Would You Read It Wednesday #409 – Little Camper’s Not-So-Big Adventure (PB) PLUS So Many Pitch Winners!

Howdy, Friends!

Here’s a little puzzler for first thing in the morning.

April is a big birthday month in my family, which prompts discussions of how likely it is people’s birthdays will land on Easter. I am well aware of the deep and important meaning of Easter and do not make light of it, but let’s face it: for kids it’s all about getting birthday presents AND jelly beans in the same day 😊

I googled a bit, but was quickly sent scurrying back to my rightful place by Scary Math. So, as is appropriate, I’m going anecdotal.

My dad’s birthday has been on Easter 3 times: 1962, 1973, and 1984. Perhaps Easter dates move in 11 year cycles? (How’s that for deductive reasoning? Take that, Scary Math!)

One of my daughters’ birthday has never fallen on Easter for her, but will in 2031. (I will not say how old she’s going to be because it is not polite to tell a lady’s age 😊)

My niece’s birthday is April Fool’s Day and her birthday landed on Easter in 2018 when she turned 14, and will again in 2029 and 2040. (There are those 11s again!) My nephew’s birthday fell on Easter 2 years before he was born when it wasn’t his birthday yet and isn’t due to land on that date again until 2066 when he will be 62 years old!

I, as you know, am extremely ancient, and yet my birthday has only landed on Easter once, the year I turned 9.

My deductions, based on the anecdotal evidence cited above, (and just try to stay with me on this because I know math and science simply aren’t for everyone and you should just not feel bad if your mind has a hard time with the acrobatic feats demonstrated by mine!), is that my next Easter birthday will be whenever Easter feels like it 😊

There will be extra credit for anyone who can guess the dates of my Dad’s, daughter’s, nephew’s, and my birthdays. The cat’s already out of the bag on my niece’s 🤣🤣

Now that I’ve limbered you up with mental calisthenics, let’s do a little celebrating, shall we? I am thrilled to announce the pitch winners that you all voted on last week! Woo hoo!!!

The Pitch Winners are . . . .

September 2021 – Hannah – The Good Wolf (PB 4-8)

October 2021 – Robin – I Am The Zookeeper (PB 3-7)

November/December 2021 – Melissa – Don’t Even Think About Lions! (PB 4-8)

January 2022 – Patti – Dragon Is Out Of Here (PB 4-8)

Congratulations, Hannah, Robin, Melissa, and Patti! Great job! Your pitches have already been sent to editor Erin Molta and I’m sure she will reply with her comments as soon as she can! We have a lot of Straight From The Editors to look forward to!

Congratulations to all our other pitchers, too! You all did a fabulous job presenting your pitches and then taking the feedback offered by our wonderful readers and using it to revise and improve. I hope everyone feels like a winner because I think you all ended up with stronger pitches!

I appreciate everyone who steps up to share because it gives all of us a chance to learn and improve our skills! So, thank you all!

All that math and excitement has rendered me slightly faint, so I think it’s time for Something Chocolate! Don’t these Easter Blossom Cookies (or Spring Blossom if you don’t celebrate Easter) look delicious? So springy! And, more importantly, so delightfully chocolate in the middle! 😊

Recipe HERE at Crayons and Cravings

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Deborah. Deborah Foster is a mother, an architectural drafter, and a fantastic cook. She is a member of 12×12, Inked Voices, and SCBWI. She is always looking for more writing friends on Twitter. Follow her @DeborahClaytonF or check out her blog at www.deborahfosterbooks.com.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Little Camper’s Not-so-big Adventure

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

The Pitch: Little Camper can’t wait for her first big adventure! Will it be the Grand Canyon? Roaring Niagara Falls? When Little Camper’s first adventure bounces down dusty back roads to the Apron Museum, she’s ashamed to recount her travels to the other campers. But after a hurry-to-the-next-stop trip, Little Camper realizes that bumpy back roads and odd attractions might just be the perfect adventures for her.   

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 you 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 menu bar above. There are openings immediately, so you could get your pitch up next week if you want for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on my editor Erin Molta!

Deborah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch! I am looking forward to Easter weekend! 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – This Could Be You

It’s Friday!

Thank goodness!

I’m sure none of us could have waited another minute for this week’s list of Perfect Picture Books!

I have a lovely one to share today. I’m pretty sure it’s been reviewed by a couple of other members of this group already, but I wanted to share it, too. It’s a wonderful book, and it was written by a graduate of Making Picture Book Magic, so I get to give you a recommendation and celebrate her accomplishment at the same time! 😊

Title: This Could Be You

Written By: Cindy Williams Schrauben

Illustrated By: Julia Seal

Publisher: Cardinal Rule Press, April 1, 2022

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: being yourself, believing in yourself

Opening: “Who pursues their top dreams,
their never-ever stop dreams,
persist-until-they-drop dreams?
Believe. It could be you!”

text copyright Cindy Williams Schrauben 2022, illustration copyright Julia Seal 2022, Cardinal Rule Press

Brief Synopsis: This book is an invitation to children of all backgrounds, interests, and abilities to follow their dreams and believe in themselves.

text copyright Cindy Williams Schrauben 2022, illustration copyright Julia Seal 2022, Cardinal Rule Press

Links To Resources: the back of the book includes a guide to encouraging a growth mindset; what do YOU want to be? try a recipe (chef), plant a seed (gardener), do an experiment (scientist). . . or whatever interests YOU!; Growth Mindset Activity Sheet, Growth Mindset Bingo, and other activities from author’s website

text copyright Cindy Williams Schrauben 2022, illustration copyright Julia Seal 2022, Cardinal Rule Press

Why I Like This Book: Every child can benefit from encouragement to be themselves, pursue their dreams, believe they can be or do anything they want, and this book celebrates exactly that. It is an invitation to young readers to imagine themselves in all kinds of ways they may not have considered. Every child will be able to see her or himself as at least one of the many kinds of people shown – creative, supportive, persistent, adventurous, inquisitive, observant, protective. . . And for many kids the options will be eye-opening, showing them things they could be or do that they might not have known about yet. The illustrations are warm, colorful, and appealing with plenty of details to catch kids’ attention and interest. The children pictured are a nicely diverse group. Kids will enjoy exploring all the possibilities open to them while absorbing the important message that they can be whoever they want to be, and that they are valued and should value themselves. A lovely read!

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 blog 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 – Catching Up On Pitch Picks!

Hi folks!

Last week we caught up on Straight From The Editor.

But this will tell you exactly how crazy life is around here. Do you realize what I did last week? Did you notice? Did you catch it?

I FORGOT SOMETHING CHOCOLATE!

How can that even happen???!!!

You are all witness to the fact that I am losing my marbles!

So, to be sure I don’t make such a gigantic faux pas this week (and because you need to fuel up for today’s demands!) let’s have Something Chocolate right now! These are just so darn cute I couldn’t resist them – Polar Bear Paw Cupcakes!

Polar Bear Paw Cupcakes

Recipe HERE at One Little Project (photo credit Debbie Chapman)

The cupcakes are chocolate (yum yum!), the fur is made of shredded coconut, the paw pad is a peppermint patty, and the toes are chocolate-covered raisins. So clever! (and delicious 😊) And, like all the treats offered on my blog, they have no calories and can be considered health food if thought about in the right way. 🤣

Now then! This week, we’re all about voting. (Well, voting and eating cupcakes…)

Look at us, catching up! 😊

Let’s choose some pitch winners, shall we?

There is a poll below each group so you can vote for your favorite in that group, so, 4 separate polls in all. Please cast your votes by Monday April 11 at 9PM Eastern and I will post the pitch winners next week on WYRI!

First up, the September 2021 Pitch Pick!

