Sunday, 6 December 2015

Donkey's First Christmas

Today  I have the pleasure of introducing to you Susanne Tillotson Schroder -  the author and illustrator of The Donkey's First Christmas paperbook, that also is available as a download on iBooks.
Susanne  is also a very good friend of mine ~ I am excited on her behalf, as her book is published also as an interactive book application the 28th, November 2015, available at iTunes. 

Susanne lives in the UK with her husband and their two sons. She is a child educator and has an MA in Children’s Illustration. You get to know more about Susanne and her creative process in writing and illustrating books in the following interview:
What inspired you to write Donkeys First Christmas?
I  wanted to spark off an interest in the story of Christmas rather than  tell all the facts about the Nativity.  What better way than a cheeky  (and sometimes lazy) donkey.  Most children love animals, and few can  resist a cheeky one - especially one that refuses to 'play ball’ and do  what the grown-ups say!

The illustrations in The Donkeys  First Christmas are very beautiful ~ So expressive and pleasant to look  at, with soft and warm colors. Would you describe the process of  creating the donkeys appearance ~ He is so appealing, awakening the  readers sympathy for him right away?
Yes, I wanted him to be cute -  that’s why he’s got a big head, small body.  I also wanted him to look a  little bit grumpy to start with - lots of frowning so he looked like he  needed ‘cheering up’.  I wanted the character to be simple (so not too  much detail) a little bit different - hence the blue colour. I began  with a 3D model and lots of drawings until I found something I was happy  with.

Being an artist, you probably are working at the moment  with many ideas for your future projects. How do you nourish your  creativity?
With difficulty! It’s more like - how do  I prevent things from taking over my 'creative head space’!  I have to  fight my own head from drifting into worries about finance, or from  feeling there’s so much I need to do with my house, my kids etc.. The  battle is mainly in ‘allowing’ myself the time to indulge in being  creative. Once I have the time set aside - that’s half the battle won. 
I  do a regular ‘sing-song’ slot with toddlers at my church’s local  toddler group every Friday.  I have to be very animated to keep the  children’s (and their parents!) attention, so that’s really good for me  to remember when I’m writing.  Staying connected on some level with kids  and with what does and doesn’t hold their interest is invaluable for me  when it comes to the writing process. 
Another thing that has  really helped in experiencing what works when it comes to writing is  actually reading my books out to an audience.
When I’ve done this, I  realize there IS no mercy! If I don’t read clearly and quite  animated…and if it wasn’t for having something a bit funny or  interesting in the story to hold the children’s attention - I’d be a  gonner!  This is probably why it’s taken me so long to do my second book  - I’m thinking - help! It better be good - ‘cos I 'aint standing in  front of a whole school of children doing a book reading if it’s not!


Today  is the 2nd Sunday of Advent ~ we're getting closer to Christmas. Are  there some traditions that are specially dear to you at Christmas?
Yes  - I love the calendar presents.. my mum gives the kids some little  things wrapped up for each day of December - something her mum did for  me and my sister. It was so exciting I remember. Although my eldest  couldn’t really care a less my youngest loves it!  We also, give our  kids a bigger present on a Sunday…this is fun! I use it as an  opportunity to give them something special like a pot of Nutella each or  something like that. They love that - especially when I’ve held off  buying it for a few months - aren’t I mean:) I’ve got a pancake frying  pan for next Sunday - they’ll love that too - but think they will both  have run out of Nutella by that time…shame:)

Thank you Susanne for taking time to this interview - I love this cute, little Donkey, his expressions and the sweet grumpy mood! And moreover - His genuine manner of taking us with him to the road to Betlehem ... and all the things that follow!

Book Review: The Donkey's First Christmas - Read Aloud - Interactive Version

The beautifully illustrated Donkey's First Christmas gives the reader extra dimensions in the new interactive version - You can hear the donkey's E-or'ing and the sound of its hooves, and see it hiding behind the hay, protest to walk, among other capturing animations.

You can read the book aloud, and let your child touch the screen and start the animations. Or by selecting the Read Aloud -function, you can enjoy the capturing voice of the author, Susanne Tillotson Schroder, who reads the native aloud. Furthermore, you can see the words lit up in the colour coded text, as Susanne reads along.

The reader cannot do anything but identify with the little donkey who doesn't hide his stubbornness , who'se ears are flipping up when hearing a baby cry - And who in the very end learns that he has been helping Mary and God's precious son!
I warmly recommend the Donkey's First Christmas - both as a book and as an interactive read aloud version. The Donkeys First Christmas is available at Amazon as a paperback from £7.99and as a Kindle £0.99.
The Donkey's First Christmas as interactive read aloud-version is found at iTunes from $3.99 - available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac.

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Wishing you a peaceful 2nd Sunday of Advent ...  
The sound of the hooves are still echoing in my mind ... 
On the journey to Betlehem, for a long time ago ...



  1. Blessings to you, friend, as we celebrate the second advent Sunday from Northern California. The story of the donkey and the special place he holds is definitely a treasure! My best to you and your friend.

    1. Thanks so much Rhonda for popping by & leaving a greeting! I am exited about Susanne's book and so charmed by the donkey :)

  2. This is a lovely book, Nina. Thank your for sharing it!

    1. It is indeed, Michelle - The character of the little donkey is just wonderful - His perspective is a joy to follow, as he goes along the roads :)


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