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Interview: Jo Linsdell, Author and Illustrator of Out and About at the Zoo

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Out and About at the Zoo is a rhyming picture book Written and illustrated by Jo Linsdell. The fun rhyming text and colourful pictures accompany the tale of a boy and his mom having a fun day out discovering different animals at the zoo.

Jo Linsdell is a freelance writer, author and illustrator. She writes about Italy, pregnancy and parenting, marketing (She loves social media) and the writing industry. Linsdell enjoyed writing since she could hold a pen in her hand but officially started her writing career in 2006. Since then, Linsdell has worked for numerous clients around the world and won a few awards along the way too. She has also published several books including the popular ‘Italian for Tourists’ phrasebook.

Originally from the UK, she now lives in Rome, Italy, with her husband and their two young sons.

Linsdell always loves to try new experiences and that’s reflected both in her work experience and writing. “I’ve done a bit of everything from credit controller to receptionist to shop assistant to tour guide. My work experience is as varied as the genres I write,” shared Linsdell. “One of the first jobs I had when I moved to Rome was for a company that produced publications for the dental industry. Later on I had a job writing research articles for the Neurology department and there I picked up knowledge about researching, submitting queries and the submission process in general.”

It was after working as a writer researching articles for the dental industry Linsdell started taking her personal writing seriously and had her first freelance article published. Soon after she published her first book, Italian for Tourists, an English-Italian phrasebook covering only the words and phrases tourists actually need during their visit to Italy. Her second book soon published, A Guide to Weddings in Italy, which she wrote following her own wedding Italy in 2006. Linsdell also published several e-books; including a collection of poetry before the release of Out and About at the Zoo, the first book in the Out and About picture book series.

Linsdell shared briefly the inspiration behind her recently published picture book with me and what she feels is the most important topic/sub-message as parents we can share with our young readers. Linsdell said, “I wrote Out and About at the Zoo for my 4-year-old son after taking him to the zoo for the first time. Spending quality time together with my kids is one of the most important things to me and I love watching them discover the world. They are already growing up so fast and these first years are so special.

“The book is a fun way to discover different animals and something about them but it also highlights the joy of quality family time together.”

Out and About at the Zoo also opens up conversation with children about the different types of animals, where they live, eat and other topics as well. Linsdell shared on the Stories for Children Show on the World of Ink Network at Blog Talk Radio, “My son loves the book and has me read it him repeatedly. For one activity I got out three plates. I put grass on one, sand on another and water on the last one. We then put his zoo toy animals on the table with the plates and I asked him to show me which animals live in or near the grass. We did this with each plate and talked about animal habits in a way he would understand.”

However, don’t let this creative writing and illustrating mom foul you. Linsdell has also had to overcome publishing hurdles. “With Out and About at the Zoo the text just seemed to flow and didn’t take me long at all. The illustrations were the hard part. I studied art and design in college and so drawing up the sketches was easy, but making them digital and print quality was not. This was my first time using a graphics program and I had no idea about transparencies, layers and embedding. It was a real learning curve for me,” shared Linsdell.

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