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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Tammi Sauer

So let's get 2022 started off with a BANG! I get to talk with the prolific and funny author Tammi Sauer about her newest two picture books.

Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author. She has more than 30 published picture books. In addition to winning awards and earning starred reviews, Tammi's books have gone on to do great things. Chicken Dance, Your Alien, and Nugget & Fang were made into musicals that toured the nation. Wordy Birdy was named a Kids’ Indie Next List book, the 2021 Book Choice for Read Across Oklahoma, and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. And Your Alien, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and French which makes her feel extra fancy.

Her most recent books include One Sheep, Two Sheep (2021), Not Now, Cow (2021), The Farm that Mac Built (2020), Nugget and Fang Go to School (2019), Wordy Birdy Meets Mr. Cougarpants (2019), A Little Chicken (2019), Making a Friend (2018), Wordy Birdy (2018), Quiet Wyatt (2018), Knock Knock (2018), and Truck, Truck, Goose! (2018).

For additional information see our earlier interview (here).

Tammi’s newest books Lovebird Lou releases February 1st and No Bunnies Here! releases February 8th. [Sorry folks, they got backed up a month.]

Tammi, thank you so much for stopping back by to talk about your newest books and writing.

Thanks for having me!

Did you find anything particularly helpful in keeping you inspired and writing these past couple of years? Especially since most of your books are humorous or contain humor.

Taking extra long walks, reading funny pictures books, and connecting with writing friends was helpful. Plus, working on manuscripts that made ME laugh was a good way to escape the uncertainty of the past two years.

Nothing like a good laugh to make life a bit more bearable. So, what was your inspiration for Lovebird Lou?

Ever since author Tara Lazar started Storystorm (originally known as PiBoIdMo), I have accepted her challenge to come up with 30 picture book ideas during the month of January. My ideas are usually just the smallest of snippets. Sometimes the idea is simply a title.

This was the case with Lovebird Lou. Originally, though, Lou was named Bart. Later, I switched to Lou because I really liked the sound of the name when the story is read aloud. Lou’s big, supportive family often says the line, “We love you, Lou!” at silly moments throughout the book. The name ‘Lou’ gives that repeated line a nice touch of alliteration and assonance.

And if you haven't checked it out yet, the first day of Storystorm 2022 featured Tammi Sauer (here). What was the inspiration for No Bunnies Here! ?

Originally, I challenged myself to write a Thanksgiving book.

The first drafts starred a turkey who was trying to save himself and his turkey pals from becoming the reader’s Thanksgiving dinner. This version was funny, but my smart agent thought it might make some readers feel conflicted about their big turkey dinner.

So I considered another option—chickens—chickens are funny. But I had just sold a chicken book. Then I thought sheep—sheep are funny. But I had just sold a sheep book.

Then I thought BUNNIES!

Wow, I love how this changed! Last time we talked, you mentioned “I almost always include illustration notes in my manuscripts, but I try to make sure that each one is necessary.” Can you share an example for Lovebird Lou and No Bunnies Here!?

Sure! Lovebird Lou, example:

"All was well until…

Thwump. [He bumps into a tree.]"

Text © Tammi Sauer, 2022. Image © Stephanie Laberis, 2022.

No Bunnies Here! example:

"That? [A bunny approaches.] Uh, that is not a bunny."

Thank you for sharing those. Is there something you want your readers to know about Lovebird Lou and No Bunnies Here!?

Lou is about the appreciation of self, family and community. Bunnies is about not making assumptions about others. Both books are filled with humor, heart, and ridiculously adorable characters.

Characters who have a lot of personality! When you first saw Stephanie Laberis’s illustrations in Lovebird Lou did anything surprise, amaze, or delight you? What is your favorite spread?

Steph is amazing! She did such a wonderful job of creating just the right expressions and body language for this birdy book. I was delighted by how well Steph was able to convey the love Lou’s family has for him. Everyone should be surrounded by this kind of big-hearted caring and support!

Text © Tammi Sauer, 2022. Image © Stephanie Laberis, 2022.

My favorite illustration, though, would have to be of Lou impersonating a rock.

Ha! How about with Ross Burach's illustrations in No Bunnies Here!? What is your favorite spread in this book?

Text © Tammi Sauer, 2022. Image © Ross Burach, 2022.

Ross is a genius! He added just the right silly and heartfelt details. I can't wait for everyone to see the bunny parade and the Bunny Fan Club gear and the informational charts and and and....

I can see why you like the parade. Are there any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?

This summer, I will have two new books. One is called The Underpants (Scholastic Press). It features a barnyard cast and is a fun and ridiculous take on the old Ukrainian folktale The Mitten. Joren Cull is the illustrator. The other is a companion book to Mary Had a Little Glam. It’s called Mary Had a Little Plan. (Sterling). This time around, Mary discovers an abandoned lot while on walk with her father and orchestrates a renovation that benefits the community. Vanessa Brantley-Newton is the illustrator.

I told you she was prolific! Those sound wonderful and I have to say I adore anything Vanessa illustrates. I'm excited to see those books and wo;; be watching for the cover reveals. Okay, last question, what is your favorite National Park, regional park, or city park? Or the one you’re longing to visit. Why?

My favorite city park is the one I visit nearly every day. It’s called Hafer Park, and it’s located a few miles from my house. I love getting in a gorgeous 3 1/2 mile walk and chatting with the regulars.

Thank you, Tammi for stopping by again and sharing your time and thoughts with us. It was wonderful to chat with you.

Be sure to come back on Friday for the sneak peek Perfect Picture Book #PPBF review of Lovebird Lou.

To find out more about Tammi Sauer, or contact her: Website: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram:


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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