Interview and Review with Sybrina Durant for Cleo Can Tie A Bow on Toot’s Book Review Blog

Book Blurb & Info
Cleo loves bows. She wears her hair in a bow and decorates her room with bows. Cleo is bow crazy.

Learning to tie a bow is very difficult for some people but Cleo remembers how to do it from a cute story she once heard. It is about a little rabbit with very long ears and a very helpful fox who shows her what to do to keep them clean. This is the story of how Cleo learns to tie a “bunny ear” bow.

“Teach a child a useful skill. Build confidence and self-esteem that lasts a lifetime.” This fun picture book is intended to be a family bonding parent-child activity. It’s a great way to learn to tie shoe laces.
Buy LinksAmazon / BarnesandNoble / IndieBound

Toot’s Review by Betty
Cleo Can Tie a Bow is an adorable children’s picture book. The characters Cleo, Fox, and Rabbit leap off the page thanks to the beautiful writing and illustrations. Your child will love this book!

It is also a great way to introduce your child to the world of bows and get them interested in making bows themselves. You can start by teaching your child how to tie his or her own shoes. This book seems to be aimed more at girls than boys with all the pink. However, Sybina Durant has also written two books on tying a tie which would certainly appeal more to boys, ‘Ned Knows How To Knot a NeckTie’ and ‘Learn To Tie a Tie With The Rabbit and the Fox.’

I highly recommend ‘Cleo Can Tie a Bow’ give it 5 stars.

Author Interview by Betty

Hi Sybrina, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview.

Betty: Please tell us something about ‘Cleo Can Tie a Bow’ that is not in the description.

Sybrina: Thanks for your interest, Betty. This book inspired an online bow-themed store called the Girls Love Bows Gift Shop.  While researching inspiration ideas for the book’s illustrator, Pumudi Gardiyawasam, I realized that there are millions of things that are decorated or embellished with bows. Since I am an Amazon associate, I decided to create a store on my blog that features hundreds of gifts for all of those bow crazy girls out there.  My blog Link I now include that gift shop as part of my book marketing and promotions process.

Betty: ‘Cleo Can Tie a Bow’ is part of your ‘Rabbit and Fox’ series.  How does it tie in with the series?

Sybrina: The “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and Fox” series was born out of my desire to help parents teach their children some simple manual dexterity skills. Learning the intricate moves of tying a neck tie or a bow can seem really tricky. But when you have a story to refer to, it becomes fun and easy to remember the steps. The first book was “Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox”.  It was very simple and didn’t contain any back ground information about the boy character. It also has an accompanying song containing lyrics with the exact steps it takes to tie a neck tie. You can see the video on YouTube. After publishing that book, I decided I wanted to make the boy more interesting to readers so I wrote “Ned Knows How To Tie A Neck Tie”.  Ned knows all kinds of knots including fishing knots, rescue knots and other fun knots, like the monkey’s paw. He also loves to wear neck ties because he thinks they make him look good. After Ned’s book was published, I wrote one for girls titled “Nellie Knows How To Knot A Neck Scarf”. Nellie loves dressing up.  I kind of based her character on the idea of the Fancy Nancy books. Nellie has a massive collection of frilly dresses, fun hats and neck scarves. She’s familiar with lots of different ways to knot a neck scarf but her favourite is the “necktie knot”.  From the beginning, I wanted to write a “how to tie a bow” book but I just couldn’t think of a way to make it work the same way the others did.  I was stuck on the idea of a fox chasing a rabbit around to tie the knot. After nearly 30 years, Cleo’s story finally made itself known to me. Her story includes a friendly fox that helps a little bunny with its extra-long ear problem. I envision this fox as the forest beautician.

Betty: Where do you get the names for your characters? Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?

Sybrina: Cleo is the only named character in the story…but there’s a little secret that some people might like to know about the snail. When writing a character introduction for him recently, I revealed that his name is Clarence. You can read it here if you’d like.  I decided on his name because it just seemed to compliment the name Cleo.  Cleo’s name was much more difficult for me to settle on. I wanted something that would easily flow with “Can Tie A Bow”.  I came up with all kinds of names that started with T, B and C before I finally thought of Cleo.  Now, I can’t conceive of a better name for her.

