Would You Read It #332 – The Fishing Cat Who Found Her Home (PB) PLUS The June Pitch Pick!

Hello my friends who I’m down to seeing once a week these days!

I hope everyone who celebrates had a fabulous Fourth!

I spent a good portion of mine hiding in the basement behind the drum set comforting my trembling dog!  Poor Jemmie.  She does not like fireworks or thunder one single eensy weensie teeny tiny little itty bitty bit!

Scouty, meanwhile, lay flat out and snoring without a care in the world – completely oblivious!  If only she could explain to Jemmie that this too shall pass and there’s no need to fret!

But until that day, all moments of terror require crouching in the corner behind the drum set.  So comfortable. 😊

Speaking of drums, let’s get to the June Pitch Pick!

(How’s that for a non sequitur? 😊)

Our June pitchers took your helpful advice to heart and set about revising their pitches for your vote. Please read through them, choose your favorite, and vote for it in the poll below by Sunday July 14 at 9 PM Eastern.  The winning pitch will be sent to editor Erin Molta for her comments!!! 😊

Here are the pitches:

#1 – Deborah – Farmer Jo and the Chicken Coop Calamity (PB 4-8)

Henrietta, Goldie, and Pearl are three chickens with grand ideas. After convincing Farmer Jo to build improvements on their hen house, word spreads and many new chickens come to the farm to roost. But the weight of the situation proves to much to bear and the results are shattering as the hen house splinters apart.

#2 – Diana – Wrong Way, Ray (PB 4-8)

Ray’s poor sense of direction heads the flock of geese off in the wrong direction each time it’s his turn to lead them south for the winter. The gaggle are ready to give him the boot. When a raptor attacks the gaggle, Ray flies into action to save his feathered friends.

#3 – Ana – Bella The Best Quits Again (PB 4-8)

Bella, a Latina girl as sassy as Junie B. Jones, quits everything she (barely) tries because she’s not the best at it: her backflips look like giraffes rolling downhill & her dulce de leche frosting: crocodile skin. Bella must learn it’s ok to try again or she won’t be good @ anything. For kids who enjoy  The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes.

#4 – Christina – Aurora Takes The Lead (formerly Mommy Is Not A Morning Person) (PB 4-8)

AURORA TAKES THE LEAD is a role-reversing romp about how to be a leader, when you’re the smallest one in the house. Spunky Aurora flies out of bed, bent on getting her family up and out the door on time. It’s field trip day, and like it or not, those sea lions wait for nobody. But there are road blocks along the way. Baby Olive won’t stop bawling. Big brother AJ refuses to brush his own teeth. And Mommy has one hand stuck on the snooze button. It’s up to Aurora to pull on the parenting pants (just for fun!) in the ultimate battle to the school bus.

 

 

And now I think we all deserve Something Chocolate! (Don’t we always? 😊)

How about some No Bake Chocolate Ricotta Cake (because it’s summer and while we all want to eat chocolate no one wants to overheat their kitchen with baking!)

Chocolate Ricotta Cake

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Nadishka.  Nadishka Aloysius is a teacher, actor, author, blogger and mother of two boys. All her books are intimately related to life-experiences, and although they are all based in her home country of Sri Lanka they are generic enough for an international audience.

Nadishka loves reading crime fiction and fantasy and this is reflected in her writing. She conducts creative writing workshops and school visits to share her love of literature. As an actor, she prefers to play the antagonist since it allows her to explore the darker sides of human nature.

Find her on the web at
https://www.facebook.com/NadishkaAloysiusBooks/
https://www.amazon.com/Nadishka-Aloysius/e/B01M1KIY0R

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Fishing Cat Who Found Her Home

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 2-7)

The Pitch: Fiona is a fishing cat. She doesn’t realize how special she is until she survives a terrifying journey. Abandoned by her human family, she escapes predators and finds her way to a Wetland Sanctuary. This is the first in a new series aimed at educating children about endangered species in Sri Lanka. I have already partnered with the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project and I have some fun facts and an educational element to the book. The story also teaches youngsters to persevere when times are hard.

(Nadishka mentioned she’s still deciding on the cat’s name.)

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Nadishka improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in September, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Nadishka is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to continuing all the fun with MOON’S FIRST FRIENDS!  I am doing a countdown to the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing on FB, Instagram (and twitter sometimes although twitter just baffles me), so there are lots of recipes, fun facts, activities, and even a giveaway or two! Come join the fun!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #331 – Cupid’s Tango (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor (May)

Tra la!

It’s Would You Read It Wednesday!

And to start off the festivities we have Straight From The Editor for May!

You will recall that the May Pitch Pick was won by Andrew with his PB pitch for Dorian And The Silent Piano.

