The Children’s Book Review | June 11, 2014
Sarah and Steven Mostyn are the authors of The Blue Baboon in the Big Balloon, their first self-published children’s book. They have developed their storytelling craft through the inspiration of their three young children: Jonah, Kayla and Daniel. They often sit together as a family brainstorming new, creative ideas for books, and enjoy retelling stories from their large collection of self-created family favorites.
Sarah & Steven Mostyn: We will throw out an idea, and ask them to fill in a word. They sat with us while we were brainstorming ideas and threw out lots of really cute suggestions. As well, their feedback was very helpful, such as a giggle and a heartfelt laugh. They loved the story so much they made us tell it to them each night before bed, as it progressed.
TCBR: How much was the result of parental input?
SM: Most of this story was our own input. It is the result of a husband and wife partnership, how our “out there” ways of thinking, come together with our love for our children.
TCBR: How often do you as a family engage in this creative process?
SM: It is our weekend family tradition to sit snuggled together on the couch, spending time as a family, telling our self – created stories to our children.
TCBR: Has there been an impact from this creative process on other aspects of your family life?
SM: We would say it has had the most impact on our oldest son. Our eight year old son Jonah is now saying how he would love to become an author when he grows up.
TCBR: How were the colors for each character chosen—was there any underlying reasoning for the colors (for example, the fighting troll with the red tights)?
SM: We felt the colors were appropriate because they fit very well with the characters’ personalities. The colors of the characters’ describe, and differentiate each of their unique personalities. As well, the colors in the pictures are meant to show the elements of the land and the sky depicted in the story.
TCBR: There is a distinctly calmer atmosphere to the characters and the activities on the moon. How did this part of the story evolve?
SM: We wanted the characters to have a fun adventure that children would really relate to. All children talk of visiting the moon. Therefore we thought the moon would be a great destination. The characters are shown traveling together to show that despite the fights they have in the first part of the book they are in fact all great friends.
TCBR: When you began writing down the story did you expect that it would involve such an extraordinary trip?
SM: When we begin a story, we don’t know what’s next to come. That’s the fun in brainstorming as a family. We never know what we are going to come up with! We begin with a small thought and elaborate, until we come up with a great story!
TCBR: There is a stark juxtaposition between the baboons’ ordinary routine of sipping tea and the intergalactic adventure they embark on in the story. Can you comment on this? Was it intentional?
SM: Sarah insisted upon the idea of the baboons having tea by the sea, as a tribute to her father who is British. We wanted to focus, at the end of the story, on the importance of the baboons’ daily routine of having tea at half past three. The friends embark on this extraordinary adventure to the moon. At the end of the story, they realize it is half past three, and they do not want to be late for their daily routine of having tea by the sea.
TCBR: Is your family working on anything new?
SM: There has been talking in the Mostyn family, of other ideas for adventures of Harold the blue baboon and his friends. Our readers will have to stay tuned for what’s next to come…
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