I first learned of Pam Calvert back when I still owned my toy and book store. I hand-picked every book that made it onto the shelves, searching for books that were visually appealing and worked well with the themes of the toys I was selling, but were also unique in some way. I hit the jackpot when I found Princess Peepers. It was beautifully illustrated, relevant for my princess theme, and dealt with a niche subject in a novel way that would appeal to every little princess, bespectacled or not. Fast-forward a bunch of years and now I am on this side of the business and get to actually interview Pam!
I love that your main character in the Princess Peepers series wears glasses. What sparked this story idea and what has been the most gratifying part of sharing these books with children?
The idea came from a combination of things. A lady asked me if I could write a book about a princess with glasses or if I knew of a book like that because her little girl wouldn’t wear glasses, since princesses don’t. I found that odd, so I did some research and found out that it was indeed true! Princesses don’t wear glasses. Immediately, I set out to correct that situation and, along the way help the self- esteem of little girls. I knew the hardships of being different–I wore glasses as a child and suffered a lot of teasing.
I loved the line in Princess Peepers Picks a Pet where she uses the phrase “Fairy Dust” like a curse word. How did that come to you? Was it instant or something that took a while to come up with?
There was a little-known chapter book series that I loved where the little girl main character cursed using words like “bumbleberries” or “flapjacks.” I thought that was so cute and decided Princess Peepers should do something equally memorable. Thinking about her character, I figured she’d use words like “fairy dust” or “stinky troll’s feet.” Then I remembered how Robin, Batman’s sidekick, would use “Holy Fill-in-the-blank” and Peepers repertoire of cute curses was born. Holy glass slippers!
You are dedicated to helping writers perfect their craft and your blog highlights many amazing educational opportunities. What did you find particularly helpful when starting out?
ICL (Institute for Children’s Literature) was by far the biggest help to me as a novice writer. I worked with two different authors and they helped me see that I needed A LOT of help. The class gave me kid goggles and a great perspective on how to write for children. After that, I was ready for picture books and furthered my education by taking Anastasia Suen’s Intensive Picture book Workshop. I’d advise anyone who really wants to get published to take some of her classes. Well worth the money.
What was the most amusing thing that has happened to you on a school visit?
Oh goodness! Something funny happens almost every time. The funniest was at a school in Mesquite. Here’s a conversation from that event (CK means cute kid):
I’m walking down the hallway after my presentations are over and after I signed some autographs (probably about fifty kids surrounded me in a flurry).
CK 1: Ms. Calvert, you signed an autograph for me, didn’t you?
Me (wide eyed, had-no-idea-if-I-did, smiling): Oh, well, yeah, of course!
CK 1: THANKS!
CK 2 (shakes head): Un uh! He forged your signature and is charging kids $2 an autograph!
Me (stomach plunges)
There you go!
Thank you, Tara!
To apply for a picture book mentorship with Pam- http://beckytarabooks.com/contest/