His pitch was:

Dorian And The Silent Piano (PB ages 6-8)

In a search to find his talent, Dorian becomes captivated by an old man playing a piano with great gusto and joy. There’s just one problem-Dorian is deaf. Guided by the old man, Dorian struggles to read music, hear notes, and learn proper hand movement across the keys. As their special friendship develops, Dorian learns that talent can be one of heart.

Here are editor Erin Molta’s comments:

This looks quite intriguing. The only thing I would suggest is that you SHOW us HOW he hears the music. I’d even simplify it a bit, as I show below, and make it less about talent but doing something despite a so-called disability..

Dorian becomes captivated by an old man playing a piano with great gusto and joy. But–Dorian is deaf. Guided by the old man, Dorian struggles to read music, hear notes (by how? Does he feel the vibrations?), and learn proper hand movement across the keys. As their special friendship develops, Dorian learns that even if you can’t hear the music you can make beautiful sounds….

As always, I find Erin’s thoughts interesting and helpful!  I hope you all do too!

And now, I think it’s time for Something Chocolate!  How do you feel about Loaded Cowboy Cookies?  They are chewy oatmeal cookies filled with chocolate, coconut and pecans! Absolutely impossible to resist!!

Loaded Cowboy Cookies

And given that they are made out of oatmeal they are obviously breakfast! 😊 Also, a lot like trail mix or granola bars in case you need a snack for your summer outings! 😊  I guess they’re called Cowboy Cookies because they are hearty and portable for taking out on the range!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Nancy who says, “I’m Nancy Riley, writer, competitive adult figure skater, and retired wildlife biologist. I’m a member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI and live on 35 acres of Colorado heaven north of Denver with my husband, two horses, and a happy dog named Scout. When not writing, I’m out and about with Scout or figure skating!  ”

Find her on the web at:

 nancyrileynovelist.com
Twitter: @NancyDereyRiley
Facebook: Nancy Derey Riley
Instagram: Nancy Derey Riley

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Cupid’s Tango

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: Cupid’s heart is not into step dancing, the traditional dance of the prairie chickens. He doesn’t like it. He won’t practice enough, but he must do well in his flock’s dance competition to win a date to the All Species Ball. When his first contest is a disaster, he decides to find his own dance style. His heart comes alive when he discovers the tango. He wows the crowd at the Second Chance Dance, but will it be enough to impress the judges and win a date?

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Nancy improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in September, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Nancy is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to going out on the range just so I have a reason to bring Cowboy Cookies!  I’m not sure where I’m going to find a range on Blueberry Hill, but that is a mere technicality! 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #330 – Mommy Is Not A Morning Person (PB) PLUS The May Pitch Winner!!!

Hello, Everyone!

It’s the First Wednesday of Summer!

That got me to thinking… what is your favorite picture book about summer?

There are so many good ones!

I think I have to go with an oldie but a goodie – Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey (Puffin Books, 1976).

After all, I live on Blueberry Hill 😊

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And we have little bears wandering around, eating up blueberries 😊

What is your favorite summertime picture book?  Share in the comments and we’ll have a great list of recommendations!

And/or you can take this opportunity to write a summer picture book of your own!

Writing prompt, anyone?

On a hot, hot day in July….

GO!

Now then, on to Would You Read It!  I’m pleased to announce that the winner of the May Pitch Pick is Andrew with his PB pitch for Dorian And The Silent Piano!!!  Congratulations on a terrific pitch and story idea, Andrew!  Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta and I’m sure you will hear from her as soon as she is able!

Congratulations also to our other talented pitchers!  You all did a great job on your ideas and revisions – some wonderful future books in this group! – and I hope the experience helped you to improve your pitches!

I think a reward is in order!

How about Something Chocolate?

Given that it is now summer, a Chocolate Honeycomb Vesuvius Ice Cream Sundae seems like just the thing, don’t you think? 😊

Chocolate Honeycomb Vesuvius Ice Cream Sundae

Chocolate Honeycomb Vesuvius Ice Cream Sundae

Cold, creamy, chocolatey, and delicious!  Mmmmm!  Breakfast perfection! 😊

Now that we’ve got our lovely sundaes to keep our energy up, let’s have a look at today’s pitch which comes to us from Christina. Christina Julian writes kid and lady lit in between sips and swirls in the Napa Valley where she works as a wine and food writer.

Find her on the web at:

Christinajulian.com
Facebook.com/ChristinaJulianAuthor
Twitter.com/Christin_Julian

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Mommy Is Not A Morning Person

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: MOMMY IS NOT A MORNING PERSON is a role-reversing romp about what it means to be a leader when you’re the smallest one in the house. Spunky Aurora flies out of bed bent on doing what kids only dream of. But there are road blocks along the way. The cat that thinks it’s a hat. A mommy who lives for the snooze button, and one big yellow school bus that waits for nobody! It’s up to Aurora to pull on the parenting pants in the ultimate battle to the breakfast table.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Christina improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in September, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up] for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Christina is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to making blueberry pie, because for some reason I now have blueberries on my mind! 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #329 – Bella The Best Quits Again (PB) PLUS The May Pitch Pick!!!

