National Poetry Month/Poetry Friday: More “Poetry Cubed #5” entries, and Interview w/ “Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” illustrator Louie Chin

Can you believe TWO interviews in one week? Yes, it’s been a busy National Poetry Month at the ol’ Triple-R; in addition to all the poetry posts, my new picture book Don’t Ask a Dinosaur, co-authored with Deborah Bruss, debuts this Tuesday – and the Dinosaur Tour blog tour stops HERE today!

Earlier this week, I posted an interview with Amy Losak about H is for Haiku (Penny Candy Books), a new children’s poetry collection written by her late mom, Sydell Rosenberg. Today, I have an interview with Louie Chin, the illustrator for DAAD – plus more entries in my “Poetry Cubed!” contest.

The first thing I need to do, Louie, is thank you for the fantastic job you did on Don’t Ask a Dinosaur! I know you’ve done some work for Highlights’ High Five magazine, but since this was your first picture book, what did you do to prepare, and how long did it take you?

Thank you for the kind words, Matt.

Yes, this is my first picture book! I’m glad it got to be with you and Deborah. In order to prepare for the book I had to look up all the dinosaurs. I knew some of them but there were so many that I never heard of. Funny enough, I saw the trailer for the new Jurassic World movie and noticed a Carnotaurus. I learned that from working on the book!

I think it took me around 3 months to finish the book. It was slow at first trying to plan and layout the book, but once I got to really start drawing, it was a blast!

Illustrator Louie Chin

Before we get too far, let’s back up a bit. As someone who studied studio art in college, I know how difficult it can be to try to make a living drawing or painting. (Heck, it’s hard enough trying to make a career out of writing!) What was your career path? Had you always wanted to be an illustrator?

I always wanted to do something in the arts. Growing up I read a lot of comic books and watched cartoons (still do!). I wanted to draw comics as a career. Needless to say, it’s very difficult to do that!

I did a wide range of things but I always drew, whether is was a side gig or hobby. I worked as an after-school teacher/ counselor, manager at a Startup company, designer at a children’s wear company – just to name a few.

Having illustrated for more adult-oriented publications like the New Yorker, did you find it difficult to get into the mindset of drawing for children? How do you approach the tasks?

It was not difficult at all! Working with children in my early 20’s was a great time for me. I wanted to be an art teacher at the time and always wanted to work on a children’s book. I approached working on the book with the mindset of what I thought the students I taught would like.

I’m also a fan of children’s books because they have wonderful artwork! I collect Miroslav Šašek and old Golden Books. They came in handy when I wanted inspiration.

Getting back to the Dinosaur book, I have to tell you how impressed I was that you not only made the species of dinosaurs look the way they’re supposed to look – but you imbue a great deal of emotion into them. Sometimes they’re happy, sometimes they’re annoyed, sometimes they’re surprised! Was it difficult to get those expressions just right?

Drawing the dinosaurs was really fun. There are so many ways they are depicted when you do research on them. It was fun taking characteristics from all the research and making my version of them. I didn’t really think about the dinosaurs themselves when drawing their expressions. It was more about the situation they were in that guided me. Overall, I felt that the dinosaurs wanted to be helpful. If they were successful, that’s another story!

From “Don’t Ask a Dinosaur,” © 2018 Pow! Kids Books, used with permission, all rights reserved (click to enlarge)

By the way, I have to ask you about this kitchen scene! On the refrigerator, the name “Audrey” is spelled out in magnets. Deb & I need to know…who is that??

I’m surprised you noticed! Audrey is the daughter of a good friend who lives in LA. I was there for a period while I was still working on the book. I thought it would be fun to slip a little Easter egg in after visiting them. She’s a bit too young to appreciate it at the moment. I’ll have to wait a couple of years to see what she thinks about it.

Both my 8-year- old son (to whom I dedicated the book) and his 4-year- old sister love dinosaurs and this book; my daughter actually has a small dinosaur identical to the one the little girl has in the book. So I have to thank you for including them, even though you had no idea you did that! 

