Tuesday Debut – Presenting Christine Van Zandt!

Tuesday Debut is always fun, but today it’s even more fun than usual!

First, we have a humorous nonfiction book to enjoy!

Second, our Tuesday Debut-ess, in addition to being an author, is a freelance editor, and she’s offering a PB manuscript critique (one book, 1,000 words or fewer, text only) to one lucky person! All you need to do to qualify is leave a comment on this post between now and Sunday June 13 at 5PM Eastern and your name will be tossed in the hat for a chance. One random winner will be drawn and announced next week! If you’d also like to share this post link on social media, that would be lovely 😊

But now, without further ado, allow me to introduce the lovely and talented Christine Van Zandt and her debut picture book, A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNDERPANTS!

A Brief History of Underpants
written by Christine Van Zandt
illustrated by Harry Briggs
becker&mayer! kids
June 1, 2021
Funny nonfiction picture book with STEM
For ages 4-8

From bloomers to boxers, everyone wears underwear! One part humor, one part history, A Brief History of Underpants explores the evolution of fashion’s most unmentionable garment.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Christine! Thank you so much for joining us today. We can’t wait to hear about where the idea for this book came from!

CHRISTINE: My (then) third-grade daughter came up with the topic after I volunteered at her elementary school’s week-long Book Fair in 2018. Nonfiction books were prominently featured, yet kids resisted the awesome titles, complaining that nonfiction was boring. I set out to prove them wrong!

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

CHRISTINE: I loved my daughter’s suggestion and looked into whether similar books had been published. Finding that my ideas were different enough, I began researching the history of underwear, taking lots of notes, trying to figure out how to pull that info into something enjoyable for kids.

Next, I typed up first draft in a 32-page layout. The structure with pagination helped me analyze whether my text could work with art (for example, if I’d left enough room for the illustrator, or if maybe there was not enough to draw). Writing in two-page spreads placed focus on each scene and the subsequent page turn. This process works well for me whether writing nonfiction or fiction. I’ll gladly share my template, just email me.

I’m in several critique groups and kept workshopping then revising, trying to find funny ways to bring a bunch of facts together in an interesting manner. I knew I was ready to start querying once my groups gave it a thumbs-up and when my manuscript represented what I’d set out to accomplish.

It took 235 days from the first draft until I connected with a publisher via #PitMad (a Twitter pitch event). This is very fast and I was lucky that someone who was looking for a book like this found me. Since I worked directly with the publisher, this book was published unagented.

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

CHRISTINE: Quarto decided to expand the book to 48 pages during the early months of the pandemic when libraries and bookstores were closed so I bought reference books—a lot of reference books. And hunted down underwear facts from every continent, back to the beginning of fossilized undies. I thought I’d have a hard time finding a fact from Antarctica, but that ended up being one of the funniest ones. I think the reason underwear is called “unmentionables” is because it’s not mentioned in reference books!

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

CHRISTINE: I was thrilled Harry Briggs was chosen to illustrate the book; his style suited the book well. The publisher worked with me throughout the process, showing me the early sketches through to the final drafts.

text copyright Christine Van Zandt 2021, illustration copyright Harry Briggs 2021, becker&mayer! kids

Today’s tech world makes it easy to share things. Since the many styles of underwear had specific ways they looked in real life, I linked the publisher and illustrator to artifacts, reconstructions, and such.

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc.? What was that like?

CHRISTINE: The publisher sent the reviews to me. I was curious to know how the book would be received so I read them immediately and, thankfully, reviewers are finding it funny and educational.

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

CHRISTINE: It took about seven months—which I know is lightning-speed in the publishing industry!

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

CHRISTINE: The publisher secured some fabulous opportunities for me including being featured in their April educator newsletter and in a podcast. I also have a column coming up in Shelf Awareness which has a readership of ~500k!

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

CHRISTINE: I’ve been boosting the book myself too. It’s amazing how much time and money you can put into this aspect. Joining up with other authors has been beneficial. I belong to 21 for the Books (we’re all debut picture book authors) and to STEAM Team Books (a mix of experienced authors and some newbies like me) [LINKS https://oneforthebooks.wixsite.com/2021/authors and http://www.steamteambooks.com/].

These groups provide a place to ask questions, swap information, and vent when needed. The pandemic changed things a lot. How do we sign books remotely? What’s the best way to film virtual author events? There’s a lot to learn beyond “just” writing and selling a book!

I’ve had bookmarks and stickers designed and printed, as well as material for the classrooms such as a word search and “Beyond the Book” questions. Promotional materials are a way to engage elementary students or get the word out about your book.

I purchased copies of my book and am donating them to elementary schools so if you’re a teacher for kids age 4-8, please reach out to me!

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

CHRISTINE: Regularly participate in one or more critique groups. Attend workshops or conferences to learn and work on your craft. Read, read, read, then write, write, write.

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Christine! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience, and your very generous offer of a critique!, and wish you the very best of luck with this and future titles!

Author Christine Van Zandt

Christine Van Zandt hasn’t found fossilized underwear, but loves digging up ideas that make great books for kids.

She’s a literary editor and lives in Los Angeles, California, with her family and a monarch butterfly sanctuary. Visit her online at christinevanzandt.com.



Readers, if you have questions for Christine, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! Remember, one lucky commenter will win a PB manuscript critique!

You may purchase Christine’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)


We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls (dyslexia-friendly font)

28 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Christine Van Zandt!

  1. Mary Munson says:

    This looks so fun! Love the elastic illustrations and can’t wait to learn more about underwear…lol, you certainly grabbed children’s attention with this one!

  2. brennajeanneret says:

    This was an awesome interview! Generally, I write funny fiction, but I am currently working on a funny non-fiction book and your book is a great example of what can be done! Thanks!

  3. Erin Cleary (ClearyWriter) says:

    Congratulations, Christine! Your book looks like tons of educational fun. Can’t wait to check it out!

  4. rebeccaehirsch says:

    Thank you for this terrific interview. What an irresistible book! Congratulations on your debut, Christine!

  5. Angie says:

    Such a fun topic! I can’t wait to get to the bottom of the topic. Undies! LOL. Congratulations, Christine!

    I would love to get a copy of your template for the way you write 32-pages, the 32-page layout. Thanks! angelecolline at yahoo dot com 🙂

  6. janetfrencksheets says:

    Love the puns! This sounds like a tricky topic to write about, since there were probably some useful words you had to avoid.

  7. Deborah Agranat Sullivan says:

    What a fabulous idea for a book Christine – I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for sharing your journey and the valuable tips you’ve learned along the way.

  8. yangmommy says:

    I am so looking forward to this book, because i for one, really want to know when “unmentionables” became an “it” garment!! Those school book fairs are a great resource for what kids are into (and parents), plus I just find them fun 🙂 All the best with your launch!!

  9. Wendy says:

    Congratulations on getting the pitmad request! I’ve been intimidated to participate and it’s nice to see a PB success story! (Maybe in the fall . . .?) Underwear is underappreciated!

  10. mrschloedixon says:

    Congratulations on your book! Such a FUN and creative idea for a nonfiction picture book! Thanks for the chance to win a critique ! @chloeeemiko 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s