, Salem, MA

March 28, 2014

Author visit includes rhyming games for kids

By Will Broaddus
Staff writer

---- — There aren’t many words that rhyme with “Sidney.”

That’s the dilemma faced by a poet — who is also a pig — named Sidney, in the children’s book “Don’t Call Me Sidney” by Jane Sutton.

“I wanted to have some fun with poetry,” Sutton said. “I thought that would be something kids would enjoy. I wanted to encourage love of words, playing with rhyme.”

Sutton will read her book Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon at the North Suburban Jewish Community Center at 240 Lynnfield St. in Peabody.

After Sidney changes his name to one that has many rhymes, he struggles to get his friends and family to use it.

“I wanted to write about a character who wanted to follow his creative muse but had an obstacle and came up with a way to solve it,” Sutton said. “I like my books to be funny and have a subtle message.”

Sutton, who lives in Lexington, has written seven children’s books and one title for young adults.

She said one misconception people have about children’s books is that the author and illustrator usually work together.

“Publishers like to keep you apart, so the artist can look at the text with a fresh eye and not have the author breathing down their neck,” she said. “And it really worked. I discovered that with my very first book, ‘What Should a Hippo Wear?’”

Sutton had imagined her hippo character lounging in a river in Africa, but the artist placed the animal in a bathtub with hot and cold running mud.

“If I had told the artist what to do, I would have inhibited her creativity,” Sutton said.

“Don’t Call Me Sidney” was Italian illustrator Renata Gallio’s first book.

“She added a lot of humor,” Gallio said. “I love the way she’s able to show emotion in character’s faces.”

Sutton will follow her reading, which is free, with interactive rhyming games for children.

Refreshments will be served at the event, and tours will be offered of the classrooms used in the center’s early childhood program.