Today I am thrilled to welcome Ame Dyckman who has written some of the funniest picture books I’ve read. My favorite because it’s both funny and sweet, not to mention it celebrates dandelions which I love, is DANDY, illustrated by Charles Santoso. A perfect book for everyone and especially great for Father’s Day. My other favorite – yes, I’m allowed to have more than one favorite – WOLFIE THE BUNNY, illustrated by Zachariah OHora is an adorable story of dealing with a new sibling. If you haven’t read these, do yourself a favor and order them along with her June release, THE NEW KID HAS FLEAS, illustrated by Eda Kaban and her July release, TINY BARBARIAN illustrated by Ashley Spires.
Ame is generously offering a FREE PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE via phone to one lucky winner!
PLEASE NOTE FOR THIS GIVEAWAY ONLY: Check Ame’s Twitter account for details and easy (just-RT-to-enter) entry. Giveaway runs though 10 PM EST 6/12/21. GOOD LUCK!
You can follow Ame on Twitter (@AmeDyckman) for, as she puts it, “more book news, goofy poetry, photos of my squirrels, and pretty much EVERYTHING that pops into my head!”
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
Picture books are wonderfully for every age, but I’ll share something from when I was the especially fun picture book age of five-ISH. (When I was five-ISH, I was the pretty much the same as I am now except that I was shorter, wore slightly more polyester, and ate WAY more processed cheese as it was still the ’70s.) At the age of five-ISH (and even younger), I ADORED books. I loved to read books. I loved to just ADMIRE books. But around the age of five-ISH, I started to carry books around while being brought along on errands because I knew that at any point if the grown-ups had Terribly Boring Grown-Up Stuff To Do, I’d immediately have something FUN to do: *PLOP* wherever I was and read books! (And I still do this NOW!)
(I don’t have a photo of myself when I was five-ISH, so I just wrote ISH on my hand—in um, Sharpie—and took this selfie. Then while the Sharpie was still wet, I forgot AND TOUCHED MY FACE! These pitfalls of being an author were not discussed on Career Day.)
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by… EVERYTHING! Everything you can see, hear, feel, taste, or even SMELL (EW! HA!) can be inspiration for a character, plot, dialogue, etc. (I’m currently inspired by this Sharpie which REFUSES to wash off of my hand and face. PERSISTENCE! PERSISTENCE is a good book message!) But my favorite PLACES to soak up inspiration are the library, the woods, the beach, museums*, wildlife sanctuaries and good zoos, and amusement parks. (That last one’s basically a zoo for people. HA!) Spend a little observation time in any of those places and you’re bound to leave with lots of great story ideas!
*One of my upcoming projects was directly inspired by a family trip to one of the most marvelous places, the American Museum of Natural History in NYC! But wherever you like to go, GO OUT AND EXPERIENCE STUFF! Soak it in, reimagine it, and create something FUN!
What’s something you hope readers take away from your books?
A theme I try to include in all my books is: EVEN IF SOMEONE’S DIFFERENT FROM YOU, YOU CAN BE FRIENDS! I super-include this in my newest picture book, THE NEW KID HAS FLEAS, adorably and hilariously illustrated by the fabulously talented Eda Kaban! (Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan, pubbing next week on 6/15/21!) In this classroom acceptance story, a kid struggles to understand the different “New Kid” in class, who was raised by wolves—LITERALLY! When an afterschool project requires they work together at the new kid’s cave, our narrator has THE MOST DIFFERENT “somebody else’s house” experience ever—but ends up trying new things (and new foods!), making a new friend, and having a great time! We hope FLEAS’ readers (little AND big) will similarly embrace the idea of welcoming New Kids in their own classrooms, communities, and beyond! And PSST! I just got a peek at the FABULOUS free downloadable activity pages packet for THE NEW KID HAS FLEAS, and the good folks at Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan knocked it outta the park! There’s a New Kid Pledge (to be kind and include New Kids at school), a friendship qualities acrostic, FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS to cut out and share—these are seriously THE CUTEST thing!—and MORE! Seriously FUN with a seriously GOOD message!
What’s next for you?
I’m playing with MANY new ideas, and grateful for many new books! After FLEAS, my next picture book, TINY BARBARIAN (the first in the TINY BARBARIAN series), comes out in just a few short weeks (7/13/21) from HarperCollins! It’s ALSO adorably and hilariously illustrated by the ALSO fabulously talented Ashley Spires, and features a brave tot who uses imagination, borrowed household items, and the persona of an ’80s movie poster barbarian to conquer fears: backyard “monsters,” broccoli, even THE DARK! (Tiny’s barbarian cape is actually the little rug from around the toilet, so I imagine I’ll be wearing one of those, too!) We’ll dive into working on the next TINY BARBARIAN adventure soon!
And… We just announced another upcoming picture book, HOW DINOSAURS WENT EXTINCT: A SAFETY GUIDE, illustrated by the ALSO-ALSO fabulously talented Jenn Harney (Little, Brown; 2023)! In this tongue-in-cheek cautionary tale, a parent “reveals,” during a family trip to the natural history museum—TOLD YOU! HA!—that nearly 30 different species of dinosaurs actually went extinct by doing the very things—chair tipping, etc.—parents repeatedly warn about. (And, it’s my first RHYMING book! For some reason, I “heard” this one in rhyme—long dinosaur names and all!) I just got a peek at Jenn’s human family character sketches, and they’re GENIUS—100% laugh-out-loud FUNNY!
I have other projects in the works, but I can’t chat about those yet. (ARGH!)
As far as life events, I’d really just love to take a nap! HA! But even when it’s crazy-paced like now, I wouldn’t trade making books for kids for anything. There are (hopefully!) some five-ISH kiddos counting on ME to make something fun THEY can *PLOP* down with! I can’t let ‘em down. So… YAY, COFFEE! I think I’ll have another!
THANKS for having me, Laura! THANKS for reading, EVERYBODY!
Thanks, Ame! It’s been wonderful having you here. Readers, please comment on the blog because it will make me happy and Ame will see your comments too, but don’t forget to follow Ame on Twitter and RT her giveaway post to enter.