Greg Pizzoli is an award-winning author and illustrator whose popular books for children include “The Watermelon Seed” and “Good Night Owl.” In early 2017, Greg announced his partnership with YOTTOY, a New York-based publisher and stuffed toy producer who will promote Greg’s books along with accompanying stuffed toys of the characters from the stories. Greg was pleased to talk about his books and his plans.


Blasting News (BN): What made you decide to become an author of children's book?

Greg Pizzoli (GP): This is a big question with a lot of answers, so I think I will keep it simple and say that it was teachers and friends that encouraged me to make art and a love for drawing and telling stories.

BN: When you were little, what books did you enjoy?

GP: I was obsessed with the Ed Emberley’s drawing books and came to his other stories later, which I also love. I have always loved the work of Arnold Lobel, Roald Dahl, the Provensens as well as Peanuts, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Super Mario.

BN: Overall, how many books have you written so far?

GP: I’ve published six or seven books, which I’ve also illustrated, and I’ve illustrated another ten or so books for which I did not write the words. They’re all different, and it would be hard to pick a favorite. All of the books have things that I love, but they also have things that I would go back and change. I think I am always closest to whatever I am working on at the moment because I am most engaged with the possibilities of what that book could be.

That’s what I love/hate about making books – they don’t get easier to make – you start fresh every single time.

BN: How did you manage to get your books published?

GP: I was lucky to be mentored by a handful of very talented people in the industry and just kept sending my work out to publishers until Rotem Moscovich from Disney Hyperion saw my work at an SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference, and we started working together.

Since then I have developed relationships with a lot of different publishers and worked on many different things, and Rotem and I are working on our sixth book together.


BN: How did you come to partner with YOTTOY?

GP: Kate, Peter, and the YOTTOY team are so fantastic at what they do, that I think most people know their work already – even if they may not know the company name.

They came to me with the idea of developing a line based on some of my characters, and I’ve been impressed at the thoroughness and care with which they approach every step of the process. We started with Kroc from “The Watermelon Seed,” Sam and Chick from “Number One Sam,” and Owl and Noise from “Good Night Owl.” I am thrilled with how the toys came out. I trust them with my characters and know that they will get them just right, and I hope we work together on much more.

BN: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a children’s book author?

GP: A parent once emailed me about my book “Templeton Gets His Wish” and said that her son, who had never been that interested in books, really latched onto that story and it was the first book he read himself.

This would be meaningful and surprising to hear about any of my books, but “Templeton” was not particularly successful critically or commercially, although I’ve always had a soft spot for it. Sometimes when a book doesn’t do that well, it can seem kind of like a failure, and hearing from that parent helped me to see it differently.

BN: Are you working on any new titles and what advice would you give someone who is aspiring to be an author?

GP: “The Quest For Z” will be out in 2017. It’s the true story of explorer Percy Fawcett and his journey to find a lost city in the Amazon. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” will be published in September and I have a number of other books coming out in the next few years. As per writers, read a lot. Volunteer at a library and lead a story time. It’s an experience at the core of why picture books do or don’t work, and you’ll learn something every time.