Interview with Janina Rossiter {children’s book author}

Tovi The Penguin

A while back Janina contacted me and introduced me to TOVI. Tovi is a penguin and the star of a {beginning} series of children’s books.I was very impressed when I heard how Janina started and thought it would be a good moment to do a little interview. Where did the journey start and why is it Tovi and and and… have a look here:

1. Please tell us a little about yourself {where you live, with whom etc}/ intro

My name is Janina Rossiter, I’m a graphic designer/illustrator who lives just outside of Paris with my British husband and my young daughter. I’m originally from Hamburg, Germany, where I lived most of my life but have also spent time living in Louisiana and in London. I met my husband in London but rather than settling down there, we decided to give each of us a fresh start and picked a new destination somewhere in between. That was Paris.


2. What inspired you to write your first book?

An image I drew for my husband’s cousin’s wife, which was of a Penguin riding a Buffalo. I had previously illustrated a few penguins for a job I was working on and she saw them and told me she’d always wanted an illustration of a Penguin riding a Buffalo. So I said I’d do it. Once it was finished I thought it was a shame it was just one image, as it had so much to say. I already had a whole story swirling in my head now, so I just started illustrating a whole story and that’s how the first Tovi book came alive. I haven’t published that original story yet since I didn’t see it as the best one for opening the Tovi series with, but I’ll certainly get it out one day!


3. Do you see writing as a career?

I’m a creative person. I love to create stories and illustrations and if I can live from that one day, I would love to have it as a career. But I have to say that I am also very pleased with my current career as a packaging designer, as I love my job.


4. Who illustrated the books?

I have done all the illustrations myself and also write the stories for each of my books.


5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part is to be your own critic and not settle with the story and illustrations once you’ve theoretically finished. From the point where all the illustrations and story are completed, I will probably end up re-editing it another 10 times before the final version is ready. But I do get a little impatient sometimes… So I guess that in the end the hardest part about writing a book is having the patience to make it even better than that first attempt!


6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I certainly learnt that all the hard work it worth it in the end, when I see the finished book! Also, having children laughing and smiling at the story you wrote certainly makes it worthwhile!


7. Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I have a full-time job and a baby daughter, so it is sometimes hard to find the time. I tend to illustrate in the evenings, on the weekends or whenever I can find the time. Although last summer I took 2 months of from work just to write and continue the stories.


8. Where do the your ideas come from?

My ideas tend to come about from different situations or experiences. For the Christmas book, for example, the general idea came from the way we celebrated Christmas at home the year before and I put a lot of that into the story. The London book I wanted to do, because my husband is British and it’ll be a great way to explain to my daughter where her roots are from. So yes every book has a different inspiration that comes from somewhere in my life or experiences I’ve had, but sometimes it can also just be a creative idea that popped up in my head that I think would make a good story.


9. What is your favourite kids book {apart from your own}

I adore Emily Gravett and I love all her books, although her book “Cedric the Dragon” is definitely our favourite one! But the book I know by heart and that we tend to read to my daughter most nights is “Henriette Bimmelbahn” by James Krüss and Lisl Stich.


10. And for grown ups?

I like a lot of different books. Ones I particularly enjoyed recently were “My little Paris – the best kept Parisian secrets” and also “Warum französische Kinder keine Nervensägen sind” (Why French children don’t throw food) by Pamela Druckerman. I’m currently reading “Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer” by Vicki Lesage which is highly entertaining and very funny. All three of them are about Paris, so I can certainly relate to them.



. : : Tovi website & shop : : .




The very best kids books

very best kids books

For the final day of this month book series I looked through all posts and picked the books that got most entries! Like the best of the best…
You probably have at least one of those in your house :)

I hope you enjoyed this series, I definitely put some books on my list and a big thank you to everyone who participated and everyone who came over to discover new and old favourites!

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
THE all-time classic picture book, from generation to generation, sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds! Have you shared it with a child or grandchild in your life?

2. I Want My Hat Back
A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2011!
A picture-book delight by a rising talent tells a cumulative tale with a mischievous twist.

3.  An awesome book
Based on the simple concept of dreaming big, An Awesome Book! is the inspiring debut work of Los Angeles writer/artist Dallas Clayton. Written in the vein of classic imaginative tales, it is a sure hit for all generations, young and old.

4. Oliver Jeffers
Jeffers’s picture books are wonderfully accessible. They explore themes of friendship, loneliness, independence and imagination. He has written and illustrated, or “made”, as he prefers to put it, five hugely successful picture books. The first three – the “boy books” – feature a small boy who sets off on a series of daunting quests. How to Catch a Star (2004), the first of them, was inspired by a Brer Rabbit story he read as a child. In Lost and Found (2005) the boy heroically rows to the south pole for the sake of an unhappy penguin, and in The Way Back Home (2007) he rescues a young Martian whose spaceship has crashed on the moon.

