New York Times bestselling author Deborah Underwood didn’t always write children’s books. She wrote greeting cards, screenplays, worked as a typist, and a street musician. Perhaps it’s no coincidence Underwood created a main character with so many different occupational interests in her Here Comes Cat series.
A look inside her books explains why Underwood's stories are so well loved.
Character Development, Escalation, Resolution
Cat is a lovable, grumpy childlike protagonist. Those of us who share our lives with a fickle feline friend are especially amused by how well Underwood captures a cat’s distinctive personality. The idea of giving Cat a sign with pictures to communicate with the narrator is unique and hilarious. The resolution in each story not only makes readers laugh, but beg to know more of what Cat will do next. The latest in this series, Here Comes Teacher Cat, releases next month.
Character, Conflict, Obstacles
In a story, the author creates a character and gives them a problem to overcome. Obstacles are thrown in to create tension. The right mix makes a story meaningful to a child. In A Balloon for Isabel, a porcupine + balloons in school = trouble
In Underwood’s latest release Super Saurus Saves Kindergarten, a new student + first day in kindergarten = anxiety
Concept Books, Emotional Resonance, Re-readability
When a quiet book sells in market overflowing with non-quiet books, and it becomes a New York Times bestseller, there has to be something extra special about it. In The Quiet Book, Underwood and illustrator Renata Liwska tap into all the feels. In this book, you can find all kinds of quiet that evoke emotion, from serious to funny, and for all ages such as “Lollipop quiet”, Right before you yell “SURPRISE!” quiet,” “Best friends don’t need to talk quiet”, “What flashlight? quiet” .
Bad Bye, Good Bye takes the reader on an emotional journey with a child who is moving to another town. "Bad truck/Bad guy", "Bad wave/Bad bye"
Interstellar Cinderella is an old fairy tale retold into a new modern fairy tale. This Cinderella is decisive and determined and a heroine. Well done! Underwood created fun words like zoombroom, and godrobot for her story set in space. Good Night, Baddies is a bedtime story. Through gentle lyrical rhyme Underwood explores the softer side of baddies, villains from numerous folk and fairy tales, after a day of causing mayhem. "Sun dips down; the day has gone. / Witches, wolves, and giants yawn. / Queen and dragon, troll and gnome: / tired baddies head for home."
In addition to fiction picture books, Underwood writes non-fiction books, content for educational publishers, chapter books, and has published articles, poems, and stories in magazines such as National Geographic, Pockets, Ladybug and Spider.
When looking for mentor texts to study, there's a lot for writers to learn from Deborah Underwood's diverse and extensive body of work.