From the Author of the Annabelle-Please-Don’t-Tell! series:
TO CHILDREN: I hope that you will enjoy the stories of Annabelle-Please-Don’t-Tell! and her brother Andrew-I-Do-Too. Their puppy Yap-A-Doodle loves sharing their adventures. I hope that they will help you laugh a lot and learn a lot!
Most people would agree that children are the world’s greatest source of joy. Prior to this project, I had always loved to write but had written only for, and about, adults; I had not discovered how much fun it is to write for, and about, children. When my two-year-old granddaughter emphatically stated, in a moment of frustration, that a task was very complicated, she planted the seed for a story.
After drafting a few chapters, I met Kasia Simura during a Fall showcase at Dance in Rhythm studio. We discussed our mutual loves of dancing and reading, her love of illustrating, and my love of writing. The following New Year’s eve, at another dance event, we began a collaboration. By then, my story had grown: the characters were active and opinionated, getting into mischief, and telling me to write a series of volumes to share more of their adventures. More stories began to emerge, each one presenting one week of Annabelle’s life and developing from one “big concept,” such as dealing with complications. It was important to me that the books be entertaining, as well as educational, and that they highlight differing perspectives from diverse characters. Additionally, I wanted to enable children to absorb higher language skills than those offered in most books currently on their shelves or in their electronic devices.
A presentation by Dr. Maria Tatar (Harvard), at a Yale symposium for psychotherapists and children’s book authors, was the green light that allowed me to delve into children’s secret worries, wishes, and wonderments. I believe children have more complicated and ingenious business on their minds than we, grown-ups, typically realize. It seemed critical to nurture, rather than ignore or impede, children’s own processes of flourishing. Annabelle told me that she had 156 secrets and Andrew told me that he wanted to know them, too. They both found that grown-ups did, and said, odd things. Their puppy carved out her own, important role in the family.
As I continued preserving the characters’ actions and thoughts in text, Kasia translated them into images. It was a magical experience: both profound and hilarious. We were observed laughing out loud in coffee shops where we met, often exhausted, to coordinate work that we had produced outside of our real-job schedules. Kasia deftly illustrated the characters’ physical and mental antics for any reader to enjoy, even if he or she cannot yet read all of the words. Creating the Annabelle-Please-Don’t-Tell! series, that began with My COMPLICATED Week, is an exciting adventure and collaboration. Sharing the stories with young readers is always energizing and enlightening.
I hope you will enjoy the series, and share some of your own adventures and thoughts!
Carole Lyn Woodring
M.A. Columbia University
Coming soon, a message from Annabelle-Please-Don’t-Tell!’s new illustrator, the talented Isaac Sternling. You can see a sneak peek of his work on Volume 3 by clicking here.
From the Illustrator of the First Two Volumes of the Annabelle-Please-Don’t-Tell!’s Series:
Drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, I have always been inseparable from my sketchbook and pens. I would doodle smiling character faces in my school notebooks, on hand-made cards to my family and friends, and of course, my sketchbooks. Illustrating a children’s book has been a lifelong wish, so when Carole and I started discussing the story of Annabelle, a precocious, adventurous little girl with secrets, I was honored and excited to help bring Annabelle and the other characters to life.
I have been illustrating since my first years in college, when a Veterinary School professor asked me to illustrate a lab manual for his students. That unique opportunity quickly turned into a passion, and I complemented my Neuroscience studies with an Art major, enabling me to create various science illustrations along the way. My science illustrations expanded into technical illustration, and now book illustration. Feel free to check out more of my work on my website at www.SimuraDesign.com.
I hope all the kids and parents everywhere join Annabelle and her friends on many fun adventures.
Kasia in her studio at work on a series of fantastical, flower dancers. Kasia has been a competitive dancer and, with her fiancé, is a social dancer whenever time allows. The series will be featured at her website noted above.
Note from Carole: Flowers and dance are thematic threads and symbolic devices in this chapter book series. In volume 2, My IMAGINARY Week, Annabelle dreams of a fairy princess (“Happiness”) who dances in a gown of forget-me-nots with an ivy cape that trails gracefully behind her. As mentioned in Volume 1, Kayla’s mother (Mrs. D) owns a floral business and creates beautiful bouquets. Her arrangements are emblematic of harmonious diversity. Art forms that incorporate rhythm include literature, painting, choreography, flower arranging, and many more — not to forget “Mother Nature.” These ideas will be expanded on our educational resources pages for educators and families.
Carole’s rescued Havanese (“Cha Cha”) who inspires the character Yap-A-Doodle:
Carole and Kasia attended Winter Conference of writers and illustrators in Manhattan, February, 2015, a few days after Kwame Alexander received the Newberry Medal.