Ocean View resident Michelle Meadows has had plenty of chances to perfect the art of the children’s book. Her eighth and most recently published book, “Super Bugs,” is designed for children and parents to enjoy, filled with vibrant illustrations of crawly creatures illustrated by Georgia-based Bill Mayer, as well as Meadows’ “bouncy” rhymes.
This weekend, Tidepool Toys & Games in Bethany Beach will be hosting Meadows for the launch of “Super Bugs” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 9.
“The Super Bugs Book Bash” will feature a reading, a book signing, light refreshments and an insect craft. The book, which is targeted toward children 2 to 6, follows a trio of heroic Super Bugs from morning until night as they save their fellow insects from hungry frogs, falling tomatoes and other dangers.
In addition to writing, Meadows has a strong passion for kids and for family. She grew up in Washington, D.C, with her older brother, Marcus, and her parents, Geraldine and Melvin. Even from a young age, Meadows always had an interest in writing — particularly poetry, for which she was involved in a number of school clubs.
Upon finishing school in D.C., she left to go to Syracuse University and studied magazine broadcasting and graduated a semester early, with the Class of 1991, before returning to D.C. to work for The Washingtonian magazine. Soon after, she got married to her husband, Rich, and they moved to Maryland, where they lived until her son, Chase, finished high school.
Then the family decided to move to Delaware, where they have been enjoying their new home on the eastern shore for a year now, while Meadows has taken up volunteering locally and taking part in the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild. Through all her moves, though, her love for writing has been a constant.
Meadows sold her first book directly to New York-based publisher Henry Holt & Company, without a literary agent. In 2005, she got an agent, Rosemary Stmola, who has represented her from her second book forward. Her book “Hibernation Station” made it on the Los Angeles Times Reading List and was a nominee for the South Carolina Picture Book Award.
While Meadows has published only fiction thus far, she said she hopes in the future to try some non-fiction. “Hibernation Station” and “Super Bugs” are fiction, but are educational nonetheless. In addition to the action-packed story, “Super Bugs” also highlights facts about several insects and spiders.
Meadows said her family inspires all of her stories. Her son was even the reason she originally got into writing children’s books.
“I’ve always loved writing, and then when I had my son, I was taking him to the library all the time and reading to him all the time, and that’s when I started writing children’s books,” she explained.
She sold her first book, “The Way the Storm Stops,” when her son was 2, having written it after rocking her son to sleep during a thunderstorm.
Her son is also the inspiration for her books about some fictional pigs. She said her son acted a lot like the piggies in her piggy books, “very energetic and cute.” She said she multiplied her son by five, and that was how the pig children in her books came to life.
In “Piggies in Pajamas,” the pigs don’t want to go to sleep, but what finally brings them to their beds is hearing a scary noise.
“I found him in my bed one night, and he said he heard something scary at the window,” she recalled of the real-life inspiration for the story.
Meadows’ writing style focuses on rhyme. In fact, all her published books have been written strictly in rhyme.
“It’s funny — that’s what I’ve had success with. I’ve written other things that don’t rhyme and sent them to my agent, but it doesn’t work,” she said. So she sticks with what she knows.
One rhyme she said she really loves is from “Super Bugs”:
Daddy longlegs, sleepy eyes.
Fireflies are on the rise.
She says she loves that rhyme because it reminds her of her childhood, running around the yard, catching fireflies with her friends.
Writing children’s books isn’t her only job, however. By day, Meadows is the writer and editor for the Food & Drug Administration’s Consumer magazine, and when she is not doing that or writing children’s books, she can be found taking ballet and jazz dance classes in Rehoboth Beach.
During the school year, she said, she really enjoys volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club in Rehoboth, helping first- and second-graders read, do homework and write. She said she loves the first grade and going to schools in the area, and is looking forward to the launch event on July 9.
“I’m really excited to be at Tidepool Toys & Games as an author,” Meadows said. “The superhero theme fits in perfectly with the playful spirit of the store.”
Lori Smyth of Tidepool Toys & Games said the store loves to host events that not only are fun, but educational as well.
“We’re thrilled to be hosting the Super Bugs launch party! The children will learn about insects while they enjoy author Michelle Meadows’ lively reading about these small, yet heroic creatures.”
Meadows has a strong passion for volunteering with children.
“I really like that because it just gets the kids excited about reading,” she said.
With her “Super Bugs” puppet (literally) on hand and rhymes in cheek, Meadows is doing her part to expand the joys of reading to the young.