Tuesday Debut – Presenting Julie Rowan-Zoch (author/illustrator debut)!!!

Welcome, Everyone!

So what if it’s snowing again! It’s time for Tuesday Debut, and it always makes the day wonderful to celebrate one of our own achieving publication – that pinnacle of success we all strive for whether it’s our first book or (I presume) our 50th – I’ll let you know if I get there! 😊

I am so thrilled to introduce today’s debutess, Julie Rowan-Zoch! You had the opportunity to meet her last fall when she made her illustration debut, but this time she is debuting her writing and art together!

And today is her book’s actual birthday, so feel free to have some cake 😊

Nice and Spring-y to help us ignore the snow! 😊

I’M A HARE, SO THERE!
story and pictures: Julie Rowan-Zoch
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers (HMHKids)
rel. date: March 16, 2021
(Informational) Fiction
Pre-K – 3 (4-7yrs)

Exasperated hare puts a plucky squirrel in his place as they stroll through the desert comparing similar-not-same animals – while oblivious to predators! This hare may call the squirrel Chippie, or a tortoise a turtle, but Jack is NOT a rabbit!

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for coming to visit with us today, Julie! We are all so thrilled to have you here (again!)! I may be wrong, but I think you’re the first author/illustrator debutess we’ve had, and I know you’re the first person we’ve had who had an illustrator debut and then also an author/illustrator debut! We can’t wait to hear your unique perspective! Where did the idea for this book come from?

JULIE: I have your illustration contest to thank for the character, Susanna! That was the first drawing I made, but a few more followed and my agent soon asked, “What is his story?” Having a character with a bit of attitude helped “walk” the story, at least especially after researching where one would even find jackrabbits! It has gone through a number of revisions, including rhyme, but I recall the process as being easy (or Corona really has done a number on my brain!)


SUSANNA: Haha 😊 I think Corona has done a number on all our brains! But I have to say, I have loved that jackrabbit from the first moment I saw him, and I’m glad you were encouraged to tell his story! How long did it take you to write this book?

JULIE: According to the files I could find, about 3-4 weeks – NOT my norm!

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JULIE: I (used to) re-number every draft, no matter how small the revision, and I believe it was about 15. I don’t have a real process for revision. I’m a pantser through and through!

Julie’s work space -contents: book ARCs, tiny bits of paper to help with beats while writing in rhyme, junkmail, dish of spicy -lime cashews, bills, critique notes, more beat charts for rhyme, prune juice, filthy old mouse, colored pencil leftover from my kids in elementary school! 

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

JULIE: It felt good after running it by my critique groups numerous times. Then I showed it to my agent and we made one major change to the ending (let the main character live!). But we didn’t submit it for some time. I had some personal issues which brought life to a long halt! We finally offered it as an exclusive to the editor I worked with illustrating Tom Lichtenheld’s book, LOUIS.


SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JULIE: We submitted exclusively shortly after work on LOUIS had begun in 2018. After a week the editor asked for another week (!) then asked if I would be willing to add back matter. I agreed, though I was completely unsure about it – I had not expected that request!

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

JULIE: My agent informed me  via phone call after a deal was made, and yes, it felt great to sell my own writing!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

JULIE: I was lucky to celebrate with my dear friend and fellow writer, Julie Hedlund at our favorite hangout, about halfway between our homes in Colorado. There was champagne!

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

JULIE: I was very pleased with the offer, which my agent managed to bump up from the original a bit! It’s embarrassing, but I have no head for contract details – but I did get 20 author copies!

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?

JULIE: The editor and art director asked if I would be open to including a few more similar-but-not-the-same animals in the illustrations, which really made the book better! There was one revision request in the text but it was minor. There were a lot more requests after the initial sketches, lots of revision work on continuity and composition, even after the final artwork was submitted and color proofs came through! My experience was completely positive. I have to say, coming from graphic design, I find the collaboration in publishing with people who want to support you and produce really good books out of passion, well, you can guess – it’s much more satisfying!

Text & Illustration copyright Julie Rowan-Zoch 2021, HMH

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?

JULIE: Actually, I found the (very nice!) reviews myself and shared them with my agent and the team. Maybe because we were knee deep in Corona-time? I was also the one to notice when HARE was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for best books in March for the 3-5yr age bracket. I feel very lucky to receive that kind of exposure for the book!

SUSANNA: I think it is very well deserved! 😊 How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

JULIE: About 2yrs. Print run is 30K.

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

JULIE: My publicist helped me with adding images to the book’s Amazon page, and facilitated an interview with Mr. Schu, but the rest has been up to me.

created by Julie and her publicist

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

JULIE: I am very fortunate to belong to the Soaring20’s promotional group, as well as Picture Book Playground. Even if I were not debuting (twice!) in a pandemic, I would highly recommend finding such a group for the camaraderie and emotional support. And for the help with marketing, but honestly, that feels like less of a priority considering COVID. As you well know, it is the community which makes our little world go ‘round!

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

JULIE: For writing: 8.5yrs. I mentioned personal struggles along the way earlier, which slowed me down, but somehow I still feel lucky to be debuting right now. More likely I am just so happy to have this particular joy during these trying times!

SUSANNA: It certainly is a welcome bright spot – for you as creator and for us who get to enjoy your book! What is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?