#1 – Elizabeth – CHICK-A-GATOR (PB 3-6)

I bet you’ve never met a chick-a-gator. Neither had the hens in the chicken coop. When one hatches from an egg, pandemonium breaks out. None of the hens accept him; they make him sleep outside the fence;They run whenever he comes near; his rooster father disowns him. But there’s more to Chick-a-gator than they know. One night he performs an heroic act that changes their opinion of him. He is hailed as a hero. He’s half chicken and half gator with a mighty roar. He’s the Chick-a-gator!

#2 – Hannah – THE GOOD WOLF (PB 4-8)

All Wolfington wants is to be included, but when he goes into town, grandmothers hide, pigs squeal, and sheep faint. Fed up with the big bad wolf stereotype, Wolfington sets out to prove that his heart is bigger than his stomach.

#3 – Kelly – WHICH NEWBIE YOU BE? (MG)

While trying to keep her bipolar disorder a secret in a new town, Ella, a twelve-year old resilient young girl overcomes seventh grade obstacles to find hope and discover what friendship is all about despite a bully that reveals her secret. Distinctive weather metaphors help the reader really feel what the main character is thinking and feeling in WHICH NEWBIE YOU BE? a middle grade novel appropriate for ages eight to twelve.

#4 – Jennifer – READEROSAURUS (PB 4-8)

A kid who loves dinosaurs all because he devours books finds out that his favorite place in the whole world is closing and there isn’t anything he can do about it. Or is there? 
Will his roar be heard among giants? 

SEPTEMBER 2021 PITCHPICK POLL

Next, the October 2021 Pitch Pick!

#1 – Robin – I AM THE ZOOKEEPER! (PB 3-7)

“I have a Messy Zoo inside me.” That is what the child feels about all the emotions growing inside her and escaping as animal behavior. Bear grows and stomps, porcupine prickles, monkey is silly. Loud and crowded! With help, the child discovers self-soothing techniques to tame the animals and become the Zookeeper.

#2 – Melisa – HIBERNATION EXASPERATION (PB 4-7)

Groundhog needs to hibernate, but mounting misunderstandings keep Beaver SMACK WHACK WHACKing at the door with puzzling offerings of unrequested assistance. Groundhog must figure out how to get the message across before Beaver whittles hibernation season into a mere nap. 

#3 – Jeannette – DO YOUR THING, PEKING (PB 4-8)

As the zoo’s only peachick, Peking struggles to discover what makes him unique. He can’t swing like Monkey or waddle like Penguin or trumpet like Elephant. He looks at his reflection in the lily pond and doesn’t see anything spectacular. Peking visits the zoo’s animals, tries to copy their talent and asks their advice. Peking’s specialty does surface with time and patience and he becomes brighter and bolder than anyone could have ever imagined.

#4 – Melissa – THE PIED PIPER OF GRANNIES: A joyous twist on the original story. (PB 4-8)

Gran has hit the road with her band, and shy Kai misses his best friend, until he discovers he can use his harmonica to charm grannies galore! That should fill the void… only… it doesn’t. 

When the grandchildren track down Kai’s geriatric conga line, Kai has to make some decisions and find his voice, only then does he solve his loneliness – by making a friend. 

A 527-word rhyming romp featuring grannies and music from all over the world.

OCTOBER 2021 PITCHPICK POLL

Next, the November/December 2021 Pitch Pick!

#1 – Deborah – WELCOME TO THE WORD FACTORY (PB 4-8) 2d9a5f

Come along on a tour of The Word Factory and listen as EP (exclamation point) explains how words are discovered, spelled, and defined. Despite the repeated interruptions from Oxford, EP is unaware of the growing problem until the tour arrives at the lunchroom where they find a messed up menu and hangry punctuation marks. Thankfully, EP knows the perfect punctuation needed, “Oh Oxford!”

#2 – Melissa – DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT LIONS! (PB 4-8)

He’s been warned, but this renegade monkey and his bush baby buddy break all the rules Mama mentioned as they venture out on a lion quest. 

The refrain ‘what if we just…’? entices readers to turn the page, following these wild risk-takers as they creep closer… closer… too close! GULP! 

Despite a dramatic rescue, followed by a breath-taking chase, only one of them learns his lesson! 

A 437-word madcap rhyming PB adventure featuring found family, and not following the rules. 

#3 – Emily – THE ADVENTURES OF RICKY AND FLASH: ESCAPE FROM THE CITY (CB 7-9)

City rats Ricky and Flash race to leave New York City after double-crossing Slick, the street-hardened stray cat who rules the alleyways. But the brothers have never known anything but city life, and country living comes with its own perils! They try to make a home at Wild Down Farm, but just like in the city… cats rule. When two kittens get trapped, Ricky and Flash have a decision to make—help out the fearsome barn cat who has been stalking them or walk away from both the kittens and their new life on the farm.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 PITCHPICK POLL

Finally, the January 2022 Pitch Pick!

#1 – Patti – DRAGON IS OUT OF HERE (PB 4-8)

Dragon is out of here, leaving his ‘same old’ book and flying off to find a better spot in one of the other books on his shelf. But the grass isn’t any greener with the Big Bad Wolf, the Old Woman in the Shoe, or Sleeping Beauty. After a close call with Old MacDonald, Dragon rediscovers his own story where he can fly, breathe fire, and be his true self.

#2 – Kizzi – THERE WAS A SMALL PYTHON WHO SWALLOWED A FLEA (PB 4-8)

There was a small python who swallowed a flea. He swallowed the flea because it was small, but pythons need MORE after all. So the small python swallows more and more things and grows and grows. Soon he’s a huge python swallowing a moose and caboose, and a door and a store. Just when he couldn’t possibly swallow any more… he sees a rat, and even full pythons have room for that. But this rat is tough and cheesy, and soon python feels a bit queasy. After some moaning and groaning, a huge buuuurrrrppppp might solve all his problems.

THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY meets THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR in this gluttonous tale.

#3 – Jessica – THE PAPER ROUTE (MG)

Grace takes over the neighborhood paper route, only to discover that these are no ordinary newspapers. These newspapers are magical. Not only do they reveal her neighbors’ wishes, but Grace soon learns that she is able to grant these wishes as well. Grace navigates this newfound secret power, but wrestles with simultaneously feeling more invisible than ever to her friends and family. She desperately needs the advice of her trusted friend, Miss Maisy. But, Miss Maisy died two years ago. As Grace grapples with this reality, her own life hangs in the balance. Will she be able to grant one last wish—her own—before it’s too late?

#4 – Reed – THE ALLEY CAT CHRONICLES: MR. FUZZYPANTS, BOOK 1 (CB advanced 7-9)

Over-confident housecat Mr. Fuzzypants, meets street-wise Sassy, and between them, they have one competent alley cat … it’s not Mr. Fuzzypants.

THE ALLEY CAT CHRONICLES follows the adventures of Mr. Fuzzypants and Sassy and their alley-cat crew as they navigate living on the streets. Mr. Fuzzypants, claims to be an “expert” of the outside world despite a life lived indoors. When he finally slips away to chase his dreams, he discovers that life outside is harder than it looked through the window. A feisty street cat Sassy, who can out-hunt and out-climb him steps up to help him learn the ways of the alley. Mr. Fuzzypants must accept he is in over his ears and hightail it home or dig in his claws and let Sassy teach him the ways of the streets.

JANUARY 2022 PITCHPICK POLL

Whew! That was a whole heckofalotta great pitches and hard decisions! Help yourself to another cupcake to restore your strength!

Please remember to place your vote for the person you think should win in each group by Monday April 11 at 9PM.

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kimberly Wilson!

It’s Tuesday and time for today’s version of the Tuesday Debut theme song which you may sing to the tune of Happy Birthday 😊

Good morning to you!
It’s Tuesday Debut!
We’re so glad you joined us!
Hope you’ll learn something new!

