learn more about them. The book explores the appearance, behavior, history, and country of origin of many different dog breeds. And the photos are adorable! It is also the perfect book to help readers and their families select a new canine companion.


It's the type of book I also poured over as a kid. How long did it take for Dogs to go from idea to publication?


The project took about one year to complete.


Wow, that seems quick. Do you have a favorite spread from Dogs?

© Abdo Consulting Group, Inc, 2022.


Oh, that’s a difficult question. They are all so cute! I have a special place in my heart for the poodle spread because I’ve spent many years sharing my home with poodles. But how about the Newfoundland and Dalmatian spreads? I just can’t pick a favorite!


Sorry, I have to ask at least one hard question. Having released so many books in 2020 and 2021, despite Covid and all the delays, do you have any advice for book launches or publicity?


My publicists do a spectacular job of publicizing my new books. They garner journal reviews, and they enter the books for various book awards. I am thrilled to say that Sly as a Fox: Are Foxes Clever? won the Silver Honor in the California Reading Association’s Eureka! Nonfiction Book Awards this year. I use social media to announce each book birthday. I like to use humor, so I’ve made some amusing unboxing videos that have gotten social media attention, as well. Generous bloggers like you, Maria, help me spread the word, as do my other STEAMTeam Books colleagues. In addition, I participate in children’s book festivals and book signing events in my area. I love to meet my young readers in person, sign books, and visit with writer friends!


Great information, thank you. What are some things you have done or are doing to stay creative?


Working with a deadline looming keeps me pretty creative. But I also believe in getting out from behind the computer to enjoy and embrace life’s moments. For my Children’s and YA Literature course at Marist, I’m constantly reading and studying fabulous kidlit, which sparks creativity. My students inspire me with their writing, as well. I spend time with my family and friends and just have fun. These times renew my spirit and creativity.


We all need to recharge and do something fun, don't we. Are there any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?

I just finished a book about esports that was such fun to write and research! People in esports kindly allowed me to interview them, so the book includes some fascinating personal profiles. Also, I have four new Sesame Street titles coming out early in 2023: three science books and one about feelings.


How exciting. It will be fun to see these books. Is there any one thing you can’t do without?


Naturally, I couldn’t do without my family. I’m also rather fond of my granddog, Luna, and grandcat, Mozzarella. I’m also really attached to my computer. I remember that as my mom got older, she would clutch her purse and carry it from room to room; I tote my computer.


Ha! Thank you, Marie-Therese for stopping by for this interview. I really enjoyed talking with you.


To find out more about Marie-Therese Miller, or contact her:


Review of Dogs (Early Animal Encyclopedias)


This is a great book for kids of all ages who dream of having a dog or just love reading and learning about dogs.

Dogs (Early Animal Encyclopedias)


Author: Marie-Therese Miller


Publisher: ABDO Publishing Company


Ages: 7-8


Nonfiction


Themes:

Dogs, dog breeds, and dog behavior.


Opening Lines:

The American Kennel Club (AKC) keeps records of dogs. It also offers dog shows and dog sports. The AKC puts dogs into seven main groups. These are the Herding, Hound, Non-Sporting, Sporting, Terrier, Toy, and Working Groups.


Herding dogs keep groups of animals together. They move the groups from one place to another. Hounds are hunting dogs. Some hounds use their sensitive noses to find prey. Other hounds chase prey at high speeds.


The Non-Sporting Group has dogs that do not fit well in the other groups. Some have jobs that no other breed has. Dogs in the Sporting Group help hunters. The dog will find prey and bring it back to the hunter. Terriers hunt small prey. They dig to hunt animals such as rats or badgers. Dogs in the Toy Group are small. They are loving. Working Group dogs do jobs that help people. Some pull sleds. Others rescue people in the water


What I LIKED about this book:

Following with the classifications of the American Kennel Club (AKC), the book is divided into seven groups. Within each group, eight to ten dog breeds are examined in alphabetical order. The book does a great job using photos and graphics to explore the appearance (size, body shape, ears, and coat) of sixty three major dog breeds. Most entries include an photo of adult dog and an adorable puppy.

© Abdo Consulting Group, Inc, 2022.

Dare you not to "ooh" or "ahh" over some of the puppy pictures! The book also includes a nod to six other dogs within each group, noting their origin and typical behavior. Interestingly, it also includes the date the breed was accepted into the AKC.

© Abdo Consulting Group, Inc, 2022.


Using succinct, easily read sentences, the book describes each dog's behavior, their historical role, and provides a map of their country of origin. With occasional light humor, it's full of interesting tidbits, like the fact that the "Australian Shepherd" actually originated in America and the Italian "Bergamasco Sheepdog" (sheep herder) and "Lagotto Romagnolo" (truffle hunters) were only very recently admitted into the AKC in 2015.


It is very useful for kids and families starting their research into choosing a dog as it includes important details about their general characteristics such as which breeds are highly active ("Border Collie") or "need a job to do," have a calmer disposition ("Scottish Deerhound"), tend to bark a lot ("Finnish Lapphund"), behave well with children ("Cavalier King Charles Spaniel"), like to dig ("Border Terrier") or drool a lot ("Bloodhound"). As well as which dogs are more challenging to train or good at training their owners.


I enjoyed reading about dogs I had never heard of and learning some interesting facts about ones I thought I knew a lot about. Such as the unknown origin of "Dalmatians" and that they "were used with horse-drawn coaches. They cleared a path for the horses and guarded them."

© Abdo Consulting Group, Inc, 2022.


Overall, this colorful, beautifully photo illustrated early encyclopedia of dogs will have kids and adults flipping through the pages and discovering lots of interesting facts and helpful information. A glossary and additional books and online resources make this a very helpful and fun read.


Resources:

- have fun making popsicle stick holiday sweater dogs, dog bookmarks, or other dog crafts.

- make a list of the dogs you like. Which is the best dog for your family, house, and any allergies?

- check out shelters or rescue centers in your area to see if you can help make toys for the dogs or if they do reading buddies.

Comments


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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