How to Keep a Book in Print for 20 Years

When I was asked to be on the board of the Brooke Jackman Foundation, I was thrilled when I learned an old friend, Stephanie Calmenson, was already serving. Here now is an interview with Stephanie, who is the author of one of my favorite books, Dinner at the Panda Palace, now celebrating its 20th year in print! Extra dessert for Stephanie!
So, Stephanie, how do you get a book to stay in print for 20 years? Um, er, well, I dunno. Maybe write it in rollicking rhyme and have 55 wild and crazy animals looking to party?
Sounds good. But we need more. How about setting the story in a restaurant? Kids love going out to eat.
Keep going… I know! Make it a counting book. And an animal identification book. And a book that shows the kinds of food different animals eat, like snails for peacocks and corn for pigs.
Almost there…. I’ve got it! Have a tiny, hungry mouse knock at the door of the restaurant asking if she can get a seat. Then build up the suspense. Have the host, Mr. Panda, look around hopelessly because every seat is filled.
Eek! What will happen then? Will that poor little mouse be turned away while all the other animals have big plates of food? Not a chance! We’re talking about Panda Palace here. Mr. Panda’s going to make a one-of-a-kind, mouse-size table and serve that mouse a fabulous cheese feast!
So that’s how to keep a book in print for 20 years. Yep. Write a counting, animal identification, food-filled book called Dinner at the Panda Palace
. Have great illustrations by Nadine Bernard Westcott. And make sure every reader comes away feeling as welcome and important as that little mouse. In fact, I think you might want to talk to Mr. Panda about that.
Okay then, let’s turn the mic over to him. Mr. Panda, can you please tell kids the most important thing you want them to know about the Panda Palace? Sure, Katie. It’s this: No matter how many, no matter how few, there will always be room at the Palace for you!

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