Thank you for having me! I love your questions. They were a lot of fun to answer. I’m excited to have an opportunity to share a bit about myself and my books.
I love the prehistoric setting of your book. What was it about this time period and these characters that attracted you?
One day, I spotted an adorable clipart image of a cavegirl and a caveboy. That image got me thinking about how fun it would be to write a story with cavekids as the main characters. I’m glad I chose them, especially once I decided to write a story with a Gift of the Magi twist. Using the prehistoric setting for this theme seemed like a great idea since cavekids had no money, and they really wouldn’t have had many possessions. I’m sure cavekids had a few items they treasured, so thinking along these lines helped me to craft the story.
Roland Garrigue, the illustrator, shared with me that he loved the idea of kids having a Mammoth and a Cave Bear as pets. His art work is so detailed and charming. I adore the caves, the animals, and the cavekids that he drew. Cave art intrigues me and I enjoyed researching and learning about places such as the Cave of Lascaux in France. It’s been educational for me to work on this book because I have been imagining what life would have been like a long, long time ago. And, in my libraries, it’s been fun talking to students about prehistoric life as well.
Which would you collect—rocks or tools—and why?
I would definitely collect tools. I enjoy painting, just like Cavegirl! And even though I’m not much of a gardener, I do think I’m pretty handy whenever my husband and I take on home projects. I have a makerspace in my library and I enjoy making things. My husband, on the other hand, is a rock collector. He studied Geology in college and he is always picking up rocks and bringing them home.
What were a few of your favorite books when you were a child? Do you have a special memory related to any of the books you liked?
I loved Ramona Quimby. I read all the Ramona books, and the rest of Beverly Cleary’s books, too. For picture books, I read and reread the Frances books by Russell Hoban. I also loved Madeline and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Did you always like to write? What inspired you to write picture books?
I have always enjoyed writing. When I was in elementary school, I liked to draw and write, and my teachers always complimented me and encouraged me to keep at it. I was drawn to the magic of picture books when I was in graduate school studying to become an Elementary School Counselor. At the campus library, there was a room for Education majors filled with picture books. It was wonderful. I would get caught up in the stories (ones that I remembered from my childhood and new ones that I wanted to use in the classroom). I started thinking about how fun it would be to write my own books someday. But I didn’t actually pursue this idea until several years later. One day, I received a brochure in the mail about a Children’s Book Writing Conference in Chautauqua, New York put on by the Highlights Foundation. I was so intrigued. The conference was absolutely amazing. I left that conference feeling inspired to write picture book stories that would someday be in kids’ hands.
One of the best parts about being an elementary school librarian must be reading books with students. Do you have any memorable anecdote about story time you’d like to share?
Story time is so special. Kids’ reactions are the best and they say the funniest things. Recently I read Tammi Sauer’s book Knock Knock (illustrated by Guy Francis). After the story, kids eagerly began raising their hands and telling their own knock knock jokes. As soon as one student told a joke, the next kid’s hand went up, and on and on it went. Very few of their jokes made any sense, but they were cracking themselves up and it made me smile. You never know what will happen during story time.
Probably my favorite story to read during story time is Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen). Kids are so amazed at how Sam and Dave keep digging around the diamonds. The students start yelling at the characters as the story is being read. It’s fantastic. The page turns in this book work so well. The storytelling is brilliant.
Congratulations on your second picture book—Chip and Curly: The Great Potato Race—which is being released in May! This looks like another fun and original story full of humor. Can you talk a little more about this book and how it came to be?
This book is a story about two potatoes, Chip and Curly, who compete against each other in Spud City’s Annual sack race. Chip has his heart set on winning the Golden Bushel Award, but when Curly shows up with a spring in his step, Chip is worried. He practices and gains admiration from the other taters in town, but he wonders if he will be able to get this win in the bag or if his dreams of winning will be mashed.
I had such a fun time coming up with a list of all of the kinds of potatoes there are, and generating a list of words and phrases associated with potatoes. There is an Annual Potato Festival close to where I live, and I enjoy going to it. That event was really the inspiration for this book. While strolling alongside the craft booths one year, I felt inspired to write a book with potatoes as the characters. After some thought, I knew I wanted the story to address competition. Following several drafts of this story, it occurred to me that a sack race would be the perfect situation for potato characters to be in.
I wanted to have fun with this story and fill it with potato puns to make both adults and kids chuckle. I hope readers will see how enjoyable it can be to play with words and language. The illustrations by Joshua Heinsz are colorful and bright, and readers will want to keep their eyes peeled for the variety of potato characters that appear on the pages. Finally, and probably most importantly, this book touches on the themes of friendship, competition, and the idea that winning isn’t everything. I want readers to think about how good it feels when we practice good sportsmanship. This is a meaningful topic to discuss with children, especially in light of today’s climate. Chip and Curly, the Great Potato Race will release on May 15, 2019 and is published by the incredibly talented team at Sleeping Bear Press.
What are you most looking forward to about being a published author?
I am looking forward to meeting new people—young readers as well as adults: parents, authors, illustrators, bookstore owners, librarians, teachers, and folks in the publishing industry. I can’t wait to make these wonderful connections. I am also looking forward to writing new stories and sharing them with the world.
What’s up next for you?
I have two manuscripts I’m working on right now, and my agent has a couple of my other stories out on submission. I will be traveling a bit this spring and summer to promote my two books. I will be posting the list of events on my website at www.cathybreisacher.com.
