Featured Author: Sally Lee Baker

Sally Lee Baker

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 Alligator was published in 2012

Nellie’s Nine Narwhals

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 Hippo I 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:

Annie Alligator

The book that started it all, Annie Alligator!

Toni Tanager

All the animals were afraid of Annie Alligator who ate anything that ambled along Annie’s Alley.

The most recent book in the series, Toni Tananger! 

Toni Tanager teases two three-toed tree toads when Terri Tanager takes her to task to treat the tree toads like she would like to be treated

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