Today, Caroline Stills is back at Kids’ Book Capers to talk about how she collaborated with her daughter, Sarcia (aged 8 at the time) to create their new book, The House of Bunnies.
What inspired you to write this book?
The House of 12 Bunnies started with my daughter, Sarcia. Like a lot of children, she has always been very creative, and spends lots of her spare time typing up stories or drawing pictures. A couple of years ago, I was reading through some of her stories, and one in particular grabbed me as a great idea for a picture book. It was called The House of 99 Kids, and in the story Sarcia (aged 8 at the time) imagined what would be in each room of a house where so many children lived.
I worked on her initial manuscript, adding more rooms to the house and expanding the text, and sent it to my publisher at Little Hare Books. She liked the idea, but preferred to target it to a younger age group, so I re-wrote it as The House of 12 Children, as most children can count to twelve by the time they start school. Then, together, my publisher and I worked on several more versions of the text, adding layers so that we were educating readers in a subtle way as well as entertaining them, and creating a fun narrative, until we were both happy with the final version. And lastly, after seeing the lovely bunny illustrations created by Judith Rossell, we changed the title to The House of 12 Bunnies.
(They are gorgeous illustrations, aren’t they, Caroline? Tomorrow we’re talking to Judith Rossell about how she created them.)
What’s The House of 12 Bunnies about?
This is what is written on the back cover: When twelve messy bunnies live under the same roof, the rooms nearly burst with fun things to find and count. There are twelve chairs, twelve beds, twelve towels, and twelve of just about everything else! In the middle of all the muddle, Sophia searches for the one thing that will get the bunnies to bed on time.
What age groups is it for?
Children aged 2 to 7. The younger children can have fun helping Sophia find what she is looking for and seeing what the bunnies gets up to in each room. Most readers will be able to find the 12 things on each page, and older readers can even attempt some simple addition.
Why will kids like it?
It’s interesting to imagine living with lots of others, and seeing what each of the bunnies is doing. And it’s essentially a fun search-and-find book to learn about numbers and counting.
Is there something that sets this book apart from others?
I’m proud to have written this book with my daughter. I hope it encourages lots of other children to try writing their own stories. You never know what could happen.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I love that this book is a real group effort – starting with Sarcia’s original story. I really enjoyed the collaborative process working with the fantastic team at Little Hare Books, who truly care about creating fabulous books for children.
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
Nothing. It was a terrific experience and process.