About Nikki Smith:
Nikki is an artist and teacher. She enjoys using a variety of artistic media. Her children’s books and teacher materials incorporate her experience with children and art.
What led you to decide to capture children’s rhymes into book form?
The first children’s book I created was I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. I wanted to use the story in a lesson I was writing for a college education class, but I could not find a version I liked. So, I decided to illustrate my own based on the song the way my mother sang it to me as a child. I loved illustrating it so much, I started looking for other children’s songs in the public domain to illustrate.
Do your first grade students inspire you to continue illustrating children’s books?
My first graders inspire me to create many things! When Five Little Ducks was completed, my students demanded I bring more copies to school for them, and that definitely encourages me to keep illustrating. I have also created activity guides and teacher materials based on what is successful with my students. Most recently, I have been creating videos with educational songs. It is very rewarding to see my students excited to learn and begging for more.
Which of your works is your personal favorite?
I tend to favor my most recent work, but each of my books means something different to me. I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly was my first project and it holds memories of my mother singing the song to me as a child. I sang Five Little Speckled Frogs to children when I taught swim lessons; I had a clear vision of how I wanted the frogs to look, and they turned out exactly how I intended. Five Little Ducks was inspired by the ducklings I saved and raised. When I look at the book, I can identify the ducks by name and I remember them waddling to follow behind me.