Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers, and welcome to another installment of our interview series! For this interview, we were able to speak with not only one, but two award-winning authors, Carol Zaslow and Patti Tanenbaum! Carol Zaslow and Patti Tanenbaum are co-authors of the MCA award-winning books, Lovable Grandpa Joe and Big Shaggy Max! Big Shaggy Max is a fun, educational, and heartwarming story about a boy and a dog that has some very important lessons to be learned. Lovable Grandpa Joe is an exceptional book about the incredible bond that exists between children and their grandparents. A portion of the sales of Lovable Grandpa Joe is also donated to Love for our Elders, an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of seniors, which are too often forgotten, with kindness and joy. Keep reading to find out more about Carol and Patti as well as their two award-winning books, Lovable Grandpa Joe and Big Shaggy Max!
MCA: Hi Carol and Patti, thank you for joining us today, and congratulations on your Mom’s Choice Awards! Interviewing an honoree is always a pleasure, but getting to interview two honorees at one time is an extra special treat! Lovable Grandpa Joe and Big Shaggy Max are both such remarkable stories that really warm the heart. I’d first like to start our interviewing by hearing more about the both of you!
Carol and Patti: We have been Teachers/Community Service Learning Founders/Leaders in their children’s schools and so blessed to have exemplary parents who were role models.
Both of us have been encouraged from childhood to “give back,” to be giving and caring citizens, if you will. For example, Patti’s mother was awarded LA Times 1st Unsung Hero for a lifetime of service across Los Angeles, when the paper launched its new column many years ago. Carol’s mother was one of the founders of the long-standing Helping Hand at Cedars Sinai Hospital where her husband was a leading cardiologist. Community Leadership has been a big part of our lives. (For more details, please see About Us – Pazazz!)
Together, we founded and led for many years the BookEnds Kids Helping Kids for Literacy Scrabble Challenge fundraiser.
As far as hobbies, for both of us, family comes first! Exercise is very important, too! (Patti – spinning, cardio sculpt and walking; Carol – Pilates absolutely and walking)
(Patti) I remain passionate about my long interest in community and world affairs inspired by my father that formally begun at college.
As well, both of us love our Book Clubs.
About PAZAZZ! – Service that Uplifts…Ideas that Inspire – It may be said that it is here where Family, Fun, Learning, and Community come together.
MCA: It is truly wonderful how much the two of you are involved in charities! With your shared love of books, it’s no surprise the two of you became writers! What were your paths to becoming writers like? What inspired you?
Carol and Patti: Interestingly, we both independently arrived at the idea of writing children’s books at about the same time. Our children were raised. Both of us had always informally dabbled in writing in newsletters and journaling, etc. The series, Little Kids Do BIG Things, was an outgrowth of our firm desire to inspire children about the great joy, goodness, and importance of being active citizens. The payoff? We are happier, not so focused on ourselves, and perhaps are better able to understand the world around us and our places in it.
MCA: It sounds like the two of you have a lot in common! Can you share with us how the pair of you became so close?
Carol and Patti: We have the most unique relationship, we were both preemies and in neo-natal units together. So you see, our relationship has endured! Incredibly and curiously, the similarities between us are amazing, even though we hardly knew each other until they reunited at a Community Service Learning meeting more than 40 years later.
MCA: Wow, that is a truly remarkable situation! The story of your friendship is one for the ages. After all these years, what made you want to work together and how have you been able to make being co-authors work?
Carol and Patti: Being “Neo-Natal buddies,” we think a lot alike, and our lives have quite paralleled one another. Wonderfully, our ego is never an issue, and there is much mutual respect. Yes…“A match made in heaven. “ As for the process, there is first coming together on a book outline, focusing on scenes represented by the illustrations. We each write scenes independently and then combine our ideas. We feel so fortunate to have such an unusual relationship.
Carol and Patti: To inspire kids to better understand that by working together, collaboratively, we can be real problem solvers. Children practice the fun of being “doers.” It so grows the heart, confidence, and self–reliance, too. So many readers comment on how much they value the lessons taught, values they strive to instill in their children.
Carol and Patti: Big Shaggy Max has enjoyed strong support because who doesn’t love dogs? Lovable Grandpa Joe resonates because of its intergenerational appeal. It is so true that between grandparents and grandchildren, there is nothing quite like how special each makes the other feel. They say there aren’t enough such stories and that they are very relatable for little kids.
Such messages as forgiveness, determination, community, character, responsibility – are some of the values woven into the stories.
Fire Safety surfaces as well in Lovable Grandpa Joe.
MCA: If you could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?
Carol and Patti: May these stories inspire more kindness, empathy, cooperation, leadership. Our world, more than ever, needs good people to step forward and help one another in any way they can. What better time to learn but as children, who love to be problem solvers. In these stories, kids are helping kids, having fun, and learning time-honored values as well. Yes! As is the name of the series, Little Kids Do BIG Things.
MCA: Those are characteristics we all should hope to aspire to have, thank you, Carol and Patti!