JULIE: Everyone knows how important it is to engage with newer books on the market. But the current market shows you the current market, not necessarily great books. Yes, it’s very important to know what is selling, but I have found so many gems beyond the familiar classics over the last few years which feel as fresh today as when they were written in the 70’s, 80’s 90’s. For a book to have that kind of longevity they HAVE to have the rock-hard quality to stand the test of time. It may not be everyone’s goal, but I want to be reading my own books to kids for many, many years – and still enjoy it! Read the gems, write them out, read them again! Oh, and once you feel like you’ve got the basics down, don’t be afraid to break some rules! (For anyone interested in some of those old gems I heartily invite you to scroll around on my blog!)

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

JULIE: Maybe it’s the pandemic, and maybe it’s the kind of books released over the last few years (and I read A LOT as a bookseller), but I am starving for more humor in picture books and value a good find now more than ever before!

*Also, I have become extremely choosy in books for adults and I attribute it all to the concise writing and reading of picture books! 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Julie! We are so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to learn from you today, and wish you all the best with LOUIS, I’M A HARE, and all future titles!!!

JULIE: Thank YOU, Susanna!

Author/Illustrator Julie Rowan-Zoch

jrzoch@gmail.com
http://julierowanzoch.wordpress.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/ArtistJulieRowanZochbooks

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

You may purchase Julie’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Melanie Ellsworth!

It’s that time again. . .

Time to meet another amazing Tuesday Debut-ess!

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Melanie Ellsworth and share a glimpse of her journey to publication with this delightfully lively and fun-looking picture book due out on February 23 (so pre-order your copy now! 😊)

Are you ready?

Hip, hip, Beret! 😊

HIP, HIP…BERET!
written by Melanie Ellsworth
illustrated by Morena Forza
Fiction Picture Book for ages 4-7
HMH Books for Young Readers
February 23, 2021

Bella’s beret blows away on a windy day, taking a ride through the seasons and landing on a variety of heads along the way. Full of rhyme, repetition, and humorous word play, with a few touchable berets to engage young readers.


SUSANNA: Welcome, Melanie! Thank you so much for joining us! We are so looking forward to hearing Hip, Hip…Beret!’s birthday story 😊 Where did the idea for this book come from?

       
MELANIE: Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Susanna. I’m thrilled to be here!

I often play around with common sayings, idioms, or nursery rhyme phrases and see what happens if I change a word or two. I remember playing around with the phrase, “Hip, hip hooray!” to see what would happen if I changed the last word. One of my early ideas was “Hip, hip moray!” a non-fiction picture book about moray eels. (It’s probably best I didn’t follow that idea too far…) Fortunately, it didn’t take long from there to get to “Hip, hip…beret!” and imagine where a beret might travel on a windy day.

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

MELANIE: I wrote the first draft in one sitting once I hit upon the structure of the book, and I revised over the next month and a half while also working on other projects. Unlike a number of my ideas, which sit around in a Word doc on my computer for months or years before I write them, I was eager to write a first draft for HIP, HIP…BERET! as soon as I got the idea. It seemed like tons of fun to write, and it was. Rhymezone.com was my best friend on this journey as I needed many words that rhymed with “hooray” for the repeating phrase!

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

       
MELANIE: I wrote eight drafts of this story, sharing with my critique groups along the way, before sending this off to an editor. For many of my books, I write twenty or thirty drafts, so writing HIP, HIP…BERET! went much more quickly than usual for me. (Thank goodness! We could all use one like this from time to time!)

Because I established the simple structure of the story quickly, the various drafts don’t reflect major differences from the first to the eighth – just minor word tweaking. It was one of those rare stories that came to mind almost fully formed, although early on in the brainstorming process, I tried a few rhyming stanzas like this:

A beret sails away       

One very windy day    

Frog tries it on

And flings it to a fawn

I did like the idea of the beret passing from one head to another, but I threw out that stanza pattern and went with a structure that involved the repetition of “Hip, Hip…” followed by various words like “soufflé” and “ballet.” (Turns out a lot of French words rhyme with “hooray!”) That simplified structure fit better with the story I was telling and also allowed readers/listeners to predict the next rhyming word. I wanted the tone to be lightweight and breezy like the wind carrying the beret.

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

MELANIE: By the eighth draft, I had done all the wordsmithing I could do, and my critique group members thought it was ready. One of them suggested I submit HIP, HIP…BERET! to an editor who was already considering another one of my manuscripts because it seemed like a good companion to that book. That turned out to be a great idea because the editor ended up acquiring both books! Thank goodness for critique groups who often give you the push you need at the right time!

Melanie’s writing buddy, Baxter, working hard in her office 😊



SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

       
MELANIE: For HIP, HIP…BERET! I had a connection with an editor I had met at the Agents/Editors/Writers conference in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. She was considering a different manuscript of mine from that conference, and I asked if she would be interested in this one as well. She said yes, so I sent HIP, HIP…BERET! along to her in May of 2018.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted did you get your offer?

MELANIE: I emailed HIP, HIP…BERET to the editor in May and received an offer on August 13th, so it was about three months from submission to offer for that one. (My other book being considered by the same editor around that time, CLARINET AND TRUMPET, took a lot longer – with an initial submission of November 7th, a revise/resubmit request, and an offer seven months later in June. )

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

MELANIE: In June, I heard back from the editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt by email with an offer on my other manuscript (CLARINET AND TRUMPET). At that point, I reached out to a few of the agents on my list and ended up signing with Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis. She negotiated the contract for CLARINET AND TRUMPET with my editor. Then in August, I had an offer on HIP, HIP…BERET! from the same editor, and Christa negotiated that contract as well. It was definitely a joyful summer for me! The two books were originally scheduled to come out about 6 months apart, but due to the pandemic, CLARINET AND TRUMPET was pushed from 2020 to 2021, so now the two books are practically twins, due out in February and March of 2021. (I imagine HIP, HIP…BERET! elbowing CLARINET AND TRUMPET out of the way so it could come out first!)