Woo hoo!  It’s Wednesday!

And that means it’s time for Would You Read It!!!

But first, this week, we get to choose our favorite pitch from May!

Our brave and industrious pitchers took all of your helpful advice to heart and worked hard to improve their pitches.  The results are below.

Please read through the 5 May pitches carefully and decide which one you think is best – most makes you Want To Read It! 😊 – and then vote for your favorite in the poll below by Sunday June 23 at 9PM Eastern.  The winning pitch will be sent o editor Erin Molta for her comments!!!

May Pitch Pick

#1 – Nadine – Puffcaso (PB ages 4-8)

The ocean art contest is days away. Pufferfish is diligent at creating his masterpiece only to have it destroyed by a hostile and fearsome deep-ocean dweller. However, a faceoff with his adversary leads Pufferfish to learn the value of teamwork.

#2 – Nicole – The Reluctant Unicorn (PB ages 4-8)

Thaddeus isn’t like other unicorns – he doesn’t have a flashy name, he can’t sing or dance, and his special power is a bit of a…well…snooze. When a dragon attacks town, Thaddeus will gladly let the other unicorns take the spotlight. But when the dragon accidentally threatens his little sister, Thaddeus must put his best hoof forward and save the day.

#3 – Sarah – Cake, By Sloth And Ant (PB ages 3-7)

Friends Sloth and Ant bake a cake.  While Ant is up to her feelers in flour, however, Sloth sleeps.  Sloth awakes and sneaks a sample of the finished product, and Ant gets angry.  Uh-oh!  Sloth whips up an apology and Ant adds a hug to the mixture. Sloth comes up with the perfect ingredient for the finishing touch.

#4 – Keely – How We Say, “I Love You”  (PB ages 5-8)

Evangeline’s older sister cannot use her voice to speak and often gets upset. When her sister pulls her hair, it hurts. Evangeline wishes her sister could just tell her she loves her. As she begins to listen in different ways to her sister, Evangeline starts to “hear” her a little more clearly. In “How We Say ‘I Love you!’” Evangeline not only begins to understand her sister better, but she also finds creative ways to show her that she loves her, despite their different ways of communicating.

#5 – Andrew – Dorian And The Silent Piano (PB ages 6-8)

In a search to find his talent, Dorian becomes captivated by an old man playing a piano with great gusto and joy. There’s just one problem-Dorian is deaf. Guided by the old man, Dorian struggles to read music, hear notes, and learn proper hand movement across the keys. As their special friendship develops, Dorian learns that talent can be one of heart.

Which one gets your vote?!!!

 

I know! Tough decision!  How about a little Something Chocolate to ease the trauma of having to choose! 😊

Chocolate Cake With Whipped Chocolate Frosting

 

The decision trauma is practically a thing of the past already after that scrumptious and delicious cake, wouldn’t you say?  I hope you all feel sunshiny and re-energized!!! 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Ana who says, “I’m also a sassy Latina with two books for children in Brazil. One of them received “Honorable Mention” by the “Brazilian Academy of Letters.” My Spanish Easy Reader–EL PATO QUIERE UVAS –will be released in the fall of 2019 by “Teacher’s Discovery.” When I’m not writing, I’m having a blast creating stories in Spanish with my elementary students. I’m an active member of SCBWI, Storyteller Academy and 12×12.”

Find her on the web at

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Bella The Best Quits Again

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: BELLA THE BEST QUITS AGAIN (520 words) is a laugh-out-loud picture book about growth-mindset. Gifted kids are expected to be the best at everything. Bella, a sassy Latina inspired by Junie B. Jones, quits everything she (barely) tries because she’s not the best at it: her backflips look like giraffes rolling downhill and her dulce de leche frosting like crocodile skin. Some empanadas de chicken waffles might be the first step to a determined Bella. It’s written for kids 4-8 who enjoy The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Garry Rubinstein.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Ana improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in September, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Ana is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to Friday which is the first official day of summer!  Fingers crossed it won’t rain and we’ll get our local fireworks show!!!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Mowing

How awesome is it that it’s Friday?! 😊

Before I share my perfect picture book for today, I’d like to take this opportunity to announce that this will be the last official Perfect Picture Book Friday until September.  As you all know, I put PPBF on hiatus for the summer.  Between my own unpredictable schedule and the fact that many of you spend less time online in the summer, it just seems to make sense to take a break.  But for those of you who are dedicated (and there is a core group of you – you are wonderful!) I look forward to seeing what you’ll share. You are welcome to add your summer books to today’s link list or to the first one I put up in September.

