Learning the alphabet is a pivotal and important developmental skill for children, and at blue manatee press, we strive to make that skill fun to learn! Author June Smalls agrees with us, and with her upcoming picture book, Odd Animal ABC’s, you learn more than just the alphabet—you get to know some pretty unique animals!
Meet June Smalls!
June Smalls has always loved writing. “I loved words and books and stories for as far back as I can remember,” she says. “It was just part of who I was.”
Once she was older with a family of her own, she fell in love with children’s literature all over again! “I wanted to write not just for readers, I wanted to build a love for reading for today’s young kids.”
Odd Animal ABC’s!
June was at a yard sale when she came across a cross-stitch pattern of the alphabet that closely resembled one she had hanging on her own wall twenty years earlier! “I wondered why the ABC’s still had the same animals as when I was tiny,” she says. “I've seen five-year-olds rattle off scientific names of dinosaurs. They are capable of learning more than apple, ball, cat, and dog.”
She couldn’t get this thought out of her head, and began to do some of her own research. “I even discovered that gorilla's (creatures that kids are now very familiar with) were once not believed to exist in the western world,” she says. “Scientists had to bring back specimens. Once people learned about them, they became common knowledge.
“I wanted to do this with fun animals, like the quoll or the numbat or the fossa. So, I had these Odd Animals move in and take over the alphabet. And that is how Odd Animal ABC’s was born.”
Odd Animal ABC’s comes out in spring 2019, illustrated by Claire Sedovic!
“Have fun! Letters are magic! They can form words, which form stories, which take you anywhere, even places that don’t exist. It is okay to mess up. Just keep at it. I still mess up sometimes.” — June Smalls on learning the alphabet
Advice For Writers!
No matter how much you love to write, it’s still hard work that requires dedication, and June’s advice to aspiring writers is simple: Read. “Read as much as possible in the genre you are writing in,” she says. “Learn about craft and rules—to know when to follow and when to break them. Have others read your work and be open to constructive feedback. And make each word count. If you are writing for kids, check out SCBWI.”
“I once tweeted:
This still holds true.”