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  • Manju Howard

How Kaye Baillie Turned a Nursery Rhyme into a Spooky Fun Picture Book

My boys loved making costumes for Halloween, going trick or treating, and reading spooky fun books. Today, I’m pleased to present Kaye Baillie and her new picture book, There Was a Young Zombie Who Swallowed a Worm. This spirited read-aloud was published by Macmillan Children’s Book, UK, and released on September 15th.


For our Kidlit Creatives Members, you have a chance to win a non-rhyming picture book critique. To WIN this special prize, follow the directions at the end of this post.


First, I want to share illustrator Diane Ewen’s humorous cover art!


About the Book: Everyone’s heard about the old lady who swallowed a fly, but now it’s time to meet a little zombie, who’s swallowed…a worm.

We don’t know why he swallowed the worm – it made him squirm.

A funny, cumulative rhyming story children will adore – packed with toads, witches, bats, trolls and a VERY hungry little zombie – watch out!


Manju: Hi Kaye! Congratulations on your new picture book, There Was a Young Zombie Who Swallowed a Worm. What inspired you to write about a Zombie?


Kaye: Hi Manju and thank you for having me on your blog! I was keen to write a story based on a popular nursery rhyme or song. I decided on "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly" because the format is perfect for children due to its repetition, cumulative text and its silliness. After reading many published versions of the story I realized that a Zombie would be a very different type of character to those already used. I also love stories with a spooky style and thought that a Halloween theme would give my story an extra hook.


Manju: Did you work with the editor at Macmillan previously?


Kaye: I hadn't worked with the editor at Macmillan before and it's been wonderful working with her. My agent had submitted the story to other editors and then it finally found the perfect home at Macmillan UK and has since turned into a three-book deal!



Manju: Were there any creatures that were cut from your story?


Kaye: My clever editor suggested we change the zombie from an old one (which was in the original manuscript) to a young one. Immediately the story took on a much more kid friendly style. We also agreed to swap two creatures from the original text to less scary ones. The vision for the book was to make it appeal to our youngest audience. I couldn't be happier with how it has turned out and Diane Ewan's illustrations are super adorable!!



Manju: Do you write manuscripts like the Zombie story with a focus on the US market? And write other manuscripts with a focus on the Australian market?


Kaye: Nearly all of my work is written for the US market which is how I wrote Zombie. I also write PB Bios for the US market because there is a strong market for them in the US. For example, my PB Bio OLIVE DENNIS RAILROAD ENGINEER is releasing with The Innovation Press, November 2022. The stories which I write for the Australian market usually feature something that resonates with Australians. But I try to write most of my stories with a universal appeal.


Thanks very much, Kaye!


Kaye Baillie lives in a coastal town in Australia. She writes fiction and non-fiction picture books, short stories, and chapter books for children. Kaye’s picture books have been shortlisted in or won various awards such as the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Awards, NSW Premier’s History Awards, WAYRBA (Western Australian Young Readers Book Awards), Speech Pathology Australia Book Awards, and the Children’s Peace Literature Award. She is published both in Australia and internationally. Kaye has a passion for writing stories about remarkable people as well as humorous stories. She is represented by Storm Literary Agency.


Prize offer: For a chance to win a non-rhyming picture book critique from Kaye, read the post, leave a comment on our Kidlit Creatives page (must be a member) and share this interview on your Twitter or Facebook. Deadline to enter is Sunday, October 9th.


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