Monday, December 6, 2010

Interview with Children’s Author Sherrill S. Cannon

Sherrill Cannon has been a poet ever since she was four years old. She has written eight rhymed children’s stories and eight rhymed musical plays for elementary school students. She was a teacher and coach for ten years in the Washington DC area, and then became a “stay-at-home-Mom” with several varied careers in her spare time. She is the author of two published books, the mother of four children, and a grandmother of nine. Sherrill said, “My friends and family ask me if I think in rhyme and meter, and I have to admit that sometimes this is true!”

Hello Sherrill. I’ve never met an author who thinks in rhyme. How interesting! Can you give us an example of thinking in rhyme?

I have been writing poetry for years, and whenever I want to “put a feeling into words” or think of a plot for a children’s story, my mind immediately starts translating these feelings or stories into rhyming lines. I love the sound and cadence of words, and enjoy fitting them neatly within a poetic stanza. Here’s a short fun poem about writing – how my mind “thinks” in verse (I suppose most authors can relate!):
Words, words, words, words,
Fill my mind like a flock of birds:
Flying, dipping, soaring, twirling,
Keeping my mind always whirling;
Singing, chirping in my heart,
Helping all my feelings start.
Bound within my heart they rage;
Gliding, diving in a cage.
Winging, darting everywhere,
For there is no way to share.
Until, finally, my heart is loosed:
I put them on a page to roost.
…Sherrill S. Cannon

Fantastic! I love it. The way you express yourself seems so natural. Okay, tell us about your children’s books.

Both of my books are relatively new. Santa’s Birthday Gift was released 11/03/09. The book begins with the basic story of the Nativity, and then skips to Santa who sees the star at the North Pole and travels to see the Baby. Since he is a toymaker, he brings his bag of toys - and offers them to Jesus, and then to all the people of the town. His birthday gift to Jesus is a promise to bring gifts to all good boys and girls each year on the Christ Child's birthday.

I love this illustrated page. (My illustrator for both books, KJ and her team of illustrators at Kalpart, is awesome.) Here are a few lines from the story:
And kneeling before Him, with a sack full of toys,
He offered his heart to this dearest of boys.
He leaned toward the Christ Child and blew Him a kiss
And promised to Jesus what would be his gift:
Each year on Christ’s birthday, he’d deliver his toys
To all children everywhere, good girls and boys…

Peter and the Whimper-Whineys was released 04/09/2010. Peter is a small rabbit who does nothing but whine and cry. Here are the opening lines:

In a house in the forest all covered with vines,
Lived a very small rabbit who did nothing but whine.
He'd whine and he'd cry from morning till night,
And nothing that anyone did would be right.
He'd cry and he'd whine, and he'd whine and he'd cry,
Till his mother said, "Peter, I want you to try
To stop all that whining and unpleasant noise.
Go take a nap, or go play with your toys;
If you can't stop that whining, I very much fear
That the old Whimper-Whineys will look for you here.
You'll go live with them in a land far away,
Where you'll join them in whining and crying all day."

Peter’s adventure continues as he later on finds lots of frightening Whimper-Whineymen in the woods and discovers that the Whimper-Whineys are very ill-mannered and rude, and that everything is sour in Whimper-Whineyland. Will Peter learn to stop whining?

What a great idea for a book! Wow! I wish I could have had this one to read to my children when they were young. Where did you get your inspiration for your novels?

Santa’s Birthday Gift was written in response to a granddaughter’s question. After I read to her the story of the Nativity, she looked at me and asked, “But where’s Santa?”

Peter and the Whimper-Whineys is a rhymed version of a story my mother used to tell, not only to her children and grandchildren but to lots of her elementary school students. I often wonder if one of her former students might recognize the story…at least the main character!

Isn’t it something the way our family inspires us in our writing! I found that to be true as I write my novels. Our life experiences can influence us a great deal. What do your grandchildren think about your writing?

My grandchildren love all my stories – and I use them to help me decide which to submit next! The last vote was to submit The Magic Word, so that is now under contract for release in early 2011, and is the story of a little girl who learns to say “Please”. The runner-up was, My Finger-Paint Print, so that one is now with my agent and is a story of a child who paints a finger-paint print in school which ends up in an art gallery. I have four more waiting for another voting session!