Would You Read It Wednesday will continue through June and July (I usually take a complete blogging break in August because really… how much of me do you all really want to have to pay attention to?! 😊 … but this year we have a couple of Tuesday Debuts on July 30 and August 6), and you never know what other high jinx I might get up to if I get a hair brained scheme out of the blue…

Anyway, onto today’s choice!  Maybe my favorite summer book 😊

Mowing 1

Mowing
Written By:  Jessie Haas
Illustrated By:  Jos. A. Smith
Greenwillow Books, 1994, Fiction
Suitable For: ages 4-8

Themes/Topics: farms, grandparents, generations, modernization, respect for wildlife, vehicles

 

Opening:  “Early in the morning Gramp and Nora go to the field to mow.  They hear the cry of the bobolink, the swish of the tall grass, the thud of the horses’ hooves.
At the edge of the field Gramp lowers the cutter bar.
“Hop off, Nora,” he says.  “You’ll be safer on the ground.”  Gramp speaks softly to the horses.  “Giddap!”  They walk, and the mowing machine begins to clatter.”

fullsizeoutput_1974

Brief Synopsis:  Just as morning is peeking over the horizon, Gramp and Nora head out to mow the hay.  Gramp drives an old-fashioned sickle bar mower with Nora in his lap holding the reins.  When they reach the field, it’s Nora’s job to hop down and keep an eye out for any little animal that might be injured by the horses or the cutter blades.  What does she see?  (I’m betting you can guess one thing she sees! :))  When the mowing is done, two tall islands of grass still stand.  Gramp says some would call that a bad job of mowing, but he and Nora know better.  They know they have taken care to leave the animals safe and protected.

fullsizeoutput_1975

fullsizeoutput_1976

Links To Resources: Fawn Coloring Page 1, Fawn Coloring Page 2, Fawn Facts, National Geographic Groundhog Facts, National Geographic Killdeer Facts.  Talk about the difference in the way hay is mowed today.  Talk about other situations where you might want to be respectful of wildlife.

fullsizeoutput_1977

Why I Like This Book:  This is the kind of sweet, quiet book that I absolutely love.  My kids loved it too, and we read it over and over and over.  The language is gentle, the story is simple with that nostalgic feel of hearkening back to a different time, and the message of caring for all the creatures who share our world is lovely.  On top of that, the art is just beautiful, particularly the way the artist captured the changing light, from dawn through late afternoon, and the different perspectives he uses.  It’s a wonderful book for nap time, bedtime, or anytime kids need to unwind.

fullsizeoutput_1979

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #328 – Wrong Way, Ray (PB)

Hi Everyone!

I hope you’re all having stellar weeks so far!

I feel like I’ve had a week-long celebration with the launch of MOON’S FIRST FRIENDS!  Sourcebooks has been amazing with providing resources for the book – a fantastic Common Core State Standards Aligned Educator’s Guide for Grade 1, 2, and 3, as well as the most beautiful coloring/activity sheets which I hope I’ll be able to share with you, but I have to find out if I have permission.

At story time on Saturday there were multi-colored glow-in-the-dark stars

IMG_7866

and COOKIES to color in with edible markers (and let me tell you, those were a big hit! 😊)

 

And as if all that weren’t enough, an astronaut – an actual astronaut! – read the book and liked it!  I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I’m starstruck! 😊

To continue the party mood, I think we should have Something Chocolate, don’t you?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola Cookies

 

As you can see, I chose actual breakfast health food without even hardly cheating at all this week, so help yourself to your heart’s content guilt-free!!!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Diana who is a retired Primary grades teacher with a MS in Remedial Reading.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Wrong Way, Ray

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: Ray’s poor sense of direction heads the flock of geese off in the wrong direction each time it’s his turn to lead them south for the winter. The gaggle are ready to give him the boot. When a raptor attacks the gaggle, Ray flies into action to save his feathered friends.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Diana improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in September, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up] for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta! (Doesn’t hurt to save yourself a spot!)

Diana is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to summer, which officially starts in 9 days, and which I hope will be full of family, friends, fun, and tons of inspired writing!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Marla LeSage!

So apparently this is the last Tuesday Debut on the schedule for about 6 weeks – must be summer! 😊 But that’s okay.  I think we can all use a break to lie on the beach and work on our tans (and by that of course I mean slather ourselves in SPF 1000 and chase around after the kiddos from dawn til bedtime 😊)

I’m thrilled to be sharing today’s author/illustrator and picture book because the book had at least some of its origins in the writing contests I run here on my blog!  How cool is that?

