Em Lynas loves to write funny picture books, and stories for children about magic, dragons and folklore. Em has also worked as a primary school teacher, a mum and an educational publisher. She lives by the seaside on the North East coast with her husband, Geoff.
Sara Ogilvie was born in Edinburgh and now lives in Newcastle. She graduated with an illustration / printmaking degree from Edinburgh College of Art. Her work is inspired by words, street life, antiquities, posters, old wives tales, household appliances, carpets, masks,packaging, and old second-hand bookshops...
D is for Dog (Nosy Crow)
'A is for action and B is for bark; C is for catching a ball in the park . . .' Join the rhyming fun in this alphabet book packed with dogs' playfulness, fun and everyday activities. D is for Dog is a must-have picture book for anyone with a dog in the family. It's also a brilliant starting point for encouraging young children to explore rhymes and rhyming words.
Author Em Lynas shares the start of D is for Dog, and suggests how to encourage children in creating their own rhymes:
Q&A with Em Lynas
"D is for Dog is a celebration of dogs of all shapes and sizes and the actions and behaviours they make throughout the day. It's full of alliteration and rhyme."
1. Hello Em, can you tell us a little about yourself and what brought you into creating books for children?
I'm an ex-teacher and I spent most of my career with reception children so I have a love of picture books, especially rhyming picture books. I love the way children interact with them and respond to the rhymes and rhythms and emotions of the stories. I especially enjoyed the funny books and now I have my own! It's an excuse to be silly.
2. What is your new picture book, D is for Dog, about?
D is for Dog began as a poem about a day in a child's life but then a friend suggested making it about a day in a dog's life. And that sounded like a lot of fun. Then it became a day in 26 dogs lives! D is for Dog is a celebration of dogs of all shapes and sizes and the actions and behaviours they make throughout the day. It's full of alliteration and rhyme.
3. D is for Dog is an alphabet book - but also a love letter to dogs. Have any of your own pets helped inspire this story?
I don't have any dogs but my Granddad always had dogs, so I grew up loving them and have lots of very fond memories of one particular Labrador named Jet. The only pets I've cared for have been my children's pets: hamsters, Guinea Pigs, rabbits and stick insects.
4. Is that why you chose to focus on dogs for this alphabet book - will we see a C is for Cat book next?
Yes, dogs remind me of my childhood, and my Granddad. Not that he looked like a dog! A C is for Cat book would be lots of fun! Fingers crossed that happens!
5. How would you like to see this book shared with children? As a former teacher, do you have any suggestions for further activities to do around this book?
I've tried to make the book interactive, so I hope a reading of the book creates a noisy and active classroom with children barking and doing the actions. Total chaos!
Children could think of other action words that the dogs could do on each page. So, 'C is for crawling around in the park. K is for kissing a favourite toy.'
They could pick a dog and create a story day for that dog.
Or make up names for the dogs e.g, Barney the Beagle, Poppy the Poodle.
Or write their own class alphabet book - Z is for Zoo, P is for Pet, D is for Dinosaur
6. What about encouraging children in their own rhymes, how can they get started?
Children are natural rhymers and players with words which is why they have so much fun with rhyming texts - anticipating the rhymes so they can join in. The more they read, or are read to, the more they'll rhyme. Using toys that rhyme, being silly and making up words that rhyme can be great fun too.
7. We love that Sara Ogilvie has illustrated each letter with actual dog names that also follow the alphabet - were there any surprises for you?
They were all surprises to me! I didn't realise Sara was going to have each dog start with the letter on the page. I still haven't mastered how to say Xoloitzcuintle!
8. Can you choose a favourite from her illustrations?
No. Well maybe. I'm very fond of the little Zwergspitzs on the last page.
9. What are the best things about being an author?
Playing with words. Putting them in. Taking them out. Putting them back. I think that's why I love working on picture books. I get very excited when I get a line just right. It took me a long time to write my Witch School series because I had too many words to play with!
10. And what does a favourite day away from your desk look like?
My favourite days are always outside in nature, walking or sitting by a lake or the sea. But I don't think I ever stop writing, phrases and lines are always popping into my head wherever I am.