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! Welcome to another Mom’s Choice Awards honoree interview. For this interview, we are highlighting two of our honorees, Stephanie Logsdon and Mary Ellen Stottmann! Stephanie Logsdon is the author of the MCA award-winning book, Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom, which is part of Baxter’s Corner books. Mary Ellen Stottmann is the publisher and illustrator of Baxter’s Corner books. This interview talks about Mary Ellen’s publishing company, Baxter’s Corner, and their award-winning book written by Stephanie, Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom. Baxter’s Corner’s book division, Baxter’s Corner Books, publishes a series of books which is currently their largest effort in development. Baxter’s Corner Books are all in the same format, a short rhyming story about a difficult subject. Their latest book, Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom, is about diversity in families. Stephanie found Baxter’s Corner Books online through their mission to develop emotionally and spiritually healthy children through engaging stories and thought-provoking activities that build relationships, exploring values that transforms story-time into making healthy choices. Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom is Stephanie’s second published with Baxter’s Corner Books, her first being Gerome’s Rainbow. Keep reading to find out more about Stephanie Logsdon and Mary Ellen Stottmann and their award-winning book, Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom.
MCA: Hello Stephanie Logsdon and Mary Ellen! Thank you both so much for joining me today. Can we first start the interview by finding out a little bit about you both?
Stephanie: My name is Stephanie Logsdon, the “Chief Marker” at Baxter’s Corner. “Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom” is my second published picture book. My career is as a reading intervention teacher in Shelby County, and this year I begin my 17th year as an educator. My husband is also a teacher, and together we have two amazing boys ages 7 and 9. We love to swim, go on walks, and have dance parties in our living room. Oh, and we also have two goofy cats who keep us laughing every day.
Mary Ellen: My name is Mary Ellen Stottmann, I am currently in my 4th career. My past experiences have been working for ad agencies after graduating from Parsons School of Design in NY City. Co-founder/owner of a “print while you wait” shop in the late sixties to early eighties. A digital printer in the mid 80’s where a client would email us his customer list with a one-page stock market prediction in the morning, then turn it into a newsletter and mail it that afternoon to his customers. As technology progressed, I was Louisville’s first digital offset printer. In 2005 I sold my business and retired.
As a mother waiting for my first grandson to enter my life, I realized then what my retirement would become. My vision was clear however how to do it was not. With the guidance of my daughter, a corner in his nursery was created where animal puppets that I painted of all kinds lived. Hours were spent telling stories about these animal friends and learning shapes and colors from the paintings that lived in this enchanted room. My plan is that my legacy lives on where this magic still happens with the same animal characters! This vision is now Baxter’s Corner, and my current career is the Chief Crayon, (owner/illustrator). I am learning a whole new industry as “Gammie” of Baxter!
MCA: That is quite a career you both have had! You two seem to have been destined for a career in writing. What did the path to your writing career look like? What were the inspirations that lead you along the way?
Stephanie: I remember entering a Young Authors competition in elementary school and winning “honorable mention”. My teacher told me how proud I made her, and she said that I was a great writer. Well, that’s all it took. Her encouragement motivated me, and after that, I wrote constantly. I loved hatching up stories, making poems, and keeping journals. I dreamt of being a published writer one day, and I worked really hard to achieve that goal.
Mary Ellen: Maybe someday I will learn enough to be able to write – I do believe we can do almost whatever we want… lack of practice and training holds us back. My background has trained me to know a lot about publications, even how to edit down for my customers. It took me several years to find someone interested to collaborate with me and my idea. Linda Baker and I worked on three versions of our first six books to develop where Baxter’s Corner is today. Each story features a GoBeyond section to develop a fun playful way to transform the subject of the story into a conversation with a child. The stories are written for birth to eight, however, during a series of pilot programs, we loved it seeing the older siblings join in the conversations and help with the activities. Our idea is not to teach the children we just give you the tool to teach your point of view to your child.
