Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Interview with Award-winning Children's Author Naomi Burman-Shine

Naomi Burman-Shine is the English author of Stonely’s Pet Dinosaur, which recently won the silver medal in the pre-school picture book category of The 2014 Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards

Naomi’s fun and colorful rhyming book has also been nominated for a prestigious annual UK book award: The 2015/2016 People’s Book Prize. This national competition was set up to find, support, and promote new and undiscovered authors. It is judged by the general public only, so please help Naomi’s book reach the finals by visiting The People’s Book Prize website and voting. 

Stonely’s Pet Dinosaur is being showcased in the children’s category of the 2015 summer collection of The People’s Book Prize, and the general public can vote between 1st June and 31st August 2015 by visiting The People’s Book Prize website. It only takes a few minutes and is free! Thank you!

Naomi’s website is

A big thumbs-up for rhyming picture books!

Robyn: Why did you start writing picture books?

Naomi: Picture books are fabulous for sharing, and I love the experience of reading picture books to – and with – my two young sons. These beautiful books transport us into a magical world where we can set our imaginations free.

Not only were my boys captivated by the wonderful words and pictures in these charming and uplifting stories, but I was too.
Robyn: When did you start writing?

Naomi: I never had a burning desire to become a writer, but I enjoy fresh challenges and as I continued to read picture books to my boys at bedtime, I thought it would be amazing to know that young readers everywhere were tucked up in their beds, just before lights out, listening to – or reading – a book that I had written. I therefore set myself the task of writing a fun children’s story – and so I began my journey to becoming a writer of picture books.

Robyn: How did you come up with the idea of Stonely and his pet dinosaur?

Naomi: When my sons were pre-school age, they were fascinated by all things dinosaur. At this time, they were constantly asking me to buy them a pet, but unfortunately my husband is allergic to all things furry so I had to appease them by buying them the plush kind instead.

The boys’ interest in dinosaurs, coupled with their constant requests to own a pet, sparked my idea for Stonely, a determined cave boy who longs to own a roaring red dinosaur. Who wouldn't want to own such a cool creature?
Robyn: Stonely’s Pet Dinosaur is a rhyming text. What made you write this story in rhyme?

Naomi: Many of the picture books I read to my sons were written in rhyme. Particular favorites of the boys included Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson (illustrated by Axel Scheffler), All Afloat on Noah’s Boat! by Tony Mitton (illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees) and Smelly Peter: The Great Pea Eater! by Steve Smallman.

Rhyming books are always fun to read aloud. The boys were always engaged and loved guessing the rhyming words at the end of each stanza, which helped build their listening skills and language skills. Rhyming text makes a story lively, captivating, and memorable. As a musician, I love the intrinsic rhythm of the text, which enhances the mood and pace of the story.

Robyn: Did you find it difficult to write in rhyme?

Naomi: Yes! To write a well-written rhyming book certainly isn't an easy task for a novice writer.

I had to make sure that the story wasn't sacrificed because of the need to use rhyming words. Online rhyming dictionaries and thesauruses thus became my best friends.

Finding the correct meter to allow the words to fall off the tongue naturally was more of a challenge, and having a great editing team was essential to produce a smooth-flowing final text.

I must thank you, Robyn, for all your editing assistance. I would also like to thank my proofreader, Jane Hammett, for casting her expert eye over the text before I submitted my final manuscript to my publishing editor, Sarah Scotcher at Rowanvale Books.

Robyn: What advice do you have for aspiring writers of picture books?

Naomi: The most important piece of advice I have is to read lots of picture books before putting pen to paper. Analyse the text and the pictures separately, then see how they marry up.

Many aspiring writers join writing classes or embark on college courses. As well as reading various online articles on picture book writing, I read your invaluable book, Robyn, How to Write a Great Picture Book (now available on Amazon Kindle, renamed The Easy Way to Write Picture Books That Sell).

In addition, I sent my initial unedited drafts to The Writers’ Workshop, which positively critiqued my work, and I found this process extremely helpful.

I would also advise joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Their mission is to "support the creation and availability of quality children’s books around the world". There are regional and network branches of the SCBWI worldwide and each network holds its own events throughout the year. I particularly enjoy reading the SCBWI’s international bi-monthly magazine, scbwi, which features informative articles on writing and illustrating picture books.

Lastly, I'm an advocate of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, where many online groups are dedicated to promoting the world of children’s books. I must mention one community, Kid Literature, which is particularly supportive in championing picture books, including my own. Please check out its website at – it’s excellent! 

Robyn: Thank you, Naomi, for generously offering your time to participate in this interview, and good luck with The People's Book Prize. It's an incredible achievement that Stonely's Pet Dinosaur is being showcased. Congratulations and well done! 

Naomi: Thank you, Robyn. I hope people will vote for Stonely’s Pet Dinosaur, which is being showcased in the children’s category of the 2015 summer collection of The People’s Book Prize, and the general public can vote between 1st June and 31st August 2015 by visiting The People’s Book Prize website. It only takes a few minutes and is free! Thank you! 

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