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

MELANIE: I got the offer for HIP, HIP…BERET on August 13, 2018 and had the contract (which my agent negotiated) two months later on October 4th.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

MELANIE: I remember letting my critique groups know first thing – they did some happy dances with me over email/phone. My husband suggested I frame the first advance check that I got, so I did, and it’s hanging on my office wall. I was especially excited to share the news with my daughter; she had been watching my picture book writing journey since she was a little picture book reader herself, and even though she was moving into chapter books and early middle grade by then, she was still thrilled for her mom. (Plus, no one is ever too old for picture books!)

SUSANNA: That is so true! Picture books are for everyone! Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

MELANIE: My contract was fairly typical, with an advance in the 3-6K range, and the standard royalties, and 20 author copies. I thought the initial advance offer was generous for a debut author, and my agent was able to increase it even more. 

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

MELANIE: It was fun to work on revisions with my editor; I’m one of those writers who (most of the time) loves the editing process. I think we went back and forth with a few changes here and there about five times before we had a final version. Most of it was small word changes, but there were some larger stanza changes as well. I had a stanza featuring an old oak tree that we ended up replacing with a ballet scene which was more dynamic. I originally had a hawk swooping down to grab the beret – “hip, hip…my prey!” and I really didn’t want to cut that scene at first, but the editor convinced me that it darkened the tone of an otherwise lighthearted book. We replaced it with a balloon carrying the beret skywards until the balloon pops. Morena Forza, the illustrator, also played a role in some text changes; she felt like the donkey stanza would result in illustrations too similar to the horse stanza, so the donkey hit the cutting room floor (Hip, hip…br-aaay!!). We made the ending a bit brighter as well, with the beret almost sprouting from the ground as the spring flowers emerge. In retrospect, it’s surprising how many revisions you can make on a story that is less than 300 words long! But every word is gold and needs to shine.

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

MELANIE: I didn’t have much to do with the illustrations, as publishers wisely like to give illustrators freedom to explore their own vision. I had very few art notes in my initial submission, except one for a plot point at the end that wasn’t clear in the text and one at the beginning suggesting that the illustrations show Bella looking for her missing beret throughout the story. As it turned out, the illustrator and design team disregarded that note because they felt that having Bella searching in each spread, even as an inset, would make the spreads too busy. I had also suggested that Bella not be white, feeling like more of our young readers need to see themselves reflected in text and/or illustration, but they made a different decision on that. But there is diversity reflected in other characters in the book.

My editor thought that it would be fun to have a few touchable, felt berets throughout the book, and I think children will enjoy the search for those. I got to see the art early on in the process in case I wanted to make comments, and I was happy to let Morena (and the art department) pursue their vision. As I sit here holding an author copy in my hand, I’m thinking that the vivid color and whimsy that Morena brings to the illustrations perfectly matches the tone of the text, and I love her work.

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

MELANIE: I haven’t seen reviews yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

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

MELANIE: Let’s see – offer on August 2018 and first copy in hand January 22, 2021! So about two and ½ years.

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

MELANIE: My editor shared HMH’s 50-page marketing guidelines PDF which helps authors with social media promotion. Other publishers might have something similar – for writers debuting, it’s worth reaching out to your editor or publicist to ask. My editor suggested I pass marketing questions by her, but some editors prefer that an author work directly with their assigned publicist. I asked about doing book giveaways, and they offered to do an Instagram giveaway. When I inquired, my editor also said they are willing to send books to winners (living in the U.S.) of my blog tour giveaways, so it’s helpful that I don’t have to use all of my author copies for that. The publisher has also reached out to their usual sources for reviews of my books. As a debut author, I have been reluctant to ask tons of marketing questions – not wanting to be a major pest! – but I do think it helps to be as proactive as possible in promoting your work. Ultimately, that will benefit the publisher as well. And being part of a debut book group is very helpful – I’m part of the Soaring ‘20s Picture Book Debut Group (https://www.soaring20spb.com/) – because you can get a lot of marketing questions answered by folks who have debuted before you, and they can help you figure out what you need to ask your publisher.

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

MELANIE: I’ve arranged for a number of blog tours, particularly on blogs that I’ve been following regularly – like this one! – for years. I’ve also participated on Matthew Winner’s The Children’s Book Podcast (and soon on KidLit TV) with my Soaring ‘20s debut group. It has been helpful for our group to promote and review each other’s books and provide useful content to other writers. I’ve also set up a library event with my local library, offering signed/personalized books through my local bookstore. For both of my books, the illustrators have agreed to be part of Zoom book events, which is wonderful (especially since Morena Forza lives in Italy – quite the time difference!). A website seems like a must for authors/illustrators, and you can certainly create one for yourself if you are willing to put in a lot of time. I started down that route for a while before realizing I was better off putting my website into more capable hands. 😊

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


MELANIE: About 6 years. I started writing and joined a critique group in 2012 and sold my first picture book in 2018.

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

MELANIE: It can get a little stressful as you approach your debut date and think about all the marketing you still need to do, but I’d advise anyone debuting to be sure to also have fun and enjoy the crazy journey! And for writers who aren’t sure if they’ll ever get that first book out there, keep the faith. You have your own stories to tell, and the world needs them.

Author Melanie Ellsworth

Find Melanie at:
Twitter:  @melanieells
Instagram:  @melaniebellsworth
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MelanieEllsworthAuthor
Website:  www.MelanieEllsworth.com

Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Melanie! We are so grateful to you for sharing your time and expertise, and wish you all the best with this and future titles!