I know. There’s nothing like starting your day with a little song written by moi 😊

Are you ready to meet today’s debut?

I’m delighted to introduce Kimberly Wilson, and give you a glimpse of her fabulous picture book, A PENNY’S WORTH and her journey to its publication!

Picture Book Title (Fiction): A PENNY’S WORTH
Author: Kimberly Wilson
Illustrator: Mark Hoffmann
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Date of Publication: April 19, 2022
Age Range: 4-8

Synopsis: Penny’s, worthless? Non-cents! Hot off the minting press, Penny feels like a million bucks. But as other coins and bills are spent while she sits forgotten, she begins to doubt her value. She is too small to slot-surf with Quarter. Even penny candy sells for a dime! Refusing to be short-changed, she sets out to find her purpose at any cost. Readers will laugh at the wealth of money puns, learn a basic lesson on US currency, and discover that self-worth is truly priceless.

SUSANNA: Kimberly, thank you so much for coming to talk with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

KIMBERLY: Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Susanna!

A Penny’s Worth began as a Storystorm 2019 idea. I looked at the coin jug on my kitchen counter and saw something more––a plucky penny on a mission to prove she’s cent-sational, despite her face value.

Through Penny’s journey, I realized I not only had the opportunity to make readers laugh with countless puns and introduce them to money math, but also to show them the importance of self-worth.

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

KIMBERLY: From first draft to the revision that received an offer was about a year and a half.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KIMBERLY: I did six major revisions on this manuscript. I save my work quite often because I like to go back and forth between versions, etc., and I saved this manuscript approximately 200 times before the official rounds of edits began! I did a lot of layering while writing the manuscript: weaving puns throughout, creating each character’s unique personality, sneaking in some early money math into the dialogue, and forming the ever-important emotional arc. One of the biggest challenges I faced was using the word “worth” both as the face value of money and “self-worth.” I also had to think about how an anthropomorphic inanimate object like a penny could move around from pocket to purse while remaining active in reaching her goal. Sometimes she had to be picked up or passed around, but when motivated, she had to make a move. So, like any penny would, I had her pop out of a hole in a pocket, roll down the sidewalk, and even ride a wave (out of a soda cup, thanks to Mark Hoffmann!).

text copyright Kimberly Wilson 2022, illustration copyright Mark Hoffman 2022, Page Street Kids

I was so lucky to have my amazing critique partners with me every step of the way, cheering me on, through frustration and celebration. Writing (and revising!) a picture book takes a village, and I’m extremely thankful for mine!

SUSANNA: That is so true – critique partners are priceless! When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

KIMBERLY: I knew the story was ready for final submission when I revised the manuscript from my heart. It was then I finally felt Penny’s triumph in learning the difference between face value and self-worth (and my CPs felt the same!).

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KIMBERLY: I had a critique at the SCBWI NJ Conference in June 2019 that turned into an R&R!

SUSANNA: That’s amazing! Take heart, everyone reading this – these things really do happen at conferences! How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

KIMBERLY: My R&R was approximately a year-long process. I worked with Page Street Kids on a few rounds of revision. But once I had that feeling about the emotional arc we discussed in the last question, the offer came quickly.

SUSANNA: When did you get the email?

KIMBERLY: I received the email offer when I was at the DMV with my then 15-year-old daughter! She had just passed her permit test and we were in the parking lot walking out to the car. Needless to say, I was shaking as she drove us home for multiple reasons 😉

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KIMBERLY: I turned up some 90’s music, popped a bottle of bubbly, and had a little dance party in my kitchen!

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

KIMBERLY: If I could use one word to describe my experience with the editorial process, it would be “collaborative.” This book has been a team effort all the way through, from the bigger picture edit rounds, to line edits, and small tweaks as the art developed. We did a lot of brainstorming at each stage, which is one of my favorite things to do. My editor encouraged and challenged me in so many wonderful ways, and I have grown in my craft as a result.

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

KIMBERLY: So exciting! I received the first character sketches on my birthday––best birthday gift ever! I was looped it at every step and asked if I had any feedback, from sketches to final art. It was amazing to watch Mark Hoffmann’s talent at work bringing Penny to life on the page. His unique style and amazing color palette complement the story perfectly. I’m thrilled with how our book turned out.

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews?

KIMBERLY: Yes!

Have you ever seen someone dance in the middle of the dentist’s office? That was me when I received the Kirkus Review and read, “Filled with clever and chucklesome wordplay, Wilson’s spry narrative is engaging but also educational, providing a solid, accessible introduction to basic money equivalents.”

I had the same reaction when I later received the Booklist review, “[…] This tribute to what is, the author notes, still our country’s most minted coin offers a perfect opportunity to discuss the difference between mere purchasing power and real value.”

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

KIMBERLY: It was approximately 20 months from offer to publication date, though I was able to hold a hard copy a few months in advance.

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

KIMBERLY: When I had my marketing meeting, I was amazed at everything they had been doing behind the scenes! They’ve done everything from marketing to booksellers and libraries, to reaching out to social media influencers, submitting for reviews, creating activity guides and bookplates, handling book giveaways, connecting me with bookstores and school visit opportunities––and the list goes on and on!

SUSANNA: Here is a link to a book guide created by the publisher if anyone wants to have a look!

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

KIMBERLY: I was so lucky to find my debut group, Kidlit Caravan, early on. We became fast friends and worked hard to create our platform on social media, our website, etc. Working with them and having their support on so many levels has been a highlight of the last year and a half!

I also come from a marketing background, so my wheels are always turning. I’ve been working on social media, a pre-sale campaign, scheduling school visits and library story times, and writing guest blog posts.

Mark Hoffmann, the amazing illustrator of A PENNY’S WORTH, and I have a virtual event tonight, April 5th at 7pm, and I have an in-person (yay!) event Sunday, April 24th at 12pm, at Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC.

SUSANNA: That’s terrific! What an asset to have a marketing background. How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

KIMBERLY: After dreaming of becoming a writer since the third grade, I finally started taking it seriously in 2017. I joined the SCBWI shortly after, in March 2018 and received my offer for A PENNY’S WORTH two and a half years later!

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication?

KIMBERLY: I could go on and on about what I’ve learned. But the biggest lesson for me, has been patience––with my own writing, querying, all the way through publication process (and beyond). With that, I also try and focus on things I can control versus the things I can’t (sometimes easier said than done!). Just recently, due to shipping delays, the publication date for the book was pushed back two weeks to April 19. I couldn’t swim out into the ocean and bring the books ashore, so I’ve used the extra time to reach out to more bookstores and schools.

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us, Kimberly, and sharing your knowledge and expertise! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your journey! Wishing you all the best with this and future titles!

Author Kimberly Wilson

https://linktr.ee/kimberlywilsonwrites
Instagram: @kimberlywilsonwrites
Twitter: @authorkimwilson
Represented by Victoria Selvaggio, Storm Literary

A PENNY’S WORTH (April, 5 2022, Page Street Kids)
A DOLLAR’S GRAND DREAM (Spring 2023, Page Street Kids)

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – A Family Is. . .

Hello, my friends!

Welcome to another installment of Perfect Picture Book Friday! (And that’s no April Fool 😊)

To start the day’s festivities, I’m happy to announce that the winner of last week’s book giveaway, JACKIE AND THE MONA LISA, is Stephanie M! Congratulations, Stephanie! I think you will love it! Please email me with your address (you can use the contact button in the menu bar above), and I will have the publisher mail out your copy!

Now! Let’s get to today’s book! Such a perfect little gem!

