Monday, August 22, 2016

Interview With Beth Navarro and Cami Abel

By Susan J. Berger

Beth Navarro has a new book coming out September 7th. Kiko is a charming picture book about a wave too scared to be big. When Beth told me about it, I couldn't imagine how you would humanize a wave. But illustrator, Cami Abel did a brilliant job. My review is on Goodreads. And Pen and Ink has a copy to give away. (US only, please since it is a hardcover.) There's a Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

Beth, Tell us about Kiko the Hawaiian Wave

Beth: I wrote Kiko after a trip to Hawaii. What a gorgeous place (to point out the obvious). Hanging out on the beach and watching the surfers carving up the warm crystal waters got me thinking about the connection surfers have with the ocean. So of course my mind leapt to, “What if a wave was too scared to leave the safety of shore to fulfill his dream of finding his surfer and becoming a big wave?” I wrote it without really thinking about the illustrations. When Cami signed on to do the illustrations I realized, oh this might be a challenge…. But she did such a beautiful job! Every page is a work of art.

Humanizing a wave looks to me like a huge problem. How did you get there? 
Cami: YES! this was tricky, my background is Scientific Illustration and Fine Art so going to the abstract was something I dabbled in in college but a leap for me professionally, it was really interesting to play and experiment. Because of how Beth described the waves, I worked to give them personality and maybe reflect the struggles that a new surfer would feel.

What do you want kids to get out of this book?
Beth: This story is really about taking the leap. Believing in yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. What would you do if you had the courage? If someone reading this book gets that, I’ve done my job.

Beth and Cami, Are you working on anything else right now?
Beth: I am! I am working on a sequel to my first book, Grambo. It’s called Grambo and the Art Thief and this time it’s in comic book form! I’m also working on two different young adult books right now. One a contemporary story with a little bit of alien magic and another a historical fantasy. Very excited about all these stories!

Cami: just finished a project for the City of San Diego, doing trail signs for Tecolote Nature Center. This summer Im working on a kids nature trail guide as part of a collaboration for the Clairemont Mesa Education Foundation and Tecolote ESCAPe program, connecting local school kids with our neighborhood canyons. I also work for a local wine company designing their domestic wine labels, and I'm a family/ lifestyle photographer.

I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.
Beth: Thrilling! To hear someone else get as excited about your story as you are is exciting. When I heard from Mary and Allison at Be There Bedtime stories I’m pretty sure I was jumping up and down.

Cami: I have to 'ditto' Beth, it was super thrilling to get the call from Be There Bedtime Stories! I jump from one project to another rather quickly so I was really excited to be able to come back to Kiko and work with the publisher for fine tuning. Be There Bedtime Stories has been fantastic to work with.

Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre?
Beth: My favorite PB writers… oh man there are so many. Drew Daywalt, Chris Van Allsberg, Samantha Berger and Dan Santat, anything he writes or illustrates I love (Beekle, you are are the very best.)

Cami: I truly love the artwork of Jim Kay, he is such a inspiring and gifted artist, I really study his drawings. I also follow Russ Cox of Smiling Otis Studio and Alice Tillotson Ratteree who provide me with constant inspiration via Facebook and Instagram, they are all tremendously talented.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
Beth: When I’m not chasing my daughters around I love cooking. I obsessively watch the Food Network. (Chopped!) I also love anything nerdy. San Diego Comic Con is the land of my people.

Cami: I chase kids too! I have two boys (10 and 8) and we spend the vast majority of our time in the water and on the beach here in San Diego, we swim, snorkel and the boys are becoming really good surfers. I have been an open water swimmer in La Jolla for over 20 years.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
Beth: It takes work. There is no secret formula. No short cut. If you want to be a writer, you have to get your butt in the chair and write. And if you want to get into children’s book writing, join SCBWI. Starting out that helped me in so many ways. Meeting other writers, hearing amazing speakers, just getting into that world. It taught me (and continues to teach me) so much.

Cami: Suggestions for new Illustrators-Draw Draw Draw, take classes, study the experts, experiment. I bring a sketch book everywhere with me. I think the more diverse an illustrator is the more work there is out there, but classical training seems to usually be the best place to start. Be brave and be humble.

And finally, where can we find you?
Beth: You can find more about me at Sign up for my email newsletter and quarterly I’ll send you cool links about writing and reading and share a little bit of writing you won’t find anywhere else.

Cami: My websites are: and
Other stuff!

To preorder Grambo, go to Get a signed book and special deals when you preorder through Be There Bedtime Stories!

Thank you for being here, Beth and Cami. Enter to win a hardcover of Kiko, the Hawaiian Wave below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Very interesting idea! My grandson will love it!

  2. Congrats Beth! I am excited to read this!


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