Thursday, April 2, 2009

Interview with First Dog Authors and a HUGE Giveaway!!!

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the authors of the book I raaaaved about this morning, First Dog. J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello were kind enough to answer some great questions for me (and you!). AND...if you read to the end of the interview, my HUGE giveaway is revealed!!! Enjoy!!



1. Before we get started, I would love for you to pick a place to have our "interview." We can be eating pastries in a French bakery, sharing some wine and cheese in Napa Valley, or candy canes at the North Pole. Your choice!

How about eating an ice cream cone on a nice warm day, people- (and dog-) watching on a Santa Monica pier bench?

2. Can you share with us what led you to the world of writing?

JPL: Serendipity. A college professor for thirty years (Economics!), I discovered poetry at the age of 39. Then I became a suffering fool for it when the bug bit, and I’m happy to say the bite never healed.

Beth: I've always loved my dad's books and have wanted to collaborate with him for some time (if he'd allow me). I feel really fortunate with "First Dog" - what a way to break into being an author!

3. We all are aware that President Obama has promised his girls a "First Dog." Did you come up with the concept of this book before or after hearing the news of the search for a pet for the White House family?

Beth: This was the perfect storm! We had a rough draft of a book about a dog traveling the world to find a home (because, frankly, who doesn't love a good dog tale), and then President Obama mentioned getting Sasha and Malia a dog during his election day speech...and, viola, we knew where our dog's home would be.

JPL: It was all Beth’s idea. I just helped in the co-authoring.

4. Did you do any specific research for the book? Visiting shelters, reading up on dog breeds?

Beth: Besides stopping every passerby walking a dog, and grilling them with questions about their pooch, we did a lot of research online to find out what is unique about the breeds that we chose to highlight. I’m a huge dog-lover, but I found out a lot of fun dog facts along the way.

JPL: I was guided along the way by some wonderful friends who are completely devoted to rescue dogs.

5. How long did the book take you to complete?

Beth: Since we don't live in the same state, we spent a couple of months talking on the phone, and writing/editing back and forth.

6. Do either of you own a shelter dog yourself? I have one that I love SO much and adopting her led me to fully support shelter animal advocacy.

Beth: I have a lovable (and very slobbery) English Bulldog named Cuba - he's almost 10 - quite elderly by bulldog standards. While he wasn't a shelter dog, my awareness of shelters and rescue dogs has grown in recent years and if I were getting a dog today, that's where I would head first.
JPL: We have a black standard poodle and a white Bichon Frise, neither of which is a rescue dog. My consciousness about the world of shelters and rescue wasn’t raised until much later.

7. If Malia Obama's allergies were not an issue, what breed would you recommend the Obama's adopting? Got any favorites??

Beth: There's too many good choices to pick one, but I would think they need a dog full of personality - just like Sasha + Malia. And I hope that the Obama's end up with a rescue dog. Shelters are filling up with all kinds of different breeds that need a good, loving home.

JPL: I second that.

8. Do you have any other titles in the works or books soon to be published that you can tell us about? Go ahead, talk them up!

JPL: My other 2009 children’s book titles include: The Underwear Salesman, S&S/ATHENEUM (Serge Bloch, ill.)—just out in March, Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year, LITTLE, BROWN (Ethan Long, ill.), due July 1st, Spot the Plot! A Riddle Book of Book Riddles, CHRONICLE (Lynn Munsinger, ill.), a fall book The House, CREATIVE EDITIONS (Roberto Innocenti, ill.), a fall book

Beth: Nothing else soon-to-be-published, but lots of ideas! I’ve always loved reading books; I just didn’t know how much fun writing one would be.

9. What are some of your personal favorites in children's books?

Beth: I have 2 small boys, and we are surrounded by children's books. Some favorites: anything by my dad (Tulip at the Bat, The World's Greatest: Poems are 2 of our favorites right now), Where the Wild Things Are, Skippyjon Jones, Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, The Polar Express are a few, but I could go on. And, of course, Richard Scarry is always a crowd pleaser in our house.
JPL: As I tell children at my school visits, there are too many favorite books to have one favorite, so that answer changes every fifteen seconds. This fifteen seconds my favorite book(s): Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad. I so wish I had written those four books!

10. Finally, if you could have any job besides being an author/illustrator, what would you do?

Beth: Being a mom ranks #1 for me...no matter what other projects I'm working on.

JPL: Likewise, co-authoring three great kids and four terrific grandkids (soon to be five) is the true coin of the realm. But I secretly harbored a desire to be a pianist/songwriter. Maybe in my next life.


Thank you both SO much for stopping by A Patchwork of Books!


I have SIX copies of First Dog to give away to SIX lucky readers!! SIX, SIX, SIX!! Leave a comment on this post, telling me what breed YOU think the Obamas should get for their daughters by midnight (mountain time) on Monday the 6th. That's five days to enter! If you blog about this contest, you get an extra entry, so let me know about that too!

And don't forget about the other awesome April giveaway I have going on now. Go HERE to find out allll the details. It's for a great cause!

37 comments:

Susan said...

This book sounds like fun - something my kids would like.

