Perfect Picture Book Friday – Chirp!: Chipmunk Sings For A Friend

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday once again, my friends!

And guess what? I may have finally fixed the glitch in the link list! (And by “I” I mean my far more intelligent and tech-savvy daughter 😊) Fingers crossed it works right this time, after 2 weeks of wrong and more wrong!

So! To the books!

Back to school time is making friends time, and my Perfect Picture Book for today is all about friendship!

Title: Chirp!: Chipmunk Sings For A Friend

Written By: Jamie A. Swenson

Illustrated By: Scott Magoon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, July 13, 2021

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, perseverance, cooperation

Opening: “Chipmunk lived on a rock.
Most days she sat on her rock, chirping from dawn. . . until the stars shone down.”

text copyright Jamie A. Swenson 2021, illustration copyright Scott Magoon 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

Brief Synopsis: Chipmunk spends her days sitting on her rock and singing the songs in her heart, but sometimes she wishes for a friend who could sing with her.

text copyright Jamie A. Swenson 2021, illustration copyright Scott Magoon 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

Links To Resources: songs for kids about different emotions; recipe – friendship snack mix; discuss – what makes a good friend?; draw a picture or write a poem or a story about your best friend.

Why I Like This Book: This is such a sweet story about finding friends! All on her own, Chipmunk sings to Rock, and then to Pinecone and Rock, but though they are excellent listeners, they’re not quite the kind of friends she is hoping for. Eventually, her singing brings Raccoon along and a friendship begins (unnoticed!) as she and Chipmunk try to move Log to where Rock and Pinecone are (Chipmunk thinking that Log might be a friend.) But Log is too heavy even for Chipmunk and Raccoon together, so they sing about their frustration…and that brings Moose along. Once again, friendship begins unnoticed as Moose listens and then offers to help. Finally, Rock and Pinecone and Log, and Chipmunk and Raccoon and Moose are all together in the same place. Rock and Pinecone and Log do what they do best – listen! – while Chipmunk and Raccoon and Moose sing together, a true friendship having formed through their cooperation. The story is simple and sweet, with little notes of humor (favorite line: ““Like a rock, a pinecone, and a log in a pod,” said Moose. 😊) The art is delightful. I especially like how every time Chipmunk sets out to find another friend she literally dashes off the page 😊 A lovely story about finding what matters.

text copyright Jamie A. Swenson 2021, illustration copyright Scott Magoon 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

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! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Pokko And The Drum

Woo hoo! It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

The perfect time to make a list of books and then hustle off to the library after school to set yourself up for a weekend of great reads!

The book I chose for today is one that I think fits perfectly with heading back to school where it’s so important to both be yourself and be part of the community!

Title: Pokko And The Drum

Written & Illustrated By: Matthew Forsythe

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, October 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: individuality, community, persistence

Opening: “The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum.
They had made mistakes before.
Like the slingshot.
And the llama.
And the balloon.”

text and illustration copyright Matthew Forsythe 2019, Paula Wiseman Books

Brief Synopsis: Pokko’s parents give her a drum but quickly realize that might not have been such a great idea! Wanting a break from the noise, Pokko’s dad sends her outside. Before long, Pokko has inspired an instrument-playing following, and what started out as banging has become such a joyful noise that even her father has to admit it turned out well after all.

text and illustration copyright Matthew Forsythe 2019, Paula Wiseman Books

Links To Resources: get some friends together and make your own band – what different things can you use as an instrument? Draw a picture or write a story or poem about something that makes you who you are – do you play the drum like Pokko? do you dance or sing or play soccer? For a drum-related snack, make cupcakes for the drum and pretzel stick halves with mini marshmallows dipped in chocolate for the drumsticks!

