Q and A with Susanna Leonard Hill about THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT. It RuMbLeS into bookstores on July 25th

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon


SLH - Book Cover

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon


I’m excited to share this fantastic new book with you! THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT is Susanna Leonard Hill’s newest picture book, coming out on July 25th.

She has been quite the busy lady as two of her other books came out in the past few weeks. Her blog hops have been so much fun to follow!  WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES and WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH both look terrific.

The blog hop shenanigans continue with a SPECIAL PRIZE to be raffled off among anyone who comments on every single blog tour stop, so don’t miss a single fascinating installment!

And don’t forget to share on social media.  The hashtag we are using to promote the book is #trucksontour.  Every time you share a post on Face Book, Twitter or Instagram using #trucksontour you will get an entry into a raffle where 3 winners will each get a $25 Merritt Bookstore and Toystore gift card.

Make sure you comment below to win a prize!!

I was lucky enough to catch Susanna for a moment to ask her a few questions about her book. Please enjoy this brief Q and A and make sure you stop by the book store and grab all of her books!

Q and A with Susanna:


Hi Susanna,

I thought of your wonderful, new picture book, THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT, as I was driving this summer and hit miles of road construction. What inspired you to write this book?


Okay.  Call me nuts, but I have always been fascinated by heavy equipment! 😊 Seriously! I love the huge tires, the caterpillar tracks, the giant dumper beds, the buckets and claws and rock hammers and noise – not just the mighty roar of the engines, but that beepbeepbeep when they back up.  They look and sound so busy and important, always hard at work making something.  I am not kidding when I tell you that when I was three I was fully committed to a career driving a steam roller.  And call me nuttier, but I love the smell of hot asphalt… maybe because I grew up in New York City.  Anyway, along came my son who apparently inherited my love of big machines and for a couple years that was all he could talk about, and all he wanted to read about.  Since at that point a career in driving a steam roller seemed unlikely, I decided I’d like to write about road building even if I wasn’t actively participating in it 😊



You have obviously done lots of research on each type of truck. Did you find it challenging to add in facts, yet keep it fun and flowing for young readers?


I think a lot of young readers, like me and my son, find big trucks inherently interesting!  Facts about them are fun by definition 😊 The main challenge I faced was selecting the most salient, age-appropriate facts to represent each vehicle while also keeping the story moving forward.  For example, it would have been very interesting to say exactly how much weight a bulldozer can shove… but it wouldn’t have fit the story as well as simply stating that its job is to shove stuff out of the way.  When choosing the facts, it’s a balancing act between what moves the story, which facts are age-appropriate (3 year olds can more easily comprehend that a bulldozer’s job is shoving things out of the way then that they can move however many tons of dirt and rock because the concept of specific weight is a little beyond them yet) and, in the case of a rhyming manuscript, what you can say and how you can say it and still fit the rhyme scheme and meter.


Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon


My two nephews will absolutely love this, as BIG trucks are all the rage at their playgroup. What is your target age for this book?


In my mind, the target age was 2-5, and I think that came through pretty well, especially with Erica’s cute and friendly art.



My husband is a Civil Engineer in Indiana and has worked with all of these big trucks for years. How did you decide which trucks to include?


I wanted to tell a story of trucks working together to build a road, so I chose trucks that would be involved.  Some machines, like bulldozers, work at a variety of jobs.  Other machines, like graders and paint markers, are much more specific to road building.  I wanted to include as many that were specific to road building as possible, while also including a few other important multi-dimensional vehicles that were necessary for building a road even if that was not all they were good for.  In addition, this manuscript is one of a series of three.  The others also rely on a number of heavy machines working together to create something.  I didn’t want to use the same machine twice, so they are divided between the three manuscripts.  That’s why, for example, there is no dump truck in this story… it’s in one of the others 😊 Whether or not the other two stories will see the light of day undoubtedly depends on whether or not this story sells well so… fingers crossed! 😊



The illustrations are so much fun! I love how the illustrator, Erica Sirotich, brought them to life with expressive faces. Did you get to collaborate with her on this process?


No!  I didn’t get to collaborate with her at all!  I didn’t see the art until it was pretty much finished.  But I think it’s really cute!  I love the way the book came out.  My favorite things are the pink bulldozer with the flower in her exhaust pipe and the little construction-worker birds 😊

SLH - Book pages 2

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon


This is a rhyming picture book. What challenges did you face with meter and rhyme?


It was tricky!  Words like “bulldozer” are not made to fit easily into rhyme 😊 But I was basing my rhyme on the familiar House That Jack Built rhyme, so I had a framework to stay within.  Rhyming, to me, is a little like a puzzle – a word puzzle! – one of the reasons I like it so much.  I enjoy the challenge of playing with words until I get the right combination in the right order.  It’s important to keep the story moving forward without padding in extra lines just to make the rhymes work.



