Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamaguchi

Teeny Tiny Toady written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi (Sterling Books 2016) features a teeny toad who was a big hero with my little readers!

Teeny is a tiny toad with seven older toad brothers and a Mom who has been snatched away from her and plunked into a bucket by human hands. How will Teeny save her Mom when she is so very . . . teeny? It turns out that small really is powerful in this sweet little rhyming book all about clever solutions, tiny sister power and love for family that conquers all!

Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi

My students loved listening to this book and adored revisiting its pages. Here they share some favourite scenes.

Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi

We love to celebrate end pages and this title has some gorgeous ones! There is also a wonderful surprise under the book jacket! Take a peek.

Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi

Here are my students questions for author Jill Esbaum. Her answers are in green. 

Where did you find all of those interesting words? Is it hard to rhyme text?

I’ve always liked finding words that are interesting or really expressive or fun to say. I also like words that sound like their meaning – like plop and flop and slop. And, writing in rhyme? That’s VERY hard – but it’s a fun kind of hard.

Do you brainstorm your ideas before?

I do brainstorm first. After I come up with a character who has a problem, I sit down with a pen and a big yellow pad and brainstorm things that might go wrong for my character. I want to find ways to make things WORSE for her before they get better. For me, the toughest part of writing a story is finding an ending that makes sense and is also a bit of a surprise for readers.

Did you want to write a book where a girl character was really brave and awesome?

I did! When I was a kid, boys were always coming to the rescue in stories. I wanted GIRLS to do the rescuing. (I also grew up with a big brother. Does that tell you anything?)

Why toads?

Sometimes, in the springtime, I find a teeny little toad in one of my flower beds. They’re soooo cute. But they’re also tiny and defenceless! I started wondering what it would be like to be the tiniest toad in a family of big, strong brothers. The story took off from there.

Do you like frogs or toads more?

Hmm. I just wrote a story with a frog character, so I don’t think I can pick. I like both!

We love to say the title Teeny Tiny Toady!

Thanks for the compliment that the title is fun to say! I think so, too!  🙂

Illustrator Keika Yamaguchi also answered some questions from my students! Her answers are in pink. 

Why did you decide to paint Teeny a little bit pink? (We liked it)

I needed Teeny to stand out in the book. Since I knew the book will have a lot of green color from the grass, I took the opposite color of green, which is red tweaked it by adding white to the color (that makes the color pink). I also knew that the brothers will be mostly brown so I made sure she has some hint of brown color. I combined those two colors, and that’s how I came up with her color!

How do you figure out how to show all of the feelings on a toad’s face?

I have to imagine myself in the place of each character when I draw them. So while I am imagining, I look at myself in the mirror and make faces or I look online to see how someone looks like when they feel a certain way. I need to make sure what I’m trying to say through the character’s expression, all readers can understand.

Did you study a lot about toads to make this book?

I mainly did research on the appearance and the size of the toads when I was coming up with the designs of the characters.

Do you like frogs or toads more?

I love them both 🙂

*Thanks to Josh at Sterling Books for a review copy!

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