Why I Like This Book: I love Pokko! Such a confident, poised little character! She plays her drum through the emerald forest gathering followers in a Pied Piper-esque way and plays her drum with such joy that her father goes from “We’re just a little frog family that lives in a mushroom, and we don’t like drawing attention to ourselves” to “And you know what?…I think she’s pretty good!” 😊 There is plenty of humor. Her mother is comically engrossed in reading a book throughout the whole story no matter what else is going on – even when she’s being swept away by the crowd! And a small mishap causes Pokko to tell the Wolf, “No more eating band members or you’re out of the band.” Pokko asserts her own individuality while also bringing the community together. Such a delightful book!

text and illustration copyright Matthew Forsythe 2019, Paula Wiseman Books

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! I hope it works right this week… something is hinky!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Listen

Hello again, my friends!

Welcome back to Perfect Picture Book Fridays!

I know we’ve seen each other on and off over the summer for Tuesday Debuts, but it’s great to be back to the regular routine. I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and is filled with enthusiasm for the coming school year and inspiration for lots of new stories!

I’m starting off the school year with a book I think everyone – kids, teachers, and parents – will find helpful and enjoyable as they’re settling into their new routines.

Title: Listen

Written By: Gabi Snyder

Illustrated By: Stephanie Graegin

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, July 13, 2021

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: listening, attention, empathy

Opening: “When you step out into the big, wild world, sometimes all you hear is. . . NOISE!”

text copyright Gabi Snyder 2021, illustration copyright Stephanie Graegin 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

Brief Synopsis: The world is a noisy place, but what happens if you just stop, close your eyes, and listen?

Links To Resources: the book has a nice section of back matter that tells about the sense of hearing, and different kinds of listening; stop what you’re doing, close you eyes, and listen – what do you hear?; go for a walk and pay attention to the sounds around you – what do you hear?; talk about sounds you like and sounds you don’t like, times when you like noise and times when you like quiet.

text copyright Gabi Snyder 2021, illustration copyright Stephanie Graegin 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

Why I Like This Book: This lovely quiet book encourages children to pause, take a breath, stop the constant busy-ness of the world around them, and listen. Filter out the noise – literal and figurative – and focus on what matters. It helps them understand the importance of mindfulness and attention in the context of daily life. In the course of the story, the child goes from hearing the cacophony of noises in a busy street, to separating them out, to hearing “words of joy” and “words that sting” when a classmates feelings are hurt, to hearing the voice inside her, and the “hush and whispers” of nighttime. The art is perfect for the story, soft and appealing with lots of lovely details. A book every child will enjoy!

text copyright Gabi Snyder 2021, illustration copyright Stephanie Graegin 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

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! And if you posted books over the summer, please feel free to add them here as well! And my apologies – I did something wrong and the links aren’t showing up, so I copied and pasted them below and will try to fix the problem for next week!

