Q: What prompted you to start writing books together?
Margie: It all began when Claire was in second grade and an elf visited her teacher's classroom to watch over the class during the month of December. This sparked Claire's interest to have an elf of her own. Soon after, an elf magically appeared at our house by the name of Skippy Dimpledot. Claire wrote him letters and he would write her back and magically move while she was asleep. Each year, when Santa would bring Claire's gifts, Skippy Dimpledot would return to the North Pole. He still returns to our house each December for a magical visit.
I am a former elementary school teacher and had always wanted to write a children's book. When Claire was in fifth grade, we talked about writing a book together and thought it would be fun to write about our Skippy Dimpledot tradition. This began as a fun mother/daughter project and has become something extraordinary.
Q: How has working on these books impacted your relationship?
Margie: Claire and I have always had a close relationship, and my favorite part of this whole experience is that I have gotten to share it with her. Our first book was published when Claire was in seventh grade. We had a wonderful time visiting schools and giving multimedia presentations. I think the students enjoy seeing someone close to their age who has written a book. We always encourage creative writing, reminding students that they too are authors. This past year we wrote our second book before Claire graduated from high school. Even though she is a freshman in college now, we have still been able to visit thousands of students in Texas and St. Louis.
Claire: This experience has been so rewarding, and just knowing that our story has brought magic into others' lives is a feeling I cannot describe. My mom is my best friend and my biggest fan, sharing this with her has been the best part. Now that I am in college, we are able to talk even more than usual, and I love it!
Q: How can parents use this book to promote literacy/writing with their children?
Margie: We have been encouraging reading and creative writing to thousands of children through our PowerPoint presentations since we published our book in 2004. It is extremely heartwarming to hear stories from parents about their children's experiences with their own elves. The children write their elves asking them questions about the North Pole and Santa, but they also write them about personal issues in their lives and ask them for advice. Our second book introduces several cities and famous landmarks in Europe. We have a list of suggested teacher activities and are planning to have an elementary school curriculum in place for 2011.
Q: Why did you decide to send Skippy Dimpledot to Europe in your latest book?
Margie: We decided that we wanted children to know that elves visit children all over the world. Europe seemed like an exciting place for our elves to visit as well as an educational opportunity for our brand. It is just the beginning of the wonderful adventures Annie and the elves will have around the world.
Q: Does Skippy Dimpledot have plans to travel to other places in the future?
Margie: Skippy Dimpledot along with Julie Jellybean, Henry Dimpledot, Daisy Dimpledot, Marco Macaroni, Jazzy Gelato and several new elves, will be visiting many places in the years to come. Just like people, elves come in all shapes and sizes, colors, races and ethnicities. They speak many different languages, but they are all magical and all love to visit children around the world! Our next book will be available in 2012. Annie, Skippy Dimpledot and his friends are visiting a very special place.
Q: Margie, while you live in Texas now, I understand you have St. Louis roots. How often do you get back to St. Louis and what are some of your favorite things to do while you're in town?
Margie: I grew up in St. Louis, attended Villa Duchesne and taught third grade at Villa Duchesne/Oak Hill after I graduated from college. I have been gone for 25 years, but try to visit St. Louis several times a year since a lot of my family and childhood friends are there. Since 2004, I have come to St. Louis at least once a year with Skippy Dimpledot for school visits or other activities. This past year I met Michael Margraf, president of FireHydrant Creative Studios that is based in St. Louis. We have partnered with FireHydrant Creative Studios and they are taking our product to the next level with a national launch next month. I definitely have some favorite places to visit when I am in St. Louis. I love Italian food and there is no place better than "The Hill." I never miss a visit to my brother's store, "Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate!" But my favorite way to spend time in St. Louis is getting together with family and friends.
Q: Claire, where are you attending college, and will you continue to write after graduation?
Claire: I am a freshman at The University of Texas at Austin in the School of Communication. My mom and I have already discussed the idea for our book that will be available in 2012. When we wrote Skippy Dimpledot Christmas in Europe we decided that we wanted our brand to be educational. We want Skippy Dimpledot and all the elves to have exciting adventures as well as encourage creative writing and reading. So to answer your question, yes I will continue to write after graduation.
More on Skippy Dimpledot is available in the Skippy Dimpledot Gift Shoppe.From the calendar