Our Oroville Librarian, Heather, Burnell, recently published the seventh book in her Unicorn and Yeti series of graphic novels for early readers! We are very fortunate that while she shares her stories with the world she also does amazing work for her community at the Oroville library.
Heather was recently featured on the Publisher’s Weekly website. You can read her interview HERE.
We asked Heather some questions about her new book and her life as an author. Here’s what she had to say:
Tell us about your new book
Stuck With You is the 7th book in the Unicorn and Yeti series! I am thrilled to add to the six Unicorn and Yeti books that have come out before this one. Each book has three stories, so there are now 21 Unicorn and Yeti stories in total (with two more books on the way!) I am extra excited to share Stuck With You with readers because the stories involve my favorite childhood things: stickers, roller skating, and bubble gum. Unicorn wants to save stickers while Yeti wants to stick them (I was a total sticker saver as a kid!), Unicorn wants to roller skate on a rink while Yeti insists they try skating in the snow (My dream job when I grew up was roller-skating waitress, not librarian, sorry!) and Unicorn introduces Yeti to bubble gum. Of course, he wants to blow the biggest bubble ever and they have quite an adventure. (When I tried to blow the biggest bubble ever I would get gum in my hair, but Unicorn and Yeti get to have the dream bubble ride!) Series illustrator, Hazel Quintanilla, brings my imaginings to life in such a fun and adorable way. Just look at the cover!
What do you hope young readers will learn from this book?
My biggest hope with all of my books is that young readers will simply learn to love reading! My publisher, Scholastic Acorn, focuses specifically on early reader graphic novels so the books are just right for kids who are working on reading to themselves. The books are also fun to read with a partner as each character has their own color-coded speech bubbles! If kids learn how a good friendship can work, how we can be kind to one another, or how we can work together from reading the books, that, of course, is great too.
What inspires you to write?
Fun stories encourage children to keep reading. They definitely kept me reading as a kid, and I just like to come up with fun, silly things that are hopefully fun to read and spark imagination. I hear from so many parents telling me that Unicorn and Yeti books have inspired their children to read, and that definitely inspires me!
There are so many fun stories, and the NCW Libraries children’s selections are seemingly never ending. I’m also inspired by the amazing books I see come across my desk every day that I work at the library. There are so many wonderful books and it makes me so happy to have some that I wrote on the shelves.
What do you enjoy most about writing children’s books
I have written in a lot of different genres over the years. It may sound counterintuitive, but writing short is known to be difficult. It’s a style I have found to be a perfect fit for me. Add in the way graphic novels are written without the “they said” attributions and it is even more fun. I love the back and forth I get to come up with for Unicorn and Yeti. But seeing the books come to fruition after working with my team is truly magical. It goes from words on a page to an entire world between pages.
Are there books that inspired you to become a writer
The books I read as a child really stuck with me: Frog and Toad, P.D. Eastman books, Put me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire, The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord. Harry Allards’ Miss Nelson is Missing was just mind-boggling for me as a child. I loved it! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the books I loved as a child. My mom took me to the library all the time. It was a magical place for me where I could choose whatever I wanted and take it home to read. Inspiring indeed!
What does a typical day of writing look like for you
I don’t have a typical day of writing because I am also a librarian! My typical day is very much focused on making the Oroville Library the best it can be for our community. Sometimes when I get home I write but oftentimes these days I don’t, and that’s okay. You don’t have to write everyday to be a writer. I do try to write in the evenings when I can and on my non-librarian days. Of course, when I have a deadline there are a lot of late nights and early mornings but it’s worth it.
Do you have any advice for writers
Just write! Don’t worry about if it’s good or bad. You’ll learn as you go. Check out books about writing from the library. There are so many great writing books! When you’re ready, find a critique group to trade work with. NCW Libraries has a Writer’s Group that meets monthly. Joining a writers group is definitely a great way to learn and be inspired!
See all of Heather’s books that are in our library collection HERE. Here are the rest of the books in the Unicorn and Yeti series: