Sherrill’s poetry books can be categorized as “fun with a lesson”. Great combo for kids! Parents, teachers, and librarians are always looking for good stories that lead into great conversations. Her children’s books are rhythmic, what she calls, “music in words”. So, kids can hear a “beat in her books”! Enjoy meeting Sherrill S. Cannon:
What experiences, people, and/or books were influential in your life, leading you to write your own children’s books?
My mother, an elementary school teacher, instilled in me a love of reading – and rhyming poetry – from a very early age. I’ve been writing poetry since I was four years old (before I could write) and she collected my poems in a little book for me (which I used to have, but has been lost along the way.) She also inspired my second book, Peter and the Whimper-Whineys, a story which she told to my brother and me and her grandchildren (and countless second graders) and which I put into rhyme and had published. It is still a favorite (and a great whine-stopper!) I was a teacher for ten years, and am now a grandmother of ten. It’s lots of fun to share my stories with them!!
When did you begin writing children’s book manuscripts? What was the first book you got published and with which publishing agency?
I began writing the children’s stories several years ago, but didn’t have time to pursue publication until 2009 when Santa’s Birthday Gift was published. I submitted the manuscript to SBPRA (then called Eloquent Books) and they loved it, and it has now sold over 5,000 copies.
How many books have you written that are published?
I now have seven published children’s books, which have won 29 awards. I also have written seven published and internationally performed plays for elementary school children (performed in over 20 countries.) Those are all available at www.lazybeescripts.co.uk if anyone is interested.
Which of your books is your favorite and why? What was the inspiration for your main character of your favorite book?
My favorite will always be Santa’s Birthday Gift, since it was written in response to my granddaughter’s question after I read to her the story of the Nativity. She looked at me and said, “But where’s Santa?” The entire story came to me in a dream that night, and I really believe it was inspired… Santa’s “gift” is the promise to bring gifts each year to good boys and girls to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
All of my books strive to teach values to children, disguised as fun stories. Once a teacher, always a teacher… The Magic Word, Gimme-Jimmy, and Manner-Man are my “manners” books, and teach good manners, consideration for others, and anti-bullying. Children liked Elisabeth from The Magic Word so much that she made a cameo appearance in Gimme-Jimmy, and both Elisabeth and Jimmy reappear in Manner-Man. This is one of the delightful perks of having the same awesome illustrator – Kalpart – for all my books. The characters (my classroom of kids) reappear in illustrations throughout the subsequent books, My Fingerpaint Masterpiece – about perception and perspective, and my latest release Mice & Spiders & Webs…Oh My! – about good listening and computer-speak! Manner-Man – a result of a request from my grandson asking for a book about a Superhero – is a Superhero who helps children cope with bullying and is the “spokesperson” for imbullyfree.org. I’d like to mention here that all of my books, when purchased through each Fundraiser site, support two groups where 50% of the cost of the books goes to the organization. They are http://sbpra.com/cureJM (Juvenile Myositis, an incurable children’s disease) and http://sbpra.com/imbullyfree
How long did it take you to write, edit, and publish your first book?
I love to write in rhyme and meter, and children’s books aren’t very long so they don’t take very long to write… But rhyming books need to do more than rhyme. They need meter – the rhythm of the words – or what I call the “music” of the words. So I read all my books aloud a lot to my friends and family – and I ask them to read them aloud also. My editors are used to me accepting any punctuation changes but arguing about word changes (after all, “said”, “answered”, and “responded” are not interchangeable as far as meter is concerned!) The nice thing about SBPRA is that once a book is accepted, even with illustrations, it can usually be released within three or four months…
What advice can you share with children reading your books?
I would love for parents to ask the children if they can hear the “music of the words”, and whether or not they can find other familiar characters within the books. I usually have a “Special Note from Sherrill” at the back of each book, with questions and suggestions for children.
What advice can you give to those of us who are working to write and publish children’s books?
Having already commented on the need for meter as well as rhyme, I would also like to emphasize the need to have your books edited. That’s the most important investment you can make for your book! Also, I would like to remind authors that books should be for ALL children. I am always striving to make my books as multicultural as possible, and include children from many ethnic backgrounds within the illustrations. We need to encourage diversity, as well as show similar values. (I have found that there is usually a “Golden Rule” philosophy to be found, no matter what it is labeled…)
What are three hobbies/interests you have besides writing?
Reading, RVing (that’s camping, but not in a tent!), and Family Time!
Please leave us with a quote from one of your books!
From The Magic Word:
“If you want to make friends, you must be polite,
And treat them the way that you know you would like.
I think you’ll find out you’ll be happier too,
If you think more of others, and less about you.”
And thank you – the “other” magic word(s)
Sherrill S Cannon, Award-Winning Author
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