Marla entered two contests with stories that centered on the same wonderful character.  She placed in the 2015 Halloweensie Contest with Pirate Prepares For Halloween, and in the 2016 Valentiny Contest with Pirate Gets A Valentine, (in addition to placing and receiving honorable mention in several other contests over the years with other stories.) Eventually, she came to submit versions of those stories and lo and behold, this terrific picture book came to be!  When you read it, I’m sure you’ll be as glad as I am that she entered those contests! Who knows? The stories might not have been written without the contests! 😊

Pirate Year Round
Written & Illustrated by Marla LeSage
Acorn Press, May 31, 2019
Fiction ages 4 – 8

thumbnail_Final Pirate Year Round Cover web

In four seasonal stories Pirate faces her fear of the water, chooses a Halloween costume, gets through winter with the help of her friends, and steals the show!

 

SUSANNA:  Welcome, Marla!  So glad to have you aboard! 😊 🏴☠️ Where did the idea for this book come from?

MARLA:  When my son was about 4, he didn’t want to go to swimming lessons and told me, “I’m a pirate and pirates don’t swim!” It was such a great line I knew I had to use it in a story. I was still struggling to write a first draft when I came across your Halloweensie contest. The prompt: a halloween story for kids under 100 words using the words costume, dark, and haunted. I abandoned my idea for a pirate who didn’t swim and decided to use the pirate for my Halloweensie story instead. I thought it might be fun to have the pirate dress up as a ballerina. I was imagining a male pirate but in then end decided to make her a girl. My daughter was taking ballet lessons at the time and I suspect that influenced my choices. The story tied for 3rdin the contest! A few months later, you ran your Valentiny story contest and I was so in love with Pirate that I wrote a second story which placed 7thin the contest. But at that time I was not imagining Pirate in a book.

 

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

MARLA: Pirate Year Round contains four stories in one picture book which is a somewhat unusual format for the genre. It took me about two weeks to write each story. So about eight weeks total but the last two were written 2-3 years after the first two. It usually takes much longer for me to write a picture book manuscript. I have a few manuscripts I’ve been working on for years! But I think it really helped to have a prompt and a deadline.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

MARLA: Revising is writing, so yes, many, many revisions! To make your deadline, have good rhyme and meter, and a good story I thought about my entry all day long. I think I spent the two weeks with a paper and pencil in hand revising. When writing in rhyme I also keep the following handy: a rhyme dictionary, dictionary.com, and a highlighter to mark stressed beats. Keeping the manuscript or a scrap of paper on the bedside table helps too – the answer to plot or meter problems often reveals itself just as you’re about to fall asleep!

 

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

MARLA: I didn’t! The Halloween & Valentine stories were well polished but I had no intention of submitting them for publication, they were just fun stories that I’d written for your contests.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

MARLA: Because I am an illustrator I’d also taken advantage of the contest prompts to build my portfolio. I’d even used Pirate on a self-promo postcard that I sent out to publishers. I honestly don’t know if it was the Pirate postcard or another postcard that caught the eye of my publisher but based on the timing I suspect it was another postcard. Terrilee Bulger of Acorn Press contacted me about illustrating another author’s manuscript but mentioned that she’d noticed Pirate in my portfolio as well as the two stories on my blog and expressed interest in publishing them. I didn’t think too much of it at first but agreed to look at the manuscript she had contacted me about. When that project didn’t pan out she asked again about the Pirate stories. I sent the manuscripts and she liked them but asked if I envisioned them as separate stories or as four stories in one book. After some careful consideration and research I suggested that if it were to be a volume of stories, I would prefer to have four seasonal stories rather than two and pitched a spring and summer story. (In the summer story Pirate would rather do her chores than swim!)

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever!😊)

MARLA: It really felt like it took forever to get the acceptance email! We’d been back and forth for months, I think, on the project she’d initially contacted me about. After I pitched the additional two stories the yes was fairly quick but then I had to write the stories and wait again for an official acceptance. Once I finally sent in the text for all four stories, the response was fairly quick – maybe a month? I’m not sure though – I accidentally deleted all the emails! It took a while after that to get the contract. At least it felt that way, but I think it was relatively quick for the publishing industry.

 

SUSANNA: Hahaha!  You made me laugh out loud with that comment about deleting all the emails!  Isn’t that just the way of things sometimes?! 😊 How did you celebrate signing your contract?

MARLA: I did a little happy dance, told my family & closest friends. Nothing big though! I guess I waited to have the book in hand to really celebrate – my daughter insisted I buy a cake for the book birthday & I have some locally brewed strawberry apple cider that I’m saving for after the book launch.

