Every kid needs someone to model, being comfortable in a world where they aren't just like everyone else. Helloooo Bizzie Tizzie!
Like her name suggests, Bizzie Tizzie is an effervescent, rollicking, rambunctious kid enjoying every moment as she blasts through her days in Newfoundland.
From blueberry picking to sunning on Lumsden Beach, she's fearless, she's fun, and she's absolutely her own self. And she has a fun, red, ladybug volkwagon beetle as her family car.
The character of Bizzie comes to life in the award-winning Bizzie Tizzie book series written by Newfoundland author of children's books Yvonne Bryant and illustrated by Newfoundland father and daughter duo artist and cartoonist Kevin Tobin and graphic designer Jessica Tobin.
The debut Bizzie Tizzie book, Bizzie Tizzie Is Gonna Be Everything from A to Z, won the TCK 2021 Reader's Choice Award
Eight year old Paradise NL twins, Sofie and Gabby are big fans of Bizzie Tizzie, here's why:
Born the fifth in a famliy of six children in New Perlican, Newfoundland, Yvonne Bryant enjoyed writing at a young age, but didn't plan on being a writer of children's books. The first book idea came to her in a dream.
She says, "It wasn't on my radar at all, but I dreamt the idea of a children's book about what kids wanted to be when they grew up. At the time, I worked in service at the airport so had a lot of downtime. I wrote the first draft of what is now Bizzie Tizzie Is Gonna Be Everything from A-Z in two shifts, and saved it on floppy disc. That tells you how long ago it was!"
At the time Yvonne was also busy with life and raising her teenage daughter Tiffany, so didn't get the chance to take steps toward publlishing. But still the character of Bizzie Tizzie was taking shape.
Yvonne says, "We'd see this little girl bouncing around on our street, or on the trail, or the playground. She had a big mop of curly red hair, and it was all over the place. We loved how she was just all out there. She was Busy, for sure. And growing up in a big family in rural Newfoundland, we'd often find ourselves in a 'tizzy', a state of action and possible confusion! That's why her name suits her."
Tiffany sketched a prototype, and that, along with the floppy disc that would start the Bizzie Tizzie series was tucked away in a filing cabinet.
Tragically, time stopped for Yvonne and her family in 2011 with Tiffany's passing.
It would be years before Yvonne sought out Tiffany's sketches and the floppy disc, but when she did, she knew she had to do something with the character.
It was spring 2020 when Yvonne began looking for illustrators. There were many great options, and some good conversations but nothing really fit until Yvonne reached out to well-known Newfoundland artist/cartoonist, Kevin Tobin. Kevin came back quickly with brilliant ideas that Yvonne felt she'd seen in her head. And the fact that Kevin's daughter, graphic artist Jessica Tobin, would be part of the design team sealed the deal.
Yvonne says, "We've got an amazing working relationship. Kevin and Jessica love Bizzie Tizzie as much as I do, and their work says so much in her adventures."
So far, the Bizzie Tizzie book series includes two stories about our little hero, and one coloring/activity book.
Yvonne takes great pleasure in writing her Bizzie Tizzie stories. Some parts reflect experiences she had with her own daughter which always touches her heart. To be able to share tidbits of wonderful childhood memories of Tiffany through storytelling is important to her and it helps keep the memories alive.
Yvonne says, "That rhyming is fun, and interesting. Inspired by Author Phoebe Gillman, and her Jillian Jiggs series, which I can still recite, I might add, I prefer to write in rhyme. But it sometimes takes on a life of its own. It can be challenging to get the rhyme to take me where I need it to go. But kids love it, and so do I. Often because of the rhyme, the youngest kids can read by recitation. It's wonderful to see and to hear."
The books are imbued with a sense that anything - anything at all! - is possible.
There are more words to come! And there's also other outlets for kids to play their Bizzie Tizzie imagination.
The Bizzie Tizzie stories are giving a generation of children a whole lot of joy, and their response to her character has shone a beautiful bright light, and purpose, in Yvonne's life. Yvonne says, "It's fun to think of new ways to bring Bizzie Tizzie to the kids.
The characters that show up in Bizzie Tizzie stories, her mother and brother, her puppy, ladybugs, her teddy bear, the ladybug car, are themes that let little readers bring Bizzie Tizzie outside of story time.
Yvonne has branded her character Bizzie Tizzie with themed stuff like shirts, backpacks, purses, puppies, squish mellows, and pairs of odd socks. And her newest addition to her line of merchandise will be a custom made plush Bizzie Tizzie doll, released fall 2023.
Yvonne says, "There's always a good response when Bizzie Tizzie shows up! The odd socks really struck a chord with parents! It probably simplified their lives, but more importantly it send the message that it's ok to be a little odd!"
Yvonne Bryant’s Bizzie Tizzie’s Odd Socks book is part of the province's Cultural Connections program, so there are copies in primary and elementary schools throughout the province. The books provide children with the opportunity to view things a little differently.
Even more than the writing, Yvonne takes great pleasure in sharing Bizzie Tizzie stories in person.
She says, "Book readings are a favourite for me, because I get to see the idea that it's ok to be different come into the children's minds. Usually I read first, then we talk about the messages in the story.”
Yvonne explains, “We talk about being 'different', we talk about how all of us are different and that families too are different and that shows up in the illustrations.
And we talk about how members of families are different - Bizzie Tizzie couldn't be more different from her brother Wesley! We talk about how Wesley gets stressed - some kids identify with Wesley, some with Bizzie Tizzie. The illustrations show that Bizzie Tizzie’s mother uses a wheelchair for mobility, and that there’s no dad in the family photos on the wall, and we get to talk about that."
Grandparents especially love sharing the Bizzie Tizzie stories with little ones who live out of province.
The illustrations of iconic Newfoundland scenes - Cabot Tower, salt beef buckets, icebergs, whales, salt box houses - say in pictures what would need thousands and thousands of words.
Activities like picking blueberries - especially when it leads to sitting in the ant hill which lands Bizzie Tizzie in the unfortunate position of 'not the tatter on' (except of course her odd socks!) - or being on the beach in Lumsden, build connection to traditional Newfoundland culture that kids might not get elsewhere.
Reaching kids where they are is inspiration for Yvonne that will lead to the next phase of Bizzie Tizzie.
Yvonne says, "Look for Bizzie Tizzie’s Christmas Catastrophe coming this fall. It’s a Christmas story with a whole lot of Newfoundland elements. Our newest addition to the series will be ready just in time for Christmas. I know there are more adventures ahead for Bizzie Tizzie book-wise, and we're exploring other ways to connect and to help children feel good about themselves and others."