Monday, November 23, 2020

Lisa Katzenberger's 'Regular Average Ordinary Day' Worth Celebrating

Chicago-area children's author Lisa Katzenberger is active with SCBWI-Illinois and beyond, and her picture book career is taking off! Lisa's clever and oh-so-engaging National Regular Average Ordinary Day, illustrated by Barbara Bakos, published this past June with Penguin Workshop, her Triceratops Would Not Make a Good Ninja, illustrated by Steph Calvert, from Picture Window Books hit shelves in 2018, and coming February 2021 we'll see It Will Be Ok: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship, illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett, publish with Sourcebooks Explore.

Lisa's National Regular Average Ordinary Day thrills me to no end, as I get such a kick out of celebrating our lesser-known national holidays. Today, for example, is National Cashew Day, National Eat a Cranberry Day, and National Espresso Day. Who knew? (Lisa did!) And while you may think Thursday is Thanksgiving, don't forget it's also National Cake Day. (Move over pumpkin pie!) And after the holiday frenzy of Zoom calls with family, you might really want to celebrate November 30th—National Personal Space Day.

In her adorable picture book, young Peter does not like being bored, so he comes up with a way to have a little fun—by celebrating a different holiday each day. But one day he wakes up to find there isn't any designated holiday, so he's got to make one. After nothing goes right, Peter realizes that even a regular, average, ordinary day can be something worth celebrating. 

QUESTION: Your book is, frankly, GENIUS! I can imagine teachers having great fun with it, and letting kids choose their own holiday to celebrate as well as looking up the obscure ones. Can you talk about how you wrote and imagined your story? Did it come out in dribs and drabs, or did you have an ah-hah moment?

Lisa Katzenberger: I first scribbled down the idea for this book in 2017's Storystorm, where the goal is to come up with one story idea every day of the month. I wrote down "weird national holidays" and just let the idea float around. I didn't even write a first draft until December of that year, and it came out fast! I worked on that revision a lot during December and January, and it went out on submission in February. That was super fast and has never happened since!

Q: How do you hope kids experience the book? And their parents, librarians, and teachers too?

Oh, I hope they have fun. With all that is going on in the world, I'm hoping that books can help readers escape and be silly. After reading National Regular Average Ordinary Day, I hope kids are inspired to use their imagination and get back to basics of plain ole ordinary pretending. I hope they hop into a cardboard box and let it take them anywhere and everywhere! And I hope parents, librarians, and teachers encourage creative, imaginative play no matter what the age of the child. There is also a free activity kit they can download to extend the fun after reading the book.

Q: I am a big fan of April 28th, which is not only National Superhero Day but also National Blueberry Pie Day. What is your favorite national day? 

LK: Oh that is a great date! Who wouldn't love a blueberry pie-eating superhero? I have to say my favorite is National Read a Book Day, on September 6th. I love how educators celebrate this holiday and encourage kids to read, read, read!

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