Nancy Tafuri Lends Personal Experience to Children’s Writing by Robert Lee Brewer

“I’ve always loved the art in children’s books,” admits author/illustrator, Nancy Tafuri. “I was an only child for ten years and spent a great deal of time going through picture books and coloring. So, when I got older and realized doing children’s books was an actual profession and could be done forever, that’s what I wanted to do—forever!”

While forever is a pretty long time, Tafuri has definitely done her time as far as getting established. Her first book, All Year Long, was printed in 1983 by Greenwillow Books. Then in 1984, Tafuri completed her first full-color illustrated book, Have You Seen My Duckling? (Greenwillow Books), which received the Caldecott Honor Book award and was an ALA Notable Book.

“It helped secure a place for me in the field of children’s books early in my career,” says Tafuri, whose early success could have been written off as beginner’s luck. However, she kept at her craft for years and years and began to add writing credits to her impressive publication list.

Recently, Tafuri finished the second book in her Bunny and Bird stories for Scholastic Press titled Where Did Bunny Go? It tells the story of Bunny and Bird and a game of hide-and-seek. In 32 pages, the reader follows Bird as he searches for Bunny who has hidden so well that Bird thinks Bunny has run away. With wonderful illustrations, this story illustrates an ideal friendship.

Here Tafuri gives her take on the publishing industry from a children’s writer’s point of view.

What is it like to work with such a large and well-respected book publisher?
Scholastic is a large firm, but actually the imprint I’m under is Scholastic Press, which is the trade book division. It consists of my editor Lauren Thompson, art director David Saylor, and editorial director Liz Zabla. So basically, my relationships are within this small framework of the company, and they make me feel very comfortable.

How do you usually come up with a book idea?
Actually, every book seems to germinate in a different way. Will You Be My Friend? and Where Did Bunny Go? started from not being able to find a simply told story with good-sized type in a picture book format for my daughter to learn to read in a relaxed and comfortable manner. Bunny and Bird both started out living in our very own apple tree in our back orchard. Their friendship started through shyness and ended with a song of acceptance and love.

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