Exclusive Interview: BabyLit’s Author Jennifer Adams

babylit books

Author Jennifer Adams and illustrator Alison Oliver have come up with whole new way for you to share your favorite classic novels with your babies, it’s called BabyLit.

What BabyLit does is take classic novels such as Jane Eyre and Alice in Wonderland and transform them into board books. The novels are of course stripped down to the bare minimum using one or two words on each page and illustrations reflect the tone of the book. However, these are fun new books to share with your little ones and/or add to your library as a different version of your favorite classic novels. And did I mention how I love that each book’s author is either a “Little Master” or a “Little Miss.” For instance Alice in Wonderland would be Little Master Carroll and Jane Eyre would be Little Miss Bronte.

I got a chance to take a look at both Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre, and I personally really love the Alice in Wonderland BabyLit. Maybe it’s because I already have a soft spot for the story, but I just loved the illustrations. Almost every page features one of the crazy characters of the story and it’s very colorful.

There are also other titles in the series including Little Master Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and Little Miss Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, which use the classic works to teach counting.

BabyLit Author Jennifer Adams recently took some time to answer a few questions from Book Equals about this new endeavor and what’s coming next in the BabyLit series.

How would you explain your series of books to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?

Jennifer Adams & Alison Oliver: BabyLit takes favorite classic novels and retells them as board books for children.

What inspired you to transform classic novels into BabyLit?

Jennifer Adams: The idea for BabyLit was our editor’s. I recently published “Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen,” which is a look at what other great writers had to say about Jane Austen, and “Y is for Yorick: A Slightly Irreverent ABC Book for Grown-Ups” which is a playful look at Shakespeare with some dark humor. I think these two books, also published by Gibbs Smith Publisher, were percolating with my editor, Suzanne Taylor, and we started thinking “What else can we do with some of these favorite classics to modernize them?” and she came up with the brilliant idea of the classics for babies!

What was the most challenging part of writing transforming the novels?

Jennifer Adams: Taking complex and vibrant novels and condensing them down to a few words is almost impossible! I had to figure out a way to retell the stories, while preserving the tone of each book and respecting its narrative. Each one retells itself in a way that works best for it. And Alison’s great illustrations help preserve the feeling of each novel. For example, Alice in Wonderland is told in bright almost psychadelic colors that go with the whimsical otherworldly story in that book, while the color palette of Jane Eyre is somber and very befitting the tone of that book.

What was the most fun part of the process?

Jennifer Adams: I have absolutely loved rereading each of these books, but I think the most fun I’ve had is collaborating with a great editor and a great illustrator to create something we are all so proud of. And now collaborating with Eric Smith on social media has been so fun to reach out to all these great bloggers and people who are excited about the books.

Can you talk about how parents should approach the books and share them with their kids?

Jennifer Adams: The books are for fun! One of the main ideas behind BabyLit is just to make these novels familiar and fun and approachable, so not only will kids enjoy the art and the board books now, hopefully some day they will remember those books as a positive experience and maybe be more easily drawn to the originals. So I say let your kids play with them. If they want to learn colors or counting from them, great! If they want more of the original story, tell them more. If they want to use them as chew toys, no problem! The books can be enjoyed on many different levels. :)

What other novels are you planning on transforming?

Jennifer Adams: We have some very exciting books in the works that I can’t talk about just yet, but I can say you can look forward to these two awesome titles in the series this fall: “Little Master Stoker: Dracula” and “Little Master Dickens: A Christmas Carol.” We are also going to be launching some plush dolls, tote bags, and buttons with Alison’s fabulous art this summer, so stay tuned!

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