9/3/2021 6:19:04OUTSIDE, INSIDEhttps://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250798350LeUyen PhamsameRoaring Book Press2021Perseverance and hope during a trying time is universal and waiting is a part of life. universal. Waiting
9/3/2021 8:51:4730,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flaghttps://patricianozell.com/2021/09/03/ppbf-30000-stitches-the-inspiring-story-of-the-national-9-11-flag/Amanda DavisSally Wern ComportWorthBooks20219/11, American Flag, community
9/3/2021 10:56:22Cougar Crossing: HOW HOLLYWOOD’S CELEBRITY COUGAR HELPED BUILD A BRIDGE FOR CITY WILDLIFEhttps://jilannehoffmann.com/2021/09/03/cougar-crossing-perfect-picture-book-friday/Meeg PincusAlexander VidalBeach Lane Books2021Wildlife conservation, LA history, ecology
9/3/2021 13:52:55Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anninghttps://archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com/2021/09/mary-annings-curiosities.htmlLinda SkeersMarta Álvarez MiguénsSourcebooks Explore2020fossils, biography, nonfiction
9/3/2021 13:54:12Avocado Askshttps://sallysbookshelf.blogspot.com/2021/09/avocado-in-search-of-self.htmlMomoko AbeDoubleday Books for Young Readers2021imagination, identity
9/3/2021 13:57:00The Bug Girl: A True Storyhttps://archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com/2021/08/two-great-bug-books.htmlSophia SpencerKerascoëtSchwartz & Wade2020insects, nature, STEM
9/3/2021 14:00:14The Thingity-Jighttps://sallysbookshelf.blogspot.com/2021/06/what-if-you-found-thingity-jig.htmlKathleen DohertyKristyna LittenPeachtree2021mystery, fun, invention
9/3/2021 14:05:22Too Shy to Say Hihttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.com/2021/09/03/too-shy-to-say-hi-by-shannon-anderson/Shannon AndersonHiroe NakataMagination Press2021Bashfulness, Friendship, School
9/3/2021 14:09:07Not Littlehttps://julierowanzoch.wordpress.com/Maya MyersHyewon YumNeal Porter/Holiday House2021Size, bullying, self-awareness
9/4/2021 1:03:28Just You and Me: Remarkable Relationships in the Wildhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/just-you-and-me-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfJennifer WardAlexander VidalBeach Lane Books2021Symbiotic relationships, nature, and conservation.
9/4/2021 1:05:27Big Bear Was Not the Samehttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/big-bear-was-not-the-same-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfJoanna RowlandJohn LeddaBeaming Books2021Friendship, trauma, hope, and healing.
9/4/2021 1:06:57Unraveledhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/unraveled-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfLeanne HatchLeanne HatchHoliday House2021Growing up, loss, and holding on to memories.
9/4/2021 1:09:04I Love You With All My Heartshttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/i-love-you-with-all-my-hearts-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfLindsay BonillaEleonora PaceThe Creative Company2021Love, family, and animals
9/4/2021 1:10:42Little Leonards’ Fascinating World of Astronomyhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/little-leonard-s-fascinating-world-of-astronomy-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfSarafina NanceGreg PaprockiGibbs Smith Publisher2021Astronomy, space, and STEM,
9/4/2021 1:12:36When Grandfather Flewhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/when-grandfather-flew-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfPatricia MacLachlanChris ShebanNeal Porter Books2021Birding, death, and healing.
9/4/2021 1:14:28The Perfect Planhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/the-perfect-plan-the-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfLeah GilbertLeah GilbertBloomsbury USA2021Creativity, collaboration, and determination.
9/4/2021 1:16:11Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventions Inspired by Naturehttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/mimic-makers-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfKristen NordstromPaul BostonCharlesbridge2021Nature inspired inventions, creativity, and problem solving.
9/4/2021 1:17:34Little Bat in Night Schoolhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/little-bat-in-night-school-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfBrian LiesBrian LiesHMH Books2021First day of school, friendship, and bravery.
9/4/2021 1:21:01I Want A Boathttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/i-want-a-boat-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfLiz Garton ScanlonKevan AtteberryHoliday House2021Imagination and adventure.
9/4/2021 21:04:55THE GREAT STINK: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London’s Poop Pollution Problemhttps://viviankirkfield.com/2021/09/03/perfect-picture-book-friday-the-great-stink-how-joseph-bazalgette-solved-londons-poop-pollution-problem-plus-giveaway/Colleen PaeffNancy CarpenterMaraget K. McElderry Books2021History of London, Pollution, STEM

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – In A Garden

It’s a perfect Perfect Picture Book Friday, and I hope everyone has been enjoying the kind of perfect beautiful spring weather we’ve been having on Blueberry Hill this week! It makes the heart sing! 😊

Before we get to today’s Perfect Picture Book, I’d like to announce that the lucky winner of the giveaway copy of last week’s Perfect Picture Book, LISTENING TO THE STARS, is Carole Calladine! Congratulations, Carole! I know you’ll love Jodie’s wonderful book! Please contact me and let me know your snail mail address so the publisher can send you your book!

Spring has sprung, so today I have a delightful rhyming picture book about nature and gardening, just perfect for picture book aged gardeners and their families at this time of year!

