Monday, October 1, 2012

WriWOPi: Tammi Sauer

I am so excited to once again run the ever popular series Writing Without Pictures (or WriWOPi, as I now call it) in which published Picture Book authors share their experiences of NOT being the illustrator of their work. 

I am excited to bring WriWoPi to you every Monday in the month of October.  I have scheduled some extremely talented nationally-recognized authors and its sure to be a good time. 

Today we re-launch the series with the ever-amazing Tammi Sauer! 

The first time I picked up a book by Tammi Sauer I believe it was Me Want Pet (illustrated by Bob Shea).  I was immediately struck by the simplicity of language, the engaging wacky humor, the perfect read-aloud pacing and the brilliant marriage of words and pictures.   Therefore, I was thrilled when Tammi agreed to stop by The Write Routine and contribute to WriWOPi.  Thank you, Tammi!

Take it away...

I love so much about being a children’s book author, but one of my FAVORITE parts is seeing the art for the very first time.
Usually, this event begins with an out of the blue email from an editor that lets me know the art for the book is attached. At this point, I am filled with excitement/hope/panic. I take a breath, try very hard not to have a heart attack, then open the file.

And Every Single Time, I have been blown away. As a writer, I try to build a lot of heart and humor into my manuscripts, but that’s just my layer. The illustrators that I have been paired with have always taken my words to a new and much more impressive level.

 Dan Santat, for instance, made Elvis Poultry a bit of a diva in Bawk & Roll. Who knew that the King of Bawk and Roll had a stylist, a masseuse, and a beverage-toting pig at his disposal? I certainly didn’t.
My favorite page in Mostly Monsterly came almost entirely from Scott Magoon. He offered this brilliant diagram of Bernadette:

On top of all that talent, those guys are a lot of fun.  Evidence:
Dan and Tammi
photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2010, SCBWI

Scott and Tammi
photo credit: Dana Sullivan, Copyright ©2012, SCBWI
Oh Nuts! was recently released, and Dan Krall did a phenomenal job with the art. This book takes place in a zoo. Dan even made a lot of the zoo-goers resemble the animals they were visiting. I would have never thought of that! You can see evidence of Dan’s genius in the book’s trailer:

Dan also created wildly funny photos of the chipmunks as they prepared for their September 18 debut.

Click here for Cutesy, Blinky, and Bob’s publicity shots:

My latest book is Princess in Training. It stars an unconventional princess named Viola Louise Hassenfeffer who is more into skateboarding and diving into the moat than being prim and proper.

Joe completely captured the spirit of Viola Louise Hassenfeffer.
And he gave me quite a surprise. In the story I have these lines:

Madame Gertrude parted the curtains. 
Behold!” she said. “It’s time for the Royal Bash!”
In my head, the Royal Bash was a fancy ball. But Joe came up with something way more inventive and hilarious.

That’s the wonderful part about having others illustrate your work. New thoughts, experiences, and imaginations come into play, not just mine. As a writer, I feel I offer a solid starting place. But it’s the illustrators I’ve had the good fortune to work with who have made good things great.

Tammi Sauer has sold more than a dozen picture books. In addition to winning awards, her books have gone on to do some wonderful things. Cowboy Camp was developed into a musical in Katy, Texas. Mostly Monsterly was selected for the 2012 Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program. And Chicken Dance was released in French which makes her feel extra fancy.


  1. OOOH!! I know the inventive and hilarious surprise!! I was lucky enough to see F&Gs of PRINCESS IN TRAINING earlier this summer. It is AWESOME. Thanks, Marcie and Tammi! This is a fun post!

  2. French! Ooh-la-la. That IS fancy! Lucky dog!

    1. That's some fancy French! :)

  3. Oh gosh - will the French version of OH NUTS! be entitled ZUT ALORS?

    Great post!

  4. I love these illustrations. The princess in training looks like something I'd have picked up for my little girl when she was younger. And Bernadette the monster is adorable!

  5. Thank you so much for this! I am always so curious as to how it feels to see the illustrations for your book for the very first time! Now, granted, Tammi, your writing is BRILLIANT, so I'm sure the illustrators have a ball making pictures to go with it. But I love the image of you getting that email, and wondering what the first illustrations are going to look like.

    What a great series, Marcie! I'm looking forward to the other posts!

    1. It's a very on top of therollercoaster kind of feeling.

  6. I heart Tammi Sauer! I can't imagine seeing illustrations for one of my own books for the first time. People are so good at what they do. I like when she said that it is another imagination added into the mix.

    Great way to kick start this new wave of WriWOPi! Oh my. I made a rhyme. Til next time. Bye bye. :)

  7. Thanks for sharing, Tammi and Marcie! I need to buy a Tammi Sauer pb set to keep up with all the new books out! I can't wait to have this experience some day, seeing my own pb!

    1. Yes, everyone needs the 2012 Tammi Sauer Collection. :)

      Looking forward to see your books one day!

  8. Wonderful post! Tammi, I saw Mr. Duck Means Business at a Scholastic Book Fair today! I love all of your books. I still haven't read Oh Nuts! or Princess in Training but they're on my list.

    Great series, Marci!

  9. Love the "behind the pictures" with Tammi. I remember the same feeling when I first saw the art for my book, Cora Cooks Pancit. I was blown away by how creative Kristi Valiant was with the perspective and even adding a subplot with the MC's dog. Can't wait to get my hands on Tammi's new Princess book. Merci for the post!

    1. Marcie, you need to snatch up the fabulous Dorina Lazo-Gilmore for this series!

  10. Those illustrators are something else, huh?

  11. Tammi... I loved hearing how excited you become when you first lay eyes on the illustrations for your stories! Honestly, from my little experience, I feel as the writer, like a humble servant that helps fulfill the wonder of a PB. The kitschy song, "I'm Glad You Came" by The Wanted, best describes my feelings, lol:)