Friday, July 27, 2018

TWO BY TWO by debut author Lisa Lowe Stauffer

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit beautiful Catherine at Reading to the Core for Roundup.

I'm delighted to share with you today a brand new poetic board book that's extra special, because it's a DEBUT! Yay! Congratulations to my fellow SCBWI Breezer and all-around lovely person Lisa Lowe Stauffer for the release of her first children's book.

TWO BY TWO is a board book with illustrations by Angelika Scudamore, brought to us by Zonderkidz, and if I recall, it's been about 8 years in the making! (This book biz is sure not for the give-up type, is it?!)

Here's Lisa responding to a few quick prompts. Welcome, Lisa!

The delicious: Holding an actual book in my hands and knowing my words will be a part of the lives of children.

The difficult: I’ve had an exceptionally slow path to publication. I started writing novels for children 20 years ago, threw myself into poetry at a retreat 8 years ago, wrote this poem 6 years ago, and had the book sell 2 years ago. Having friends who kept encouraging me has made all the difference.

The unexpected: TWO BY TWO is a short poem — 151 words. I was surprised at how nearly everyone along the publication route wanted to jump in to change a word here and there, often without any understanding of why I chose the word(s) I had on the page. 

Lisa at her desk.
And I was surprised at how often I needed to let those words be changed to achieve the book sale. (Not complaining: Many of the changes made it better.) Now, though, when I read TWO BY TWO aloud, I have to peek at certain lines to make sure I’m reading what’s on the page instead of saying what I originally wrote.

Anything else: Having a book that features monkeys gave me an opening to do some social media beyond the usual “buy my book” posts. I took two monkey finger puppets to Greece on a recent vacation. My premise is that the monkeys are taking a vacation before “their” book comes out. For the 40 days leading up to the publication date I’ve posted
2 little monkeys in Greece!
photos of them in Greece on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtags #Monkeys2 and #TwoByTwo. If you’d like to see these, on Twitter I’m at @LisaLStauffer and on Facebook, @AuthorLisaLoweStauffer. I’ll continue posting monkey photos once the book is launched, and take these little guys to readings.

Adorable, right? Those little monkeys seem to be having a pretty good time in Greece. :) So many thanks to Lisa for stopping by. Readers, be sure to share TWO BY TWO with some young readers in your life!

Also: I immediate wanted to get to know these little monkeys better... what are there names? what are they like? What if *I* had two little monkeys? And so I put it in a wee poem. Enjoy!
2 monkey selfie

A Tale of Two Monkeys

If I had two little monkeys
I'd name this Squash and Blossom.
They'd ride to school on my shoulders,
and at recess we'd play It and Possum.

Squash and Blossom would have their own room
where I'd read to them thousands of pages.
I'd plant banana trees for them to feast in,
and never, not once, put them in cages.

If I had a Squash and a Blossom
you'd just about never see me.
I'd disappear in that jungle room for days...
Two little monkeys sure can keep a girl busy!

- Irene Latham


  1. How wonderful for Lisa Lowe Stauffer! Many congratulations to her on her debut book. It looks adorable and I do think that creative marketing makes a difference.....but I'm no expert. Irene, you always make me say "wow" with how thoughtfully you craft a poem. Squash and Blossom are irresistible.

  2. Congrats to Lisa Lowe Stauffer! I like the monkeys in Greece. Marketing should be fun.

  3. What a charming book, and an interesting interview, too. Lisa's comment about the editing process is something that was always on my mind when I taught - how to edit without canceling out the writer's own voice.

  4. Oh, my, Irene! I'm going to read your poem to the monkeys right now! Thanks so much for writing it and for giving Two By Two this spotlight!

  5. Congrats to Lisa--TWO BY TWO looks super duper cute. And i love her clever social media strategy! If I ever have a book published, I may borrow the idea :) I also liked reading your Two monkeys poem!

  6. What an encouraging publication story journey! Congrats to Lisa on the book!

  7. Congratulations to Lisa! Two by Two looks like the perfect book for my almost-two year old niece! Your poem is adorable, Irene! I love the thought of disappearing into a "jungle room for days" and reading "thousands of pages" to my pet monkeys. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Incredible that so few words took such a long road to publication! Perseverance is key!!

  9. Love hearing about those traveling monkeys and now named by you, Irene, dear Squash and Blossom! I'm glad Lisa was patient to make changes and wait for publication, seems like a long journey to be proud about. I'll share with those who have toddlers-sounds darling.

  10. Phew! A long rough journey! I found the part about having to be careful to read the words that are actually printed instead of her words particularly interesting, and maybe even a little sad. I guess I never knew that editors and publishers would change poetry so much, given that the words are already so carefully chosen!

  11. Lisa's monkeys are adorable, and her persistence is admirable!

    I'll bet two monkeys could keep a girl busy! (I don't know how to play possum, but it would be cool to have monkeys to teach me xo)

  12. Congratulations! I LOVE the monkeys on vacation in Greece- great idea!

  13. Congrats on your new book “Two by Two” Lisa, and how handy to have these two monkeys help promote your book! Love the lyrical and whimsical poem you created with “Squash and Blossom Irene, thanks!

  14. Persistence pays! Huge congratulations to Lisa. Enjoy every moment!!

  15. I love hearing about perseverance in the book world - especially when it pays off. Well done Lisa! And I love the finger puppet idea! I often travel with a doll, representing one of my human characters, and pose her in all kinds of places. Love the rhyme, Irene.

  16. Love this behind-the-scenes peek! I'm a little late to the party over here, but I enjoyed giving a TWO BY TWO shout out on my blog this week, too. Go, Monkeys!!!


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