This book is actually a companion to A FRIEND IS. . .(reviewed HERE on PPBF in January 2021), and if you haven’t had a chance to check that one out, I recommend reading it too! For those of you who might live in the Mid-Hudson Valley area, you can meet today’s author/illustrator and get a signed copy of both these books at the Poughkeepsie Book Festival tomorrow! I will also be there, as will Iza Trapani, Karen Kaufman Orloff, Della Ferreri, Tania Guarino, Michael Garland, Nancy Furstinger, Marie-Therese Miller, Raven Howell, and lots of others!

But now, the book!

Title: A Family Is. . .

Written & Illustrated By: Lisa Thiesing

Publisher: Aladdin, March 8, 2022

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (but I think younger children would really enjoy it too!)

Themes/Topics: family

Opening: “A family is. . . for “Good morning!”
A family is. . .for having breakfast and for getting dressed.”

text and illustration copyright Lisa Thiesing 2022 Aladdin

Brief Synopsis: (from the publisher) “Whether big or small, a family is for reading, for laughing, for holding you tight. And, perhaps most importantly, loving you for who you are.”

text and illustration copyright Lisa Thiesing 2022 Aladdin

Links To Resources: make your own A Family Is. . . book by writing and/or drawing something family means to you on each page; make playdough families with different sized cookie cutters in the shape of people, or bears or other animals; draw a picture of your whole family; make a family tree; Family Themed Finger Plays and Action Songs

text and illustration copyright Lisa Thiesing 2022 Aladdin

Why I Like This Book: This sweet book gives young readers a lovely and very accessible description of what family means. Each page highlights ways families spend time together, from having breakfast and getting dressed to walking in the park and biking, to parties and games. But the book also reminds kids that, on a deeper level, families are about being together and belonging. As always for me, Lisa’s art takes a charming text and makes it even better. Her color palette is soft and appealing, her characters are delightful, and her depiction of family makes you want to climb right into the book and join the fun and the love. A perfect story for bed time or any time, and especially for when someone needs a little extra reminder of how much they are treasured in their own family.

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 blog 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 – Straight From The Editor!

Seems like it’s been awhile since we had any Straight From The Editor feedback, so today we’re going to rectify that!

Don’t laugh. I know how far behind these are. Apparently editor Erin Molta has been as busy as I have, and between us she didn’t get to these and I didn’t remind her, so here we are learning from February, March, and May of 2021. (Not sure what happened to April – hoping that comes through soon!)

ANYway, we now have an opportunity to learn, so get ready to take notes! 😊

The winner of the February 2021 Pitch Pick was Robin, with this pitch:

But When She Opens the Door… (PB 4-8)

On an Irish March day, Katie O’Shea and her feline assistant, Shamrock, are surprised by the fickle weather shifting dramatically each time she opens the door. In rollicking read aloud rhyme, Katie keeps changing clothes until a look at the calendar reveals the perfect outfit!

Erin’s comments are as follows:

This sounds so cute and I think it has potential but…rollicking read-aloud rhyme aside—will there be some weather facts in said rhyme or is it just a cute paean to unpredictable March—it comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb type of thing? If it’s got a little weather information in it, I think you may want to state that a tad more clearly or if it’s a book about St. Patrick’s Day you need state that more clearly, too. Different editors will be interested in different aspects and you want to clue them in right up front. No need to keep them guessing.

The winner of the March 2021 Pitch Pick was Diana with:

Wait For Cate (PB 5-8)

Cate promised her team she’d finally be on time for the championship kickball game. But when she encounters the new girl in her class, stuck in the sand on the playground in her wheelchair, she has to make a BIG decision. Should she help or hurry on by? The clock’s ticking.

Erin’s comments are as follows:

I love the premise of this story but I think the pitch might be helped with a tad more “showing” not telling. And maybe an example of why Cate is always late—does she get distracted helping others a lot—whether it be people, animals insects… And I don’t think you need to ask the question of whether she should help or not. THAT can be implied.

Perhaps something more like: Cate is late for everything! She always has a really good reason but when her kickball team plays the championship game she promises she won’t let them down. What’s she supposed to do when the new girl in school’s wheelchair is stuck in sand in the playground?

The winner of the May Pitch Pick was Patricia with:

TY’S TREASURES (PB 4-7)

A crystal.  A marble.  A feather.  Ty growing collection of treasures is causing problems for his family.  But  where can he stash them?   Not in the toybox. Not in the closet. Not in the bed.  Mom wants them outside. In his search for a worthy spot, Ty observes birds, squirrels, even his dog hanging on to their treasures.  But a visit with his grandma helps Ty discover the difference between a treasure and a memor,y and that there is a place for both.

Erin had this to say:

I like the premise of this story but it seems so quiet and honestly if the poor boy can’t keep a box of treasures (a crystal, marble and a feather are very small, easily stored objects. If you want to make the point that he’s got a lot –rather than saying it’s causing problems for his family — say what is exactly. Is he collecting tires or does he have 4000 marbles and 250 feathers? Is he spreading them all across the dining room table? Or in his mother’s flour canister? Dad’s medicine cabinet? Go big so you can get the point across in a fun way—to grab an editor’s attention and then you can end with how his grandmother helps him tell the difference between a treasure and a memory.

As always, I find Erin’s thoughts so enlightening and so helpful! I hope they are useful to all of you, too!

Due to all the recent upheaval, the upcoming Would You Read It calendar is wide open. If you’d like to share a pitch here for feedback from our wonderful readers between now and June and the chance to get your pitch in front of Erin, please email me! I’d be happy to fill the calendar. Hopefully next week we’re going to catch up and do some voting on who the winners should be for the fall 2021 pitches and then we’ll be sitting pretty 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday! Happy writing! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Amy Duchene!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Have you ever thought about writing a picture book. . .

. . . with someone else?

Today we have a special treat!

Until now, all our Tuesday Debuts have been single authors. Today, for the first time, we’re highlighting a collaboration! Amy is a debut author. Elisa, her co-author, has released one children’s book through traditional publishing with LOS ANGELES IS… and self-published a non-fiction set of travel guide series called “Guides for the Eyes.

Pull up a pool noodle and get ready to learn a thing or two about writing and selling your first picture book with a partner, a whole new kind of writing journey! Let’s dive in!

POOL PARTY
Written by Amy Duchene and Elisa Parhad
Illustrated by Anne Bentley
Cameron Kids
March 2022
Fiction 4-8

A splashy story celebrating a fun-filled day at a public pool.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Amy and Elisa! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re all very excited to hear about the process of debut publishing with a collaborator. Where did the idea for this book come from?

AMY: Elisa and I met in a swimming pool at roughly age 3 and have been friends ever since. We swam together on a club relay team that broke a city record (Seattle Summer Swim League shout out!). We’re also both writers and have been in a kidlit writing group together for over half of a decade here in Los Angeles. We had talked for a while about co-writing something and had never quite landed on a story or topic. And then, one day in summer 2018, a fun rhyming couplet came to my mind: “jump, hop, bellyflop” along with the proposed (and now real) title “POOL PARTY.” I think I emailed Elisa at that exact moment and plead her to consider co-writing a story with me about summertime fun in the pool.


ELISA: Of course, I said, “YES!”

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

AMY: The original seed of the idea was summer 2018. At the time, Elisa was traveling out of the country, so we paused working on the story for a few months. We actually sat down to brainstorm together in person at the start of 2019, and we submitted the query to the publisher by fall of that same year.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

AMY: The actual text is short (~150 words). Yet people may be surprised to know that we had at least a couple dozen rounds of revisions. I think part of this has to do with the fact that we collaborated. Our process was that one person would take the draft and write/edit/etc., then pass it to the other for a revision. So we were constantly trading the draft back and forth for little refinements. We also used cloud-based collaboration tools to keep a copy that we could work on simultaneously. The process was very fun. There were truly many times where I stood in my kitchen cooking dinner and looking at our shared doc on my phone, working out little couplets.