Betty: What kind of messages do you try to instill in your children’s books?

Sybrina: My main message is “You can do it!” I want children to realize that if they put their mind to something and practice enough times, they will achieve great things. I also want to encourage parents to take the time to help their children overcome obstacles.  When parents and their children engage in projects together, the final outcome is likely to be much more positive than if the child is left to figure out things on their own. Another thing is that children learn most of what is right or wrong in society from interacting with their parents. That is why I placed a message in the Dear Reader section of the book, for parents to read to their child, about how important it is to never attempt to tie a live bunny’s ears into a bow. It’s a way to begin some very important dialogs about the differences between cartoon fantasies and reality.

Betty: Tell us about your cover.

Sybrina: It a collaboration with illustrator, Pumudi Gardiyawasam?  Also, what was it like working with Pumudi Gardiyawasam? Cleo’s story begins in her bedroom but I wanted readers to get a clue from the cover that the book was going to take them on an adventure. We worked very closely on every aspect of each picture and after the illustrations for the rest of the book were mostly finished, I expressed my idea for the cover to Pumudi. She took off with it.  I love how it turned out. She is a wonderful person to interact with on a children’s picture book project. I thought her technical abilities with the knot tying illustrations were pretty impressive, too.  This was actually Pumudi’s first full picture book and I really hope that she gets a lot more illustration work as more people are introduced to her creative abilities. Her instagram profile is i_doodling.

Betty: What draws you to the children’s book, educational genre?

Sybrina: There was a time, when I was a very young girl, that I thought I’d like to be a teacher some day. Even though I work at an engineering firm and not at a school, I find myself in the teaching mode all of the time. I like helping people and showing them better ways to accomplish tasks.  If my “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox” series of books help kids (or even adults) overcome some of their frustrations and give them the desire to keep trying to become accomplished at simple knot tying, then one of my missions in life will be happily accomplished.

Betty: What writers have you drawn inspiration from? What other inspirations do you draw from?

My inspirations for the “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox” series of books were drawn from the need to come up with a simple solution to the problem of teaching the skills of tying a neck tie knot or a bow knot. The illustrations in this book show Cleo tying a bow around her waist, and the fox tying a bow above the rabbit’s head. I wanted to show, through the different situations, that this simple method can be used for any bow use, including shoe laces. Surprisingly, there were really no books available to me for inspiration of this kind 30 years ago, when I first thought of the idea.

Betty: What are you currently working on?

Sybrina: I have a few other book ideas for the future but I don’t believe there will be any more “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox” books now that I’ve finally published “Cleo Can Tie A Bow”. However, I will be spending lots of time and energy on promoting and marketing the books that I’ve already published.  In addition to the “Rabbit and Fox” books, I’m also the author of “The Blue Unicorn – Journey To Osm” series of books. You can find the online store inspired by those fantasy stories on my blog as well. Sybrina’s Unicorn Book Store contains at least 1000 unicorn books written by many different authors.  There are hundreds of unicorn-themed gifts there, too. The books and gift selections are categorized by Little Kid, Middle Kid and Teen. If you are a unicorn aficionado, come take a look.  Link

Author Info
Award winning author, Sybrina Durant is the author of ‘The Rabbit and The Fox Learn To Tie’ Series of Books which include ‘Learn To Tie A Neck Tie With The Rabbit and the Fox’ in English, Spanish and Tagalog; ‘Ned Can Knot A Neck Tie’; ‘Nellie Can Knot A Neck Scarf’ and the newest addition, ‘Cleo Can Tie A Bow.’ She also the author of ‘The Blue Unicorn’ Series of books and has an online book store which features, unicorns, rabbits, foxes, and how to tie books plus gift items related to those things plus lots of bow-themed gifts.

‘Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox’ won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and the Indie Bragg Award.


Visit Toot’s Book Review Blog for more author interviews and book reviews.

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