With Children’s Author & Poet Renée M. LaTulippe
Friday, January 5, 2018
The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all.
My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD, offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent, or editor will share their “top of the head” answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.
Feel free to play along—maybe your answers off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!
Rhyming picture books are the hardest picture books to write well. Why? Today’s contestant, Renée M. LaTulippe, can explain (but not today). Find out how at the end of her game and also how to win one of her Rhyme and Meter self-study courses. Her poems and stories can be found in children’s books like these:
Below is Renée’s category list from A-Z and her answers off the top of her head.
BODY OF WATER: Mediterranean Sea
DESERT: Antarctic polar desert (see letter A)
EVERY CHILD: deserves a childhood
FUNNY WORD: pique (fit of)
INSECT: dung beetle
JAMMING SONG: Current: “Katchi” (Ofenbach); old fave: “Uptown Funk”; really old fave: 80s pop!
KNOW HOW TO: build a trestle table using only a jigsaw and a sander
LOOK OUT A WINDOW, WHAT DO YOU SEE?: sailboats
NUMBER (FAVORITE & WHY): 28 – Best age to be because you’re still young enough to experience the excitement of your future opening up before you, but not so young that you’re a complete idiot.
ONOMATOPOEIA WORD: kerfuffle
PLACE: on a lounge chair under an umbrella on the beach with a book
QUICK, A ‘Q’ WORD: quirky
RHYMES WITH BUBBLE: stubble
SYNONYM FOR GREAT: marvelous
TRIANGULAR THINGS: piece of cake, bowling pins waiting for a strike, an effective theatrical stage picture
UNUSUAL COMBINATION: white bread and Pepsi
WISH: a happy life for my babies and years enough to see it
X WORD: Xanadu
YELLOW (SOMETHING): tassels on my baby girl’s best dress
ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE: skydive and/or have a baby at 50 (either way, it was a jump)
ME: Welcome Renée! Skydiving and having a baby at age 50 are definitely adventurous. In my opinion, skydiving is zany. Having a baby at 50 is exhilarating. Now you have three marvelous children to infuse your love of arts in! They are lucky children to have a brilliant art-supporting mom. 😊 Is your hobby theater, and if so, what kind of involvement in it do you have?
RL: I pursued a life in theater for over 20 years as actress, director, and teacher in NYC, and indeed my undergrad degree is in theater. I left my love of theater behind when I moved to Italy, and it was ten years before I found a new way to enjoy my old passion here. Luckily in 2012 I finally made contact with a local amateur theater company, and have been getting my theater fix through them as both actress and director (which I prefer). And for the last four years I’ve taught an adult improv/acting class for a small group of very tolerant students, and have directed them in some off-the-wall shows for kids. I’m currently rehearsing a stage adaptation of one of my own published stories to take to the schools as a “show in English” — though it’s really in Italian with short injections of English words and now that you made me think of this, I’m having palpitations about how I’m going to memorize 50 minutes worth of stage time in Italian! ACK!!!
Here’s me recently hamming it up in a show with my students.
ME: For your desert answer, you wrote Antarctic Polar Desert. That is a polar opposite of the place you named, on a lounge chair under an umbrella on the beach with a book. If you had to choose between a two day trip to the Antarctic Polar Desert in their summer month and a week long vacation lounging on a beach with a book, which would it be?
RL: The Antarctic Polar Desert, of course! I live on the sea, so it’s always a beach vacation for me. But even if I didn’t, how could I pass up an opportunity to commune with penguins in an alien landscape? It would be the adventure of a lifetime!
ME: I like how you think. Are the sailboats that you see when you look out a window in the Mediterranean Sea? (I think I may be envious of your answer to this.)
RL: Yes. This is my outside office. I work here morning to evening all summer and well into autumn. (I’m sorry, Traci!)
ME: Haha! No worries. Maybe someday my husband and I can cross visiting your neck of the world off our bucket list. 😊 Have you consumed white bread and Pepsi at the same time? Or do you have a recipe that combines them together?
RL: Indeed I have consumed them together. Slices of white bread dipped in Pepsi was a go-to snack in our house when I was growing up, usually saved for when we had already polished off the cake, cookies, or brownies my mom had baked. Apparently this combo was an invention of my mother’s, kind of like Laverne’s Pepsi and milk concoction. It’s pretty good! Basically, it’s soggy bread that fizzes in your mouth. 😀
ME: As a kid, I tried Laverne DeFazio’s milk and Pepsi once (Pepsi has always been my mother’s beverage of choice), I wasn’t a fan of it. Possibly your unique combination is an acquired taste.
You know how to build a trestle table with only a jigsaw and sander. This is a marvelous talent to have. How many have you built? Do you sell them?
RL: Do I sell them? HAHAHA! No. I am like a pre-amateur with only basic tools and basic knowledge at my disposal, and angles and I do not get along, so everything I make is slightly wonky, AND it takes me a gazillion hours to do the simplest thing. So I have made just two tables for the kitchen and terrace, plus storage banquettes and a bunch of trellises. Here are some WIP pics.
ME: Those are gorgeous Renée! You are talented in many ways and can pass those talents down to your children. Does your family share your taste in music genres with you?
RL: For the jamming songs, yes. But there’s a lot of pop in this house, and sometimes I’m a little bit rock and roll (Donny and Marie reference for all you young whippersnappers out there) 😊, and sometimes a LOT musical theater. I enjoy a good head-banger or torch song now and again, but I wait until I’m alone for both. 😀
ME: Excellent variety of music! Using at least one of your category answers, would you please write a quirky poem for us off the top of your head?
We Are the Penguins
Waddle, waddle, slip, slide.
Cross the iceberg, side by side.
Shuffle, shuffle, trip, glide.
That’s what penguins do!
Wear a suit of black and white.
Catch a fish and take a bite.
Huddle close on snowy nights.
Come be a penguin too!
© Renée M. LaTulippe
ME: Your talent for poetry is impeccable. Do you have any new books coming out soon and/or projects that you would like to tell us about?
RL: Yes! I’m excited to be making my debut in a Lee Bennett Hopkins anthology, SCHOOL PEOPLE, in which my poem “Theater Teacher” will appear in 2018-ish. I also have poems coming out in another LBH anthology and National Geographic’s STORY OF US (ed. J. Patrick Lewis). On the home front, I’m always plugging away at poetry collections and prose picture books.
ME: This is exciting news!!! Happy you shared it with us. 😊
Now about the teaser in the introduction:
Readers, if you write poetry and rhyme, Renée offers Rhyme and Meter Clinics, courses, and lessons through her website at http://www.reneelatulippe.com/.
Renée is giving away one free Rhyme and Meter Self-study Course to one lucky reader who comments on this ABC Game edition. To be eligible to win, comment in the LEAVE A REPLY box before midnight, January 26, 2018. The winner will be randomly chosen from all persons who left a comment.
Check out her children’s poetry blog at No Water River.
And you can follow her on social media at:
Twitter: Renee LaTulippe
Facebook: Renee LaTulippe
Thank you, Renée, for being a contestant today! You are kicking off the New Year for us with this first ABC Game edition of 2018.
Readers, thank you for stopping by today! Have a marvelous weekend!