Monday, March 14, 2016

Midnight Madness at the Zoo by Sherryn Craig

If you have littles who love basketball, there's a new book you should know about. It's called Midnight Madness at the Zoo and it's ADORABLE. Written by Sherryn Craig and illustrated by Karen Jones, it's a book about three things both kids and parents love; zoo animals, basketball, and counting. 

I originally met Sherryn almost ten years ago when we were both working together in Public Health in the DC suburbs. She was incredibly smart and funny, and always wore the most fabulous shoes. Her husband is a teacher and high school basketball coach and she would joke about being a "basketball widow" during the season.

Now nearly ten years (and three kids) later, I'm so excited and proud to share her book with you. When talking with her about it, she shared with me something that I thought was really meaningful - the story of how the book was born. Here's what she told me: 

As much as it's a book about counting, it's also about accountability - to my boys and to myself.  The idea was my oldest son's.  He was 2 and a half and I was expecting his little brother at the time. We went to the Reston Zoo on Labor Day weekend. It was incredibly hot and the animals were lying down.  Ever perceptive, he asked why. "It's the heat, honey."  I know - painfully unoriginal, but in my defense, I had put on 20 pounds that month being pregnant and I was only 20 weeks - inspired, I was not.  But thank goodness the boy was.  "They're tired because they were playing basketball."   And I think he may have thrown a "duh" in for good measure, but don't quote me on that.

I wrote about that day in my journal, but nothing else. Then one night, reading to my son in his bedroom, he told me he wanted to be a firefighter and did I think he could.  "Of course, sweetie.  You can do anything you want to."  That should have been the end of it, right?  But that kid always has to have the last word.  I wasn't prepared for how deep it would cut: "Is that what you do?  Do you do what you dreamed?" I told him that when I was little, I wanted to write children's books. I adored Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. When he asked me what happened, I wasn't really sure.  Life?  But looking back on things, I realized that I started listening to other people's voices and not my own. 
I know I lie to the kids all the time - usually for their own safety.  Fine, that's a lie.  But this was something I didn't want to lie about. I was full of crap, and he smelled it. One weekend, when my husband took the kids up to see their grandparents, I sat down and wrote this story - my son's story.  I would have stopped there, but when the kids came home after the long weekend, I thought nope - it's go big or go home.  So I started submitting to houses that accepted un-agented writers. I submitted in May and had the contract the following March.  I waited to sign. Numbers have a lot of meaning to me. So it was important that the date on that piece of paper was April 8, 2014 - my son's 6th birthday. 
Author Sherryn Craig
I was so happy to hear that. How many of us have great ideas or dreams but we let life get in the way of seeing them through? Does that resonate wth anyone else? Just me? FINE. Well, I was just asking for a friend because I'm living my best life right now.

Here's what I really think about Midnight Madness at the Zoo. The book's illustrations are BEAUTIFUL, the rhymes are fun and filled with basketball lingo that my even my ten year old thought was great. It's long enough for your kids to settle down for a good snuggle but not so long that you want to kill yourself when they ask to hear it 17 times in a day. There are a bunch of educational ideas and activities at the end of the book which I liked a lot and I think makes it a perfect gift for preschool or younger elementary-aged kids, and also for their classrooms. 

Overall, I thought the book was great and so did my kids (especially Mini). I'd love to hear what you think of it if you've read it, too.

You can find Midnight Madness at the Zoo on Amazon and read more from Sherryn on her website

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