How many yawns does it take to write a bedtime story?
According to both author, Jennifer de Azevedo, and illustrator, Lindsey Furr, they did a lot of yawning while they created The Biggest Yawn Ever, the newest release of Lawley Publishing.
Jennifer explained that while she spent time at a friend’s house, the hour got late and bedtime approached. She—being the expert storyteller she is—was asked to tell a “wind-down” story. After her creative juices worked up some sleepy-time magic and she fought the urge to fall asleep, yawning all the way, The Biggest Yawn Ever was born.
“It just happened,” Jen said. “And I knew I had another story to share.”
Jen’s been a storyteller all her life, coming about such a gift naturally through the talents of her father, who also told her wild stories as a child. Her three boys enjoyed her talents when they were younger, but now they are all grown up. So, who does she share her stories with now? Fortunately, parents, children, and booklovers everywhere!
Her first book, Electric, is filled with the love of a mother for an energetic little boy as he scampers through his day. The Biggest Yawn Ever shares that same love, this time through the patient listening of a mother to her sleepy child as he attempts to explain all the fantastic things he saw and did that day—in between yawns, of course.
Lindsey laughed as she confessed how her research into yawning, in order to produce the illustrations, kept her constantly following suit. She looked at photos and even took some of herself yawning, but that just made her yawn more and “work to stay awake.” She loved having free reign to create the 22 illustrations that grace the darling pages of this children’s book. She feels grateful to be chosen and allowed to revert to her childhood and draw these playful pages.
Jen and Lindsey worked together to create a book that is truly from a child’s point of view. (There have even been reports of crawling around on the ground to get a better “kid’s” perspective.) Jen explained, “I mean, what does the world look like when you’re three? Everything is three times the size that it is to us adults. So, it can’t just look like a dog. It’s got to be this huge dog, like Barkley from Sesame Street.”
What is Jen’s favorite part of this bedtime story? She explains it this way, “When my grown-up kids say to me, ‘remember when you used to read us that?’ That’s important to me. Those are some of my best memories. I hope that the stories that I tell do that same thing for other people. That they can look back and say, ‘remember when mom used to read The Biggest Yawn Ever to us? I’ve got to share that with my kids!’ And it becomes the same kind of memory for them.”
For more fun info about Jen and Lindsey, their journeys, their process, and some good advice read on!
Jennifer de Azevedo read a lot as a kid, but not the usual kind of books most girls her age read. “I loved Huckleberry Finn. I wanted to be a stowaway on that raft so bad. And I loved the Little House on the Prairie books because they did crazy things like play with the pig’s bladder after they cleaned it. I was pretty adventurous and just loved reading about another time.” Jen wanted to be a writer when she was young but didn’t pursue it until much later. She became the mother of three boys and spent a lot of time reading and telling stories to them. But, she said, “I just blinked, and they were all grown up.” So, she’s taken her love of books, reading, and her gift for storytelling and started writing children’s books. “It’s magical the way things have worked out.” When she’s not writing children’s books, she stays busy creating something, learning, teaching, or trying something new; she has a YouTube channel, an ETSY store, she’s a certified mindset coach, she works on lots of home projects, and of course, has a mind constantly brewing up another story. Her thoughts about the future and her advice to all . . . “I hate it when people say it, but it’s really true. If you focus and believe in what you’re doing, no matter how long it takes, opportunities will fall in your lap. I don’t mean just be positive, because that doesn’t do it. There’s more; there’s a faith behind it that you have to have. But if you have that—miracles!”
Lindsey Furr has been an artist since day one. “Ever since I was a kid, I was intrigued by different mediums.” She graduated in 2016 from ASU from the Herberger School of Fine Arts, with a minor in business. Lindsey runs her own store online through ETSY at Lindsey Loo Studio. There she focuses primarily on textile art, such as hand-stitched embroidery and hand-woven macramé. “Working with my hands is very gratifying.” She also draws and paints and still participates in sharing fine art through juried exhibitions. She’s always loved exploring new things, and, when she had the opportunity to illustrate, she jumped at the chance. Her excitement stemmed from the opportunity to play with new styles. “I wanted this art to be playful and colorful and a little more stylized because it would be for children. I wanted to have visually interesting details in the background for the kids to point out and related to.” The illustrations are hand-drawn and filled in with colored pencils. “Because we were using colored pencils, I felt especially youthful and almost like a little kid again. I feel like you use crayons and pencils more when you were a child than as an adult. It was fun!” She did a lot of preliminary sketches to have as many ideas for an illustration as possible. Sometimes multiple ideas can be combined, and multiple possibilities give the author or publisher options because not everyone thinks of the same pictures when reading the words. She drew many of the illustrations from photo references. “For me, I either looked up photos of people yawning or took pictures of myself or someone else of yawning to make the illustrations more realistic. It was funny—the more you look at people yawning, the more you want to yawn. It was hard to stay awake.”