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

AMY: Does one ever really know?! We polished the heck out of this manuscript, with fantastic support and input from our writer group (shout out to Marlene and Rachel!). I also read the manuscript aloud to my husband and cats more times than I can even count. Because the book is short and rhyming, we had to be merciless with the meter and the rhymes. The words needed to be spectacular – not obvious rhyme choices. There is a structure behind the manuscript that took multiple tries to sort out, too. In the earlier days, we toyed with whether to submit the book as a board book or picture book; we created digital dummies with page count estimates to ensure there was enough content for either.

ELISA: With rhyming text we had to be sure we could read through without even a moment  the words didn’t roll perfectly off the tongue. We probably had a few weeks of rereading it over and over without needing changes before we knew it would be ready.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

AMY: We are both unagented, so we knew we had to approach publishers that accepted unsolicited manuscripts. We wrote a query and sent it to two publishers—one being the publisher that is releasing the book (Cameron Kids). Elisa had already worked with them with another book.

ELISA: After my Los Angeles Is… book came out with Cameron Books, my editor there encouraged me to send her any other manuscripts. So, they were an early obvious place for submission. I have to say, it was a relief to have at least one place where we knew the manuscript would actually be read and not get thrown in the slush pile.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

AMY: This part of the story truly shocks me. I have been on a journey to publish kidlit for nearly a decade, and my ‘rejection list’ is well over 200 queries/pitches. POOL PARTY, on the other hand, was given its first positive response within the first 24 hours of query. I guess when things are meant to be, they go fast!


ELISA: We got that email right back that said, we want to take it. It truly was shocking. I think it helped that the editor was a swimmer and completely “got” it!

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! ☺)

AMY: I was at lunch with another writer group member, Marlene, and I got a call from Elisa. She said, “You have to check your email.” My heart beat so fast at that moment.

SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

AMY: Our greenlight email was in Nov 2019, and the editor advised us we would start the contract process in the early part of the new year 2020. Yet of course, due to the pandemic, we paused for at least six months while the world was attending to much bigger priorities – staying healthy and safe. We finally signed the contract in Nov 2020. Because we are unagented, Elisa and I took on the process of reviewing and marking up our contract ourselves – with a little consult from some lawyer friends. I’m so proud of us for that!

SUSANNA: Wow! Good for you! I would find that fairly intimidating! How did you celebrate signing your contract?  (If you care to share ☺)

AMY: Oh my gosh, due to the pandemic it took us until Dec 2021 to actually get together and toast ourselves. No joke! We shared many excited texts and emails and phone calls but it wasn’t until a full year later that we sat down over a table and clinked glasses.

ELISA: It was too long! I feel like we still need to celebrate more, getting a children’s book published is such a feat for anyone.

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

ELISA: Our contract was very standard. We got a $3,000 advance paid out at signing and acceptance of the material, and a standard royalty rate. Because we are co-authors, we share any earnings 50/50.

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

AMY: Our editor (also named Amy) is fantastic. She ‘got it’ with our book immediately and her edits were the best kind – essential but perceptibly light. We had a couple rounds of changes.

ELISA: Amy, our editor, really refined the words and structure, but minimally. I love the editing process because even when you think you are done, there are always improvements to make. And good editors will clarify, improve or expand in ways that authors often cannot see.

SUSANNA: That has been my experience as well. What was the illustration process like for you two?

AMY: I really didn’t know what to expect in this process. I’d heard that authors and illustrators are typically kept separated, but was pleasantly surprised that we received an intro email welcoming us to Cameron, plus sketches as well as full-color comps during the illustrator’s development process. It was really neat to review the image comps with Elisa, too. We were each able to review the imagery, provide notes, then come together to confer about our observations and provide collected notes. One of my absolute favorite illustrations within the finished book is the end paper. Anne Bentley truly captured the watery beauty of a pool’s interior tiles.

ELISA: We got digital files from the publisher and they were so receptive to new ideas and changes. It was exciting to see how someone else brought the story to life! We mentioned some very minor elements to tweak, such as making sure that the swimmers were diverse and well representative of different genders. And, we noted that just females/mothers were in the background, which was addressed to showcase more equal parenting. I think these details in illustration are really important and it truly takes a village to assess illustration for a broad audience so I was glad to have a supportive team, including the editor, publisher team and Anne, our illustrator, surrounding visuals.

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

ELISA: We got a review from Kirkus. A Google Alert popped up with my name, which is how I found out. In relation to what was said about making tweaks to the illustration, the reviewer brought up the miss of only including able-bodied swimmers, and I agree that that was one oversight that we didn’t catch.

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

AMY: Just over a year. In fact my first copy arrived the day after my birthday, so it felt like an extra present. Opening the envelope and seeing my book in hard copy was flooring, to be honest. I kept thinking (and saying) “it’s real!”

ELISA: We heard in 2020 when we signed that the book would be out in 2022 and it seemed so far away! It was shocking to get the book in the mail because it felt like a moment we had waited so long ago was finally here.

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

ELISA: The publisher has submitted to SLJ, Kirkus, Children’s Book Review as well as applying for a signing time at the LA Festival of Books and reached out to a handful of book bloggers/bookstagrammers they work with.

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

ELISA: Aside from the general postings on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, Cameron has also provided support for us to work with local bookstores to send out signed books and counseled us on Instagram giveaways. We also sent press releases to other book bloggers and bookstagrammers, as well as regional parenting magazines.

AMY: The publisher has been open to our ideas, too! So we have been brainstorming ideas and sharing them with the illustrator and publisher. For example, we have some ideas about in-person events at local stores (and pools!) planned for later this summer. I work in marketing all day for my day job, but it’s completely different – and challenging – to think about ideas for my own book.

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

AMY: About 8 years. My first official kidlit training was through a children’s writing course at UCLA Extension taught by another working kidlit author, Michelle Markel. That class was short but comprehensive – essentially a survey of the various age groups and genres of kidlit. From there I wrote and submitted and queried a multitude of stories, some which had interest but eventually didn’t materialize. What a thrill to see POOL PARTY accepted and come to life! Truly, I’ve been a writer for my entire professional career and had work published in print and online, but having a picture book published is a career highlight.

ELISA: About 4 or 5 years. My first book, Los Angeles Is…, I starting toying with in 2012 and it was published in 2018. But I believe I signed the contract in 2016. Children’s publishing is a long haul! But worth the wait, always.

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?)

ELISA: The amount of time we spent on the text —which is only about 150 words, mind you—is truly shocking. How can such a short poem take so long to finish? The takeaway is that making a manuscript that is simple, clear and enjoyable is really, really hard. It takes loads of time, effort and skill. I’m so grateful I was able to tackle it with Amy—collaboration in this case was such a delight! We really worked well with each other and pushed each other to really nail each line precisely. Even though it would have been nice to take a shortcut, ensuring that what we submitted was perfect got us quick results.

AMY: For me, it was all about the enjoyment factor – insisting on that. Because life is short, and I didn’t want to spend time working on something that brought me down. (I did a lot of that leading up to this manuscript/book!) If I wasn’t having fun writing a line or working on a part of the project, I either had to stop what I was doing/change direction or find a way to enjoy it. As it turns out, even the contract process became something I enjoyed because I challenged myself to learn something new and essential to the publication process. And yes, couldn’t agree more about working with Elisa. Talk about enjoyment factor! Writing with a friend is simply the best!

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

AMY: The process of creation and writing (and revisions) can be so isolating. For many, many years I slogged alone and wanted to give up writing on several occasions. I put a lot of pressure on myself, and took the joy out of the craft for a long time. But end to end, working on POOL PARTY has been an absolute delight. I’m continually awed and elated that this is the book that broke through first. It feels like such a nice way to start my publication journey.


