Allison's Book Bag

Interview with Steve and Sarah Mostyn

Posted on: August 11, 2014

The Blue Baboon in the Big Balloon came about as a family project. Steve and Sarah Mostyn developed their storytelling craft through the inspiration of their three young children. It is a weekly tradition for the family to sit together,  brainstorm new ideas for books, and retell stories from their large collection of self-created favorites.

One Saturday afternoon, the family came up with the idea for The Blue Baboon in the Big Balloon and decided to write it as a book. The parents threw out an idea, the kids filled in words, and from there the story progressed. Although the story evolved through brainstorming, there were also deliberate choices made. For example, Steve and Sarah wanted the characters to have an adventure their children could relate to and so decided the moon would be a great destination. Sarah also wanted the baboons to have tea, as a tribute to her father who is British. Finally, even the colors were planned, in that each describes and distinguishes between each character.

Tomorrow I’ll review The Blue Baboon in the Big Balloon. Save the date: August 12!


ALLISON: Where did you live in Canada? Why did you move to the United States?

SARAH: We lived in Toronto. We moved to Texas for my husband‘s job

ALLISON: What are your favorite moments of writing as a family?

SARAH: My favorite moment was the reaction of our children when we read back our story to them.

ALLISON: What have been some challenging moments?

SARAH: The formatting of our book into e-book format. It took 3 formatting companies to be able to take our rich illustrations and make it look good in e-book format.

ALLISON: Has your family written anything besides picture books? Such as greeting cards or newsletters?

SARAH: My husband and I have both written un-published fiction books.

ALLISON: Who illustrated and designed your book?

SARAH: We found an incredible talented illustrator with a whimsical flair who matched our writing style.

ALLISON: Your oldest son is now saying he would love to become an author when he grows up. Does anyone in the family have ambitions to pursue the field of illustration or design?

SARAH: Our youngest is 3 loves to draw so maybe he will be our future illustrator.


ALLISON: How did you decide on a whimsical more fantastical book instead of a realistic one?

SARAH: My husband and I both love fantasy and wanted to incorporate this love into our children’s book. We did not want to make something that was “A” typical. We wanted the characters to have a fun adventure that children would really relate to

ALLISON: Have you ever met a baboon? Traveled in a balloon? What inspired these ideas?

SARAH: Other than zoo’s we have never met a baboon and we actually have also never traveled in a balloon. We thought the idea of a baboon travelling in a baboon would be fun idea. We wanted to incorporate a magical experience for our readers.

ALLISON: Your family’s collaborative process seems like a great model for writing classrooms! Would you share it here?

SARAH: Most of this story was our own input. It is the result of a husband and wife partnership, how our out there ways of thinking, come together with our love for our children.

In terms of impute from our children, we will throw out an idea and ask them to fill in a word. They sat with us while we were brainstorming ideas and threw out lots of really cute suggestions. As well, their feedback was very helpful, such as a giggle and a heartfelt laugh. They loved the story so much they made us tell it to them each night before bed, as it progressed.


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I am focusing this year on other commitments. Once a month, I’ll post reviews of Advanced Reader Copies. Titles will include: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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