One of the best things—maybe THE best—about writing children’s books for a living is getting to try out your stories on your own children first. When they get caught up in the tale you’re reading and forget that you’re their mom and you wrote this, when you get to the end of a chapter and they beg for just one more and you laugh and say there ISN’T any more, I haven’t written it yet and they wring their hands and implore you to just TELL the next bit, oh pleeeease, you have to!—that’s when you know you have the very best job (or combination of jobs) in the whole world.
(As opposed to, say, when you’re writing out giant checks to various medical practitioners because as freelancers you and your husband no longer enjoy the cushy benefits you did when on staff at giant publishing conglomerations.)
Lately I’ve been wondering how many other children’s book authors out there are revelling in the same delicious experience. I can think of one. Like mine, I believe that particular author’s flesh-and-blood critics are brutally frank, which is of course the most useful kind of critic you can have. That’s why children make the best test audience; if they fidget or go “huh?” you know you’ve got some polishing to do. But when you get it right, oh, there is nothing, nothing better than the sight of their heads thrown back in laughter, the sound of their belly laughs in all the right places.