Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 21, 2018

Book Giveaway: 7Ate 9 by Tara Lazar

Tara Lazar’s 7 ATE 9: THE UNTOLD STORY was recently honored with the Irma S. and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature by the Bank Street College of Education, as voted on by thousands of 1st and 2nd grade students across the US. She has agreed to giveaway a copy to one lucky winner.

All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.


6 has a problem. Everyone knows that 7 is always after him. Word on the street is that 7 ate 9. If that’s true, 6’s days are numbered. Lucky for him, Private I is on the case. But the facts just don’t add up. It’s odd. Will Private I put two and two together and solve the problem . . . or is 6 next in line to be subtracted?


If you were to visit House of Lazar—which is not an upscale designer label but a hastily slapped-together cul-de-sac colonial—you would hear constant banter, comedic banter between my husband and I, striving to one-up one another with the jokes. Truth be told, he’s the faster wit.

And now that our girls are older, they jump in. We could be the Traveling Wilburys of comedy.

My humor was honed by a father with a dry sense of humor, then challenged by a husband who still laughs out loud at Seinfeld like it’s 1999.

My humor is slower to come (yes, slower than a 20-year-old sitcom) so writing is my chosen medium. I can’t keep up with the quips unless it’s in Microsoft Word.

Back in 2012, I picked up Joanne Levy’s MG novel SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE. I thought, how clever she used a punchline as the title of her book. The joke, no longer considered P.C., is: “What do you call a midget psychic who just escaped from jail?” SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE. Brilliant title.

Now, the book did not tell the backstory of the joke, it was simply a jumping-off point for a tale about a middle-school medium. But I thought to myself, what is an elementary schoolyard joke that every kid knows? With a punchline that could be the title of a picture book? BOOM, it smacked me upside the head: Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ATE 9!

When I get an idea that hits me like lightning, I instinctively know it’s a fabulous idea. In a flash, I searched online to see if anyone had already written a picture book called 7 ATE 9. This was such a good idea, it had to be done already!

In my furious haste, I missed a 7 ATE 9 book that had already been published, and now I wonder, if I had found it, would I have written my story? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know.

So, inspired and undeterred, I began thinking about this story. I wanted to tell the backstory of the joke and I immediately imagined sentient numbers running all over town. Wouldn’t it be funny if a panicked 6 went to see a Private “I” because he feared his days were “numbered”? So that was my starting point, with Private I’s voice. I have an acting background, so I find it fun to write in first person, as if I were performing.

Once the jokes and puns started flowing, they wouldn’t stop. I would write dialogue like 6 saying, “and now he’s after me” and automatically realize, hey, that’s a joke! 7 ALWAYS comes AFTER 6. It was like I was bantering with my husband.

The story was written in the fall of 2012 and purchased at the end of the year by Kevin Lewis, then Executive Editor at Disney*Hyperion. He said he had the perfect illustrator in mind, Ross MacDonald. Ross is well known for his work with 19th century printing presses. He makes props and printed material for historical films and TV series like “Boardwalk Empire”. Years ago, Kevin wanted Ross to do a book about punctuation marks, but Ross never wrote the story.

So guess where the idea for the 7 ATE 9 sequel came from?

I tried to think of a joke about punctuation marks, but could not find one that worked as a title the way 7 ATE 9 did. For months, I had nothing. Then one day, quite inexplicably, it dawned on me that punctuation marks did not occur in a vacuum. They needed words to work. Once again, I got smacked upside the head and THE UPPER CASE: TROUBLE IN CAPITAL CITY was born…and it’s coming to you in Fall of 2019 from House of Lazar (and Disney*Hyperion)!


Street magic performer. Hog-calling champion. Award-winning ice sculptor. These are all things Tara Lazar has never been. Instead, she writes quirky, humorous picture books featuring magical places that everyone will want to visit.

