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Rejecting Rejection

Out & About / Ventura County | page turner

Writer scores big on 10th attempt to get children's book published.

October 28, 2000|ANN SHIELDS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Laura Numeroff's first children's book about a mouse, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," was translated in eight foreign languages and was the National Education Assn.'s pick of recommended books when it was released in 1985. This month, the mouse is back in "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies" (Harper-Collins, $15.95).

The new book is already No. 7 on the New York Times bestsellers list. Numeroff, 37, grew up in Brooklyn and now lives in Brentwood. She is scheduled to be on the "Today" television show Nov. 8 and will appear locally to discuss and sign her book Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., in Thousand Oaks.

Numeroff's first book, "Amy For Short," was published in 1985 by MacMillan Publishing as the result of a college homework assignment. But she had trouble making a living as a writer after that, she said in a recent telephone interview. Her 10th book, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," was turned down for publication nine times before it found a home at Harper. Her motto, not surprisingly, is never give up.

She followed up with "If You Give a Moose a Muffin," published in 1991, also a Publishers Weekly children's bestseller. Later, when "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" came out in 1998, it, was recommended reading by Ophrah Winfrey's book club and was Working Mother magazine's best book of 1998. All the "If . . . " books were illustrated by Felicia Bond, who has credited the graphic genius and dry wit of Charles M. Schulz as an early inspiration.

"Mostly authors don't have a say [in the illustrator] but in the past six years, I have been able to select my own," Numeroff said.

She used illustrator Lynn Munsinger in her Simon & Schuster series, "What Mommies Do Best," "What Daddies Do Best" and on through the yet-to-be published grandmas and grandpas, soon to be followed by "What Aunts and Uncles Do Best."

Numeroff said she has no plans to write for adults, because children's books are more fun to write and she likes the audience better. Her ideas, she said, come from many places--it might be something she overhears.

"Sometimes I see something like a story waiting to be written," she said. "Or, it's just that moment when it comes into your head that you can never explain."

Motivated to give back to the community, she donates a portion of her royalties to First Book, a national nonprofit organization that promotes children's literacy. The organization donates new books to kids in underprivileged situations, she said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the organization can visit its Web site at www.firstbook.org. For more information about Numeroff, visit www.lauranumeroff.com.

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Wendy Grosskopf, editor of the "Moorpark Review Creative Arts Journal," will be at Borders on Sunday at 3 p.m. with other contributing writers, who will read original poetry and fiction. This is the second annual publication of the 150-page journal that features short stories, poetry, photography and other visual art forms from students.

Moorpark College English professor Hart Schulz said the third edition of the journal, scheduled to come out in May, will include contributions from staff and faculty, as well as students. Although no subject matter is taboo, the Port Hueneme resident said they haven't run into a problem so far.

"Moorpark College is very progressive and puts on plays that push the envelope, but the material is mostly harmless mainstream," he said.

HAPPENINGS

* Today: 10:30 a.m. Halloween stories for children. Costumes welcome. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., (446-2820)

* Today: 2 p.m. Mystery author Lynn Hightower will discuss and sign "The Debt Collector." Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks (374-0084).

* Today: 7 p.m. Halloween tales. Special guest author Anne Broyles celebrates her new book, "Shy Mama's Halloween." Borders, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks (497-8159).

* Sunday: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Author Anne Broyles will sign "Shy Mama's Halloween." Adventures for Kids, 3457 Telegraph Road, Ventura (650-9688).

* Sunday: 3 p.m. Contributing poets from the Moorpark Review Creative Arts Journal in an afternoon of original poetry and fiction readings. Open mike to follow. Borders (497-8159).

* Sunday: 10:30 a.m. Meaningful Life Book Club. Facilitated by Rabbi Dov Greenberg of the Conejo Jewish Academy. The discussion will center on "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson. (Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble (446-2820).

* Sunday: Noon. Author Steven Hartov will sign "The Devil's Shepherd." Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble (446-2820).

* Monday: 11 a.m. Stories and art. Hear favorite Halloween stories and make spiders. Borders (497-8159).

* Tuesday: 9:30 a.m. Story time. Tricks and treats. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., Ventura (339-9170).

* Wednesday: 7 p.m. Author Laura Numeroff, reading and signing "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies." Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble (446-2820).

* Wednesday: 7 p.m. Alexis O'Neil, regional advisor for the Society of Children's Book and Illustrators, and author of "Loud Emily," will speak on the topic "Do You Have What It Takes to Write for Children," at the monthly meeting of the Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network. Contact Carol Doering at 493-1081 or e-mail her at cdoering@gte.net. Borders (497-8159).

* Friday: 1 p.m. Creative Gatherings. In partnership with Simi Valley Adult Education and facilitated by artist/educator Roseanne Savo, the group uses the core book "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. The program is designed to help a person discover their creative side. Registration is appreciated, but not required. In the events area. Borders (497-8159).

Information about book signings, writers groups and publishing events can be e-mailed to anns40@aol.com or faxed to 647-5649.

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