Title: In A Garden

Written By: Tim McCanna

Illustrated By: Aimee Sicuro

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, February 2020, fact-based fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: gardening, nature, community garden, seasonal cycle

text copyright Tim McCanna 2020, illustration copyright Aimee Sicura 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

Opening: “In a garden
on a hill
sparrows chirp
and crickets trill.”

Brief Synopsis: In a community garden surrounded by apartment buildings, life is busy as seeds sprout, plants and flowers grow, and a wide variety of insect and animal life flourish.

text copyright Tim McCanna 2020, illustration copyright Aimee Sicura 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

Links To Resources: the book itself is a resource, detailing the wonder of life and growth in a garden; the end of the book includes back matter about how a garden grows, cool facts about ecosystems and the mutually beneficial interaction between plants and insects; grow a seed in a cup on your windowsill, or plant a little garden of your own and watch nature in action!

text copyright Tim McCanna 2020, illustration copyright Aimee Sicura 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

Why I Like This Book: written in Tim McCanna’s spot-on, lively, such fun to read-aloud rhyme, this delightful book will make anyone want to try growing something 😊 I love that it is set in a community garden in the city, encouraging all kids to experiment with gardening, not just those who live in the country. The garden cycles through the seasons – a robin digging for worms in spring, summer fireflies, cool autumn breezes, and a blanket of snow – showing how life goes around and around. The illustrations are colorful and appealing and show a wide variety of insects, animals, plants, and children. All in all a lovely book!

text copyright Tim McCanna 2020, illustration copyright Aimee Sicura 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

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! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Small Walt Spots Dot

Welcome to the first Perfect Picture Book Friday in March!

Here on Blueberry Hill, no one seems to have gotten the memo that it IS March and therefore enough with the snow! It still seems to be snowing every day, at least for a while, even if only flurries. Pretty much not a day goes by when some amount of snow shoveling isn’t required!

So this Picture Book seems Perfect for today – an adorable story of a little snow plow doing his job!

Title: Small Walt Spots Dot

Written By: Elizabeth Verdick

Illustrated By: Marc Rosenthal

Publisher: Paula Wiseman Books, September 2020, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: jobs (plowing, keeping public spaces clear), teamwork, animal rescue, kindness

text copyright Elizabeth Verdick 2020, illustration copyright Marc Rosenthal 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

Opening: “Whoosh! Wind’s howling.
Swoosh! Snow’s flying.
Small Walt and Gus are on the road – and on the job.
They’ve got lots of parking lots to plow.”

text copyright Elizabeth Verdick 2020, illustration copyright Marc Rosenthal 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

Brief Synopsis: Walt and his driver Gus are plowing a parking lot when a blur of fur catches Walt’s eye. It’s cold and snowy. Will Walt and Gus be able to help the stray?

text copyright Elizabeth Verdick 2020, illustration copyright Marc Rosenthal 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

Links To Resources: Small Walt Activity Pages; 3-D Snowplow Craft (my apologies that it says “for boys”!); Snow Printouts, Activities, and Ideas;

text copyright Elizabeth Verdick 2020, illustration copyright Marc Rosenthal 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

Why I Like This Book: I love this book because it instantly reminds me of Katy And The Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, one of the classics from my childhood, I think because of the style of the art as much as the fact that it’s about a snow plow. 😊 Small Walt is such an earnest, careful, and responsible little plow, able to get into those smaller spaces where the big plows can’t. He and his driver, Gus, take their job seriously. It is important and they do it well. But Walt also has his eye out for the community, and when he spots a stray dog, he knows he has to help. Together with the policewoman, Walt and Gus manage to catch the shivering stray and take her to the animal shelter. I like that the police person is a woman, and that she is not white (as well as that there is diversity in several of the illustrations.) And (spoiler alert!) I always like books that show animals being adopted from shelters. With its sweet story and engaging illustrations, this book will please the truck lovers and the dog lovers in your house or classroom!

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! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Little Kitten

Hi Everyone!

