Teeny Tiny Toady (+ interview with the author!)

B is almost 3 years old. *Pinch* WHAT?!

Now, she examines books. She looks deeply at the illustrations and turns the page when she’s ready. She sits still for long periods of time. That’s a story time game changer in this house!

Last night she was desperate to read a superhero book– so a superhero book we picked.


In Teeny Tiny Toady, you’ll be led through rhyme to the time when Teeny became a hero. Teeny, a little teeny toad (and sister of seven brawny dudes,) witnessed a toad-napping. Her own Mother, captured and put inside a bucket. *GASP* Imagine…

“Hopping faster than she ever
in her tiny life had hopped,
hurry-scurry, wild with worry,
Teeny flopped
and plopped
and slopped,
dodging spiderwebs and mushrooms,
leaping bugs and sluggy mothers,
till she skidded through the door– at last!– to gasp…
I need you, brothers!”

Don’t you feel like you’re there?! Poor Teeny.

She wishes she could be strong like her brothers so she could help save their Mama. After several attempts to free her, the brothers accidentally ploop into the bucket (whoops!) and Teeny is forced to find her strength (hint: she’s a smart little chick) to save the day.

You won’t regret getting this one for your bookshelf. Esbaum’s story + Yamaguchi’s illlustrations = fireworks!

Read on to the very first interview on the blog with my very own Mom, Jill Esbaum. 🙂

What (or who) was the inspiration for Teeny?

Jill: Hmmm. I guess it would have to be the toads and frogs I used to capture while on family camping trips. I’ve always liked the tiniest ones. Thinking about those camping trips must have jogged something loose…maybe regret at the thought that I might possibly have forgotten to release them a time or two? How, I wondered, did the poor toads feel about being stuck in a bucket? 😦

I know there is often a lot of writing (and then re-writing!) that happens before a story is “complete.” How long did it take for Teeny and her family to come to life?

I started the story in early 2011, and Teeny and her dopey brothers sprang to life pretty quickly. By June, it was finished, so I sent it to my agent. A few rejections followed, one that took nearly A YEAR. I kept tweaking, smoothing lines, honing details, adding humor. The lines that never changed at all were the opening ones. I felt like those sort of dropped from the sky, honestly. In February of 2014, the story sold to Sterling. I did a few small revisions and, two years later, it was a book.

Did your visions for the story match up with the world the illustrator created?

Illustrator Keika Yamaguchi created a toady world that was better than anything I could have imagined! I was bowled over by her work. You feel like you’re right there in a lush toady paradise with Teeny and her brothers as they try to get their Mama out of the bucket. Who knew toads could be so roly-poly and adorable?

Which do you prefer? Toads or frogs?

Toads. They aren’t quite so quick to hop away, so they’re easier to catch. Plus, they’re dry, so they aren’t as slippery.

Blech. Next: what is your workspace like?

Neat and tidy, for a change. But that’s because I just went through every. single. paper. that’s been piling up all winter/spring, waiting to be filed or dealt with. Yay! I can see the top of my desk again!

You have several (how many?) published books. Which one was the easiest to write? The hardest?

I recently sold number 40, counting both picture books and the nonfiction books I do for National Geographic. The easiest book to write was I HATCHED! That’s because I dreamed it — in a little birdie voice that rhymed. When I woke up, I ran to my office and started jotting the lines I could remember. There were only TWO, but I remembered the gist of the whole thing, so that was a really fun (and quick) one to piece back together. The hardest … ? Probably I AM COW, HEAR ME MOO because it took me 10 years to find the right story for the main character, Nadine the cow. I wrote two totally different stories starring Nadine during that time, but they just didn’t feel right. So I’d put her story away for a few months or a couple of years before feeling myself pulled back in to try again.

Describe your perfect productive writing day.

A perfect writing day is rare. Like, sometimes-not-for-months rare. It happens when a) there’s nothing on my calendar, b) nobody waiting for anything from me, business-wise, c) my house is clean, and d) I have a manuscript I’m itching to work on. And if it’s raining, that’s even better, because there’s nothing I “should” be doing outdoors. 🙂 Most writing days are filled with other obligations, which is one reason I love writing picture books. I can think about them anytime, jotting notes into a little notebook no matter where I am, then working on them at home for half an hour here, two hours there.

Last one! How does it feel writing picture books that your grandchildren want to read?

Strange, like worlds colliding. But delightful, too. For so many years, my kids were no longer interested in picture books, and I didn’t have grandkiddos. So now, when one wanted to read HOW TO GROW A DINOSAUR every bedtime for weeks and the other wanted FRANKENBUNNY or TEENY TINY TOADY? Pretty cool. And surreal. Makes me want to write more books for them, while they’re still little.

Thanks, Mom, for everything.

Be sure to say hello in the comments! You can find more from Jill here:

http://jillesbaum.com/ or http://picturebookbuilders.com/

Teeny Tiny Toady (2016)
Jill Esbaum (Illus. Keika Yamaguchi)
Sterling Children’s Books

14 thoughts on “Teeny Tiny Toady (+ interview with the author!)

  1. Cathy Ballou Mealey May 11, 2018 / 8:44 am

    I am SO glad you kicked off an author interview feature with such a delightful, personal pick! Section E of my personal library doth overflow – joyously – with oft-read picture books marked ESBAUM on the spine!
    Happy Mother’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kerri May 11, 2018 / 10:56 am

      Aw, thank you! She was an easy one to start with… the trouble was coming up with a few questions that I haven’t seen her answer before!

      You’ve just inspired me to alphabetize my own library… without Miss “Curious Hands” B knowing. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol Roe May 11, 2018 / 9:52 am

    Great interview Kerri. Love your Mom’s books and your Mom!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kerri May 11, 2018 / 10:57 am

      Thank you, Carol! You’re so kind! 🙂


  3. Colleen Paeff May 11, 2018 / 12:08 pm

    What a great interview. I’m a big fan of your mom as an author and as a person! 🙂 She’s definitely one of my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kerri May 11, 2018 / 2:51 pm

      ❤️ That’s so kind of you to say! She’s pretty darn great. 😊


  4. Micah May 12, 2018 / 8:31 am

    Awesome share! Looks like a great book for my toddler!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kerri May 12, 2018 / 8:33 am

      It definitely is! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!


  5. Shutta May 13, 2018 / 10:10 am

    Love this! And my writing time is the same. . . if I’ve absolutely no closets to clean, I’ll write. (Or so it seems…) Hugs to you and your mom!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Shutta May 14, 2018 / 9:39 am


        If you need another interview down the road–let me know! A number of my books are for the very young. Hang in there! Hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kerri May 14, 2018 / 1:13 pm

        Thanks! I’ll keep that in mind! 🙂


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