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SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

MARLA: Based on feedback from fellow Canadian author/illustrators the contract was pretty standard. I had a generous timeline for completing the artwork and the royalties were standard for an author/illustrator (10%). The advance was small but adequate/fair. The contract was accidentally sent with an advance listed lower than we had agreed too but when I pointed it out, my publisher was very quick to respond and correct the error.

SUSANNA: Tell us about the editorial process.

MARLA: There were no suggested changes to the story.

 

SUSANNA: Tell us about your experience of the illustration process…

MARLA: This is my writing and illustrating debut but I didn’t have a dummy when I submitted the manuscript, only 6 sample illustrations. And my sample illustrations were older. I felt that my skill had grown and my style had evolved so after receiving my contract I started the illustration process from scratch. Well, almost from scratch. I’d thumbnailed out the four stories to see how they might fit into a single picture book before pitching it as that. After I’d received the advance, I sent in a very rough dummy for approval and ended up asking for more pages to improve the pacing.

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It was really fun to complete my first fully finished illustration project. But I when I got to page 32 of painting I kept thinking – if you’d stuck with 32 you’d be finished by now! The book is 48 pages… Other than that little voice in my head it was perfectly manageable.

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The only surprise was the book cover. I’d drawn a white banner with a hand-lettered title & when I was sent the digital proof, the designer had made my banner bigger & red. He also added Year Roundusing the style of text I’d created. I was really surprised but I absolutely love it. It really pops now!

 

 

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

MARLA: I haven’t seen any reviews yet.

 

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

MARLA: From the date I signed the contract to the publication date was 11 months.

 

 

SUSANNA: What was your print run?

MARLA: The initial print run is 2000 copies.

 

SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?

MARLA: It hasn’t been out that long yet!

 

 

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

MARLA: I’m not certain, honestly. They offered to print bookmarks and invitations/posters for my book launch. And they do have someone who does promotion.

 

 

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

MARLA: I made a book trailer – I’m not sure how effective that is for marketing purposes. For me it was more about doing a fun project with my kids. You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubKpDA4vEes Did you notice that the cat looks just like Pirate’s cat?

I’ve done a couple of blog posts like this but with the goal of giving back to the writing community by sharing my journey. I do plan to do a blog post soon about Pirate’s cat (he’s based on a foster cat rescued from a feral cat colony). I also had an article about my debut in the Canadian Military Family Magazine – that was fun!

I’ve done a few school visits already & plan to do more this fall through my local Writers in Schools Program/Literary Festival.

A friend suggested I contact boutiques/stores in the province who might be interested in carrying my book – seaside towns especially. Life has been a bit hectic for me lately and my dedicated art/writing time is much tighter than I like so I’ve done it yet. But I still hope to if it’s not something my publisher has already taken care of.

 

SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

MARLA: Five years!

 

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

MARLA: While my submission story is not what we expect when we start out on this journey, it is not uncommon and just goes to show how much luck is involved. It also shows that we have to be ready for that lucky moment – get yourself out there and be ready for luck to find you!

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Marla!  We all so appreciate it and wish you the very best of luck with this and future books!!! 😊

 

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Author/Illustrator Marla LeSage with her scurvy crew! 😊

@marlalesage on twitter & instagram

Readers, if you have questions for Marla, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Marla’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)
Amazon (Canada)
Nimbus Publishing

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, 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

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?

 

 

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – You Are Home: An Ode To National Parks

Hey, everyone!  Sorry I’m late with the post this morning!

I want to take this moment to say that next Friday (June 14) will be the last official Perfect Picture Book Friday until September, but I know many of you carry on throughout the summer.  Please feel free to continue adding your books to next week’s PPBF list (June 14), or add them in September to the first list that goes up then!

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy today’s breathtaking selection!

You Are Home

Title: You Are Home: An Ode To National Parks

Written & Illustrated By: Evan Turk

Atheneum Books For Young Readers, June 4, 2019, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (though anyone can enjoy the gorgeous illustrations and language!)

Themes/Topics: nature, respect and appreciation of the land and all that inhabit it

Opening: “To the chipmunk in her burrow, sleeping beneath the leaves to keep warm; to the resilient bison in the steaming oases of an endless winter: you are home. to the wildflowers painting the warming hillsides; to the pronghorn chewing the grass of her first spring: you are home.

Brief Synopsis: (From the jacket): “From the rugged coast of Maine to the fiery volcanoes of Hawai’i, Evan Turk’s stirring ode to nature and the nation reminds us that every animal, plant and person is an integral part of what makes this land a brilliant, beautiful sanctuary of life.

