Good Night (Not Really): Let’s Count FORWARD and BACKWARD
Illustrations by Karina Matkevych
Bumblebee Books (2021)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After her four kids grew up, several college degrees and years of working in business, as well as with awe-inspiring teens, Nan Evenson thought it would be fun to take writing classes on several continents. She is currently writing three books, and her first, Good Night (Not Really): Let’s Count Forward AND Backward, was published September 2021. She also writes short stories, has had five published and has won two awards. She is indeed having fun.
Hi Nan, Welcome to Reader Views Kids, we’re delighted to talk to you today! Tell us a bit about “Good Night (Not Really).”
Charlie and Lisa are charming guides, helping children count not only to ten but backward as well. Good Night (Not Really) is actually a good morning book. This is the first book in the Not Really series. The picture books offer fresh ways for children to expand their math skills (including counting by 2’s and 5’s), surprise endings, and gorgeous illustrations.
What was your inspiration behind the story?
One afternoon I was cleaning out our bookshelves looking for books for my grandchildren. It struck me how many “good night” books we had and how few—zero, to be exact — math kind of books (beyond counting one to ten) and good morning books were on the shelves. I also knew that out of the many kids I had tutored over the years, I could count on two hands the students who actually enjoyed mathematics.
I thought: Why not help kids start earlier on math concepts, make it fun, and how about a “good morning” book that can be read any time of day? I hired an enormously talented illustrator, and together, I think Karina and I have created a magical experience.
What motivates your young protagonists, Charlie and Lisa?
What a great question! I write books for children, not only so they can learn and experience new things, but because a great picture book connects children and the readers who care about them in head and heart ways. Charlie and Lisa agree and also hope children learn to count backward and see how friendly numbers can be. They want children and their readers to smile together when they see elephants dancing on the bed in a clompy, stompy elephant way.
What is the most important message you hope readers take away from “Good Night (Not Really)?”
Math is fun. Mornings are the start of a great day. You can make it so!
What was it like working together with your illustrator to bring your story to life?
Oh, my gosh. Karina, a young Ukrainian woman, is absolutely phenomenal. She is the first illustrator I’ve worked with, and I am so lucky. Even though we have never met and do everything through email (not even Zoom!), we are on the same wavelength. She is now illustrating the second book in the Not Really series and just sent me a hand drawing of a fairly complicated scene. It was exactly how I’d pictured it.
What is the biggest challenge writing for a young audience?
Sometimes, as I know from my own experience raising kids, readers go too fast. There is this to do or that to fix, etc., so “just a short book tonight, honey”. Totally understandable, but if we can slow down – read a page, look at the child and smile, we will see a sweet face grinning back at us. In other words, books are as much about adults as they are about kids.
What do you like to read and what are some of your favorite children’s books authors and stories?
I love to read Young Adult literature, and I am writing my second YA book at the moment. The books are so “clean” – tight phrasing, to the point and straight to the heart of things. I’ve read many YAs to my kids. Here’s an idea for your readers – read The Pearl, John Steinbeck’s classic novella to your kids. It’s incredible to see them understand this story. Or read Avi’s, Crispin Cross of Lead to them. Or…read anything to them!
Which writers have inspired your own work as an author?
For this book, inspiration came from Dr. Seuss, yes, the imperfect master, who wrote Great Day for Up. It’s a good morning book, fun and inspirational. I taught all four of my kids to read using his book, Hop on Pop.
What do you enjoy outside of writing?
Being a mother is a solid number one. Entertaining one day, and what the heck? the next…I like to think and I like to feel, and that’s the job description for mothering. Oh OK, I like lots of other stuff, too…I’ve been to forty countries and have lived in several of them. To experience our flawed but beautiful world is a great gift.
You have a number of books planned in your Not Really series. What’s next? Can you give us a sneak peek into your next couple of books?
Next comes The Terrible Day (Not Really): Let’s Count by Twos!, featuring children of different cultures having a problem that Charlie and Lisa can help solve. The last book in the Not Really series might be I Don’t Want a New Teacher: Let’s Count by Fives! I know kids struggle when the year ends or their teacher goes out on leave, but there are all kinds of wonderful teachers in our lives. Welcome!
Where can readers purchase your book?
The book is published by Olympia out of London. They are fantastic, and distribute internationally. You could find the book on the U.S. or almost any international Amazon site. It’s on many other fine sites, including Barnes and Noble. Google it!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, about writing or about life in general?
Here is the two word title of a book I have never read, but has the power to change your approach to life: Just Ask.
Do you have any advice for aspiring/emerging picture book authors?
Just ask! Learn, soak up stuff, see how far you can get. Be brave and when you get no-s, take it in (lots to learn from a no), and then keep on the upward trajectory.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to sincerely thank you for giving me this opportunity, Reader Views Kids, and I appreciate that your readers have read through my interview thoughts. I know all of you reading this also have lots of things to say about your interests and lives. Best wishes on your journey.
Nan, thank you so much for joining us today on Reader Views Kids!
CONNECT WITH NAN EVENSON!