Her debut THE MONSTORE released in June 2013, with I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK and LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD following in 2015. NORMAL NORMAN made his entrance in March 2016 and you can stay up WAY PAST BEDTIME in April 2017. If you know the answer to “Why was 6 afraid of 7?” then you’ll love her book 7 ATE 9, that came from Disney*Hyperion in May 2017. She displays her love of fun words in THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK, an illustrated dictionary and word game tome coming in 2018.

Discover original stories, book reviews and giveaways at her award-winning blog “Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)” at

Tara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010. She speaks professionally about overcoming disability to achieve your goals and dreams. Tara has presented writing workshops for The Writers Circle and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conferences. She’s a member of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature and a picture book mentor for We Need Diverse Books.

Tara lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters and 2,749 stuffed animals.

Tara, CONGRATULATIONS! for winning the Irma S. and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature. Thank you sharing this fun picture book and your with us. Another great book – keep them coming!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. What a fun book! Congratulations to Tara on her award-winning story. Tara inspired me and I participated in StoryStorm this year.

    I also reposted on Facebook and tweeted on Twitter.


  2. I spent the weekend at Big Sur in the Rockies and we were talking about this book! So clever and as an elementary teacher, I have heard this joke more times than I can count! Hope I win. I’ll also be tweeting about this.


  3. I love this book!


  4. Tara is completely brilliant. So pleased she was recognized with the award for excellence… well deserved!


  5. Love this review and interview. Big congrats to Tara on the recent (well-deserved) award for “7 Ate 9.”


  6. Another amazing concept for a book from Tara. I can’t imagine how she keeps coming up with such clever ideas. Can’t wait to read this one. Thanks for the post.


  7. Love 7 Ate 9! Thrilled that it’s an award winner & that you’re working on a similar one, Tara!


  8. Such a great book as wonderful idea! Congratulations on the award!


  9. I already have a copy so don’t enter me in the giveaway but just wanted to add congratulations to Tara! It’s such a fun book. 🙂


  10. My family all loves the punny 7 ATE 9, and we can’t wait to read the sequel!


  11. I never tire of hearing Tara’s road to publication…she is even more dazzling in person! xo I shared this on FB, Twitter and am reblogging it a s well. CONGRATULATIONS Tara on the well-deserved award.


  12. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    I never tire of hearing how fellow kid lit writer v got inspired to produce another great picture book for kids. Here’s Tara Lazar:


  13. Congratulations, Tara!!! 7 ate 9 is hilarious!!!


  14. Tara Lazar continues to impress me with her creative picture books. I always look forward to her STORYSTORM writing challenges.

    I shared this post on Linkedin, Pinterest, Facebook, WordPress, and I tweeted.

    Suzy Leopold


  15. What a terrific concept! This was my first introduction to Tara and I had to rush to Amazon and check out her other books. What fun!


  16. Hi Tara! I enjoyed reading 7 ATE 9, since I grew up listening to radio plays. Great title for your sequel!


  17. So fun to read the background on this story.


  18. Way to go, Tara. I loved hearing the back story + the premise of your new story coming out next year. I’d love to read this to my kindergartners!


  19. Congratulations, Tara. Your books are so fun!


  20. Such a clever play on words! And FUN! Congratulations!


  21. This is an awesome book by an awesome writer! Thanks for sharing how your book came to be, Tara.


  22. Great book! Fun!


  23. Love this book! Clever, sharp, and FUN.


  24. This book is so fun! I can’t wait to read the full story. Congratulations!


  25. Tweeted!


  26. Congratulations Tara! I love the jokes- well done.


  27. Such a clever book!


  28. My son loves this book! I appreciated learning the back story on how it came about. Thanks, Kathy and Tara!


  29. Such a great book! The puns are hilarious. They don’t get in the way of the plot, but rather naturally move it along.


  30. I’m finally catching up on over a month’s worth of posts, so I’m sure the giveaway must be over, but had write—Tara, you’re brilliant and it’s impossible NOT to love you 🙂 Congrats on the award!!! ox


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: