An Interview with Children’s Literature Author Betty White Jenkins
Late last Spring, I had the great opportunity to meet with Ohio children’s literature author Betty White Jenkins. Betty and I, along with Betty’s sister, illustrator Marjorie White McVey, met at my barn office, a warm day when the windows were open and creativity was in the air.
|Betty's original book|
Betty brought an old story she had written in college. It was a hand-made book put together for a class project. I was hesitant when she handed me the book – the cover a little worn and faded. When I opened Betty’s book, the simplicity of the illustrations along with the adorable story drew me in. I immediately felt Betty’s vision for the book. We agreed that with a few tweaks here and there, the book would make a nice hardcover edition. Now, almost a year later, we celebrate Betty’s wonderful story.
GM: How Do We Know That Spring's Aglow is a beautiful book. I adore your passion for life. As a writer, you have set the stage for future volumes. What is the premise of your story and who is your target audience?
BWJ: The premise of my story is identifying some of the signs of Spring. The target audience is K-4.
GM: As a writer, how do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
BWJ: As thoughts and ideas come to me, I jot them down in a notebook for future reference.
GM: Who is your favorite author?
BWJ: Dr. Suess is my favorite author because all of his books are written in rhyme and have colorful illustrations. My favorite Dr. Suess book is Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose. It is one of his earliest books.
GM: Reading Dr. Suess is always a fun experience, no matter your age! I love Dr. Suess, too. What are you currently writing?
BWJ: Currently, I am working on a second book about another season. This one is about winter and has the same format as How Do We Know That Spring's Aglow?
GM: Do you have advice for novice writers?
BWJ: I would tell novice writers to keep their writing simple and focus on one target audience.
GM: In your opinion, and as an educator, what elements create the perfect children's book?
BWJ: In my opinion, as an educator, having taught in the elementary classroom for 30 years, the elements that create the perfect children's books are: Simplicity, colorful illustrations, and subject matter the audience identifies with and are interested in learning about.
GM: A perfect answer! Your writing embraces all of the qualities you listed! Did you find that the publishing process was challenging? If so, in what way?
BWJ: I think any new venture presents challenges. Since this was my first experience with publishing a book, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the details. However, I am happy to say that it was a very rewarding endeavor when I saw my book in print. Also, my publisher (Monday Creek Publishing) was phenomenal in guiding me through the process.
GM: Thanks for your kind words, Betty. I enjoy working with you. You bring good energy to the creative process. Can you summarize the writing process in a brief statement to inspire other writers and motivate their creativity?
BWJ: With any project, the first step is planning, and in my opinion the most important. You need to determine the purpose, and choose a topic. The next step is to brainstorm all the ideas about your topic and write them down. Next, compose a rough draft, revise and edit, proofread and finally publish. All of these steps, take time and remember some of your best ideas will come to you when you least expect it. Many times I wake up in the middle of the night to write down my thoughts, or driving in my car, something I see will spark an idea, so always keep notepad and pen handy!
Order your copy of How Do We Know That Spring's Aglow?
Betty's next book How Do We Know That Winter's Aglow? is currently in illustration and will be released in 2019. To purchase an autographed copy by the author and illustrator, send a message to email@example.com