Monday, July 2, 2012

HIGH FIVE #18: Bethanie Murguia Gets Ready to Publish Again

Welcome to HIGH FIVE, the feature that spotlights debut picture book authors with a five-question interview. Today we have joining us, author/illustrator, Bethanie Murguia. Her first book, Buglette the Messy Sleeper, was released in May 2011 by Tricycle Press. Shortly thereafter, I discovered Bethanie and her Buglette book. My schedule is semi pre-booked a year in advance and during that time, she had her second book in the works. Zoe Gets Ready was just released a couple of months ago. Please join me in congratulating Bethanie on her recent success by giving her a big HIGH FIVE!
Bethanie's second book!

Title: Zoe Gets Ready   
Author: Bethanie Murguia
Illustrator: Bethanie Murguia    
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic
Release date: May 2012
Word count: Approximately 180

Short summary: Each day is full of possibilities, and Zoe wants to be ready for everything this day might bring. But that makes getting dressed really, really hard! As the clothes pile up and Mama tells her it’s time to go, there’s only one way Zoe can be sure she’s prepared for all of the adventures ahead.

I’ve read your book and it is so much fun. Anyone who has a daughter will definitely be able to connect! Your summary is spot on, and has such a lovely ending! Beautiful illustrations too!

Question ONE: What are some of your favorite picture books? Two for stories and two for illustrations.

These choices are all for story AND illustration—is that cheating? It’s hard for me to separate the two.
Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
Olivia by Ian Falconer
The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson/Jon J Muth
Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Question TWO: What is your bedtime routine like; how do books play a part in that?

Books have always played a part in our bedtime routine. My daughters are three and six now. For a long time, we read picture books every night before bed. Now, we read both chapter books and picture books. Then my six-year-old climbs into her top bunk, turns on her reading light, and reads long into the night.

Picture books are often part of our take-a-breath routine too. When I find that my daughters are unruly and/or over stimulated, sitting down and reading to them for five or ten minutes is almost always the best way to get everyone back on track.

I think I’ll have to try the take-a-breath routine. My children are five and eight. We recently added reading a chapter book along with our picture books at night.

Question THREE: How might teachers use your book in the classroom? Do you have any lesson plans available?

There are discussion guides for both Zoe Gets Ready and Buglette on my website ( These guides include a variety of creative projects and downloads for classrooms. Zoe Gets Ready, with its emphasis on individuality and imagination, is a great jumping off point for open-ended projects that encourage children to come up with their own creations. It also lends itself well to discussions about clothing (for example, how clothing differs across cultures). In addition to an emphasis on individuality, Buglette, with its ladybug and crow characters, can be used as a starting point for science discussions about real ladybugs and crows—both very interesting creatures!

Sounds perfect for Kindergarten through 3rd grades!

Question(s) FOUR: How many books had you illustrated before you published YOUR story? How was being the author/illustrator different from being the illustrator only? Do you see yourself as mainly an illustrator or more as an author? Do you have an agent? If so, how did that happen? Does he or she represent your illustrating, writing, or both?

I have illustrated stories (that were not my own) for magazines, but I was the author and illustrator of my first picture book. I like telling stories with words and pictures, so it feels very natural to sit down and work back and forth between the two. I went to art school for illustration and then worked as an art director for many years. So my background is definitely more on the illustration/visual side of things. At this point, I suppose I think of myself as a storyteller.

I do have an agent; she represents me as a writer and illustrator. We found each other when I was submitting the dummy that eventually became my first published book (Buglette, the Messy Sleeper). It is a great partnership.

Question FIVE: As an illustrator, what are some writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication? What types of things should writers try to consider from an illustrator’s perspective?

I think the best picture book manuscripts leave plenty of room for interpretation and for the illustrator to bring his or her unique life experience to the story. If the manuscript is too prescriptive, it doesn’t give the illustrator as much space to play and get inspired!

Thank you for being with us today. Remember to come back next month on Monday, August 6th to meet another debut author. And check out the other debut authors if you haven't done so already.


  1. Nice interview. Very helpful information for writers from an illustrator. The book looks really cute.

  2. Great interview, Bethanie and Christie. Congrats on your books, they sound and look so sweet.

  3. Thanks so much for doing this interview, Christie!


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