Growing up, we always had good-natured, kid-friendly dogs, mostly golden retrievers and labradors. I think the president should have a friendly, sweet dog, so I'm going to say a retriever.

Infant Bibliophile said...

A mixed breed shelter dog would be a nice fit for such a heterogeneous country. If I had to pick, maybe a breed like a Bichon/Yorki because of the allergies.

TruBlu93 said...

The Obamas should get a beagle, they are soo cute and playful.

Staci said...

Let's pretend that they could get anything and allergies didn't play a role- then I think they should get an older dog from the shelter that needs love and attention but is already house-broke!!

Vader's Mom said...

How fun! I love my black lab and would highly recommend that to anyone looking for a dog. Allergy wise - I'd go for a labradoodle.

Boni Ashburn said...

I'll vote for the labradoodle.

Thanks for the interview, Amanda! I love that J. Patrick Lewis discovered his love of writing later in life (I did too!) His poetry is so much fun to read- I'm glad he discovered his gift :)

Kim said...

Ummm... how about a basset hound?

Katie said...

I think they should get a Jack Russell Terrier!

Brimful Curiosities said...

I'm eagerly waiting to find out which dog they end up choosing. I think they should adopt a mixed-breed, but my favorite is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Very royal.

Lenore said...

I loved hearing about the background of this title. Thanks.
As to what the Obamas should get... a cat! Hahaha!

Z-Kids said...

Pomeranian... The Obama Opoma

mjsw said...

Which dog? The one the children want! Of course, one not affecting their allergies..... loving and playful...and hopefully a rescue dog of any acceptable breed or mixture!

KTteacher said...

I agree that it would be great to see them get a rescue or shelter dog.

Leslie S. said...

I think they should get a short-haired playful mutt.No need to buy an expensive pure breed when you can help out and get a great rescued dog.Thanks!

valerie2350 said...

i don't know about the breed....think a shelter dog would be good, just gotta be careful about the allergies.
But....think it's always important to meet the dog first to see if you have the right connection

valerie2350 said...

blogged
http://sweeps4bloggers.blogspot.com/2009/04/patchworkofbooks-first-dog-giveaway.html

MJ said...

They should get a mutt from the pound. What a great way promote pet adoption!!!

Anne said...

Bichons are good for people with allergies

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Tumbleweed Trails said...

They should get a Chinese Pug.

JD

visionquest2020@msn.com

Callista said...

You didn't say so I assume this is open to Canadians.

I think they should get a Portuguese Water Dog since they have the grounds for a large dog and they are very comfy and lovable.

callista83@cogeco.ca

nomadreader said...

I hope they get a mutt or a rescue. There are so many dogs in need of a good home!

chimaerandi said...

They should get a rescue dog, whatever breed they get. It would be a great example to many Americans that you should want a family member, not an accessory.

Ginny said...

I think they should get a yellow lab

3boyzmom said...

I think they should get a poodle! My 2 year old would looooooove this book!!

Sara and Alex said...

I want them to get a cocker spaniel! That is what we have!

shelburns said...

What a cute book! I know that they are looking for an allergy friendly dog, but I love Australian Shepherds. They even have a miniature breed that is too cute. Very loyal and protective dogs; good with kids.

shelcows AT gmail DOT com

Paula said...

Definitely a shelter or foster dog. Mixed breed is most symbolic and could get a lot of mileage. A retired police dog or guide dog would likely be best trained. A rescued greyhound would certainly send a message. Personally, I like little scrappy dogs who don't look like much but are tough cookies!

~Brooke~ said...

I agree with many of the others that the Obama's should get a dog from either a shelter or rescue.

As a Rottweiler owner, I would LOVE to see them get a Rottweiler, but I have a feeling that won't happen! :-) I will be waiting anxiously to see what dog/puppy they choose!

Dina said...

I think they should get a mix from a shelter, the breed is unimportant - should be one suitable for people with allergies.

Lauren S. said...

I'm partial to labs and lab mixes (since we have 4!) so I would recommend that. And I would definitely tell them to rescue a dog from a shelter - they make the best dogs and its the responsible thing to do.

nscandurro(at)cox(dot)net

silverhartgirl said...

I think they should get a boxer. they just looks so pretty
silverhartgirl at gmail.com

Shelley said...

I think a Westie would be perfect!

Redheaded Stepchild said...

I think a Labradoodle would be a good - it would be perfect to rescue one from a shelter!

Mrs. Edwards said...

On Sat. 4/4 I had the privilege of helping my daughter with a 5K race called Canine Canter. An unbelievable array of dogs (w/owners) participated, but the one dog that caught my fancy was Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. They are smaller than the average retrievers but with all the same lovable characteristics that make them great family dogs. You can't go wrong with a retriever, Obama family!

kristel said...

I have always wanted a Chesapeake Bay Retriever as my best friend had one that I loved to play with as a kid. I am going to my wishes for one on the Obama's. They can get one from a rescue organization, http://www.cbrrescue.org

Rica said...

please enter my name. Thanks!

scarlett said...

My daughter would love, love, love this book!! Thanks for giving copies away!