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

You may purchase Melanie’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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Waiting For Snow

Happy Friday, Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

If you’re like most of the folks around here, you got up from the Thanksgiving table, decked your halls with boughs of holly, put up your Christmas tree, and strung your holiday lights! Maybe you even put one of those gigantic Santa-on-a-motorcycle blow-up air balloon thingys in your yard! After all, Hanukkah begins two weeks from today, and Christmas is four weeks from today!

I am not nearly that organized! If I get a tree up by December 18 I’ll count myself totally on top of things. (And, if I’m honest, I’m a little worried about Violet vs. Christmas Tree… so waiting a little might not be a bad thing… 😊) But all the holiday preparations around me did get me thinking about snow. We barely had any last year, and although I have no need for treacherous roads and the like, a little frosting for the holiday season is so festive!❄️

So I thought this was the perfect book to share today!

waiting-for-snow

Title: Waiting For Snow

Written By: Marsha Diane Arnold

Illustrated By: Renata Liwska

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 1, 2016, fiction

Suitable For Ages: publisher says 4-7… I think 3-6/7

Themes/Topics: patience, seasons (winter), snow, friendship

Opening: “Hedgehog found Badger staring at the sky.
“What are you doing, Badger?”
“Waiting for snow.  It’s winter and I haven’t seen one snowflake.”

Brief Synopsis:  Poor Badger is desperate for snow, but no matter what he does the weather won’t cooperate.  Hedgehog assures him that everything comes in its own time, but oh! it’s so hard to wait!!!

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-40-13-pm
text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold 2016, illustration copyright Renata Kiwska 2016… a glimpse of ways the friends try to pass the waiting time… 😊

Links To Resources: waiting is hard, and kids have to do a lot of it!  Have your kids/students make a list of things they have to wait for, or draw a picture of something they’re waiting for;  10 Ways To Play With Kids While You’re Waiting; 12 Games To Play While You Wait

Why I Like This Book: If you’ve ever had a kid… or been a kid… or, well, you’re anyone living life on this earth 😊 you’ve had to wait for things and you know how hard it is!  (er, ahem, writers… agency and/or publishing contracts…!  Am I right? 😊 )  This sweet, funny, and beautiful book is about a little badger who is waiting for snow.  He and his friends try everything they can think of to hurry it along but, as is so often the case when you really want something to happen, nothing works.  What he learns in the meantime is the value of good friends.  What he learns in the end is that everything happens in its own time.  I think we can all take a lesson from Badger’s experience 😊  The soft, fuzzy art is the perfect complement to the text – endearing, engaging, sweet!

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-40-43-pm
text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold 2016, illustration copyright Renata Kiwska 2016

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Illustrator Julie Rowan-Zoch!

Howdy, y’all!

Get ready for something special!

I am SO excited about today’s debut-ess I can hardly sit still enough to type! 😊

For starters, she is a dear friend and a totally awesome person!

She is also one of those people who has really worked hard to earn her place as a published author and illustrator, committing in every way to improving and perfecting her craft.

To top it off, she is the first person to appear on this series as a debut illustrator! Although she is also an author and will be featured here again in March when her debut as an author is released, this picture book features Tom Lichtenheld’s words and her amazing art. Given that Tom himself is well known as an illustrator, you know it’s some kind of special deal that he and his publisher chose someone else to illustrate this book.

And today is this book’s actual birthday! 🎂🎉🎈🧁

So without further ado, I have the very great pleasure of introducing you to my talented friend, Julie Rowan-Zoch and her debut-as-an-illustrator picture book, LOUIS!

LOUIS
By Tom Lichtenheld
Illustrated by Julie Rowan-Zoch
HMH
Oct.6, 2020
Fiction
Age: 4-7

Synopsis: Louis the bear has had enough. From day one, life has been one indignity after another. If he’s not being used as a hankie, he’s being hung out to dry—literally. (No one likes clothespins used on their ears!)

This teddy is sneaking away just as soon as he can. Then again, no use running off in the rain . . .or during a show-and-tell routine. Maybe Louis has something to lose, after all.

JULIE: Hello, Susanna! Thanks for having me to introduce my picture book illustration debut today!

SUSANNA: Hi Julie! Are you kidding? I’m delighted!!! Thank you for being our first ever illustrator debut-ess! Having never illustrated a book myself and only seen the process from the writer’s side, I am eager to hear about how an illustrator takes an author’s text and turns it into a picture book. How were you approached to participate in this project?

JULIE: Via my agent, HMH sent me the manuscript and asked if I would be willing to send preliminary sketches, should I want to be considered as the illustrator. That was late in 2017, and after sending off the images we got a quick reply – I got lucky but the book would not release until Fall 2020.

SUSANNA: What did communication look like with your editor and/or art director concerning the book?

JULIE: From start to finish, all communication was conducted via email. I did get to meet both of them once in real life though!

SUSANNA: Where do you begin? How do you approach it? 

JULIE: Shortly after signing the contract I asked for a more concrete timeline because I work better under a little pressure. I began sending the editor and art director sketches for Louis, a teddy bear and the main character. I sent 3 or 4 different bears knowing I had to be happy with whichever one they chose The only change they asked to make was to use the coloring from one bear, but the shape /line from another! Once I had the bear, and subsequently the boy and his sister, I began creating sketches for the dummy. The mother, bus driver, other toy animals were all developed as I went along with the dummy.

SUSANNA: Were art notes passed on to you via the editor?

