When Mom Edits Children’s Books

By Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books

For my final post of 2017, I decided to interview my two children to find out what they think about having a mom whose job is to help make books for kids.

I certainly talk about work regularly at home, and I talk about my kids regularly at work. I interviewed the boys, identified here as O. (age 7) and M. (age 4 1/2), separately to see if I could find out what they think about this thing I do all day long.

For each question, the younger boy’s answer comes first. I transcribed their answers verbatim and (for once in my life) did not edit for grammar, clarity, or anything else.

1. What’s one thing you think people reading this interview should know about you?

M: I be so nice at home.

O: I am very athletic and I love to read. I love multiplication math because I am very good at it.

2. What do you like best about having a mom who is a children’s book editor?

M: ‘Cause you read them to me.

O: You take home lots of books and read them to me.

[CH: I was completely surprised they had the same answer to this question.]

Porcupine's Picnic
While working on this book, I kept thinking it would make a great preschool read aloud.

3. What do you like least about having a mom who is a children’s book editor?

M: I don’t like when you make books for [my brother].

O: Nothing.

[CH: Apparently my little guy thinks I make books specifically for his big brother! I may have to see if I can set him straight on this.]

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
One Plastic Bag is on this year’s Star of the North list, which means the school librarian at O’s school has shared it with all the second graders!

4. What’s your favorite book I have worked on?

M: Porcupine Has a Picnic. Cause you read it to me a lot.

O: One Plastic Bag and Sachiko. Because they’re real stories about people who are still alive.

[CH: M. is talking about Porcupine’s PicnicThe reason I read it to him a lot is because he requests it a lot! He loves the part at the end when Tiger shows up and all the animals run away.]

5. What kind of book do you wish I would make?

M: Porcupine has a walk to go look for new friends.

O: One about the whole life of Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr.
Hmmm . . . Lerner published a book about OBJ last fall. I should probably grab a copy for my sports-obsessed kid!

6. Why do you think books are important? 

M: ‘Cause kids and grown-ups need them for reading and, like, making decisions of what to cook.

O: Everybody can read them. It would be unfair if they were only for some people.

Sachiko by Caren Stelson
O. hasn’t actually read this whole book, but we’ve read excerpts and we’ve talked about it a lot.

7. How many books do you think I’ve read to you since you were born?

M: A lot!

O: 5,952. That’s my estimate.

8. What else do you wish I would ask you?

M: I wanna be all done doing this.

O: How many story problems have you done in your life? (Because you have to read the problem.) I’d say about 509 (that’s my estimate).

In closing, thanks to everyone who has read our blog this year, and here’s wishing you all a safe, merry, and book-filled holiday season!

12 thoughts on “When Mom Edits Children’s Books

  1. Yvonne Pearson

    This may be my favorite blog you’ve written. I loved your boys’ responses. My 5-year-old grandson delighted me with his unsolicited comment about my debut PB (Sadie Braves the Wilderness) recently. After sitting quietly in another room for sometime, he shouted out to his mother, “Sadie is actually a good book. And Nana did it all by herself.”

  2. Lisa Crayton

    Carol, OMG. I love this! It’s enlightening and funny. Thanks for sharing it/their responses. I especially love their answers to why books are important. Happy holidays!

    1. carolhinz

      Thanks, Charles! I do consider it a minor miracle they both made it through the interview without saying “butt” or “poop” even once!

  3. Sandra Nickel

    What a beautiful way to end the year. I loved hearing O’s and M’s voices and getting the ‘inside story’ on the life with an editor-mom. Wishing all three of you a wonderful 2018. I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

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