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Doreen Cronin majored in journalism in college and after graduation spent years in publishing before deciding to go to law school. She practiced law in New York before turning to writing children's books full time. Her best-selling, award-winning books include "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type" (a Caldecott Honor Book), "Duck for President," "Diary of a Worm" and the latest with illustrator Betsy Lewin, "Click, Clack, Surprise!” (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy). She lives in New York.

Previous National Book Festival Appearances

The Scoop

From the 2008 National Book Festival

What sparked your imagination for your newest book - Thump, Quack, Moo: A Wacky Adventure?

I stumbled around with a few ideas before my friend, Holly, gave me the idea of a corn maze. After that, putting a corn maze in the hands of Farmer Brown and Duck pretty much writes itself.

You have worked with Betsy Lewin on several of your books. Can you tell us how you go about collaborating with an illustrator?

It’s less of a collaboration than a back-and-forth. Betsy gets my manuscript, sketches away and then it comes back to me. Then we do it again. And again. Betsy has literally brought these characters to life. The humor and richness she brings to the books is something close to magic.

What challenges do you face in your writing process? How do you overcome them?

Writer's block. Truckloads of it! I overcome it by brainstorming, grasping at straws, sighing and then rewriting.

What tips or advice can you share with young students who hope to start writing? Can you suggest a fun writing topic to get them started?

Read, read, read. Oh, and then read more. When you do sit down to write, leave your self-critic outside. Don't worry about spelling, grammar or structure just yet. Appreciate a first draft for what it is -- just an idea trying to make the long trip from your brain to the page. It doesn't always arrive in shiny and new in one piece. It will take some bumps along the way! A great exercise is to write something really simple from someone else's perspective. Write about your breakfast from the point of view of the spoon.

How do you decide on themes for your books?

I never really think out a theme in advance. I just write.

What is your list of favorite children or teen books?

Anything by Sharon Creech. Anything by Kate DiCamillo. Right now I spend most of our reading time at home with a Frog and Toad book in my hand. Just can't go wrong with Frog and Toad.

If you were not writing books, what do you think you would be doing?

Practicing law.

What is your advice to parents for passing the joys of reading on to their children?

In addition to reading to your kids, make sure they see you reading for pleasure as well. If as adults we spend all our spare time in front of the television or on the computer, reading is eventually going to be a tough sell to our kids.

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