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and I’m thinking about how much I love October because of all the wonderful autumn and Halloween picture books there are. 😊 ☢️

This one is new this year from talented author/illustrator Nicola Killen and I think you will be as taken with it as I am!

The little Kitten

Title: The Little Kitten

Written & Illustrated By: Nicola Killen

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, July 21 2020, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (though I think kids slightly younger would enjoy it too!)

Themes/Topics: seasons (autumn – with a nod to Halloween), kindness, friendship, doing the right thing

Opening: “It was a crisp autumn morning, and  Ollie was heading outside to play, closely followed by her cat, Pumpkin.

Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 10.57.16 PM

text and illustration copyright Nicola Killen, 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

Brief Synopsis: Ollie and her cat Pumpkin come upon a tiny kitten shivering in a pile of fallen leaves. Ollie warms the kitten up and the three become fast friends, but when Ollie sees “Lost Kitten” posters she knows she has to help her new friend get home.

Links To Resources: Make Your Own Kitty Pumpkin 1; Make Your Own Kitty Pumpkin 2; Kitty Pumpkin Cookies (the recipe shows other kinds of faces, but you can add ears and whiskers 😊); write a haiku about autumn (examples to inspire you on the link)

Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 10.58.33 PM

text and illustration copyright Nicola Killen, 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

Why I Like This Book: I know quiet books are not  the “in” thing, but I love them 😊 This book is so sweet and lovely, such a gentle story about friendship and caring on a crisp autumn day.  Ollie, dressed in her cat costume, her cat Pumpkin, and the Little Kitten are three of a kind – perfect playmates.  Ollie’s distraction with the kitten (which makes her lose track of her beloved Pumpkin) is very believable.  Her kind heart helps her get the kitten to its rightful home.  And the moment when she can’t find Pumpkin is touching and saved from being too tearful by Pumpkin’s happy reappearance.  The art is what really makes this story special, though.  Little die-cut windows allow for an interactive experience on some of the pages.  Other pages shine with foil leaves.  The simple color palette lets the warm orange really stand out.  And the combination of text and art makes for a quiet, comforting story about everyone ending up where they’re supposed to be.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 10.58.00 PM

text and illustration copyright Nicola Killen, 2020, Paula Wiseman Books

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 Beth Anderson!

Welcome, Everyone!

It’s the friendly, Tuesday writer’s club coffee hour here on Blueberry Hill!

Take off your shoes, tuck yourself into a comfy chair, wrap your hands around a nice hot mug of coffee or tea, and let’s settle in for a cozy chat with today’s Tuesday Debut-ess!

(What do you think?  Is debut-ess an improvement on debutee or is debutee better?  I’m still trying to think up a good word 🙂 )

While you’re thinking on that, coffee cake anyone?

apple cake

Photo and recipe from ScrummyLane

 

Before we get started, I want to take this opportunity to invite you all to evaluate the information you’re getting from these Tuesday Debut posts.  As you read, please think about whether you’re getting all the information you hoped for from the weekly posts.  Do you have burning questions we’re not addressing?  Specific things you’re dying to know about the publication process? If there are questions you’d like to see included in future Tuesday Debuts, please share them with me in the comments or email me!  It is easy to make changes and I definitely want to make improvements if there are any you can see to be made.  I want this series to be as helpful to everyone as possible!

Now, it is my extreme pleasure to introduce today’s Tuesday Debut author, the lovely and talented Beth Anderson and her wonderful book:

AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET: BEN FRANKLIN AND NOAH WEBSTER’S SPELLING REVOLUTION
by Beth Anderson
illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 9/25/18
Narrative Nonfiction, age 4-8

Beth1

Brand new Educator’s Guide available HERE

Do you ever wish English was eez-ee-yer to spell? Ben Franklin and Noah Webster did!