I think when I first sketched out ideas for the book I drew the sister with a dinosaur doll. It was instinctual. The little dino wasn’t included in all the pages but our wonderful editor, Jordan, suggested that it would be fun to have the little fella hiding in the pages.

Early sketches in preparation for “Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” (click to enlarge)

Finally, what’s next for Louie Chin? Any new projects on the horizon?

I’m (thankfully) always working on new projects for other people or myself. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do more children’s books because it’s been a passion of mine for a long time!

OK, so I lied…one more question: what would be your ultimate project, if you could choose to do one thing?

Hmm! I think any project that would allow me to travel all over would be great. I also want to do something with the MTA (mass transit system in NYC)! I’ve taken the subway all my life and it would be nice to do something and have people see it everyday.

Well, Louie, thanks again for joining me here and for all your hard work on Don’t Ask a Dinosaur – Deb & I really appreciate it!


Many thanks to all the bloggers who are joining “THE DINOSAUR TOUR” to celebrate the launch of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur! Here is the complete list of particpating blogs:

April 6:       Michelle H. Barnes (Interview w/month-long writing prompt)
April 8:       Kate Narita (Book trailer & activity sheet spotlight)
April 11:     Deborah Kalb (Interview w/Matt & Deb)
April 13:     Yours Truly! (Interview w/illustrator Louie Chin)
April 16:     KidLit Exchange (Blog post re: process of illustration)
April 17:     Momma’s Bacon (DAAD review)
April 17:     Yours Truly!  (I’ll be sharing a couple of spreads of the book here – and gearing up for our National Book Launch that night in Cambridge, MA!)
April 18:     Bonnie Ferrante (DAAD review)
April 19:     Brenda Davis Harsham (DAAD micro review)
April 25:     Bonnie Ferrante (Interview w/Matt & Deb)
May 2:        Unleashing Readers (DAAD review)
TBD:           KidLit Exchange (DAAD review)
May 30:     Bookseedstudio (DAAD review/interview) 

I hope you’ll stop by these various blogs, as you’ll learn something new at each one, plus you’ll have multiple opportunities to win copies of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!


More “Poetry…Cubed! #5” entries!

Because a book launch does not make one busy enough, I also thought National Poetry Month would be a good time to host another round of “Poetry…Cubed!”

This is based on The Food Network show “Chopped!“, where chefs try to outdo each other by creating dishes using specific and sometimes strange ingredients. For this contest, I’ve taken the premise of the TV show and applied it to poetry! Here’s how it works:

  • Use the 3 images below as inspiration to write a poem. (1 poem, to the 3rd power – “cubed!”)
  • The poem can be any form, any genre, any number of lines, rhyming or not. (Heck, I’ll accept a monoku, if you think you can do it!) But please remember: #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading! This is about having fun and being creative – unlike the “real” Chopped, which is a life-and-death-of-your-career sort of thing.
  • Be sure to include a reference to all three images in the one poem – either via concrete imagery or something more abstract. (And since this is poetry we’re talking about, we play fast and loose with this rule!)
  • Email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and I’ll share them here throughout the month. Out of all poems submitted, one writer will be chosen at random to receive a personally-signed copy of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!

Keep in mind, I can only format poems to a small degree – so please try to refrain from lots of unusual breaks and text placement. I’ll do my best to format your poem per your wishes, but WordPress will only allow me to do so much.

Here are the three images (click on any to enlarge):

And yes…I’m playing with some Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017) imagery here!

I’ve had numerous entries come in this past week:

Lights Out!

Lightning flashes
Thunder rumbles.
Rain pounds on the roof.
Happy Birthday, my little monster!
Here is your present,
Brightly wrapped
And tightly taped.
Use those claws of yours.
Rip it open!
Don’t worry about the paper!
Oh no!
The lights go out.
The room turns dark.
I can’t see a thing.
A drawer scrapes open.
There is thumping and bumping.
Light shines in my eyes!
My little monster giggles.
I forgot about the flashlight,
But my little monster did not.