ELISA: This process was so enjoyable that I wish every book was a collaboration. Part of that, perhaps, was that we took it as a creative journey together and the feeling always was, Let’s try this and if it doesn’t work we can bail. It just kept working and I’m so grateful that it turned into something beautiful we can share with the world.

SUSANNA: Amy and Elisa, thank you both so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! It has been a real treat for us to hear from a pair of collaborators – what an opportunity to learn! We all appreciate your time and expertise and wish you all the best with this and future titles!

Author Amy Duchene

https://www.amyduchene.com/

Author Elisa Parhad

https://www.elisaparhad.com/

Readers, if you have questions for Amy/Elisa, please post them in the comments below and if they have time I’m sure they’ll respond!

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Beverly Warren – Have You Seen Mouse? (author/illustrator)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Jackie And The Mona Lisa PLUS A Giveaway!

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday and I have a wonderful treat for you!

A great Perfect Picture Book, a little insight from the author, 3 fabulous activity pages, and the chance for one of you (US resident only) to win a copy of the book just by leaving a comment in the comment section below by Wednesday March 30 at 9PM Eastern!

I really enjoyed this book, so I hope you’ll like it too!

Title: Jackie And The Mona Lisa

Written By: Deborah Rovin Murphy

Illustrated By: Jen Brickling

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, March 15, 2022, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 6-8

Themes/Topics: American History, Jackie Kennedy, art appreciation

Opening: “Jackie Kennedy loved poetry. She loved dance and music. And she loved art. In 1961, Jackie became the First Lady of the United States. And everyone loved Jackie. More than that, everyone wanted to be just like her.”

Text copyright Debbie Rovin Murphy 2022, illustration copyright Jen Brickling 2022, Sleeping Bear Press

Brief Synopsis: From the publisher: “Jackie Kennedy loved the arts. And America loved Jackie Kennedy. The first lady knew she had the country’s attention–what would she do with it? Encourage Americans to appreciate art, of course! She turned the White House into a historical site filled with some of America’s most treasured artifacts and pieces of art. She brought Shakespearean theater to the White House and ballerinas to the South Lawn. And most epically, she brought the Mona Lisa to the states (much to the chagrin of many Parisians) to encourage Americans to visit museums–and it worked! An inspiring story about one of the nation’s most influential first ladies.”

Text copyright Debbie Rovin Murphy 2022, illustration copyright Jen Brickling 2022, Sleeping Bear Press

Links To Resources: The back matter of the book has additional information about both Jackie Kennedy and the Mona Lisa. Please see below for some activity pages you can use with the book.

I asked Debbie what inspired her to write JACKIE AND THE MONA LISA, and she responded: “Growing up, art was always my favorite class. I teach second grade now (which I love) but had also dreamed about becoming an art teacher. This, combined with my love of history and museums, and my admiration of Jackie Kennedy, came together to inspire me to write Jackie and the Mona Lisa. Another reason for writing this particular story is my love for all of the “little known stories” in history or incredibly interesting stories that have been lost in time that I believe kids (and adults) would love to know. When I hear someone say that history is boring… I just think that they haven’t heard all of the interesting stories and anecdotes that correspond with all of the names, dates, and people we are taught to remember. I hope that this book can inspire children to go to museums and learn about the arts.”

A little bit about the author:

Author Debbie Rovin Murphy is a children’s book writer, teacher (of more than 25 years), and mother to two grown sons. She has loved visiting museums since her class trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art when she was in elementary school, and she was lucky enough to have seen the Mona Lisa on a trip to France. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

 Here are a few activity pages to use with the book:

Why I Like This Book: I found this book interesting, accessible, and engagingly written. I learned a lot about Jackie Kennedy’s time as First Lady and her passion for the arts. It was wonderful to have a glimpse of someone who seems so elegant searching through the White House basement! The story (without ever saying anything preachy!) clearly sends the message that if something is important to you, you can accomplish it if you put yourself into it. Young readers will really enjoy this book about everything Jackie Kennedy did for the arts in America.

Text copyright Debbie Rovin Murphy 2022, illustration copyright Jen Brickling 2022, Sleeping Bear Press

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 blog 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! 😊 Don’t forget to leave a comment below by Wednesday March 30 at 9PM Eastern for your chance to be randomly selected to win a copy of this wonderful book! (US residents only – sorry!)

The 2022 Valentiny Contest WINNERS!!!

Once upon a time. . .

. . . on a blueberry-covered hill not all that far, far away in upstate New York. . .

. . .a princess lived in a little house in the woods.

(I know. You’re wondering why the princess lived in a little house in the woods. “That’s not right!” I hear you saying. “Princesses are supposed to live in castles, or be trapped in towers or dungeons!” But this is not your usual run-of-the-mill princess. . .)

This princess was a champion pogo-sticker (yes, that is too a word.) She had been training for years, doing hours of jumping, and keeping to a strict diet of Spring Beans and Garbouncebos. It was very effective. The villagers could often be heard proclaiming, “That princess sure is full of beans!” And, “Boy! Can she bounce!”

The Bouncy Trouncy Pouncy Flouncy Pogosticking Championship, the most prestigious of all pogosticking competitions in the Universe, was only days away, and the princess (whose name was Poppy – so fitting, don’t you think? due to all that popping up and down? it’s almost like her excellence in pogosticking was foreseen when her parents picked her name. . .) but anyway, Poppy passionately wanted to win the competition and the life-size golden pogostick trophy that was the prize!

There was just one small problem. . .

She was supposed to have posted the winners for the 7th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest and she had spent so much time jumping and bouncing and eating beans and various other explosive foods that she had not done it. NO, SHE HAD NOT!

So her mother said, “Poppy, there will be no Pogosticking Championship for you until you have met your obligations! I will not have shirkers in my little house in the woods!”

Well. Poppy REALLY wanted to get to that Championship! So she sat on her hippity-hop (great indoor leg strength building for bouncing and jumping muscles) and made the list of winners and honorable mentions in record time (because Poppy was all about making records, whether in pogosticking or in judging whilst hippity-hopping and continuing her bean eating!)

“I am so proud of you, Poppy,” her mother said. “Not only have you fulfilled your obligations, you have kept up with your exercise regimen and your bean eating at the same time, showing great commitment to your sport and your goals! Now, go to the Bouncy Trouncy Pouncy Flouncy Pogosticking Championship and jump the socks off your competitors!”

There will now be a short commercial break to announce the WINNERS of . . .

The 7th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

(don’t worry – you’ll find out what happened to Poppy after this break from our sponsors)

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for so many! As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!  The other judges and I are blown away anew each time!

Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments.  This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories.  It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed.  I hope you all got as much delight  and entertainment out of the reading as I did!  Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 😊

Third, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  We chose 14 finalists, and around 35 Honorable Mentions which we also loved, and even with those 49 total there were nearly 150 entries we couldn’t list! So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  You’re in good company! There was a huge amount of competition. And remember that the judging is based on the contest criteria. If you wrote a great story that didn’t showcase pride enough or that was too grown-up or not related to Valentine’s Day, you didn’t make the final cut.  But that DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 214 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Because it was such a hard choice, and there were so many wonderful stories, before we get to the winners, my assistant judges and I would like to award bragging rights, recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole: (entries we truly wrestled with not including in the finalists!)

Lori Sheroan for The Proudest Pencil

Susannah Lee for Shelby’s Heartache

Claire Noland for The Valentine Surprise

Chayala Nachum for My Icky Sticky Valentine (great kid appeal too!)