I know you have had two more books come out recently. Please tell us about them.


So nice of you to ask 😊 Yes!  On July 11 WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH and WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES had their book birthdays.  LION is about a lion who does NOT want to take a bath.  ELEPHANT is about an elephant who gets the sniffles.  Both stories try to turn something that kids sometimes find unpleasant into something fun by putting the child in control and by making the whole situation silly.



What other books have you written and do you have any more truck books planned for the future?


Aside from LION and ELEPHANT, other titles include:


TAXI! (Little Simon 2005)



NOT YET, ROSE (Eerdmans Books For Young Readers 2009)

AIRPLANE FLIGHT (Little Simon 2009)

FREIGHT TRAIN TRIP (Little Simon 2009)


APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS! (Holiday House 2011)

BEER IS ZO MOE (Veltman Uitgevers 2011 – Dutch only)



WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT (Little Simon January 2, 2018)

WHEN YOUR MONKEYS WON’T GO TO BED (Little Simon Fall 2018)

ALPHABEDTIME! (Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of Penguin Books, Spring 2019)

MOON DREAMS (Sourcebooks Spring 2019)


As I mentioned above, I have more truck books planned for the future – 2 of them at the moment! – but I don’t know how the publisher feels about that! 😊



Thanks for sharing this fun info on THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT! We look forward to reading more of your books in the future!


Thank you so much, Angie!  And thank you so much for having me here today!  I so appreciate it!


SLH - Headshot


Susanna is the award-winning author of over a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner and an Itabashi Translation Award Finalist.)  Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one forthcoming in Chinese.  Her newest books, When Your Lion Needs A BathWhen Your Elephant Has The Sniffles, and The Road That Trucks Built will be published by Little Simon in July 2017.  When Your Llama Needs A Haircut (Little Simon) and Alphabedtime! (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books) are forthcoming in Spring 2018 and Spring 2019 respectively, with additional titles coming in 2018 and 2019.  She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs.


Website: http://www.susannahill.com/HOME.html

Blog: http://susannahill.blogspot.com

Face Book Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SusannaLeonardHill

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusannaLHill

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SLHill1

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=26268678&locale=en_US&trk=tyah&trkInfo=tas%3ASUSAN%2Cidx%3A2-1-2

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/102248907287284628149/posts/p/pub

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/susannaleonard/

Making Picture Book Magic (online picture book writing course):http://susannahill.com/for-writers/making-picture-book-magic/

Remember to use #trucksontour



Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon

26 thoughts on “Q and A with Susanna Leonard Hill about THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT. It RuMbLeS into bookstores on July 25th

  1. Great interview Angie. I enjoyed reading about the fun and challenge that writing this particular book entailed. This is a great book and I too liked the pink bulldozer with her flower.

  2. Terrific interview, Angie and Susanna! I can relate to the smell of asphalt in NYC! Thanks for sharing your inspiration and process, Susanna. Can’t wait to read this book and hopefully the other two that will complete the series!

  3. wonderful interview! Thanks Angie. Thanks Susanna. I’ll be thinking of you as I drive through construction this summer.

    • Thanks, Sue! Glad you enjoyed it! And if you get any good construction photos as your snailing along, post them on FB, twitter or Instagram with #trucksontour so we can all enjoy the road building! 🙂

  4. Great interview Angie! I’m so looking forward to reading this book with my preschoolers. Congratulations to Susanna on her all new releases. Such fun reads!

  5. I hope Susanna has a zamboni in a future book! Doesn’t someone have to build a new ice rink? Great interview!

  6. Thanks for the interview. If writing picture books wasn’t hard enough, making rhyming picture books is even more of a challenge. I loved Susanna’s statement that rhyming is like a puzzle because that’s exactly how i see it. Fun and challenging at the same time.

  7. What a lovely interview with Susanna, Angie! I enjoyed hearing about the work that is needed to create a rhyming text and how Susanna chose which trucks to highlight. Good luck with The Road that Trucks Built, Susanna. I look forward to reading the other two truck books.

  8. Loved learning the backstory of your latest, Susanna. I hope the other two truck books do see the light of day – working together & learning about different types of trucks are such popular topics.

  9. Congrats, Susanna! Trucks will never grow old for the 2-5 set. I love how you used the House that Jack Built structure. I’m off to the library to pick up a copy!

  10. Pingback: Road Trip! Trucks on Tour With Susanna Leonard Hill + a Giveaway! | Penny Parker Klostermann

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