Since Celebrate Picture Books is holiday based, I have to ask—what’s your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love being around family and celebrating the true reason for the season. There is always an extra skip in people’s step between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It’s not just a one-day celebration. The festivities last for a month and get-togethers and fun activities bring people together. It’s a time of the year when there is so much joy, love, and hope. Interesting note: the earliest drafts of my cavekid story were called Cavekid Christmas, but after a series of revisions, it became Cavekid Birthday.
Do you have any anecdote from a holiday that you’d like to share?
Many years ago, I had a chance to spend Thanksgiving in New York City and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person instead of watching it on TV. I watch the parade every year, but to see it in person was truly magical.
Thanks, Cathy! I’ve really enjoyed our chat and getting to know you better! I wish you all the best with Cavekid Birthday and, along with all of your readers, can’t wait to meet Chip and Curly!
You can connect with Cathy Breisacher on
Read Across America Day Book Review
About the Holiday
Today’s holiday was established in 1997 by the National Education Association. Celebrated across the country, the day encourages children to discover a love of reading that will follow them throughout their life. Reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures and, begun early, it can be a powerful force for future success. Through reading, kids learn about the world, meet different people, laugh, cry, and are always entertained. To commemorate the day, authors, illustrators, politicians, athletes, librarians, and families hold special reading events in schools, libraries, bookstores, and community centers. Celebrate today by reading with a child or on your own. Visit your local bookstore or library and find some new books to share—or grab some favorites from your own shelf and enjoy them again!
I received a copy of Cavekid Birthday from Charlesbridge to check out. All opinions are y own.
Written by Cathy Breisacher | Illustrated by Roland Garrigue
In two neighboring caves on the very same day, Caveboy and Cavegirl were born. They did everything together and grew to be best friends. “Eventually Caveboy discovered that he loved…rocks!” He showed Cavegirl his collection of shiny, spiny, smooth, and colorful rocks to Cavegirl and even taught her how “to play stone toss.” Cavegirl developed a love of tools—tools that she could dig, build, and paint with. She shared her tools with Caveboy and “taught him how to create masterpieces on cave walls.”
As their birthdays neared, Cavegirl tried making Caveboy a present, but her efforts failed. She decided to go to Caveman’s Collectibles to see what she could find. There, she spied a “‘Box for Caveboy’s rocks!’” Caveman was happy to make a trade. Cavegirl said, “‘Have nothing to trade except…tools!’” It took all ten of Cavegirl’s tools to get the box, but she knew Caveboy would love it.
Meanwhile, Caveboy was making a present for Cavegirl. He had no luck either, so he hurried down to Caveman’s Collectibles. Inside, he spied the perfect gift: “‘Box for Cavegirl’s tools,’” he told Caveman. This box cost twenty rocks—all that Caveboy had—but he knew Cavegirl would love it. When they exchanged gifts, they ripped off the wrapping and…. Without tools or rocks to keep in the boxes, they found other uses for them. They were great for playing hide-and-seek and making carts to race in, but they began to miss their old favorite things.
They went back to Caveman Collectibles and told Caveman their dilemma. “‘Make trade?’ they asked.” For their rocks and tools, Caveboy and Cavegirl gave Caveman a shiny polished and painted store. And Cavegirl and Caveboy? They had best birthday ever!
Cathy Breisacher knows how much kids love to rock their birthdays. In her original story set in a precociously prehistoric time, Breisacher chisels a funny and touching tale about the true meaning of friendship. Cavegirl and Caveboy only pause for a moment before trading their most precious belongings to get a gift for the other. Without things to put inside the boxes, Caveboy and Cavegirl—like kids of all eras—find other creative ways to use them. When they begin to miss their rocks and tools, instead of feeling regret they work together to devise an innovative way to get them back—and make Caveman happy too. Kids will be wrapped up in the suspense and enjoy hearing—and repeating—Breisacher’s cavespeak, and in the end will take the ever-timely lesson to heart.
There are plenty of hairy moments in Cavekid Birthday, and Roland Garrigue takes full advantage to create wild and wooly (mammoth) illustrations to accompany the story. Caveboy and Cavegirl play hide-and-seek among dinosaur bones, race their bear and elephant ancestor pets, and may be the world’s first collector and artist. Hilarious modern-primitive mash-ups—like furry, animal skin wrapping paper—will have kids laughing and pointing out the anachronisms.
Children would love finding Cavekid Birthday among their gifts, and adding the book to home, classroom, and library shelves will ensure a sweet and timeless story time.
Ages 4 – 8
Charlesbridge, 2019 | ISBN 978-1580898768
Discover more about Cathy Breisacher and her books on her website.
To learn more about Roland Garrigue, his books, and his art, visit his website.
Book trailer good! Watch. Fun!
Read Across America Day Activity
Homemade Shaving Cream Wrapping Paper
If you have birthdays coming up or plans to give a book or two for Read Across America Day, grab the kids and have fun making this wrapping paper that has a high hands-on coolness factor.
- 1 can of shaving cream
- Food coloring
- Shallow baking tray
- Frosting spatula or regular spatula
- Toothpicks or skewer for swirling food coloring
- White paper, computer paper works well
- Squirt the shaving cream onto the tray in small amounts and spread into a thin layer with the spatula
- Squeeze a few drops of different colored food coloring onto the shaving cream
- With the toothpick or skewer gently swirl the colors. Alternately, gently smooth the colors around and together with the icing spatula.
- Lay a piece of white paper on top of the shaving cream
- Gently pat the paper all over. Do not submerge the paper in the shaving cream.
- Lift the paper up and place on the table
- Let sit for a few minutes
- Scrape the shaving cream off the paper and let the paper dry
- To wrap larger boxes, tape several pieces of paper together
You can find Cavekid Birthday at these booksellers
Picture Book Review