Rachel Bandy for V’s For Valentine

Terri Hellard-Brown for Isabella’s Valentine

Becky Goodman for ValenTalent Show

Lauri C. Meyers for My Gummy Love

Susanne Whitehouse for The Mural

Judy Sobanski for Sloth’s Original Valentine

Laura Bower for Llama Love

Sara Kruger for The Perfect Present

2. For Great Read Aloud:

Brigid Finucane for Love Somebody (makes you want to sing and dance 😊)

3. For Great Story For Younger Readers:

Patti Ranson for Valentines Breakfast For Mom

Cindy Greene for Valentine’s Day Heartache

Tara Knox Cerven for The Purrfect Valentine

Lori C. Evans for Never Too Many Valentines

4. For Humor:

Donna Kurtz for Don’t-Let-The-Dung-Beetle-Make-The-Valentine-Brownies!

Jill Purtee for Gumballs

5. For Fun POV/Character:

Jenna Elyse Johnson for Hammie’s Valentine Surprise (dog)

Deborah Foster for Gary Groundhog Conquers The Shadow Monster (groundhog/snowhog)

6. For Great Ending:

Alayne Kay Christian for What Kind Of Cupid Am I?

Kristy Roser Nuttall for Love Inside

Mary Schultz for Taffy’s Sweet Surprise

7. For Well-Written Story With Great Sibling Interaction:

Julianna Helt for Allie’s Biggest Heart

Armineh Manookian for Lost But Found

Erika Romero for You Make Me So Proud

8. For Beautiful Writing:

A. Kidd for Three Hearts

Corine Timmer for It’s A Matter Of Taste (also educational and funny ending!)

9. For Best Short Valentiny Story:

Marty Findley for A Valentine For You (64 words!)

10. For Sweet Valentiny:

Heather Ferranti Kinser for Teeny Houdini

Kathy Crable for Valentine Barks

Lindsay Moretti for A Valentine For Mr. Weatherly

11. Best Story From A Young Writer:

Sophie Moore (age 10) for Detective Spot And The Search For A New Cupid (also clever and funny!)

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  Please email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com subject line Prize Winner to collect your award badge and prize, which is five dollars in a format that can be emailed for you to put toward something you’d like at a large online store (and I’m being cryptic because when I’ve done this for previous contests I got a ton of problematic spam mail because of the way I worded the post, but hopefully you can figure it out.  The store starts with the letter A 😊) I know it’s not much, but hopefully it will come in handy for something!

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2021 VALENTINY CONTEST as voted on by you, our devoted readers!!!

rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat

DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Michaela Almeida
for

A Change Of Heart!!!

Congratulations, Michaela! Terrific job 😊

In Second Place

Daniella Kaufman
for
Sweet Valentine

Congratulations, Daniella! You get to pick your prize after Michaela.

In Third Place

Katie Brandyberry
for
Valentine Delivery – Part II

Congratulations, Katie! You get to pick your prize after Michaela and Daniella.

In Fourth Place

Jesse Anna Bornemann
for
Showdown In Smoochalot

Congratulations, Jesse! You get to pick your prize after Michaela, Daniella, and Katie!

In Fifth Place

Allison Strick
for
Percy’s Performance

Congratulations, Allison! You get to pick after Michaela, Daniella, Katie, and Jesse!

In Sixth Place...

Katie Palazzola
for
Oog Love Rock

Congratulations, Katie! I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 😊

In Seventh Place…

Sarah Meade
for
V-Day!

Congratulations, Sarah!  You get to pick next 😊

In Eighth Place…

Amy Leskowski
for
Cupid’s Confidence

Congratulations, Amy! You get to pick after Sarah 😊

In Ninth Place…

Laura Bost
for
Flicker’s Valentine

Congratulations, Laura!  You get to pick after Amy! 😊

In Tenth Place…

Kate Thompson
for
The Valentine’s Cake

Congratulations, Kate! You get to pick after Laura! 😊

In Eleventh Place…

Sara Petersohn
for
Valentine Wins

Congratulations, Sara! You get to pick after Kate! 😊

In Twelfth Place…

Kimberly Shrack
for
The Perfect Valentine

Congratulations, Kimberly! You get to pick your prize after Sara! 😊

In Thirteenth Place…

Emily Keener
for
Special Delivery

Congratulations, Emily! You get to pick after Kimberly!

In Fourteenth Place…

Zach Schloss
for
Hoppy Belated Valentine

Congratulations, Zach!

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  (The sooner the better!)  And for your convenience, the whole prize list is included at the bottom of this post.

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause and a gigantic chocolate heart… or lots of little chocolate hearts… or both… really, you can never have too much chocolate 😊 .

Oh! And as a special reward I will tell you that Princess Poppy went to the Bouncy Trouncy Pouncy Flouncy Pogosticking Championship and pogoed with astounding energy, bouncing and jumping as, one by one, all the other competitors fell victim to Jelly Legs and toppled off their pogo sticks, and she was so impressive that not only did she win the competition and the life-sized golden pogo stick trophy (“That’s my girl!” her mother said proudly), they also named a brand of beans after her, so now you can buy Princess Poppy Beans – Beans That Pop With Flavor and Will Make You Jump For Joy! They are high in fiber and an excellent source of protein so you really can’t go wrong! Try some with your chocolate! (er… or maybe that WOULD be wrong 🤣)

Thank you to everyone who helped make this contest SO MUCH FUN, whether by writing an entry, reading people’s stories, leaving comments for the authors, and/or voting in the finals.  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

Have a marvelous Wednesday, everyone! 😊

The Prizes:  Swoonworthy! As always, we are so fortunate to have an abundance of wonderful prizes donated by our very generous friends in the kidlit community! Just look at all these goodies!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Read & Critique from agent Mary Cummings of Great River Literary, “an agency devoted exclusively to representing authors and author/illustrators of books for children and teens. Strong relationships with editors have resulted in a rapidly growing list of sales of board and picture books, chapter books and novels to such publishing houses as Knopf; Philomel; Viking; Nancy Paulsen/Penguin; Balzer & Bray; Walker; Little, Brown; Henry Holt; Holiday House; Feiwel & Friends; FSG; Running Press; WorthyKids; Abrams; Random House; Wiseman S & S; Chronicle; Candlewick; HarperCollins and many others.”

⭐️ 1/2 Hour Zoom Picture Book Manuscript Critique or Mentoring Session with author Lynne Marie!

Author Lynne Marie

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019),  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Keila Dawson, author of THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican Publishing 2016), NO VOICE TOO SMALL (Charlesbridge 2020), and OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK (Beaming Books, 2021)

⭐️ Access to author/editor Alayne Kay Christian‘s webinars! Alayne is the author of BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA (Blue Whale Press, 2008), SIENNA THE COWGIRL FAIRY: COWBOY TROUBLE (Blue Whale Press 2021), THE WEED THAT WOKE CHRISTMAS (Blue Whale Press, 2020), and AN OLD MAN AND HIS PENGUIN (Blue Whale Press, 2020)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), SADIE’S SHABAT STORIES (Spork, 2020) and PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Rebecca Gardyn Levington author of BRAINSTORM! (Sleeping Bear Press, Summer 2022), I WILL ALWAYS BE…(HarperCollins, Spring 2024) and a contributor to the delightful anthology HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, October 2020)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonrhyming) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House, 2021), LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR (Aladdin, September 2022), and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique and Query Letter Critique from Jessica Stremer author of the forthcoming GREAT CARRIER REEF (Holiday House, 2023)

Author Jessica Stremer

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Cathy Ballou Mealey author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Union Square Kids, 2019), SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, 2021), and the forthcoming MAKE MORE S’MORES (Sleeping Bear Press, 2023)

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of THE KING CAKE BABY by Keila Dawson

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM by Melissa Berger Stoller

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of IT’S A MUFFULETTA! IT’S A WHATA? (Spork 2021) by Patricia Saunders

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of Winner’s Choice of any available Susanna Leonard Hill picture book

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Beverly Love Warren!

Woo hoo!
Tuesday Debut!

