Sybrina Durant–Three Questions & a Cover

Three Questions and a Cover — a short interview with one of my favorite authors, along with one of the author’s covers

Cleo can tie a bow. She learned what she knows from a rabbit and a fox. They can teach your child how to tie a bow, too. This fun picture book is intended to be a family bonding parent-child activity. It’s a great way to learn to tie shoelaces.

I’m so happy to have Sybrina Durant, the author of this adorable book, as my 3QC guest today. After you’ve read the interview, keep going…there’s a giveaway!

Question 1: You have an entire series of “Knotting” books for young folks. How and why did you decide on such a unique topic?

It all started with a trip to a menswear store back in the 1980’s. I went to purchase a necktie for someone who had never worn one.  I didn’t know anything about neckties, either, so I asked a friendly salesman if he could teach me to tie one.  He was happy to oblige.  He threw a long tie around his neck (on top of the suit and tie he was already wearing) and proceeded to provide a very short set of instructions. He told me, “Remember this story. Once there was a fox chasing a rabbit.  They ran around and around a tree. The rabbit slipped under a bush and the fox easily followed. Finally the rabbit jumped over a log and into his little den. The fox was too large and could not follow. The rabbit was safe!” I never forgot that story. I loved the idea so much that I wanted to share it with the world. I researched and found that it had never been written or published, so I decided to make it my mission. I didn’t actually publish my version of the story, “Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit & the Fox”, illustrated by Donna Marie Naval, until 2012. It is available in English, Spanish and Tagalog.

Question 2: What is NOT in the book that readers might find interesting? (Deleted scene, background information, etc) 

I quickly realized that my first instruction book was a little too plain. Kids like to read about characters that remind them of themselves.  So, after some research, I came up with Nellie Knows How To Knot A Neck Scarf and Ned Knows How To Knot A Necktie. Both of these books are illustrated by Enrique Vignolo. Nellie is about a little girl who loves dressing up in frilly things. Neck scarves are Nellie’s favorite accessory. The “Fancy Nancy” dress-up books by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser are so popular that I wanted to explore that theme. Ned is about a young boy whose imagination is stirred by all kinds of knots. I envision him as a little bit of a boy scout with an extensive neck wear collection. Both Ned and Nellie share the story of the rabbit and the fox with readers of their books.

For years, I wanted to write a how-to-tie a bow book, too, but the story just would not make itself known to me. I was completely stuck on the idea of following the motions of a rabbit and fox to learn to tie a knot. This year, I finally broke free of that concept and was able to create the story of Cleo, a bow obsessed girl. Her story is completely different from all the previous rabbit and fox books.  Hers is about a friendly fox who helps a long-eared rabbit keep her ears from dragging on the ground. Cleo Can Tie A Bow is beautifully illustrated by Pumudi Gardiyawasam.

Question 3: Best advice you received about writing / publishing? And the worst? 

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received about writing is to work with beta readers before publishing. The ones who advised me on Cleo opened my eyes to how today’s young parents think entirely differently than the parents of my day. We live in a hyper-sensitive time where many people are easily offended. This is something that writers of all genres are finding they must accommodate. It is especially true for children’s books.

Some of the worst advice I ever heard was that the only way to become a successful writer is to traditionally publish. If all writers were to follow that advice, their books would never have the opportunity to be discovered by the big wide world of the internet. Everyone of us operates within a sphere of influence that begins with ourselves. How far we manage to expand it outwards is up to each individual. If you have a book in you, write it and then start the work on promoting and marketing. That means blogging, interacting in social media groups, building a website, starting an online store that focuses on themes from your book, plus thousands more opportunities to market your work. You will attract the attention of readers if you keep at it. How far you go, is truly up to you. Best Wishes! And don’t forget to check out my bow-themed gift store, the Girls Love Bows Gift Shop on my blog. You’ll find Cleo Can Tie A Bow there along with hundreds of gifts for the bow-crazy girls you know.


One entrant will be selected to win a Cleo Can Tie A Bow Soft Cover Book plus a $25.00 Gift Card plus “My Unicorn Is Kinda Bow Crazy” tee shirt! ($100 including tax and shipping) from Sybrina Publishing in the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Open for entry in the Continental US, 18 years and older from 1/08/21 thru 1/30/2021 at 12:01am EST. Winner will have 24 hours to respond to notification email to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected. See Rafflecopter for official rules. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary.

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