Alisha Burton has always had a knack for writing and rhyme. By age 10, she had her first work published after winning a local writing competition and hasn’t stopped creating since. Alisha attributes her capacity for writing to her father, who always encouraged her to read and write.
One of her most cherished possessions is a stunning book collection of over 200 leather-bound classics gifted to her by her father as a child. Amongst them, one of her all-time favorites, Lewis Carol’s “Alice in Wonderland,” spoke to her curious nature and stirred her imagination.
Alisha is originally from New York State and currently lives in Guatemala with her spouse and son. She enjoys being a mother and living a life of adventure, cooking and eating delicious food, spending time in nature, exploring new places with her family, and learning new things.
In this interview, Alisha talks about her new picture book that teaches the importance of acceptance, Trevor the Mouse and His Unexpected House.
Your first published children’s book is Trevor the Mouse and His Unexpected House. Have you always wanted to write books for kids?
Alisha Burton: When I was in school my father always gave me extra homework. This consisted of math problems and writing creatively. I had many beautiful notebooks filled with these mandatory creative works which at the time I despised doing. I realize now, looking back with gratitude, that those writings were a seed being planted and tended to. The seed took root and now I enjoy its flowers.
This story is an inclusive 32-page children’s book that teaches the importance of acceptance. What inspired you to write it?
I was driving from a friend’s house one day when I was 16 years old and the story just started writing itself in my mind as a drove! I couldn’t wait to get home and put pen to paper.
The narrator shares his story about making a new friend and experiencing the surprise of finding out where he lives. What would you like readers to know about him and his unexpected house before reading your book?
You never know who you will meet and what you may learn from them. Keep an open mind and be friendly and helpful whenever you can.
With this story, kids will learn about making friends and accepting others and their differences by avoiding placing judgment. The messaging in your tale also applies to educators, guardians, and childcare workers alike. Do you have any tips for how adults might use your story in the classroom and at home?
I love real-world examples. I’ll share a learning experience I had with my son when he was very young.
I took my baby to a park one day, looking forward to some quiet relaxing time under the shade of the big oak trees. A young lady kept insisting on talking to me from across the park. We had to shout to communicate. She was friendly but I was quickly ready to end our conversation and focus on what I went to the park to do. I started to ignore her continued attempts to engage in the conversation when I heard her say, more quietly, “I need a friend”. I looked at my sweet smiling child and felt my heart break a little for the lonely girl in the park asking for a friend.
If my child was ever in need of a friend I hope he would find one, and I hope given the opportunity, he would be one. Turns out the girl’s name was Aida. She was in need of a friend because her two sisters now had boyfriends and were otherwise occupied. Aida likes to ride horses and swim and she will be in the special Olympics in Germany in 2023. We chatted for a while in the shade and the baby’s smile was contagious. I was grateful to him for motivating me to do better and to Aida for her sweet honesty and a chance to be a friend, if only for a few minutes.
Kids are always watching. We are always teaching, every moment with a child is a teaching opportunity. I try to keep that in mind. Before I react to a situation I try to frame it that way, as a teaching opportunity.
What are we teaching little ones by the way we treat others?
Kids are sure to love the fun verse. Have you always had a knack for writing in rhyme?
I always have. All the time I spent writing creatively as a child, much of it was in verse.
Do you have a favorite line or page you’d like to share with us? And please tell us why it’s your favorite.
I love the verse “ A boot makes a lovely home, a quite comfortable abode. Especially one that’s been worked in well from years on foot and road.” I love the imagery it creates in my mind of an old worn-out boot and the many adventures it’s led its wearer on, mile by mile.
Let’s discuss the whimsical illustrations. Have you always loved creating art?
I have always been creative and I love making things with my hands. I am a crafty person. But I always felt my stronger suit was writing. It wasn’t until this book was to be officially published that I decided to really try my hand at watercolor because I wanted the project to be completely my own.
What was your artistic process like while creating Trevor the Mouse and His Unexpected House?
I did a lot of experimenting and trial and error. I work slowly. Leaving something for a while and coming back to it.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading this book?
I hope it leaves them with a smile. I hope it inspires and gets the imagination going.
Is there anything else you think we should know about Trevor the Mouse and His Unexpected House, your writing, or yourself?
I wrote this when I was 16 and I am 38 now. It has been a long process. I want to encourage anyone who enjoys this book to not give up on their dreams and to keep putting in the effort. Plant the seed, water it, tend it, and it will grow into something more beautiful than you can possibly imagine.
Alisha Burton invites you to connect with her on Instagram @alishajburton or Facebook: Alisha Burton.
About the Book
Written and Illustrated by Alisha Burton
Ages 4+ | 32 Pages
Publisher: Tabletop Teaching LLC | ISBN-13: 9798985961386
Publisher’s Book Summary: Trevor is a friendly mouse, as friendly as they come! And while it may seem strange to you…His home is very FUN!
Meet Trevor, a friendly mouse who loves his family. One day he makes a friend as he struggles to carry home a large piece of cheese. His new friend is quizzical and maybe a little quick to judge. But, with a bit of communication, Trevor and his new friend find common ground. His friend learns that Trevor’s house may not be as ‘absurd’ as they once believed.
Learn all about Trevor’s unexpected house in this lovable rhyming storybook that will delight kids of all ages.
This interview—Alisha Burton Discusses Trevor the Mouse and His Unexpected House—was conducted between Alisha Burton and Bianca Schulze.