JULIE: I believe there were two or three art notes/suggestions included in the manuscript, but I’ll admit I ignored them and allowed the images to appear as I read the text again. After delivering the full dummy, the editor asked if I might revisit one of the art notes, and I did, and we are all happy with the results!

SUSANNA: How long did it take to illustrate the book?

JULIE: I read the manuscript and completed the requested sketches in November 2017. I believe I signed the contract in January 2018. I delivered the first character sketches in early May. Did you notice the huge gap there? That’s because the team was focussed on other work, and final art would not be due until July 2019! After I delivered the sketch dummy, and again after adding color, a lot of revision work began, mostly with notes from the AD [art director], but she worked closely with the editor in giving me comments and/or suggestions. I was always assured I could keep any art elements the way I liked it if I didn’t agree with their suggestions, but I also made constructive arguments if I did want to keep something – as did they if opinions differed! I really enjoyed the collaboration! I think it was around February of 2019 that we wrapped up the dummy revision work and 4+ months later I handed in final art. The decision to include endpapers and a case cover came later, as did a small amount of text revision, which required some illustration changes.

[dummy sketch – the final is quite different]

SUSANNA: What materials, media did you use to create the artwork? Please describe the process.

JULIE: I created everything from dummy sketches to final art in Procreate on the iPad. I used to use the iPencil to draw directly onto the tablet, but while waiting for the stylus to recharge I started using my fingers – and haven’t looked back! Just like traditional work, I lay down my linework first then apply color in different layers. The resolution needed for printing is pretty high, and the higher the resolution the less layers are made available for each file. I struggle with keeping the look of a character consistent, so using layers to drop in a sketch for reference is an advantage. And of course the elements in layers help immensely with revision work! I chose my palette early on and believe I changed just one color for vibrancy after the cover design was finalized. I sent the final files in Photoshop format directly from the iPad to the publisher. On that same day my mother had an accident which required me to fly out that night. Having created everything on the iPad allowed me to make further corrections in the final art from a hospital waiting room – how lucky was that!?!

SUSANNA: Did you have any say in text placement or font choices?

JULIE: I was not given any sort of design instructions or text guidelines before handing in the dummy, so I “wrote” the text into the dummy by hand. Then the AD suggested we collaborate and create a font based off of my handwriting! So I wrote out many pangrams (sentences including all 26 letters of the alphabet) using templates she provided to maintain consistent letter height.

[pangram image]

SUSANNA: What about book dimensions and paper choices?

JULIE: With no pre-stated design guidelines I was able to choose the format myself, which is square. Based off of (one of many!) discussions I’ve had with one of my local children’s librarians, I decided on a square book that allows for a wide spread when opened. (Vicky taught me not to move the book while reading to kids, not to pan from side to side, as the children need the time to focus and absorb the image. If they can’t see from their seated position they should move, or the reader should move back, to accommodate.) After the final work was submitted I was sent single spreads in different papers. One important aspect to me is how rich black looks in a print. In October 2019 I was sent color proofs of the whole book and I think there where maybe two places where 2 color corrections needed to be made, and a “big” correction for the placement of the patch on Louis’ leg on the back cover. 

SUSANNA: What things can writers do to make mss more interesting/engaging/appealing/easy-to-work-with for illustrators?

JULIE: I’m sure you’ve all heard this before, but leave room! Good writing will allow the illustrator to envision images while reading At this stage it is not yet meant for the consumer/reader. I realize this is no easy task, especially since the manuscript must go through the agent and the editor before it reaches the illustrator, but these are all professionals who work with this very unique, collaborative art form. Trust that they can “see” what isn’t in the text. Yes, there will be exceptions for image suggestions that might be necessary to understand the text, but these too should be as shapeless and colorless as possible. 

SUSANNA: How does contract payment work for illustrators?

JULIE: The illustrator receives 1/2 the advance upon signing the contract, and the other 1/2 upon receipt of the final artwork. The same applies to author-illustrators.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

JULIE: I am lucky to be able to celebrate publishing milestones with my dear friend and fellow picture book junkie, Julie Hedlund. We meet halfway between our homes at a restaurant that features cheese! I hope we can do that again soon. I also got the fun idea to have a ring made by my friend’s daughter, and if it’s ready soon I will share a photo of the final piece with you.

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

JULIE: I admit I did not give much consideration to the details of a contract before the offer, but I was quite pleased. The rights have also been sold to a publisher in Japan and Israel, and that was something I did not expect so soon. 

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

JULIE: I was lucky to know a couple of other authors through the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge whose debut books were to release in 2020, and joined in on the effort with more authors and illustrators for group promotion and marketing efforts, called The Soaring 20’s. Now I would say we are in it for group support and encouragement efforts, as almost all of us will debut in Corona-Time. Gah! I contacted people like yourself to be featured in an interview or article on their blogs or podcasts. After my editor shared reviews with me, and I in turn shared them with my  Soaring 20’s friends because I was so excited about good reviews, they pointed out that I should make “quote cards”, little graphics tailored for social media with blurbs from the reviews. I contacted my AD in order to incorporate the font she created,  and I shared them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I am in the process of creating resource materials for teachers/parents, and activity sheets are available on the HMH page already – HERE. HMH also ran a giveaway on Twitter for Int’l Teddy Bear Day (9/9), and will do another one on 10/16 for Take Your Teddy to Work/School day. I’m doing a joint outdoor signing event with my critique partner, Beth Anderson as her book, “SMELLY” KELLY releases next week, on 10/13. Fingers crossed for sunny weather!

did you know you could make teddy bears out of towels? 😊

SUSANNA: How many copies did your house do for first printing?

JULIE: I believe it’s 40K. 

