I hope that when you think BUFFALO, you think Daniel Jennewein. I made his acquaintance when he illustrated his first book, Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? I also had the chance to meet his lovely writer wife, Lenore Appelhans, when Daniel and I made some bookstore appearances in support of that title. And now they’ve created a picture book together!!
In Chick-O-Saurus Rex, a bullied little chicken discovers his inner strength along with some surprising dinosaur ancestry.
It’s impossible not to ask a which-came-first question when your main character is a chicken, so here it is. Which came first, the idea of having a chicken using his ancestry to impress or was there a chicken character who needed backstory, which led you to the link between chickens and dinosaurs?
While we were visiting a friend, her daughter asked Daniel if he knew what the closest living relative to the T-Rex was. After a few incorrect guesses, she told him it was the chicken. When we thought about that fun scientific theory, we knew it would make a great picture book.
How do you two work together? Did Lenore write about a chick because Daniel’s birds are so appealing? Or did Daniel suggest a chicken might make a brilliant leading man?
Daniel does do great birds! But it really started with the chicken’s surprising ancestry. While brainstorming how to implement the idea, we hit upon the fact that the word “chicken” is often used to mean “scared” or “wimpy” and having Chick be excluded by the “mightier” animals on the farm naturally led us to the subject of bullying.
I want to protect your character, who finds himself in a world of bullies. What kidlit characters would be good friends for Chick-o-saurus Rex?
The first character that came to both of us is the Buffalo of course! He’s gentle, but he’s also big, and he would give those bullies a run for their money.
What are you working on now? Any new projects together?
We are in fact putting the finishing touches on a new joint picture book that features cats and the pressure that kids have these days from all the competiveness that is out there. It’s very exaggerated humor, which Daniel draws so well!
I know you’ll be in the US with some bookstore appearances planned. Can you please share those dates, as well as other ways readers can connect with you and your work?
Yes! We’ll be in three locations:
Saturday, July 27th at Watermark Books in Wichita, KS at 11 am
Saturday, August 3rd at Hoorary for Books in Alexandria, VA at 3:30 pm (with Ann Bonwill and Erin Cabatingan)
Saturday, August 10th at Fundamentals Bookstore in Delaware, OH at 10 am
Daniel is of course happy to do a personalized illustration for each person in their book!
You can find us at our websites: www.danieljennewein.com and www.lenoreappelhans.com.
Lenore is also on twitter @lenoreva
Many thanks to you both, and welcome to the world, Chick-O-Saurus Rex!