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Beth!  We are all so glad of the opportunity to learn from your experience!  I’m chuckling because entirely by coincidence, the book I posted for PPBF a few days ago was Noah Webster And His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris – a nice companion to your book!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

BETH: Ben Franklin had me at “ish.” When I saw a news blurb item about how he wanted to change the English alphabet, including six new letters (one of which was “ish”), I was immediately interested. As a linguistics major, reading specialist, and English teacher, how could I resist? When I read further, his quote, “Those people spell best who do not know how to spell,” hit me. The kids! They’re sounding words out. So sensible. Just what Franklin wanted. His quirky humor went straight to my heart. From there, I had to dig in and find the story. (For more on the inspiration, see this post. )

 

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

BETH: After the initial exploration confirms that a topic has potential, I research for a few weeks, organize ideas, then start drafting. AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET took about six months to reach “ready” for an editor critique. (I was working on a couple other manuscripts in various stages at the time, as well.) After the critique, I revised for another month and a half. It involved more research, some “reframing,” and tightening.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

BETH: My revision process has changed as I’ve learned more and more about how to shape a story. AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET went through about 40 revisions. An earlier manuscript, which will be my second picture book, had 91 revisions. Part of the difference is the story itself. But much of what accounts for far fewer revisions with “Alpha” is that I did a lot more organizing of information and brainstorming of possible structures and “vital idea” before I wrote. Also, I made many more changes with each revision as I’m not only fine tuning sentences, but looking at structure, conflict, characterization, etc. I think the key to making revisions that matter is to go beyond the sentence level where you keep reworking the same “story,” and, instead, push yourself to experiment with structure and holistic level changes. Finding just the right thread to make a story marketable and being able to reframe it that way is an ongoing challenge!

(There’s more on revising this manuscript HERE. )

 

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

BETH: Probably like most of us, I often think a manuscript is ready before it really is. We write the story we love and revise it until it’s just right, but often fail to see the big picture, or the marketing picture, or the irresistible premise picture—all things editors see. That’s why critique groups are so important. (Not your kids, or spouse, or neighbor.) That’s also (just one reason) why an agent is so valuable. A good agent has “editor eyes.” All these people help us see a story in different ways and can tug on the reins when we want to go ahead and submit before its ready.

With this manuscript, after I had taken it through many revisions, various critique groups over and over, and past my agent several times, I purchased an editor critique. With that, I took each piece of feedback and made sure I had applied it to the entire story. Then, when feedback came back with tiny tweaks, and the story itself got a genuine “yes!” it told me that the manuscript was ready to sub.

 

Beth3

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

BETH: At a writing retreat, I purchased editor critiques on several manuscripts. My agent, the wonderful Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, advised which manuscripts fit which editors. After the retreat, I worked with Sylvie Frank’s feedback to revise AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET, and then we sent it to her on a 30-day exclusive submission. Ta-da! She loved it. (Note: Sylvie said that acquiring a manuscript in that way is rare for her.)

That all sounds so easy, right? Well, there was a lengthy process leading up to that. If you’re interested in how I got to that point, HERE’s more.

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  How did you celebrate signing your contract?  (If you care to share 🙂 )

BETH: To be honest, the thrill of both the news of the offer and the signing of the contract were tempered by sad events. The contrast of emotions served to remind me of what’s truly important and that life is a balance. My joy settled inside, nestled with gratitude, encouragement, and anticipation of the new adventure.

SUSANNA:  I’m so sorry that what should have been a joyous occasion was tempered by sadness, Beth.  But you are right.  It does help us keep perspective.

 

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

 

BETH: Mostly, I didn’t know what to expect! This too is a learning process. I asked some questions of my agent to better understand it all and am so glad that I had her to lead me through it and do the negotiations.

 

SUSANNA: Tell us about the editorial process and your experience with the illustration process…

BETH: There were few revisions to make for the editor since I had already revised per her feedback. She got an illustrator on board very quickly – the amazing Elizabeth Baddeley! About 3-4 months after the contract was signed we had sketches. That’s an exciting moment! Copy edits came soon after. I made a few tweaks to the text here and there. I was kept in the loop throughout, and the process was smooth and comfortable. The editor’s vision never conflicted with mine, but rather enhanced everything that I had envisioned.