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

JULIE: Yes. A unique thing about this book is that I was chosen to illustrate for an illustrator! And a famous one at that! I was surprised from the get-go and didn’t find the courage to ask until I had the opportunity to meet my editor in person. She told me Tom wanted to see what the process would be like! That’s it! But with that in mind I was worried that my work would be looked at with more scrutiny as people would wonder “Why?”. The good reviews put my worries to rest, but also the support and enthusiasm I received from the editor, art director, and design team (I got to meet them as well!) throughout the entire process.

SUSANNA: Julie, thank you so much for joining us today and giving us such an enlightening glimpse of the creation of your debut picture book from the illustrator’s perspective. I learned a lot, and I’m sure everyone else did too! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you all the best of luck with this and future titles! I expect my copy of LOUIS in the mail today, and I can’t wait to read I’M A HARE, SO THERE when it comes out in March!

Illustrator (and soon to be author) Julie Rowan-Zoch

Face Book https://www.facebook.com/ArtistJulieRowanZoch
Twitter @JulieRowanZoch
Instagram @jrzoch
Blog

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

You may purchase Julie’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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Duchess And Guy: A Rescue To Royalty Puppy Love Story

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and with less than a week to go until Valentine’s Day, I have the perfect puppy love story to share with you.

Not only is it a wonderful story, it was written by my good friend, talented author Nancy Furstinger, and a good book by a good friend is always extra special!

I hope you like it 🙂

Duchess

Title: The Duchess And Guy: A Rescue To Royalty Puppy Love Story

Written By: Nancy Furstinger

Illustrated By: Julia Bereciartu

HMH Books For Young Readers, January 8 2019, fact-based fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: being yourself, animal adoption/rescue, pets, true story

Opening: “Once upon a time, a happy-go-lucky beagle named Guy found himself without a family or a place to call home.
He blinked his puppy dog eyes and begged for someone to take him home.
But he didn’t have much luck . . .

Brief Synopsis: A beagle puppy named Guy waits in a shelter, hoping and hoping for a forever home.  When Meghan adopts him, he has no idea that home is going to be Buckingham Palace.  Can a shelter dog of uncertain beginnings find a way to fit in among royalty?

Links To Resources: back matter includes “Guy’s True Rescue-to-Royalty Tale” including photographs, and a section on “Adopting A Dog Like Guy”

And we are lucky enough to get to hear directly from talented author, Nancy Furstinger, about how she got the idea to write this book as well as some crafts and activities you can do to go along with the book!

For how I got the idea to write GUY:
My agent emailed to ask if I was a “royal watcher.” And, to his disappointment, I had to admit that I had zero interest in the royal wedding and hadn’t watched Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tie the knot (apparently everyone in his office was “obsessed”). But my ears perked up when my agent attach an article about Meghan’s rescued beagle, Guy, and to ask me if I wanted to “whip up a PB text pronto.” Did I ever! Rescued dogs are near and dear to my heart—I’ve written books about them, volunteer with them at my local SPCA, plus I adopted my own two: Bosco and Rosy. So I “whipped up” a manuscript; my agent submitted it to a select group of editors; and we received a prompt response from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (which had published two of my middle-grade nonfiction books that also focus on animals) saying that they had been discussing a picture book about Guy, but didn’t have a writer attached—I enthusiastically became that writer! I did rewrite the ms (twice!), but my editor, who is also passionate about pooches, gave feedback/comments/edits that strengthened GUY’s story!

For the extensions that parents, teachers, and librarians can use with the book:

Here is a fun beagle mask craft (also a corgi plus other breeds) for kiddos:
And if you scroll to the bottom of my GUY webpage, there’s free activity sheets to download (coloring pages, mazes, a matching game, and spot the differences):

Thank you, Nancy!!!

Why I Like This Book: If you’ve spent any time around this blog, you know I love dogs – rescue dogs in particular since I have two and they’re the best dogs in the world!  So I was predisposed to like this book 🙂 I love that it presents a true story to kids so they learn about something that really happened in a fun and entertaining way.  I also love that it models shelter adoption as a great way to get a wonderful pet.  If a real duchess can get her dog from a shelter, you can too!  But I really love how the book shows that everyone can sometimes feel that they have a little trouble fitting in and finding their place, especially in a new situation.  That is a concept that I think all of us can relate to, and one that really speaks to kids.  This is my favorite page:

fullsizeoutput_159e

text copyright Nancy Furstinger 2019, illustration copyright Julia Bereciartu 2019

And in case you can’t read the wise words:

…Meghan gave him an encouraging scratch behind his ear.
‘I wasn’t sure I’d ever fit in here either,’ Meghan told her pup. ‘But if you just be yourself, you’ll be part of the family in no time.’

And the back of the book states that “The publisher has made a donation to the Montgomery County Animal Shelter to help other shelter dogs like Guy.”  Isn’t that wonderful?

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Little Blue Truck’s Halloween

Happy Friday, Folks!

Tomorrow is the opening of the 8th Annual Halloweensie Contest! (If you haven’t written your entry yet, click on that link to read the guidelines and get right to it – there’s still time! 🙂 And the prizes are worth it!!! )

I totally can’t wait (…except I haven’t written my sample yet so I’m a little worried about that…!) but I’m SOOOO looking forward to reading all of the stories you’ve written which I am sure, based on past experience, will be absolutely fabulous!