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Links To Resources: the book itself is a resource, picturing approximately 27 National Parks and the flora, fauna, geographic formations, and people that exist (or have existed) there; the back of the book includes A Note From The Author which gives a lot of information about the National Parks and the author’s connection to them and purpose in making the book; the back of the book also includes a map of the United States showing the locations of all the National Parks (not just the ones pictured in this book) and additional information about the parks and animals in the book.  If you have the opportunity to visit one or more National Parks, take advantage of it! 😊

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Why I Like This Book: the book is a celebration of the United States, a gorgeous tour in pictures and language of this amazing and beautiful country.  The art is full of light and dappled shadow and velvet darkness, rocky crags, lush forest, grassy plains, the animals that inhabit the parks and the people who visit – it brings to life the concept of “America the beautiful from sea to shining sea.”  And the language matches the art:

“Beneath the soaring doorways of stone,
and peaks that pierce the ceiling of clouds,
from every river, star, and stone
comes the eternal refrain:
you are home.”

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #327 – Farmer Jo And The Chicken Coop Calamity (PB)

Hi Everyone!

Golly, what a lovely day was yesterday!  So many wonderful people took the time to share my little MOON book on FB and Instagram, post their own photos and like and share mine and others.  I hope the book took off like a rocket  🚀 😊

Here’s a little slideshow of posts (which I just this second discovered you could do on a WordPress post!!! How fun is that?) 😊

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I’m sure I drove everyone nuts with my photos and videos and slideshows – I sincerely  apologize! – but it’s not every day you get to launch a book in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing! You are all kind to indulge me! 💕

This weekend, MOON’S FIRST FRIENDS will be featured at Saturday Story Time in Barnes & Noble nationwide, and you can purchase the book for $7.99 if you buy another kids’ book as well.  I will be reading at B&N Poughkeepsie, so if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by!!!

Okay.  Blahblahblah enough about me and my book!

Let’s celebrate with Something Chocolate, shall we?  You’ve certainly earned it after listening to all that MOON talk!  I don’t think we can go wrong with this!

MOON PIES!!! 😊😊😊

 ⭐️🌜 Moon Pies 🌛 ⭐️

Sorry 🤣 I couldn’t help myself!  But they do look delicious, don’t they?  Dig in!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Deborah who says, “I am a mother, author, and architectural drafter from Iowa. This is my first time submitting a pitch to you. Here is a link to my author website: http://deborahclaytonbooks.com/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title:  Farmer Jo And The Chicken Coop Calamity

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch:  Farmer Jo will do anything to keep her chickens happy including building an egg-stravagant chicken coop, but when word spreads about the new hen house and her flock grows, everything comes crashing down.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Deborah improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in September, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta! (But no harm in saving your space now!)

Deborah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to reading at Story Time on Saturday! And hopefully getting to attend the second half of the Children’s Writers Of The Hudson Valley Annual Conference afterwards!!!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Sarah Hoppe!

It’s time for Tuesday Debut, and today’s debut is very nearly a double!

We have our lovely and talented debut author, Sarah Hoppe, and her debut picture book is one of the earliest to be released by the brand new Blue Whale Press, owned and operated by Alayne Christian and Steve Kemp.  Be sure to check out their site and submissions page!

But first, let’s have a look at Sarah’s beautiful book!!!

Who Will? Will You?
Author: Sarah Hoppe
Illustrator: Milanka Reardon
Date of Publication: August 2019
Fiction, Picture Book
Age Range: 4-8

Who Will Will You Cover Reveal Official

Lottie’s discovery of an extraordinary pup on the beach leads her to search all over town for someone to help.  It takes someone special to care for this very special pup.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Sarah!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

SARAH: The idea came to me, in part, due to my son’s love of nonfiction.  He always has a stack of nonfiction by his bed, for pre-bedtime perusal.  He loves animals and had a seal book he shared with me one evening.  A baby seal is called a pup, and so are some other baby animals.  I started thinking about a case of pup confusion and the story fell into place in my head.

 

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

SARAH: Though this is a work of fiction, it has a lot of animal facts within the story. The story structure was there, but it took a while to research the animals I wanted to include.  I also wrote some back matter. It was important to me to make the back matter fun, engaging, and most importantly, true.  I got books from the library, I poured over the internet.  It was fun, but I would get burnt out and take breaks.  That process took a while, working on and off with other things as well.

 

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Sarah’s writing space – so pretty 😊

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

SARAH: My story went through a few revisions.  Who Will? Will You? is different from my other manuscripts, in that it had a definite outline right from the beginning.  I’m usually a lot looser when I write, but with this story, I knew a had to happen, then b, then c. But, this is the one getting published, so maybe I should outline more!

 

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

SARAH: I knew it was ready when all the facts were there, the repetitive lines made sense, and I addressed the feedback from critique partners.

