Who doesn’t love a good tongue twister? Author Sally Lee Baker has taken the playful alliterative tongue twisting genre to a new level with her alliteration through the alphabet book series. She’s already up to 20 (twenty!) titles with more on the way. Curiosity got the best of me and I needed to learn more about Sally and her superior scribing superhero status.
Belle: You are working your way through the alphabet writing tongue twisting alliterative stories. What gave you the idea for this series?
Sally: A Writing for Juveniles class in college required an alliterative story. I chose “B” and wrote Billy Beaver who built big brown barns because he was a builder. Years later, as I worked in our local school library, the idea came to do the entire alphabet with alliterative stories. Since retiring from the library I’ve been able to self-publish A-T. I just finished the text for “U”: Uh-oh, Uncle Unruh. Now to work on the illustrations!
Belle: Your most recent book is for the letter T,Toni Tanager. Tell us the tale behind this title!
Sally: Unlike other authors, who I assume come to their writing with a story in mind, all of my stories are dependent upon what words are available starting with the letter to be used. Our neighbor has a tamarack tree in her yard so I found birds (tanagers) that start with “T” and went from there. The three-toed tree toads provided someone to tease and were fun to say.
Belle: Very fun! I love it! You’ve got A through T right now. That is an impressive list of titles! How long do you think it will take you to finish?
Sally: Considering I have 20 titles to date and Annie Alligatorwas published in 2012
I’m averaging 3-4 books a year. And, “U” is close; so I may be finished by the end of 2020.
Nellie’s Nine Narwhals and Uh-oh, Uncle Unruh! have been the most difficult so far. Finding verbs for “N” and nouns for “U” was very challenging.
Belle: I’ll bet! I’d think K would also be a challenge, but Kitten is a Kangaroo is so well done – cute and funny! If you struggled with that one it doesn’t show! Once you make it through Z, do you plan to start a new series?
Sally: Not a new series, but I have another story that I wrote for the college class as well as puppet skits written years ago that I’d like to make in to children’s books.
Belle: It sounds like you have no shortage of ideas! How did you decide to illustrate your own books?
Sally: When I finished Annie Alligator I asked myself how I was going to find a good illustrator. I attempted a few drawings myself when I noticed a teenager drawing some remarkable pictures in the library where I was working. I approached her and showed her what I had drawn and asked if she could come up with some pictures herself. Well, she just basically drew what I had drawn.
So, I decided to do the drawings myself. Originally I drew pictures to scan on to my computer where I colored and manipulated them. As I learned more about the drawing program I was using, by the time I wrote Hamster and HippoI was able to do everything on the computer alone.
The following is a comparison between “A” and “S” illustrations to show the development of my illustrating abilities:
Belle: That’s amazing! Yes, the improvement is clear. But even your early drawings beat my talent (or lack thereof!) Your hard work is impressive. Thank you for sharing your skills with us!
I hope you will check out Sally’s website and hopefully find a few tongue twisting titles that will be perfect to add to your child’s library! Here are a few to consider: