The launch of Donna Janell Bowman’s STEP RIGHT UP continues with an interview with Donna’s editor, Louise May of Lee & Low Books! Scroll down to read about literate horses, nonfiction editing and African safaris!
Jason Gallaher: What drew you to Donna’s portrayal of the story of Doc and Jim Key and made you want to acquire it?
Louise May: First of all, the topic of the story was just too amazing. A horse that could read, write, and spell, among many other things! Who wouldn’t find this intriguing. Donna’s portrayal stood out because of the completeness of the story, the evident research behind it, and Donna’s commitment to telling Doc and Jim’s story in the best way possible. We knew kids would love this story.
JG: How does editing nonfiction differ from editing fiction in picture books?
LM: Editing nonfiction generally differs from editing fiction in the amount of research and vetting required. As an editor, you rely on your author to do all the primary and secondary research necessary, but to edit nonfiction effectively, you also have to educate yourself about the subject. And after all that, it is still necessary to have experts vet the manuscript and for a sensitivity reader to review it. It’s an incredible amount of work, but well worth the effort. Our goal is to present both an accurate and engaging story for readers.
JG: Daniel Minter’s illustrations are so vibrant. What about his illustrations made you think they were perfect for this story?
LM: The period feel, the dramatic compositions, the vibrant colors, the strong graphic quality—all these aspects of Daniel’s art work together to create images that bring Doc and Jim to life. When looking for an illustrator for this book, as soon as we came across Daniel’s work, we knew he was the one we wanted to illustrate Donna’s book.
JG: Finish this sentence: This picture book is perfect for…
LM: everyone! There are so many appealing themes in this book; there is something for everyone who enjoys a good story.
JG: Doc and Jim’s story carries a wonderful message of compassion and kindness toward animals. What’s the most remarkable or special animal you’ve ever encountered in your life?
LM: I am not a pet person or especially keen on domestic animals in general, but I have a love of wild animals in their natural habitats. I have been to southern Africa three times on wildlife safaris. The first time I was on safari we set out on our first game drive, crossed through a low river, turned a corner—and there was the most amazing, gigantic giraffe alongside the road. I will never forget the thrill of that first encounter.
Thank you so much for your time, Louise!
You can grab your own copy of Donna Janell Bowman’s STEP RIGHT UP on October 15 at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Donna is also giving away a signed copy of her book! All you have to do is comment on any of the posts celebrating Donna’s launch this week, and a winner will be randomly selected!