As a rookie, I was wishing I had more knowledge of the editorial process, what to expect when, etc. Here’s how I would explain the process:

Imagine the editor drives up to your house in a limo and invites you to go for a ride. You sit up front and chat along the way. You know the destination, but don’t know the route. So you spend much time looking out the window, wondering, asking a question now and then. Along the way, you pick up other people – the illustrator, art director, etc. But…there’s that limo barrier between the front and back. You can’t talk to the people back there, but the editor can, and once in a while relays a bit of what’s going on. You ooh and ahh at landmarks along the way, feel a festive spirit permeate the vehicle, and, finally, after a long trip, you arrive at the book!

As I work on more manuscripts, I see that each one is a bit different. So…basically, sit back and enjoy the ride!

Beth2

 

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

BETH: Seeing the advance reviews from Kirkus and SLJ was a joyful moment – a bit of relief combined with anticipation at getting the book in the hands of kids.

 

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

BETH: 2 years

 

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

BETH: I’m really only beginning this aspect of the book and learning as I go. I have lots of lists!! Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • scheduled a release party at a local Barnes and Noble,
  • requested F&Gs be sent to a number of bloggers in hopes that they will want to review AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET and have been lucky enough to receive invitations for interviews from friends within the kidlit world.
  • postcards, bookmarks, additional business cards
  • contacted bookstores in the area about opportunities such as local author signing days and festivals, as well as school visits they coordinate. (I don’t think this book is the best for story times with toddlers.)
  • planned activities for events
  • completed authors pages on Amazon, Goodreads, etc., SCBWI opportunities
  • added pages to my website
  • blog posts for my own site on my writer’s journey and process
  • created Pinterest boards related to the book
  • working on a presentation for schools and paperwork associated with that

 

SUSANNA: What is your publisher doing to market and promote your book?

BETH: I’ve been assigned a publicist and am copying her on any plans I make so she can coordinate books being available. She will arrange signings I request when I travel and send F&Gs to people I’ve requested. I’ll work with her on any conferences, but at this point have none scheduled. The publisher has sent copies to reviewers and created an educator’s guide.

 

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

BETH: I made the decision to jump into writing for children in the fall of 2013. In the beginning of 2016, I signed with an agent, and in September 2016, I had my first offer.

 

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

BETH: I think each book has lessons to teach us as writers. As I got to know the characters in AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET, Ben Franklin’s philosophy of letting your ideas “take their chance in the world” really struck a chord with me. In contrast, Noah Webster wanted to force his ideas on people. One approach is stressful, the other not. One approach considers you know best, the other accepts that maybe you don’t. One approach lets rejections quash the spirit, the other takes them in stride.

So, do your best, and put those manuscripts out there. Let your ideas “take their chance in the world!” 🙂

Beth4

photo credit Tina Wood

Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. Armed with linguistics and reading degrees, a fascination with language, and penchant for untold tales, she strives for accidental learning in the midst of a great story. Beth lives in Colorado where she laughs, wonders, thinks, and questions; and hopes to inspire kids to do the same.

website and social media links

https://bethandersonwriter.com/

https://www.facebook.com/beth.anderson.33671748?fref=ts%2F

https://twitter.com/@BAndersonWriter/

https://www.pinterest.com/bandersonwriter/

An Educator’s Guide is available HERE.

Beth, thank you again so much for being with us today, and readers, thank you for stopping by to read.  If you have questions for Beth I’m sure she will do her best to answer if she has time.