5. Dr. Seuss
“A person’s a person, no matter how small,” Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, would say. “Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted.”

Brilliant, playful, and always respectful of children, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped millions of kids learn to read.


Best books for kids – by Peggy Juche

best kids books

Today it is my turn to share our favourite books.
You probably know that this is my universe here and that I am currently living in Sweden. We are a French/ German family so the books we own are a wild mix of both worlds plus some English.
The kids are 20 months, 4 years and nearly 7 right now!

1. We all love Le Soldat Rose. And is not only a book. It is a play, a CD and a story. We own all :)
We watch the play on DVD, we hear the songs and storylines in the car and read the book in the evening. The songs are great and liked by small and big people.
A little boy called Joseph, not very happy in the grown up world, lets himself lock up in a big department store because he wants to live with the toys. A story and many great songs about him and and his new friends.
Le Soldat Rose II came out not long ago and is as good as the first edition! In French!

2. We have many many books from Oliver Jeffers and all are very much loved. This was the first of the collection and the story still gives me watery eyes every time we read it. Lost and Found – a very beautiful film was made after the book as well! Must see and read as all other OJ books.

3. I grew up with The Little Mole and all my kids love it as well. A very charming and always helpful character that teaches you a lot about friendship!

4. I got this book because I was looking for something to learn German. A good mix and learn and play and a friend told me about tiptoi! Audio books in various themes that work with a pen. Every page has different “things to do”. You can discover and learn, you can play games, listen to little stories, hear songs and much more. Basically everything you see you can touch with the pen and it will tell you what you see and then directs you to the next steps. Or you decide play and follow the instructions. Many possibilities and lots to discover!

5. A beautiful book that touches your heart! A little rabbit cannot go to daycare because it is snowing so much. He is excited and wants to play but on the other side his dad cannot come home from his business trip because of the snow. Great illustrations, a real life story and same as with Oliver Jeffers, this is just one book of many we have from Komako Sakai.
{exists in French and English too}


Best books for kids – by Claire Pugh

best kids books

Long time ago Claire, a reader of my blog then, sent me the sweetest e mail. Just like that. From the heart and very touching. By now we are exchanging e mails when time allows and I dread to meet and hug her one day.
Claire is the lady behind Cloud Cuckoo Design and a mum of three.
She lives in the UK with her husband and Maude 6, Coco 4 and Arlo 20 months.

Lets see the books they chose:

1. The Worst Princess.
Love Princess Sue or as my reading buddy insists Princess Coco.
Fab story about a princess with a feisty twist, puts the prince in his place and teams up with a dragon …. fabulous for any mighty girl!

2. I Want My Hat Back.
Beautiful illustrations, very few words and incredibly funny with the surprising twist and disappearance!

3. Pippi Longstocking.
The first ‘big’ non picture book Maude read and what is not to love about character Pippi Longstocking.

4. Wow said The Owl
You get to say “Wow” pretty much every time you turn the page and to add the illustrations are fun and colourful. A book about colour enjoyed by all three.

5. Paper Dolls.
Beautiful illustrations, lovely catchy words….
“Ticky and Tacky
and Jackie the Backie
and Jim with two noses
and Jo with the bow.
As well as loving this little girls imagination and the paper dolls adventures this book inspires you to makes your own paper dolls (which we do as often as read this delightful book)


Best books for kids – by Sandra

best kids books
Sandra launched new kids clothes brand Cherry Papaya not long ago and together with daughter Sophia she is sharing their 5 favourite books today:

1. The game of mix and match– Hervé Tullet

We love all of Hervé Tullet books, but this was one of the first books Sophia received, first I started making the combinations and now she does them herself.

2. My red balloon– Kazuaki Yamada

This was one of the first books Sophia read herself….she memorized all the sentences, as they are small and simple, and pretended she was reading the book.
I’m a complete fan of the illustrations.

3. The very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

Again we love the illustrations, and is a good book to read when they start counting.

4. You are all my favorites Sam Mcbratney

I’m expecting a baby, Sophia is very happy with this new situation. I’m not sure how she will react when the baby is born but I like to read this book now.

5- Cantar juntos
I have to talk about this Portuguese book for the whole family to sing together. We are all addicted to the songs now sweet and poignant. The illustrations are from Planeta Tangerina, we love them!!

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