My inspiration for all our books and products is in the realization that the only thing I can leave behind that can carry a child through life is some considerably basic values taught before the age of five. Children are motivated to make positive behavior choices as they begin to understand how their actions affect themselves and others. This begins to build responsibility and accountability.
MCA: Baxter’s Corner Books feature eight different characters that all deal with difficult subject matter through compassion and respect. What was the inspiration for writing Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom?
Stephanie: Baxter’s Corner has a story for every family. Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom is not only a way to facilitate conversations about the diversity of families, but it also introduces the many wonderful characters that reside in Baxter’s Corner. As readers find characters within the story that they feel connected to, our hope is it will lead them to the other stories in the Baxter’s Corner series.
Mary Ellen: We had a meeting one day outside with space heaters, sitting far apart during the pandemic trying to brainstorm a way to personalize our books for people who owned Family Businesses. When Stephanie suggested not to change what we had, just do what we did! Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom is a great asset to our collection. It fits in perfectly that Gerome the giraffes’ family had an heirloom recipe that a business was started on, and Gerome helps as a third-generation family member.
The foldout with the book of our eight characters’ family trees fits in perfectly with our mission. Here we give parents a tool to address the social issues of today’s family structures. We have designed our books to help navigate the constantly changing, dynamic messages of life in playful ways.
MCA: A meeting of the minds, and what a great result that came of it! What are some of the key lessons found in Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom?
Stephanie: The essence of Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom is that every family is unique and has their own set of family values. Sometimes children may feel left out if they are different from others, but we want them to understand that being different is what makes them unique. Children should be proud of who they are and where they come from, and they should have the opportunity to have rich conversations about their families.
Mary Ellen: For the adult – Baxter’s Corner believes communication with a caring adult is central to a child’s growth and development. My goal is that we facilitate this to happen as a resource to parents and caretakers as they teach kids to be emotionally and spiritually healthy.
For the child – That they bond with their caregivers, live a fulfilling life, and pass it on.
MCA: What are some of the benefits that reading aloud to young children has for behavior and attention?
Stephanie: When a child is read to they begin to connect reading with positive feelings and emotional security. Reading to a child not only builds their comprehension and vocabulary, but it gives them the communication tools necessary to cope with hard situations. As an educator, reading aloud sparks discussions about values and self-help skills. As a mom, reading fosters a love for literacy.
Reading Aloud to Young Children Has Benefits for Behavior and Attention New York Times By Perri Klass, M.D. April 16, 2018
“We think of reading in lots of different ways, but I don’t know that we think of reading this way,” … “The key take-home message to me is that when parents read and play with their children when their children are very young — we’re talking about birth to 3-year-olds — it has really large impacts on their children’s behavior,” Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine said. And this is not just about families at risk. “All families need to know when they read, when they play with their children, they’re helping them learn to control their own behavior, he said, so that they will come to school able to manage the business of paying attention and learning.”
MCA: How many published books about different animal characters do you currently have?
Stephanie: Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom is my second picture book, but the Baxter’s Corner series of books has many more.
Mary Ellen: We have nine published books as of August 2021. Proudly they all are recipients of Mom’s Choice Gold Award along with our other products. We have eight different characters our authors may choose from. My goal is to have twelve stories for each character. Stephanie has two almost written with a third by another author maybe. The hardest part for me is getting our GoBeyond section to really work.
MCA: If you both could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?
Stephanie: My hope is that the lesson will be different for everyone because every family is unique and has its own set of values. Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom will spark rich conversations and learning experiences specially tailored for each family that reads it.
Mary Ellen: Stephanie said it well, so I ditto that.
MCA: Well thank you both so much for sitting down for this interview with us! The stories you are both telling are very important and we at Mom’s Choice thank you for the opportunity to find out more about them. Please keep us updated on all the new Baxter’s Corner Books!
You can learn more about Stephanie Logsdon and Mary Ellen Stottmann and their award-winning book, Who’s Who with Mr. McBoom by visiting her MCA Shop pages.