I think it’s interesting that the interviews from both Jessie last week and Beth this week showed how much writing is but one piece in the puzzle of life.  It’s so easy as an unpublished writer (or even a published writer hoping for another sale) to think that if you can get published, everything will be perfect!  There is no denying that getting published is wonderful!  It is the dream.  It is what we all work so hard for.  But for Jessie it came with a new baby, and for Beth it came with sadness in her life.  Both things put publication in perspective.  Jessie’s book was drawn from her life experience of having a grandfather with Alzheimers, and Beth was able to write her book because of her background as a teacher and her knowledge of and interest in linguistics.  So if you’re looking for inspiration, you may, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, have no need to look any further than your own back yard. You may find it right there in your life.

Whether you’re published yet or not, write for the joy of writing and enjoy the process and the journey.  It’s hard work, but we do it because we love it, and I think most of us would agree that there aren’t many occupations that can rival making up stories, or sharing the wonders of the nonfiction world with kids 🙂

Happy Tuesday! 🙂 and don’t forget to let me know if there are questions you want answered in future posts!

Missed any 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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Summer Nick Taught His Cats To Read

Look at this, dearies!

Summer has arrived!  I know this because the mountain laurel is out.

IMG_1741

So it’s time for a Perfect Picture Book hiatus.

I always feel a little sad to put PPBF on hold for the summer 😦  But summer is a busy time for all of us – hard to keep up with reading and writing blog posts – and I always have grand ambitions of getting lots of other stuff done…

Just because I haven’t managed before doesn’t mean it can’t happen this year! 🙂

We will still be here for Would You Read It Wednesdays, Oh Susanna on the first Monday of the month and Short & Sweets on the third Monday of the month, and there are going to be a couple of VERY exciting blog tours coming up (starring your friends and mine, LION, ELEPHANT, and TRUCKS) as my three new books step out into the world.

So don’t worry!

There will still be plenty of fun (and chocolate!) around here! 🙂

And as we head into summer, I have the perfect Perfect Picture Book to share with you!

Nick Cats

Title: The Summer Nick Taught His Cats To Read

Written By: Curtis Manley

Illustrated By: Kate Berube

A Paula Wiseman Book (Simon & Schuster), July 2016, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics:  reading, perseverance, creativity, imagination

Opening: “Nick had two cats, Verne and Stevenson.
They spent summers doing everything together.
But when Nick sat down with a book, the cats had their own ideas.

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 6.47.29 PM

text copyright Curtis Manley 2016, illustration copyright Kate Berube 2016

Brief Synopsis: Nick loves to read.  His cats do not.  Every time Nick opens a book, Verne sprawls across the pages and Stevenson sits on a stack of books scowling and cleaning his paw.  So naturally, Nick decides to share his love of reading with them by teaching them how.  Verne is amenable and learns quickly.  Stevenson shows all the behaviors of a reluctant reader…until Nick finds just the right way to pique his interest.

Links To Resources: read as many books as you can this summer!  Keep a list to show your progress!  Put a star or a sticker beside your favorite titles.  Swap one of your favorite books with one of a friend’s favorites and see if you like the same kind of books or if your friend’s tastes introduce you to something new!  Make your own book club.  Give it a name!  Choose a time and a place and a snack for meetings 🙂  Talk about the books your read with your friends.  Enjoy reading!

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 6.48.15 PM

text copyright Curtis Manley 2016, illustration copyright Kate Berube 2016

Why I Like This Book: Curtis is a likable boy with a genuine and infectious love of reading as well as obvious love for his two cats.  I love the silliness of the concept of teaching cats to read…and the fact that they learn 🙂  Verne is an easy-going amenable type who learns quickly and embraces reading as Nick does.  Stevenson, however, is a challenge – one that any reluctant reader will identify with.  But it turns out that Stevenson is an artist!  Nick turns Stevenson’s art into a story about Stevenson…and suddenly reading seems a little more interesting… 🙂  The story is imaginative and fun.  The art is cozy and warm.  This is a delightful book that budding readers, writers, artists…and cat lovers :)…will love.

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!!! 🙂

See you on Monday for Short & Sweets (assuming, of course, that I can think up something fun for you…! 🙂 )

Oh!  And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!!! 🙂