Psst…please ignore the wacky formatting of this post. Try as I may, I can’t seem to fix it.)
Wow, how time flies! Today, December 1st, marks the anniversary, er,
birthday, of my blog, Birthdayographies.
It’s been quite a year! In the past
twelve months, I have added almost two hundred birthdays with respective
picture book titles, bringing the posted or scheduled number to 540.
Whew! Search functionality continues to evolve and improve, and the site
is growing into a substantial tool for teachers, librarians, students,
and writers. Birthdayographies is a work-in-progress squeezed into small
patches of available time-pretty much like any writing project. I am
immensely proud of the growth and the response from followers. There
have been flubs and missteps, of course, and, very soon, the blog will
transfer to a new blog platform to accommodate the volume and growing
need for flexibility.Now, with a year under my belt, I can’t think of a better way to
celebrate this first milestone than by inviting Anne Bustard to the
Birthdayographies party. You may recall that Anne was the originator of
the biography/birthday blog idea. How
lucky for me that, in 2013, she offered me the treasures of her blog,
Anneographies. It was great for her, as her novel-writing blossomed. And
great for me because I already had a spiral jam-packed with a list of
p.b. biographies I read and studied. You can read my first Birthdayographies welcome post from December 1, 2013
is the author of the award-winning picture
book biography Buddy: The Story of Buddy
(Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster BFYR). Her debut middle
grade historical novel Anywhere But
(Egmont USA), set in 1960 Hawaii, will be released in 2015.
in Honolulu, Anne moved to Austin, Texas, to attend college, and stayed.
And, Anne happens to be one of the nicest people on the planet.
Donna: Hiya, Anne! Welcome to the Birthdayographies party! Without you, there wouldn’t be a Birthdayographies.
Anne: Happy First
Birthday, Birthdayographies! Thanks for inviting me to visit today! And thank
you, for championing this genre!
Donna: Anne, in 2005, you launched your blog, Anneographies, featuring picture
book biographies by subject’s birthday. What inspired this very original
Anne: The idea
for Anneographies sprang from my love of picture book biographies. I wanted to
find a way to celebrate and share them every day, or at least, as many days of
the year as possible.
former children’s only bookseller and then educator of pre-service teachers, highlighting
new and backlist titles was important. But how? What format might resonate with
potential visitors and me?
a calendar person. Word-a-day calendars, this-day-in-history calendars,
websites that offer this-day facts—I’m in! So, it won’t surprise you to know
that I keep a calendar dedicated to birthdays. Birthdays! That was it—the
common denominator. And so the blog was born.
Donna: Anneographies featured approximately 350 picture book biographies. How
did you come up with so many titles to include? Who was your intended
the past fifteen-plus years, picture book biographies as well as collective
biographies have flourished. I did my best to include as many as I could. I delighted
in regular visits to libraries and bookstores. For me, it was a wonderful treasure
hunt—with finds at every turn.
the audience, I imagined educators, librarians and parents using the blog as a
do you think picture book biographies are an important genre?
simply, these thirty-two to forty-eight page wonders of text and illustrations
inspire and illuminate. Each one shines a spotlight on a life that has changed
the world—a life that required some combination of sacrifice, struggle,
determination, discouragement, hope, insight and achievement. Picture book biographies
show readers what’s possible—which is just about anything.
often, they honor a person from the past, and in doing so, enrich young readers
understanding of history. They invite readers to see the world from someone
else’s perspective. And as natural springboards for further inquiry, they can
lead readers to other books and resources. Like
all good literature, picture book biographies touch readers’ hearts and minds.
Donna: What do you find are the biggest challenges to writing picture book biographies?
only written one, so I’m certainly not an expert here. But I will say that
commitment is critical. I have researched other possible subjects, but
eventually I stopped. I wasn’t invested enough to see their stories through. I
wasn’t passionate enough. I wasn’t in love.
down primary resources and verifying facts to the nth degree is a formidable
challenge. On the other hand, uncovering a particularly elusive piece of
information or making a surprising discovery is incredibly sweet.
mention the writing? Drafting and revising umpteen times until each word sings
is daunting. But possible!
Donna: When your own focus turned to fiction, you very kindly offered the
Anneographies content to your most picture-book-biography-obsessed writer
friend. Me! I am still very honored. It has now been twelve months since the
Anneographies content was transferred to Birthdayographies. The list of
featured titles has grown to 540, with no end in sight. As the grande dame of
the birthday/biography idea, how does it feel to watch your brainchild evolve on Birthdayographies?
540 titles! That’s fantastic! You’ve definitely taken the blog to another
level. Congratulations on your amazingly strong year. You deserve all the
birthday cake you can eat. I particularly love your inclusion of books from
educational publishers. They are a brilliant addition.
Donna: Okay, time to fill us in on what you’ve been up to since the
Anneographies-Birthdayography switch on December 1, 2013. What have you been
working on? Is there any news you’d like to share? How can readers find you?
Anne: A few days after the switch, I learned a book contract for
my debut middle grade historical novel was in the works! I was, and still am,
beyond thrilled! I’ve spent the last year double-triple checking historical
facts and revising. Anywhere But Paradise
will be published on April 14, 2015.
Many thanks to Anne for joining us on Birthdayographies. Stay
tuned, dear readers, for more books, more birthdays, and more ways to
share the wonder of picture book biographies. As always, if you have
suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. And, if you find
Birthdayographies helpful, I hope you’ll share it with teachers,
students, librarians, and writer friends.
Thank you for your support!