Q & A with Jon Scieszka & Mac Barnett

When I first heard about a collaboration between children’s authors Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, I couldn’t imagine anything less than hilarious from this duo. And and their picture book that was released earlier this week, Battle Bunny, does not disappoint.

5101_39548061_hrJon Scieszka is the creator of  the Trucktown series for beginning readers, the author of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, the Time Warp Trio series, The Stinky Cheese Man, and many other books that inspire kids to find the joy in reading. He is also the founder of GuysRead.com, a literacy initiative for boys, and he was named the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

9272_45720819_hrMac Barnett is the author of the Brixton Brother series and several picture books, including Guess Again!, Chloe and the Lion, Mustache!, Count the Monkeys,  and the Caldecott honor recipient Extra Yarn. He’ is also on the board of directors of 826LA, a nonprofit writing center.

Their collaboration, Battle Bunny, takes a saccharine, sappy tale of bunny’s birthday, and transforms the story it into a whole new, wild direction. The trailer for the book below, gives a small glimpse into the fun that awaits their readers.


LiveMom Talks with Jon and Mac about Battle Bunny:


LiveMom: Before Battle Bunny was released in stores (Oct. 22nd), it already had fans declaring your collaboration as “brilliant, delightful, genius, awesome, and wildly entertaining.” How did you originally came up with the idea for this creative children’s book?

MB: First of all, thank you for beginning with a list of compliments. This interview is off to a great start!

Battle Bunny has it’s origins in a long car trip Jon and I took a few years ago. We had a copy of a very sweet book about a very sweet cat, and we used our signing Sharpies to draw laser beams coming out of the cat’s eyes.

JS: I agree with whoever made that declaration! And Mac is pretty much right about where the idea came from.

LiveMom: With two authors writing two stories for this book — which also included two different styles of illustration (from Matthew Myers) — it seems as though the creation of Battle Bunny would have been very complicated. Can you please describe how you all worked together on the project?

MB: We basically had to write and illustrate two books—it was very important to us that the original Birthday Bunny work on its own as a picture book—albeit one we’d never write. Jon and I went back and forth with Matt—the illustrator—the whole time.

Battle Bunny interior page

LiveMom: Even with so many elements going into the development of the book, I can’t help but imagine it was enormous fun to work on. Was creating this book as enjoyable as it would seem?

JS: This book was great crazy fun to work on. Mac and I knew from the minute we started messing around with altering a book that we were on to something so good and so kid-celebrating and so crazy that we could not stop.

LiveMom: Can you give us advice for the best way to read this aloud?

JS: We have found the best way. A duet. One voice reads the BIRTHDAY text. The other voice reads BATTLE. It perfectly replicates out loud the reading experience of seeing two stories simultaneously. And one 2nd grader who heard this duet reading described it perfectly — “It’s like using two brains.”

LiveMom: Austinites are excited to see both of you at the upcoming Texas Book Festival. Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to about the event or your time in Austin? 

MB: Visiting BookPeople, saying hi to Sophie Blackall, getting a sandwich at this one restaurant I forget the name of, getting lost trying to find an author panel in the capitol, accidentally living in the capitol for ten years because I couldn’t find my way out, having a portrait of myself installed in the capitol to commemorate my inhabitancy.

JS: I’ll miss hitting Harry’s, that dirty hamburger joint that disappeared sometime in the 80s, I think. But I’m sure I will make it to Saxon Pub or some other dive bar to see my pal Bruce Spelman’s EXTREME HEAT band.

LiveMom: It’s a treat for us that you’ll be the emcees for a children’s book character fashion show on Oct. 26th. Will you be in costume? And if so, what will you be dressing up as?

MB: Adam Rex elbowed us out of that gig. But we will have our revenge . . . probably by crashing it while wearing humiliating costumes.

JS:  We will be dressed up as either Ron Swansons or Black Swans.

Note, While Jon and Mac were originally scheduled to emcee the fashion show, Adam Rex is taking over that duty. You can check it out at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the Children’s Activity Tent.
LiveMom: Can you please share what projects are coming up next for each of you?

MB: My next book is a very serious picture-book biography called President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath

JS: I should be writing my new middle grade series about a 10 year old genius inventor named Frank Einstein.

LiveMom: Are you planning any future collaborations?

MB: I am trying to get Jon to join my two-man Neil Young cover band, which right now has only one man.

JS: I am trying to get Mac to join my one-man (with one back up guy) Neil Diamond cover band.

Want to see Jon and Mac in person this weekend?
They will present Battle Bunny at the Texas Book Festival on Saturday, Oct. 26th at 10 am in the Family Life Center and then again at 1:30 p.m. at the Read Me a Story Tent. You can also catch them at BookPeople on Sunday, Oct. 27th at 11:30 a.m.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/HeidiO.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Freelance web producer and contributing writer on Free Fun In Austin, Heidi Okla is mom to three boys (ages 4, 5, and 7), and can’t pass up any opportunity for fun family adventures. Browse her literacy-focused kids activities on her blog, Read ‘Em and Leap (http://www.reademandleap.com/)[/author_info] [/author]


Catherine Prystup
About Catherine Prystup 2157 Articles
Catherine Prystup founded LiveMom.com out of a desire to build a better community for Austin-area moms. She has three children, ages seventeen, eight and three years old.

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