One of the many things critique partners are great for is bringing new mindsets.  Sometimes you don’t even see what’s wrong in your story.  My opening lines have changed, but the main character was initially racing while crab-walking.  I thought it was so cute, and showed off her spunky, daring nature. Several people who read it thought the main character was a crab.  I thought something like, Where on earth did you get that idea?  Then I re-read it with fresh eyes and realized I had written an ill-worded confusing paragraph.

 

SUSANNA: That is such a good point, Sarah.  We live with our stories in our heads – we’re the ones that invented everything – so it all makes sense to us!  It takes objective readers to show us where things might not be clear!  When and how did you submit?

SARAH: I am currently seeking an agent.  It is awesome, though, that are a lot of publishers who will accept unagented submissions.

I’ve sent many submissions directly to publishers through my writing journey.  I submitted Who Will? Will You? plus a query letter directly to the publishing house as well, through a writer’s group called 12×12. Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Writing Challenge is a fantastic group to be in.  I’d consider it a must for new writers.  So, some members of the group get a chance to submit through 12×12, and you bypass the slush pile.  That’s what happened to me with Blue Whale Press.

 

SUSANNA: I second a hearty two-thumbs-up recommendation for 12×12!  When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! ☺)

SARAH: I had received a couple of rejections, and the manuscript was out on multiple submissions when I got an email from Blue Whale Press.  They wanted to set up a phone call.  Well, I didn’t want to be overly optimistic, but I thought they wouldn’t call if they weren’t interested.  They weren’t going to call to tell me how horrible it was, right? Right?! Well, maybe they wanted me to revise and resubmit.  Either way, I was a ball of nerves.

But Alayne Christian at Blue Whale was so nice!  Blue Whale Press is a small publisher, and I felt that was perfect for my first book.  I knew I wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.  It has been a wonderful experience.

 

SUSANNA:  Alayne is amazing! I know you’ll have a great experience with her! How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SARAH: I called my mom!  Then I called my sister and my husband.  Then I danced around with my dogs.

 

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

SARAH: I don’t have an agent and didn’t know what to expect in a contract.  I became a member of The Author’s Guild and used their resources to study my contract before I signed. It was the right move for me and I’m excited about the results.

 

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

SARAH: There will always be revisions, but most of mine were pretty minor.  They asked for an extra (small) scene and made a couple of wording changes.  The back matter was shortened.

The most significant change was the title.  It’s completely different!  I submitted it with the title Little Lost Pup.  I honestly didn’t love it, but couldn’t think of a better replacement.  Well, they didn’t love it either and gave multiple suggestions.  I was strangely attached to something I didn’t really like.  I think it had been Little Lost Pup for so long, that it was hard to imagine it any other way.  Alayne was extremely patient with me.  She explained why she felt it needed a new title, and I agreed.  Then it became easier to let it go.

 

SUSANNA: I love the title you came up with, so, well done!  What was your experience of the illustration process like?

SARAH: One benefit of working with a small press is the amount of feedback I was able to give.  Alayne and I looked through artists’ portfolios together (via email) and picked our favorites.  I’ve seen sketches, rough copies and finished digital files.  I was asked my opinion on the look of the people and animals in the story. I’ve been included and valued every step of the way.

When I read a book, images just pop into my head. Yes, Sarah, that’s the magic of books, you know. Even if the author says a character looks one way, I have some image already there and it’s not leaving.

That’s how it was with Who Will? Will You?  For reasons unknown to me, in my head, the illustrations looked like Felicia Bond’s work in the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books.

I had looked at Milanka Reardon’s portfolio.  I knew her work was beautiful and I knew it was different from Felicia Bond’s style. Still, I wasn’t ready for the main character, Lottie, to come to life like she did.

Both Felicia and Milanka are talented illustrators, but Milanka was truly meant for this text. She created a world of pastel backgrounds and detailed expressions.  It was nothing like I thought but better than I imagined.

I didn’t submit the story with art notes, other than to specify the kind of pup at the beginning.  The reader won’t know what it is, but the illustrator needed to.

 

 

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

SARAH: About one year.

 

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

SARAH: Blue Whale has arranged interviews on blogs for me. They’ve created a beautiful book trailer.  Alayne featured it at an SCBWI event. And they have been submitting copies for reviews as promised.

 

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

SARAH: I’ve really tried to up my social media game.  I’ve sought and completed blog interviews.  I will do some local book tours next school year when the book is out.  I will reach out to the local writing group and the local library.

 

 

SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

SARAH: About two years.

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Sarah!  It was generous of you to share your writing experience with us!  We all wish you the best of luck with this and future books!!!

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Author Sarah Hoppe

Twitter: @Sarahlhoppe

 

Readers, if you have questions for Sarah, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

As yet, there are no links for purchase or pre-order, but please keep an eye out!  The book is due for publication in August!

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat