Yvonne Jones Discusses Lil Foot the Monster Truck
Interview sponsored by Yvonne Jones
The Children’s Book Review | June 30, 2017
I read that Lil Foot the Monster Truck is a picture book that stemmed from one of your son’s obsession with trucks and also being able to view the world through both of your sons’ eyes. Was there a specific moment in which you knew you were going to create a picture book about these four-wheeled giants?
Beverly Clearly once said that if you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it. With both my sons having quite peculiar interests, I often was unable to find books that would cater to their curiosities. So I made it my mission to translate my boys’ interests into books that can be enjoyed by many. They were interested in vacuums? – I sat down and wrote a vacuum book. They were mesmerized by lawn mowers? – I went for it and wrote a lawn mower book.
So when I realized that my youngest became interested in monster trucks, I felt this excitement yet again, that caused me to sit down to write and illustrate Lil Foot the Monster Truck.
The story is imbued in life lessons and filled with monster jam fun for little rev-heads. How did you decide on the right balance between sharing morals and creating a good fun read?
Striking the right balance was quite challenging. First and foremost, I wanted the book to be fun to read, for both the child and the parents. Because, whom are we kidding, we as the grown-ups are the ones that will have to read it over and over again to our kids. It’s hard at times to find a book that engages 2-5 year old boys and girls and holds their attention for the entire book. So I asked myself why kids love monster trucks. They love them because they are loud, and dirty, and crush anything that’s in their way. I knew that including these elements would help me make it a fun read for little ones.
Then I added some key values I think are so very important and can’t be introduced early enough: kindness and caring for one another. Wrapping these morals into elements that kids are looking for in a book made it a less ‘heavy’ and ‘preachy’ read, thereby maintaining the flow and overall energetic feel of the story.
Throughout the pages, Lil Foot’s friends tease him. After wishing for a better name, the little monster truck realizes that being kind to others and believing in oneself is what matters most. Can you tell us why you chose to write a story based on being kind to one another?
I believe introducing key values such as kindness can’t be introduced early enough. And what better way to weave it into a story that little ones are interested in and engaged with? It makes for a fun read, while teaching invaluable life lessons.
Writing in rhyme can be challenging. How long did it take you to write? And did you have any sections that gave you any rhyming trouble?
Thanks so much for asking this question. Writing in rhyme can be quite challenging at times; but it’s my favorite way of writing. Most people don’t realize that writing a couple of meaningful, short rhymes can take quite a bit longer than just composing a regular story. Because the text is so concise, every word counts. The ending is what almost seems to take me the longest. I usually have an exact idea in mind, but always seem to take a while to figure out how to say it best, for the biggest impact possible.
What kind of research on monster trucks did you need to do while working on the story-line?
Quite a bit of research went into the creation of this book. Not a monster truck fan myself, I had to learn what exactly my son found so mesmerizing about these 4-wheelers. So I watched a fair amount of jam shows and read up on the biggest names out there. Since I illustrate my children’s books myself, I also had to learn how to portray these vehicles from different angles, and how to make them look fun and endearing at the same time.
What would you say is the most fascinating thing you learned during your research?
The most fascinating thing I learned during my research was the history of BigFoot, the very first monster truck ever created. As soon as I learned about its history and the creator Bob Chandler, I knew I had to use BigFoot in my book. I’m very grateful that Lil Foot the Monster Truck was granted the request to use BigFoot as one of the most important characters in the book. Without it, the impact of the last scene wouldn’t have been the same, especially for monster truck fans that know all the names of their favorite 4x4s.
You also illustrated all 34 pages of the book. Can you describe your artistic process?
When I write an illustrated children’s book, I already have the exact number of pages in mind as I use that as the basis for my layout. I then write the story, and when completed, distribute the writings evenly throughout the pages. Once I know the text and page layout, I begin to sketch out the scenes that would go with the text on each page. This process has made it possible to create both a paperback and ebook version in a seamlessly manner.
You have quite a few other picture books, too. Would you like to tell us a little bit about some of your other titles?
My absolute favorite is The Little Mower That Could. Bits of facts about each type of lawn mower have been beautifully woven into this delightful spin on a beloved classic, providing little gardening-tool enthusiasts with a story that lets their love for mowers come to life. It’s about kindness, helping each other, and believing in oneself.
The Garbage Trucks Are Here is for 2-5 year old garbage truck enthusiasts. Five hungry garbage trucks come to town to gobble up all the trash and waste they can find. It’s a big job, but together, they can do it.
The Amulet of Amser is written as a middle grade chapter book series, teaching kids about famous pieces of art in a fun and exciting way. Wen is destined by his family’s ancient oath to forever protect the world’s most precious pieces of art for all of mankind. In his very first fantasy adventure, Wen must find a way to save Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us about Lil Foot the Monster Truck or any upcoming books?
Thanks so much for asking! I’m currently working on my third book in The Amulet of Amser series, as I have been approached by many Amser fans, asking about Wen’s third adventure. The books in this series usually take me a bit longer, as the research for the stories’ background is quite extensive. But I always love diving back into the past to have Wen save the next beautiful piece of art and preserve it for all of mankind.
Written and Illustrated by Yvonne Jones
This illustrated children’s book is for all the little boys and girls that love monster trucks. You’ll encounter Lil Foot, a mud-splashing, wheel spinning, engine-roaring, and car-crunching monster truck.
In this fun and heartwarming story, a little monster truck is being teased by his friends. After wishing for a better name, the little monster truck realizes that being kind to others and believing in oneself is what matters most.
Highlights of any monster jam show have been beautifully woven into this rhyming story, providing little monster truck enthusiasts with a tale that lets their love for these ginormous trucks come to life.
Ages 2-5 | Publisher: LHC Publishing | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0997025484
About Yvonne Jones
GET A FREE EBOOK OF ONE OF YVONNE’S CHILDREN’S BOOKS AT http://yvonne-jones.com/sing.
Yvonne was born in former East Germany to a German mother and a Vietnamese father – two adamant readers and advocates of literature. Thus, she spent an inordinate amount of her youth nosing through books that she shouldn’t have been reading, and watching movies that she shouldn’t have been watching. It was a good childhood. Always drawing inspiration from her own two children, she loves to write about unique interests and aspires to find fun and exciting ways to have kids discover and learn about the magnificent marvels this world has to offer. She can be found online at http://yvonne-jones.com.
The Author Showcase is a place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works. This interview was sponsored by Yvonne Jones, the author of ‘Lil Foot the Monster Truck.’ Discover more great writing and illustrating artists in our Showcase.