Now that’s what I call real support. Your grandchildren even have a say about which one is the most fun to listen to. Okay, now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I grew up in the Willard Hotel in the center of Washington DC, a block from the White House (my Dad was the manager) and there are lots of things about living there that “Eloise” never thought of – including learning to ride my small two-wheeled bicycle down the 5th floor corridor (watching out for guests coming out of their rooms, of course), sliding down the brass banister to get to the coffee shop, commandeering the elevator when the operator wasn’t looking and taking astonished guests for a ride, and practicing my roller-skating on the ballroom floor (which was a lovely wooden polished floor that my poor father had to have refinished!)

What a fantastic story! I can picture you on your bicycle pedaling down the hall and sliding down banisters. I can imagine you taking the patrons on a ride in the elevator. Do you know what? You’ll have to write a poem about it and have plenty of pictures to go with it. Now we know the real you: a mischievous Ballroom Skater who thinks in rhyme!


apple blossom said...

both these books sound ever so good. I don't know which one I'd choose.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

My 10 year old daughter and I have read both books and I cannot wait for "The Magic Word" and "My Finger Paint Print" to be released, as I know they will be wonderful, too!

By the way, I've known Sherrill (Sherri) for more than 20 years, and never knew about her "Eloise"-like upbringing! She's a woman of vast experiences and great generosity!

Laura Jean

Cheryl said...

Great interview. Both books sound wonderful, though I have to admit to being partial to the Santa one because I love Christmas.

Best of luck in all you do.



Louise Pledge said...

I love these! While they are both excellent, I'm so impressed with the idea of combining Santa and Jesus (who are really quite similar guys when you think about it). I'm sure my grandkids would adore having both of them read to them.

BTW, I tend to think in rhyme a lot, myself :)


Christine H said...

Wow both these books sound perfect! I really don't know which to choose. I wish I could have both. lol I too love the idea of bringing together Jesus and Santa and would love to share this book with my Best Friend's 4 year old son. She isn't rasing her son with the word of God at all. So anything he could learn from books I want to give him.

Thank you!

Shirley said...

I agree two great books that I have trouble picking from. I guess I'll choose Peter and the Whimper-Whineys. Thanks so much.

Cindy said...

Both books are exceptionally well written. I have read both to my 4 year old granddaughter who loved them. I have given away so many copies of Santa's Birthday Gift that I have none for myself. Anyone who reads these books will be able to relate to the characters. Bravo Sherry!


christina said...

I would love Santa’s Birthday Gift!!! What a great book for this time of year!! And what a great idea!!

allanbard said...

Nice post/interview! I've always admired writers who think in rhymes! don't know whether Sherryll S. Cannon will read this but I'd like to post it: Keep the good work going! Will be glad to have some of your works in the future!
Do you use sites like, cafepress. com, fiverr? They could be a good way to promote your works and to help "remove" stupidity in the streets like headlines on t-shirts, fridge-magnets, cups, etc: My Boyfriend kisses Better Than Yours, FBI - female body inspector, etc. Not everything we see and think of should be about sex, right? It would be much better if there were more nice pictures of mythical creatures, good thoughts, poems from fantasy genre, etc? I'm allanbard there, I use some of my illustrations, thoughts, poems from my books (like: One can fight money only with money, Even in the hotest fire there's a bit of water, etc). Best wishes! Let the wonderful noise of the sea always sounds in your ears! (a greeting of the water dragons'hunters - my Tale Of The Rock Pieces).

Maureen said...

I would love either of these books for my Grandson's. Either one would be wonderful. If I have to choose..Ugh!! Guess Peter and the Whimper-Whineys. Thank YOU!


Linda Kish said...

They both sound great but I'd prefer Peter and the Whimper-Whineys

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Sherrill S. Cannon said...

Thank all of you for all your nice comments! I have enjoyed "meeting" you, and am looking forward to mailing a copy of each book to each winner. For the others, the books can be found on,, books-a-million and many other distributors. I also have signed copies available on eBay. If you get a chance, please check out my website at, as well as my Strategic Book Group Author Fan Page on Facebook. There are also trailers for both books on You Tube. Special thanks to Linda for selecting me to participate in this interview! Sherrill
PS - Allanbard, I get my "no whining" stickers from Zazzle!

Jannifer said...

Great interview, Sherrill! My daughters and I have read both your books, and my favorite is "Santa's Birthday Gift". My girls love "Peter and the Whimper-Whineys". Even though we have seen a sneak peek of "The Magic Word", I can't wait to see it in print after its release. Sherrill's rhyming style is fun to read. Although I am a children's book author,I can't imagine thinking and writing in rhyme. You are very talented, Sherrill!

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Congratulations Louise and Apple Blossom! You are the winners of Sherrill's books. I know you'll enjoy them. I surely did!