Sunday, January 22, 2012

Developing Fun Characters Children will Love and Relate To with Molly Nero, Author of Smarty Pig

Your characters must come to life for young kids.  By drawing on my teaching experience, I have developed a family of pigs that children will hopefully relate to and love.  Teaching kids for many years helped me understand that Power Rangers, SpongeBob, and the name of Disney’s newest princess must be in your vocabulary.  The latest DS, XBOX, and Wii games also get young people to look at you as though you actually are attempting to understand their world a little bit, though they know you are really an outsider since you’re older than 11 or 12!  If you try to listen to kids at their level, you will begin to understand their world better, but it’s hard for adults to do that.  We are lost in our own world of IPads, IPhones, emails, and daily demands.  Trying to remember what it’s like to be 7 or 8 becomes difficult.    

My classroom, filled daily with various aged kids, allowed me the chance to find a way to connect to be an effective teacher.  To have validity with my audience, I use those details.  Attitudes and situations that kids understand or experience themselves help create depth in my characters.  Smarty Pig‘s family has given up on school.  They simply don’t care and show that by not doing their homework.  How many kids give up on homework sometime?  How many kids wish they could just not do it at all like the pigs do?  This is relatable for young students and helps my characters come to life.  Pigs playing video games, watching tv, playing tag are all current and relatable activities.  The natural consequence of failing their subjects is another relatable situation.  How many high achieving students are teased with “Nerd, Goody-Goody, or Smarty-Pants” by others who don’t or won’t put forth the same effort?  Again, a very typical classroom situation that is represented in Smarty Pig except it’s portrayed in the home instead.

Beyond the words, you need to find an illustrator who has the correct vision of your character.  Monique Turchan provided me with a couple of different versions of Smarty Pig.  I immediately gravitated to the one that we ended up using.  I wanted a character that was pig-ish, but childlike at the same time, again hoping to help the kids relate to her and her pig family.  In this type of book, the marriage between words and illustrations must come together creating the complete package of lovable, relatable characters that kids will love to read about.

About the author: Molly Nero loves to sing, dance and read. She spent over 18 years teaching elementary school.  Reading to her own children, she was inspired to write. The second book in the Smarty Pig book series Smarty Pig and the Test Taking Terror releases in Spring 2012.

Smarty Pig is the only one in the pig family who hasn’t given up on school and doing her homework. Although she is teased, her report card shows her hard work, while the others fail. The other pigs reach out to her and she becomes their tutor, by creating games in their home. They all realize learning can be fun and that it’s not just for school, it’s for life.

Get a sneak peek of the book at
You can find out more about Molly Nero’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Nero and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

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