Monday, September 14, 2009

Michigander Monday: Aaron Zenz

This week's Michigander Monday is Aaron Zenz, here as part of the Hiccupotamus blog tour! Read on for a great Q&A session, with a book giveaway at the end.

Debbie: Welcome! Tell us a little about yourself.

Aaron: So far my life has been spent hopping around this great state. I spent my entire childhood in Jackson Michigan, went to college in Hillsdale Michigan, and have since been living and working in West Michigan.
My wife and I have five kids at last count. I've been working as a freelance illustrator from home for the last several years, and my wife homeschools the young'uns... So we're ALL home, ALL the time. Makes for a fun noisy house! My kids and I chatter about our favorite books on our blog "Bookie Woogie" -- there we have fun reading and drawing together, and we've become friends with all sorts of neat cyber-people.

Most of my working life has been spent making stuff for kids -- picture books, educational computer games, baby toys, stickers, card games, coloring books, and I teach art classes. But I've also pulled stints as varied as designing safety training manuals providing graphic recording services for a hospital mowing neighborhood lawns. I like it when my little ones can eat.

Debbie: Aaron, please tell us about your latest book.

Aaron: I've got two books hitting shelves in September '09. One is The Hiccupotamus which I both wrote and illustrated. As one might guess, it's about a hippo with hiccups. But you see, this hippo falls on his bottom when he's got'em. And being a rather large creature, his malady causes some major trouble for any critters unfortunate enough to be standing nearby. The book is bright and colorful and loaded with crazy nonsense words.

And about as different from that as can be, the other book out this month is called Nugget on the Flightdeck and is a realistic look at life aboard an aircraft carrier. We follow a new recruit on his tour of the carrier, ride along as he's launched into the air, and join in on his practice dogfight. The story is written by Patricia Newman, and it's full of facts and fun jargon.

Debbie: Other books, and projects on the horizon?

Aaron: Lots of stories in development... any takers? Hello, hello?

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Aaron: With the new school year underway, I've got Author Visits starting to line up, which I LOVE. I knew when I started making books that the potential for School Visits existed. But I never anticipated how MUCH I would love them. They are as (or more!) fun as making the books themselves. We write poems, draw pictures, meet a puppet friend. They're a blast! Any takers? Hello, hello?

Debbie: (Takers, visit Aaron's site for contact info!) Aaron, your favorite place in Michigan?

Aaron: I love the West Michigan shoreline. Wonderful dunes and beaches. We live 5 minutes from Lake Michigan and are spoiled by it. I also have a great fondness for the U.P. Growing up, we often vacationed up north... wonderful memories of multiple visits to Pictured Rocks, Tahquamenon Falls, Muskallonge Lake, Fort Michilimackinac...

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Aaron: I love Indian Summers in Michigan. Can you still say that? Is that PC? Indian Summer? "Native American" Summer? "That-last-warm-fling-after-autumn-starts-getting-cold" Summer? Sitting in an apple tree at the time makes it even better.

Debbie: Whatever you call it, it's a beautiful time of year! A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Aaron: Winsor McCay was a Michigan native. He was one of the greatest American cartoonists (Little Nemo in Slumberland) and the pioneer of animated film (Gertie the Dinosaur). He grew up in Spring Lake Mi, and I've trekked over there many times in the last few years to help re-introduce folks to their most famous forgotten native son. (

Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Aaron: When I was a kid, I saw a lady selling goose-shaped Michi-Gander crafts at an art show and have loved the term ever since. So I guess this Michigander and his Michigoslings make up a happy little Michigaggle.

Michigaggle! Oooo... I feel another children's book coming on... Any takers? Hello, hello?

Debbie: I for one would love to see a Michigaggle children's book! Terrific idea. Aaron, thank you for being here today.

And now, blog readers, the details on that giveaway!

Aaron has mostly kindly offered to send, to one lucky reader of this blog, two copies of The Hiccupotamus (one for the winner and one for a friend). [For shipping purposes, the giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only.]
  • How can you enter the giveaway? It's as easy as a blog comment! One week from today, I'll pick, from a hat, one of the names of the folks who comment on this blog post.
  • Want to increase your odds? Since it's up to me how I choose the winner... In celebration of the cool A-to-Z aspect of Aaron Zenz's name, if your blog post comment begins with an A and ends with a word containing a Z, I'll put your name in the hat twice.
  • Want to really increase your odds? If your comment is twenty-six A-to-Z words long, in alphabetic order, I'll put your name in the hat five times. So have fun, and maybe you will be the lucky winner!
Thanks again, Aaron, for stopping by Jumping the Candlestick on your blog tour. And congratulations on Hiccupotamus, Nugget on the Flight Deck, and all the other great books of yours that are available!


Infant Bibliophile said...

Thank you for the entry; would love to read this.

Infant Bibliophile said...

Oops, should have read all the ways to enter BEFORE I posted a comment. Oh well :)

A Davis said...

Allison is my first name and my last used to be Zerbe. :)

Boysnberries' Brambles said...

All Boysnberries concur deeply, effervescently, freely, greatly, heartily, imaginatively, joyfully, kindly, lovingly, mysteriously, nearly, overwhelmingly, particularly, quickly, readily, & swiftly, that underwater vegetables will xray yodeling Zenzes.

MJ said...

All babies could daily, easily, faithfully, gladly, happily, innocently, joyously, kindly, loudly, merrily, noisily, obnoxiously, playfully, quickly, repeatedly, shrilly, truthfully, unexpectedly, verify walruses x-ray yellow zucchini.

I teach kindergarten. We would love this!


Hull.Margaret said...

A great intervies. I would love to have Aaron come to our library to give a program for me. I do children's programs once a month. Would you please fly down here for free and give a program for me.
I know not one of the kids would be tempted to do any zzzzzzzzzzz.

Kim said...

All I want is a great book with pizzazz!

Kristi Valiant said...

A super fun book by Aaron Zenz!

Heidi Noel said...

A book choice destined evermore for good homes. Imagination just keeps looking more neat. Only please quickly return stories to us. Very well. Xamine your Zenz. ;)

Meg Kuta said...

A few years ago, when I first contacted Aaron to tell him how much I loved The Hiccupotamus, I was afraid to tell him where I lived, since "Michiganders" often dislike their neighbors to the South! Thankfully, Aaron is not caught up in such things and welcomes all Hic fans, even those from Ohio! Thank you Mr. Zenz!

Boni Ashburn said...

A fondness for the UP! I knew there was a reason I liked Aaron Zenz.


dag888888 said...

Author blogs can declare everything fun given how important joint kinship leaps momentarily nevertheless often particularly quite rarely since time understands voracious wacky xylophonists yearn zaniness.


Brooke said...

All books can dream... eventually finding great homes... including jumping kids... local Michigaggles... now often picked... quickly read... stories that utter volumes with xenophiles... Yo' Zenz....

weeshenanigans (at) gmail (dot) com

Swati said...

Aha! Bet you thought you were going to read something fun from A to Z! Such intellectual pursuits are not for me, alas. And it would be rather tame to end this on Zenz, no matter how easy that is... So, what should a body do? Zoom, zap, zip - thats what! Just zoom, zap and zip.

Pam said...

A better contest doesn't exist, for good hippo insights just kick lotsa my nights onto purely quirky riotous sublimeness! To understand very witty xtraordinary yarns zealously!

Thanks so much! pamelashockley(AT)netscape(DOT)net

mitt said...

What a great blog post about a Michigan children's book author.