Since we all have last-minute writing to get to, I will jump right into today’s Perfect Picture Book, which is technically a board book – a lift-the-flap, actually! – but is so cute I couldn’t resist.  Plus, I really wanted something Halloween for today, since it’s the last PPBF before that spooky night! 🙂

Little Blue

Title: Little Blue Truck’s Halloween

Written By: Alice Schertle

Illustrated By: Jill McElmurry

HMH Books For Young Readers, July 2016, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 2-5

Themes/Topics: Holidays (Halloween), costumes

Opening: “Little Blue Truck
and his good friend Toad
are going to a party
just down the road.

“BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!”
says Little Blue.
“It’s Halloween!”
You come, too!

Brief Synopsis: It’s Halloween! Little Blue Truck is picking up his animal friends for a costume party. Lift the flaps to find out who’s dressed up in each costume! Will Blue wear a costume too?

Links To Resources: make your own lift-the-flap: draw an animal, then, on another piece of paper, draw the same animal disguised in a costume.  Paste the costume picture over the animal picture, fastening only the top so you can lift it.  See if your friends can guess who it is, then let them lift the flap to see if they’re right!

Why I Like This Book: As you probably all know, I am a fan of Little Blue Truck 🙂 So I was of course thrilled to discover his Halloween adventure!  This is a sturdy board book with lift-the-flaps.  On each page, Alice Schertle’s trademark catchy rhyme is a joy to read aloud, and one of Little Blue’s animal friends is dressed in costume…and you can lift the flat to discover who it is that’s dressed up.  Does it get more fun than that?  Why yes!  Because it’s just possible that Little Blue has a costume too!  But you’ll have to read the book to find out 🙂  Beautiful fall colors and a whole cast of woodland trick-or-treaters are featured in the illustrations.  All around, a delight!

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 9.47.01 PM

text copyright Alice Schertle 2016, illustration copyright Jill McElmurry 2016

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Now!  Last minute finishing touches on your Halloweensies and I will see you all tomorrow for the festivities!!! 🙂

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Noah Webster And His Words

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday and – can you believe it? – the official last day of summer 2018!

I love the crisp air, the jeweled colors, and the cider donuts of autumn, but I feel like summer went by in a blink!

I hope all your falls get off to a lovely start this weekend with some family apple picking, or an outdoor music festival…or maybe a trip to Princeton Children’s Book Festival – that’s where I’m headed! 🙂

For today’s Perfect Picture Book I decided to go the educational route… but it’s also tons of fun!  Have a look!

Noah Webster

Title: Noah Webster And His Words

Written By: Jeri Chase Ferris

Illustrated By: Vincent X. Kirsch

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books For Young Readers, 2012, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages:  3-7

Themes/Topics: American history, vocabulary/language, dictionaries, biography, nonfiction

Opening: “Noah Webster always knew he was right, and he never got tired of saying so (even if, sometimes, he wasn’t).  He was, he said, “full of CON-FI-DENCE” [noun: belief that one is right] from the very beginning.

Brief Synopsis: This book tells the story of Noah Webster’s life and how he wrote the first American dictionary in an effort both to educate and to help unite the new United States.

Links To Resources: The book itself is a resource as it teaches the life of Noah Webster and the period of American history is was part of. There is a useful timeline in the back matter as well as a section entitled “More About Noah Webster” and a helpful bibliography.  For a fun classroom game, play Dictionary (where one student chooses a word from the dictionary and writes down the correct definition and everyone else writes down a made up definition.  All definitions are read aloud and the class votes for which is the real one…and you see if the real one wins or one of the made up ones!)

Why I Like This Book: Not only is this book interesting – full of information about Noah Wester and his creation of the first American dictionary – it’s fun!  There is a surprising amount of humor, both in the text and in the illustrations.  I also love the clever way some of the vocabulary words in the text are woven in like dictionary entries!  The book brings Noah Webster to life in a way that illuminates his personality.  It’s a perfect example of how to write nonfiction so that young readers enjoy the learning experience.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Hope to see anyone who is in the neighborhood at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival tomorrow! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Giant Jam Sandwich

Today is a big day!

Our little boy is graduating from college!

Scan 157

One moment he was running around the house in nothing but a diaper singing “Oklahoma” at the top of his 21-month-old voice (yes, I have video footage but I think I’ve embarrassed him enough just by mentioning this 🙂 ), the next he’s a smart, kind, funny, lovable, handsome 21-year-old young man (nope, not at all biased 🙂 ) setting off into the world.

So I though I’d celebrate the day by sharing one of his favorite picture books – possibly THE favorite of all time for him 🙂

I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

giant jam sandwich

Title: the Giant Jam Sandwich

Written & Illustrated By: John Vernon Lord (with verses by Janet Burroway)

HMH Books For Young Readers, April 1987, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: humor/nonsense, teamwork, creative thinking/ingenuity

Opening: “One hot summer in Itching Down,
Four million wasps flew into town.
They drove the picnickers away,
They chased the farmers from the hay,
They stung Lord Swell on his fat bald pate,
They dived and hummed and buzzed and ate…”

Brief Synopsis: When four million wasps come to Itching Down, the villagers must figure out how to get them to leave.

Links To Resources: what kind of pests might come to your town or village?  what would you do to outwit them?  draw a picture of your plan and/or write a poem or a story about how you would defeat the pests!

giant jam sandwich int

Why I Like This Book: It is impossible not to love a book where 4 million wasps come to town and the obvious solution is a giant jam sandwich 🙂  I love that no one thinks of anything violent – they think, what do wasps love?  Strawberry jam, of course!  So let’s make bread that requires a scaffold to slice, tractors and horses to pull, and helicopters to drop.  The nonsensical, fun plan – exactly the kind of thing a child might think up and find perfectly reasonable! – makes for a most entertaining read.  As I can attest.  Since I think I read about 4 million times 🙂

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Waiting For Snow

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

You know, there’s nothing the WeatherFolk like better than drama!

