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
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.
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!
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
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)
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
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
Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day
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
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!”
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!
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!
What a great book for writers to find info on those unmentionables for their books/stories to make the character more real at the swimming hole. Thank you.
I got your email and sent you the template. Let me know if you have any questions.
Congratulations on your debut!
Congratulations, Christine! Your book looks like tons of educational fun. Can’t wait to check it out!
Thank you for this terrific interview. What an irresistible book! Congratulations on your debut, Christine!
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 🙂
Hi Angie – Thanks for the nice comments. I emailed you this template. Let me know if you have any questions.
Got it! It looks wonderful! 🙂 Thank you!
Kids will love this. Built in giggles. Great job, Christine!
Love the puns! This sounds like a tricky topic to write about, since there were probably some useful words you had to avoid.
Yes, I found info that certainly wasn’t G-rated, especially when trying to find a few underwear jokes to include!
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.
Congrats on your brilliant NF! I’m sure you will entice many reluctant readers with this. Well done!
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!!
What a wonderful idea for a PB! Such fun! I’d love to receive your template too: email@example.com. Thank you! Can’t wait to read it to my granddaughter. I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two too!
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!
I can’t wait to read this brief history – looks like it was fun to write and I know it will be fun to read.
Love the idea, the title, the art – everything! Congratulations Christine!!
Congratulations! This looks like a very entertaining read for all ages!
Thanks, Susanna for another great post!
Christine, I can’t wait to read and review your book! Great idea for a NF! The kids will love it! 🙂
I preordered your book and it arrived last week and I love it. I also learned a few things from reading it. King Tut…who knew?
This book is already high on my list of future birthday/Christmas gifts! I can’t wait to check it out : )
Congratulations on turning a great idea into a brilliant book!
Congratulations on your book! Such a FUN and creative idea for a nonfiction picture book! Thanks for the chance to win a critique ! @chloeeemiko 🙂
This looks hilarious, yet informative. Well done, Christine! I’m looking forward to reading it. Congrats!
Congratulations, Christine! I’m looking forward to reading your book. I KNOW my little ones will love it!