New Bern, NC – INTRO - Public Radio East commentator Joan Carris has just released her 14th children's book Welcome to the Bed & Biscuit. It's a fantasy set around a farm-full of talking animals as usual, the humans just aren't listening and what happens when a new animal comes in and upsets the mix. George Olsen spoke with the author and his this.
In a book where pigs do chores and mynah birds work a reservation desk, you wouldn't necessarily think they were abiding by any set rules yet they are.
06:29 I have distinct rules. Owl was an owl in Winnie the Pooh the owl did owl things. He lived in a tree, he was supposedly wise, he was true to his, rather mythical or not, character, as a bird. So when I work with animals in fantasy such as in this book, the pig had to be true to the character of a pig.
Joan Carris discussing Ernest the pig, one of the three lead characters in her latest book Welcome to the Bed & Biscuit. In the book Ernest along with Gabby the Mynah Bird and Milly the Cat help Grandpa Bender operate the Bed & Biscuit animal boardinghouse. And in keeping with those rules, Ernest the pig likes showers because, despite popular belief, pigs like to be clean, and Gabby the Mynah Bird is an excellent mimic. And in also keeping with the rules, chickens are devious.
08:43-10:22 Reads from page 84 Ernest decided to ask the Chickens drove him crazy.
14:39 I've lived with chickens every summer when I was growing up. We went down to Kentucky to my Dad's old stomping grounds when he was a boy and we stayed with his brother, my Uncle Lee, on a small farm. Aunt Helen and Uncle Lee always had chickens. They always wanted me to get the eggs when I was there. The chickens pecked the bejesus out of my hand, and they were stupid. So I am not a fan of chickens. They make me crazy too just like Ernest.
The lead characters in Bed & Biscuit often make each other crazy as well Milly the Cat becomes jealous of a new addition to their household, a Scotty pup that Grandpa Bender the vet who runs the Bed & Biscuit helped resuscitate after it got caught in a fire, and Ernest the Pig & Gabby the Mynah Bird get exasperated with each other over Gabby's habit of doing what Mynah's so often do mimicry. In this scene Gabby has just hopped on Ernest's back and issues him an order.
00:08-02:01 Reads from page 28 Take me to the office poor senior citizen bird!
Welcome to the Bed & Biscuit is devoid of something typically seen in most of Joan Carris' prior children's books, and perhaps children's books in general there are no children in this book. But in the interaction among Gabby, Ernest and Milly, there is no need for children because they fill that role.
05:45 The cat, who is basically an old kitten, and the pig who is three years old and the mynah bird who is in her late teens, they were my children. They were Grandpa Bender's children in this book, and they argue like children, they fight like children, they throw insults at each other, just like children, and they get along and they band together, the way children in a family will.
She refers to the habitants of the Bed & Biscuit as a blended family and if successfully becoming a blended family isn't the moral of this story, it is a theme will Milly come to accept the presence of a fourth member to the entourage?
16:47-17:30 Reads from page 69 Ernest went over to see how it works.
But whether it's a theme or a moral or what have you, Joan doesn't even necessarily feel a good children's book needs to deliver a moral it just needs to deliver to children a reason to come back.
18:21 I think it needs really riveting characters. People remember the character Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, realize that that was a series of disconnected stories about Ramona and her sister Beasus and they were hilarious and kids loved them and they did not need a heavy plot. Kids like a good plot. Heck, everybody likes a good story, and I think I have a story in this book, but I honestly think the story is second in a reader appeal to the characters. I'm writing a book that I hope will be good enough that a child will read it, put it down and say I want to read another book. That's my goal as a writer is to try and convince them to be readers.
Welcome to the Bed & Biscuit is written by Beaufort resident Joan Carris with illustrations by Noah Z. Jones and is published by Candlewick Press. It's geared toward ages 6-thru-10. I'm George Olsen.