– © 2018 Trudy Bosman, all rights reserved



Fossils shed light on
dinosaur dance on mud flats…
Hats off! Party rocked!

– © 2018 Karen Eastlund, all rights reserved


Once again, it’s amazing to see how three images can conjure such different reactions. Want to enter the contest? Send me your poem, and I’ll enter you in the drawing, too!

And one final thing…SPEAKING OF POETRY…I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to visit Robyn Hood Black’s blog, Life on the Deckle Edge, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup! Not only does she have all the links to today’s posts, but she is hosting a very SPECIAL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION for a very special person…

Happy birthday to Lee Bennett Hopkins – a man to whom so many of us owe so much. Lee has befriended, supported, encouraged, and mentored a veritable Who’s Who list of children’s poets, from Jane Yolen and Charles Ghigna to newer folks like Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Yours Truly.

It may be Friday the 13th, but we consider ourselves pretty lucky – or rather, fortunate! – to have Lee in our lives. Lee’s two newest anthologies are World Make Way (Harry N. Abrams) and School People (Wordsong), the latter of which includes one of my poems. If you’d like to learn more about Lee and why the world is a better place with him in it, I’d encourage you to peruse this recent blog post.



DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR” arrives in stores April 17!

New dates continue to be added to the Dinosaur Tour! Here’s the most up-to-date schedule:

  • Sat., April 14, 11am:  Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Sat., April 14, 2pm:  Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Tue., April 17, 7pm:  Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur Dual National Launch Party!! (with Holly Thompson, One Wave at a Time reading/signing/discussion)
  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH, Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People!
  • Sat., April 28, 10:30am: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., April 28, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing (with Sara Levine, Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones reading/signing)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing and discussion
  • Sat., May 5, 10am: Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., May 5, 1pm:  Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and Flashlight Night reading/signing
  • Sat., May 12, 11am:  Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Wed., May 16, 12pm: Concord Hospital Gift Shop, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People signing
  • Sat., May 19, 11:30am-3pm: Barnes & Noble, Salem, NH, National Storytime at 11am, followed by Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., June 2, 1-3pm: Books-A-Million, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing


Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 


Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)


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24 thoughts on “National Poetry Month/Poetry Friday: More “Poetry Cubed #5” entries, and Interview w/ “Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” illustrator Louie Chin

  1. lindabaie

    You are a busy poet/picture book creator, Matt! I enjoyed the interview with Louie Chin & can’t wait to see all the illustrations when my book arrives! Enjoy all these times, sounds like fun! And I loved the poetry cubed entries. I need to get going with that, too!


  2. Kay Mcgriff

    What a great interview with Louie! Thanks for introducing us to this fabulous illustrator of your and Deborah’s book! As always, I’m amazed at what creativity the three images spark.


  3. Thanks for this dino-size-packed-filled post Matt, I think you’ve hit a home run! I loved the interview with Louie Chin, I think his art works so well with the story. And thanks for sharing more of the poetry responses, in all directions, from your cubed challenge.


  4. Interviews like this can be really inspiring for young people considering a creative career (or any career, really) – life isn’t always a direct path, and we sometimes have a lot of different jobs and working on a number of different projects before finding our fit, or getting that perfect project!! I can’t wait to share this beautiful book with all the dino-lovers at my library!


  5. Wow, Matt, you have been busy! I enjoyed reading about the artistic creative process behind DAAD (Congrats to Louie Chin!) and also those wonderful Poetry Cubed entries. I’m partial to the clever haiku. It reminds me that I wanted to play around with your prompt a bit and still haven’t done so. Thank goodness for spring break and unscheduled time!


  6. It’s fun to get to know an artist. Thanks for introducing us to Louie–I hope he gets his wish of illustrating the NYC subway!

    Here’s my entry for Poetry Cubed…

    Some things start wide
    and then narrow.
    Some things start narrow,
    then spread.
    All things point a way.
    Will you funnel or spray?


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