Author Interview With Elsa Takaoka 
Author Interview with Elsa Takaoka

I very excited today as this is my first author interview and it is with the talented, and inspiring children’s book author Elsa Takaoka.  Elsa released Goo and Spot in the Do Not Wiggle Riddle and A Moat is Not a Goat: Poems for Clever Little Girls last year.  I had won a free copy of Goo and Spot and did a review of it  here.  Elsa graciously answered some questions I had in between her busy mommy, writing and publishing schedule.

So here we go, lets learn a little more about the author behind the books.

One thing I always wonder about is how long authors have been writing and what their writing practice might look like.  We will start there:

1. How long have you been writing for kids and what is your favourite part of writing for kids?

Elsa: I started writing picture books a little over a year and a half ago. At first it started as an escape, a distraction from our new life abroad but it quickly grew into a passion an obsession. I love everything about writing for kids from the first “Aha!” moment when an idea appears to seeing that idea brought to life by the illustrator.

Me: I think lots of people think many writers have been writing for a long time, but it is great for new authors who are venturing out to realize that writing can begin at any age.  You just have to have passion for it which is evident in your books.  If one wants to write then one should practice writing everyday.  Just like one would practice a jump shot in basketball, or the front stroke in swimming or drawing cartoons, only through practice does one learn and grow.  Which leads me into the next question:

 2. Do You have a writing practice? Describe or explain. 

Elsa:  I have come to realize that a great WRITTEN story is really a magically complex IDEA told in a few precisely chosen words. I sit and write down my initial idea and may even jot down a draft, but for me stories are best created mentally without pen and paper. This way I am not afraid of trying different angles nor do I feel committed to a line or phrase. I often lay at night building on an idea, visualizing details and illustrations. Then when I am sure of the beginning, middle and end I start writing, I prefer rhyme, which is both a curse and a blessing. I have never been good at mathematics or music, but for some reason rhymes and rhythms and syllable counts and tones mesmerize me.

Me: Ah, so you build most of your story in your head and then begin writing.  I like how you said that you are not committed to a line or phrase as well because sometimes I build a story based on one line that magically appeared in my head one day but no matter what I try with it I have a hard time making a story fit around that line, or idea.  One has to be able to let go sometimes or look at things from a different angle like you said.
You jumped right in to writing and self-publishing in a year and half, do you have any advice?

3. What is your best advice to other authors who are thinking of self-publishing? 

Elsa: Learn industry standards. Learn the page count, word count, and layouts, study as much as you can. Hire that editor, splurge on that illustrator, read blogs, absorb yourself in children’s literature. Avoid rhyme if necessary (unless you are
stubborn like me then bite the bullet!) After the formalities I say, “be bold, be brave, and be confident! ”

Elsa Takaoka quote

In the beginning I was afraid no one would take me seriously, I was very sensitive to bad reviews, I have since learned that I am an unstoppable writing force because I LOVE this, I am crazy in love with writing for kids and with kids (especially my own) and if you love something you are willing to fight for it. Children’s books are for CHILDREN not for adult critics.

Me: Great advice! I will have to remember that.  Be bold, be brave, be confident! It definitely is a new world now with self-publishing becoming easier but still a lot of work.  I commend you on passionately believing in your work and forgoing ahead in the self-publishing world.  You are so right, kids are the best critics and they know what they like and why they like it.
Elsa, your family is currently living in Japan and I thought it would be interesting to find out how life might be different there compared to my kids in Canada.

4. Can you tell us one thing that most people probably don’t know about life in Japan? How is raising kids different there? 

Elsa:  The preschool and kindergarten systems (four ages six and under) are amazing here in Japan. My little one goes to a school that prides itself with allowing kids to roam free in the fresh air while playing with mud and sticks and rocks. Needless to say, my kid is now a tree-climbing, mud-pie baking, free spirit which is something not many people imagine from such a disciplined nation.

Me:  You are right, roam free, playing with mud and sticks is not what I expected but great to hear.  Kids are kids no matter what part of the world they live in.  Mine also love adventure walks in the forest, collecting rocks and puddle splashing.  You have been a very busy lady so lets find out what you are currently working on:

5. What are you currently working on?

Elsa:  I am currently working on the third book in the Goo and Spot series “Goo and Spot Under the Orange Tree” a picture book that teaches fractions to the youngest of children. I am also writing my first chapter book about a mischievous and rumbustious little girl and her knack of getting into predicaments. I am beyond excited to be writing a book for older children and hope to have that done before the end of 2015.

Me:  My daughter and I love the first book of Goo and Spot so we are looking forward to the new books in the series and its very exciting to hear about your chapter book.  You will continue to be a busy lady.  Thank you so much Elsa Takaoka for the interview and good luck this year in all your book adventures.

*Elsa Takaoka sent my a complimentary copy of the this book.  A review was not requested.  I only write reviews of books my kids and/or I enjoy and want to share with my readers.

A Moat is Not a Goat:  Poems for Clever Little Girls by Elsa Takaoka and Illustrated by Fanny Liem

A Moat is Not a Goat

A Moat is Not a Goat is a collection of 13 entertaining, imaginative poems for little girls.  I read this book with my 4 year old daughter.  I did purchase this book for my kindle app on the iPad and we first read it there.  This is a gorgeous book on the device.  The illustrations by Fanny Liem are vibrant and beautiful and look just as good on the kindle as in print.  My daughter particularly loved the ponies and thought many of the girls in the book were ‘so pretty’.
Each poem has its own message for girls meant to empower, stretch and expand their minds.  My daughter’s favourite poems were Snippety-Snip and The Squabble which were the shorter poems and so the ones I think she understood easier.  In Snippety-Snip is about a girl who takes the scissors to her hair only to be devastated by the results, but in the poem I love the last line ‘uh-oh, I’ll wear a hat.’     Even though she didn’t like the result she didn’t sit in the mud ( as I say it to my daughter) and dwell on it.  In The Squabble, it is altogether familiar scene of a disagreement between 2 young girls who by the end get over the disagreement and are friends again.  I also enjoyed the more complex riddles and poems and can see how these would lend itself to a girl 7 or older.  The Mollusk’s Daughters has an underlying message questioning where true beauty comes from and in True Treasure girls are empowered to make their own grand adventures through writing.  These poems will definitely challenge young girl readers to find the answers to the riddles.   Overall, this is a delightfully, engaging book of poems for young girls and another winner by Elsa Takaoka.  I would recommend this book for girls ages 4 to 10.
A Moat is Not a Goat book review
A Moat is Not a Goat


For more with this book you can go to the author’s website where you can find
Free Downloads  for colouring.

Where can you find Elsa Takaoka?  Here are her sites:

Elsa Takaoka on Facebook

Picture Story Ebook Blog

Google +


Bonnie New Signature




Educator, Writer, Blogger, Mom

Contact Me: [email protected]