Back in 2002, Random House Books for Young Readers published my Ready? Set. Raymond! for their classic Step Into Reading series. Three jaunty stories with upbeat illustrations by Derek Anderson show Raymond dashing through life surrounded by family and his new friend Roxy.
Happily, three new Raymond books are in the works.
Writing the Raymond stories is a joyful exercise in economy. I love the challenge of the tight, controlled language of a beginning reader. Raymond likes speed. He does things fast. Ironically, writing these readers about him is a wonderfully slow process of choosing words . . . one . . . at . . . a time.
I’m over the moon that Derek Anderson is back as illustrator for the series. Although Derek is best known for his Croc and Ally, Hot Rod Hamster, Little Quack and other marvelous books, I’m proud to say his very first book was Ready? Set. Raymond! His depiction of Raymond was spot on and he added more humor and warmth than I had put on the page. Thanks in large part to Derek’s art, our little boy has been on the run and entertaining young readers for 20 years.
I love books with characters of color about kids simply being kids, kids doing everyday things that any child can relate to — like waiting impatiently for a birthday to come, roller skating, or having fun washing the car. Ready? Set. Raymond! helped fill this need, and I’m thrilled that Random House will be making new Raymond books available — Ready? Set. Birthday! (September 20, 2022), Ready? Set. Ride! (Summer 2023) and Ready? Set. Puppies! (Spring 2024).
I am delighted to be back in Raymond’s world. If you haven’t already met him, I hope Raymond runs right into your heart.