They are never happier than when they can use words like “hurricane”, “tornado”, and “polar vortex”!

They love prompting you in urgent tones to make sure you’re stocked up on batteries, bottled water, canned goods, flashlights, and toilet paper 🙂  (I don’t know why they never mention chocolate… seems to me that should be right up there at the top of the list!)

They love predicting that holiday travel will be nightmarish.  It warms them to the cockles of their weather-beatin’ little hearts 🙂

So, in  my neck of the woods, the headlines for the next couple days read:

SNOW IN NORTHEASTERN US AS TEMPERATURES PLUNGE UP TO 50 DEGREES THIS WEEKEND!!!

As writers, we can all appreciate the WeatherFolks’ use of exaggeration evocative verbiage 🙂  I believe the content of the article suggests that some places may see a dusting of snow and it’s going to be a wee bit colder over the weekend than it was this unusually warm past week 🙂  But it just sounds so much more interesting when they say the temperature is going to “plunge 50 degrees,” doesn’t it? Kinda makes you want to stock up on toilet paper… in case you need to wrap yourself in it to stay warm… 🙂

Anyway, speaking of snow, look at this wonderful book!

waiting-for-snow

Title: Waiting For Snow

Written By: Marsha Diane Arnold

Illustrated By: Renata Liwska

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 1, 2016, fiction

Suitable For Ages: publisher says 4-7… I think 3-6/7

Themes/Topics: patience, seasons (winter), snow, friendship

Opening: “Hedgehog found Badger staring at the sky.
“What are you doing, Badger?”
“Waiting for snow.  It’s winter and I haven’t seen one snowflake.”

Brief Synopsis:  Poor Badger is desperate for snow, but no matter what he does the weather won’t cooperate.  Hedgehog assures him that everything comes in its own time, but oh! it’s so hard to wait!!!

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-40-13-pm

text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold 2016, illustration copyright Renata Kiwska 2016… a glimpse of ways the friends try to pass the waiting time… 🙂

Links To Resources: waiting is hard, and kids have to do a lot of it!  Have your kids/students make a list of things they have to wait for, or draw a picture of something they’re waiting for;  10 Ways To Play With Kids While You’re Waiting; 12 Games To Play While You Wait

Why I Like This Book: If you’ve ever had a kid… or been a kid… or, well, you’re anyone living life on this earth 🙂 you’ve had to wait for things and you know how hard it is!  (er, ahem, writers… agency and/or publishing contracts…!  Am I right? 🙂 )  This sweet, funny, and beautiful book is about a little badger who is waiting for snow.  He and his friends try everything they can think of to hurry it along but, as is so often the case when you really want something to happen, nothing works.  What he learns in the meantime is the value of good friends.  What he learns in the end is that everything happens in its own time.  I think we can all take a lesson from Badger’s experience 🙂  The soft, fuzzy art is the perfect complement to the text – endearing, engaging, sweet!

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-40-43-pm

text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold 2016, illustration copyright Renata Kiwska 2016

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Before Morning

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

Oh my goodness do I have a beauty for you today!

I read a lot of picture books.

Many of them are excellent.

But every now and again I read one that is just so perfect, so magically written and illustrated, that it takes my breath away, knocks my socks off, and makes me whisper to myself, “Man!  I wish I’d written that!”

Today’s selection is one of those 🙂

The Halloweensie Contest is over.

Thanksgiving is coming.

And that means, before you know it, the skies will be swirling with flurries of snow!

My Perfect Picture Book today is all about that most coveted of childhood days – the peaceful, happy, special perfection of snow days 🙂

before-morning

Title: Before Morning

Written By: Joyce Sidman

Illustrated By: Beth Krommes

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 4 2016, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: seasons (winter), snow, snow days, invocations, language fun (rhyme, word choice)

Opening: “In the deep woolen dark, as we slumber unknowing, let the sky fill with flurry and flight.” (These few words actually cover 5 spreads, some of which are wordless.)

Brief Synopsis: Although there is much going on in the busy, busy world, a small child wishes for just one day to be a delightfully snow-covered pause.

before-morning-2

Links To Resources: the final page of the book explains invocations and invites young readers to come up with their own; make paper snowflakes; snow recipes; make your own snow!

Why I Like This Book: Oh my goodness!  What’s not to love?  This book is beautiful in every way!  The rhyming text is written by Joyce Sidman (you know what a huge fan I am of Red Sings From Treetops!) and it is gorgeous and poetic and spare.  How can you not love a book that begins “In the deep woolen dark”?! 🙂  The entire book is 66 words, so expertly chosen and crafted together that as a writer I can only feel awe.  And the art is scratchboard and watercolor, exquisitely done, showing the little girl’s hopes that while she sleeps the world will turn white, allowing for a hushed, snow-covered morning that keeps her family home for a leisurely breakfast, some extra time together, the chance to go sledding and make snow angels, and come home to dry wet mittens.  It is everything we all love about snow days, and every child’s prayer for one to come to their house!

before-morning-1

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

P.S. One little side note: my email service is msn, which has recently switched its Outlook mail platform.  I am having TERRIBLE trouble getting my email!!!  So for people who have contacted me about the Halloweensie Prizes, or people who are in my writing class, or anyone else who may be emailing me, if I don’t get back to you right away, that’s why!  I can’t receive, read, or send email with any kind of reliability.  A serious problem in the world we currently live in!  If anyone else has experienced this problem and found a work-around, PLEASE let me know!!!