Am I a wizard at rhyming or what?! 🤣

Grab a snack and a beverage, pull up a couch, and make yourself comfy!

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to a Making Picture Book Magic graduate, author/illustrator Beverly Love Warren, as we give you a glimpse of her charming debut picture book, HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE?

HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE?
Author/Illustrator – Beverly Love Warren
Clear Fork/Spork
Publication date – March 1, 2022
Fiction, 4-7 years

A young bear loses his best friend, a mouse, and searches the forest to find             him only to discover his friend loves him more than he thought.

SUSANNA: Where did the idea for this book come from?

BEVERLY: My husband and I take road trips occasionally. On a trip, while driving through the mountains in Idaho, I gazed into the forest at a fallen tree. In my imagination I saw a young bear sitting on that tree weeping. I wondered why and guessed that he lost his best friend. I had my notebook with me so immediately I began the first draft. My protagonist was the bear, but who would his friend be? I had many mice as pets when I was young, and I liked the contrast of the “big” with the “little” so I chose a mouse to be the best friend. Many of my ideas come from nature, or an incident in my life or that of a friend, or something I remember from childhood. When I’m beginning a draft, I ask the who, what, when, where, why, how and what if questionsof the character, the location or the story forming in my mind. These questions also serve as a tool to help me discover the theme or plot of the story – if I don’t know it ahead of time.

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

BEVERLY: I joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge in 2019. HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE? was November’s entry that year. I submitted it to the forum for feedback on Nov 16, 2019, and later with my critique groups. So, I had many eyes looking at the draft and subsequent revisions. The contract with the publisher was signed on July 6, 2020. I am also the illustrator for MOUSE and was working on the illustrations for another book at the same time as I was for MOUSE (see question 5, below). The illustrations, from sketches to final art on both books, took about 16 months to complete.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

BEVERLY: I keep hard copies of my drafts and revisions in manilla folders. Once the first draft is completed, I work on the revisions with my laptop. There were about 9 or 10 revisions of MOUSE after I sent the first draft to the 12×12 forum. Usually, I would write 4 or 5 revisions before I would submit the story for the first critique in the forum or to my critique partners. Most of the time I do several revisions of a manuscript then set it aside and work on another story for a while. This is so that both myself and my critique partners can see it with fresh eyes when the revision process resumes.

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

BEVERLY: I knew once my critique partners didn’t have much else to say revision wise except for a few small punctuation corrections. Also, I know when there is a consensus in my group that the story is finished. From an artist point of view, I would want to have completed thumbnails and at least one finished illustration ready as well.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

BEVERLY: In January – February 2020 I took an illustration course with Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy. At the end of the course the illustrations each student had been working on would be shown to a few editors. Shortly after the course ended, I was contacted by the Clear Fork/Spork publisher, Callie Metler. She had a manuscript by another author that she offered me to illustrate. After reading it I agreed. Sometime later as we were working on the other book Callie said she really liked the palette I used in Mira’s class. I told her there was a manuscript that went with it and asked if she would be interested in reading it. She graciously said yes. Later she said the story was precious and wanted to acquire it.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

BEVERLY: Clear Fork/ Spork is a small publishing house. Because I was already working directly with the publisher on the other picture book it only took about two weeks after she read the story that I was told “yes.” I wanted to complete Mira’s course and have a book dummy, one piece of final art and the manuscript ready before I considered submitting it anywhere. MOUSE was ready at the time I offered it to Clear Fork/Spork.

SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

BEVERLY: This took a couple of weeks.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

BEVERLY: My celebration was during a family birthday which was a few days later. While

the family was all together in the dining room, my husband announced that I had something to tell them. The look on their faces was apprehensive but quickly changed to smiles and words of congratulations, and excitement too.

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

BEVERLY: Because the publisher had told me up front that they are a royalties-based publisher, I knew there would not be an advance on the manuscript, but the royalties would be higher than usual. However, there was a small advance on the illustrations. The time between submitting the final art to the publisher and the launch date has been about five months. The publication timeline took a bit longer than I thought it would be.

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

BEVERLY: Thankfully, the editor’s vision for the story was the same as mine therefore there were only minor changes to the text such as removing dialogue tags. I did have a say in the placement of the text on the pages, but later a sentence or two of text was moved on to the next page for three of the spreads. I was concerned about this at first, but then realized that the change made the page turns stronger. The only changes to the art was to make the mouse smaller in a couple of the spreads.

Text and illustration copyright Barbara Love Warren, 2022, Clear Fork/Spork
Text and illustration copyright Barbara Love Warren, 2022, Clear Fork/Spork

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

BEVERLY: Since I am also the illustrator of my story, I can share that process from the artist’s viewpoint. First, I was asked to submit black and white character sketches for each of the five characters in the book. Next, I sent the book dummy. This had been completed beforehand and it didn’t require much changing. After that they wanted character sketches in color and full-sized black and white sketches. Once all of this was approved, I went on to do the final art. For this book the art was created in traditional watercolor and Prisma colored pencils. After the paintings were completed, they were added to my iPad and touched up digitally. Watercolor doesn’t always transfer very well from paper to digital and since the art would be sent digitally, I needed to touch it up.

Here’s a little glimpse of Barbara’s illustration process:

Thumbnail sketches of ideas for Back Cover illustration (copyright Beverly Love Warren 2022)
Sketch of Back Cover Barbara chose (copyright Beverly Love Warren 2022)
Final of Back Cover (copyright Beverly Love Warren 2022)

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

BEVERLY: I haven’t seen any reviews yet.

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

BEVERLY: A little under 2 years.

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

BEVERLY: I will be doing more, but at this point I am doing interviews on blogs such as Susanna’s. Thank you, Susanna. I belong to a marketing group called PB22Peekaboo. We support one another during our book launches. I will be going to local bookstores, libraries and doing school visits. And as I learn about more opportunities, I will take advantage of them as time permits – so I still have work ahead of me. Coloring and activities pages are on my website.

Coloring Page

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

BEVERLY: I began to write seriously when I signed up with Susanna’s class – Making Picture Book Magic. I took her class in the summer of 2017. HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE? was acquired in the summer of 2020. Art wise it took about two to three years to get my first illustration job. At that time, I mainly illustrated posters, curriculum and educational material for the classroom.

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?)

BEVERLY: I would agree with others about the necessity of attending classes, seminars, going to conferences and joining a critique group or two. It would be difficult traveling the road to publication alone. Feedback is essential. Encouragement from fellow writers and artists can keep you trekking when the road is rough with rejections and the negative self-talk we all deal with. It might be helpful to ask why you are writing. If it’s mainly to benefit young readers to put a smile on their face or hope in their hearts, then keep that goal in your vision and with perseverance keep moving forward. One more thing, I would be careful about comparing your journey toward publication with others. I am guilty of this and continually must remind myself that my path is different from others. We are each unique people and how our lives and opportunities evolve will be different as well.

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

BEVERLY: There is one other thing about this book’s journey that I could share.

As I had mentioned above, at the completion of Mira’s class there would be an opportunity for some editors to view the students work. But I needed to leave the class a week before it ended because my mother became ill. I wrestled with this because we had false alarms before, and I had planned to visit her after the class ended. I didn’t want to lose this opportunity, but there was just one choice – I left the class. After 3,000 miles in the air and 4 days with my mother, she passed. I was thankful to have made the right decision. While I was away Mira entered my art in the display before the editors anyway – which brought me my debut book as an author. This was a terrific gift to have been given, especially during the season I had now entered with my mother’s passing. Good things can happen even during the challenges of life!

Author/Illustrator Beverly Love Warren

https://www.facebook.com/beverlylovewarren
www.beverlylovewarren.com

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Beverly! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from you! Wishing you all the best with this and future titles!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)