learning never looked so good!
Question and Answers with author Adam Gertsacov.
Q: What's your book about?
A: The book is a coloring/learning book all about Rhode Island. It features 26 different aspects of the history and natural history of the state. Each subject has an illustration, plus a 250 word or so article about that subject. From johnnycakes to quahogs, from the Block Island Lighthouse to the Providence Statehouse, we have really tried to focus on the things that make Rhode Island special and unique.
Q: How did you decide which subjects to include?
A: It was difficult! There is so much great information about Rhode Island that we could have done 100 letters instead of just 26. My collaborator and I wanted to include a fun mix of natural history and cultural history. But because we had only 64 pages, we had to decide what was most important for our book, and what to leave out. The book includes resources for people to get more information about Rhode Island, including a recommended reading list, a timeline, and a list of some of the places we mention in the book.
Q: Your book is a coloring book? What age range is the book designed for?
A: The book is a coloring book, but it's not a typical coloring book. I like to say that it's not a coloring book so much as it is a book you can color. From an educational standpoint, the book is aimed at Grades 3-6. (Ages 9-12) However, the text and the illustrations are such that pretty much any age can enjoy them. If you are younger than 9, you might need a parent to help with some of the vocabulary. If you are older than 12, you'll still learn a lot about Rhode Island in a fun and entertaining way. The coloring is optional.
Q: It says in your bio that you are the Clown Laureate of Greenbelt, Maryland and a flea circus impresario? Can you tell me more?
A: Well, I do a lot of different
things. My day job is that I am a professional clown. I have a small
producing company, and I tour shows, teach workshops, and create
performances around the country. My slogan is NO BIRTHDAY PARTIES!
The Clown Laureate program is something I designed in conjunction
with a theater in Greenbelt Maryland. It's a 7 week clown residency
that I did in Greenbelt where the mayor appointed me the Clown
Laureate of the City and gave me a large and ornate green belt as a
signifier of my office. It was a lot of fun!
And one of the solo shows that I do is an old-fashioned Victorian style flea circus, which features "Trained Fleas Performing Spectacular Circus Stunts As Seen Before (and on top of) The Crowned Heads of Europe."
But I'm not here to talk about that stuff today...
Q: This is your first book. Why did you decide to write it?
A: Well, Donna Atwood, the illustrator, has three coloring/learning books all about the Southwest, where she's from. Her work is really amazing. She was visiting me in Rhode Island, and as I was showing her the sights, we started talking about how she should do a book about Rhode Island. She said "Well, you would have to write it." So I said Okay! We then got a grant from the State Council on the Arts to help with the publishing of the book. That grant really gave us the time necessary to create the book.
Q: How long did the book take to write?
A: About 18 months from idea to final copy. (Although we weren't working on it full time for all that time) Once we decided on the subjects, we started doing research on each individual subject. We went to a lot of places to do visual research for the images, as well as doing a lot of library work, and also finding out about things on the Internet.
Q: What was your favorite part of writing the book?
A: I have to say that my
favorite part of writing the book was doing the research. I've lived
in Rhode Island just about my whole life, but there was so much that
I didn't know, hadn't seen, hadn't been to. Some of the places that I
went to do research on, I hadn't been to since a field trip in the
Now that the book is written, my favorite part is watching someone flip through the pages and recognize something from their past-- Haven Brothers, the Crescent Park Carousel, the State House. Their eyes just light up!
Q: Are you planning on writing another book?
A: Definitely! It's a lot of fun to do it. I've got a lot of ideas, and I don't know what my next project will be. We're talking about doing another state (maybe Massachusetts.) I also have some ideas for non-state related book projects. And I'm planning on creating a school show about Rhode Island that dovetails with the book. I'm also working a new clown performance! I've got a lot of work cut out for me.