Perfect Picture Book Friday – Ellie

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

As I’ve been under the weather for more than a week, I’m totally cheating and sharing a book I’ve shared before because I don’t want to miss another PPBF. (My sincere apologies for missing last week!) Also, I think this book with its storyline of working together to save something precious is a good one as our new administration rolls up its sleeves and prepares to do the same thing. 😊

I hope you’ll like this book as much as I do 😊

Title: Ellie

Written & Illustrated By: Mike Wu

Disney-Hyperion, May 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: art, helping others, finding your own talents, animals (elephants)

Opening: “On a bright winter day, when Ellie was just finishing her lunch, the zookeeper came by with an announcement.

“Gather ’round!” Walt called.  “I have some news.

“It is a sad day,” he said.  “The zoo is closing.”

Brief Synopsis: The animals are heartbroken when they find out their zoo is closing.  They wonder if there’s any way they can help prevent it.  Perhaps they can spruce the place up?  Lucy the giraffe prunes the trees.  Gerard the gorilla tidies the path.  But Ellie the baby elephant isn’t tall enough to prune trees or strong enough to move rocks.  Is there anything she can do to save her beloved home?

text and illustration copyright Mike Wu 2015, Disney-Hyperion

Links To Resources:  YouTube video of real elephants who paint; fun facts about elephants; elephants work together to problem solve (videos) – help baby cross road, save baby stuck in the mud; preschool elephant activities and crafts

Why I Like This Book:  This is a sweet story about friendly animals pitching in to try to save their home.  Ellie wants so much to help, but at first she doesn’t think she has any skills that will serve.  Quite by accident, she discovers a talent that will not only help, but be the driving force behind saving the zoo, and the story comes to a satisfying ending.  The art is gorgeous and so appealing, starting off in soft greens and grays and becoming brighter and bolder as Ellie’s talent develops and her self-confidence grows.  And Ellie is such an endearing character she’s hard to resist 🙂  The story is loosely based on a relatively recent headline about elephants who paint, so has some grounding in fact 😊

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 your delightful picks for this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and stay well!!! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Sincerely, Emerson: A Girl, Her Letter, And The Helpers All Around Us

Welcome back to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

Is there anything better than discovering a whole bunch of fantastic picture books in time to go to the library and stock up on great reading material for the weekend? 😊

Especially in winter, it’s lovely to have a big stack of books to curl up with in a nice warm spot somewhere and enjoy.

Given recent events, my choice for today is a book which celebrates letter writing, expressing gratitude, and the fact that someone who is eleven can have the perspective and talent to write a book like this!

Title: Sincerely, Emerson: A Girl, Her Letter, And The Helpers All Around Us

Written By: Emerson Weber (11 years old)

Illustrated By: Jaclyn Sinquett

Publisher: HarperCollins, December 2020

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: non-fiction, letter writing, expressing gratitude, spreading love, being appreciative of others

Opening: “Emerson loved writing letters.
She loved writing “Dear.”
She loved writing “Sincerely.”
Most of all, she loved writing everything that came in between.”

text copyright Emerson Weber 2020, illustration copyright Jaclyn Sinquett 2020, HarperCollins

Brief Synopsis: The true story of eleven-year-old Emerson Weber as she writes a letter of thanks to her postal carrier, Doug, and creates a nationwide outpouring of love, gratitude, hope, and recognition for all the essential helpers we see everyday, and all those who go unseen.

Links To Resources: 11 year old Emerson Weber reads her book aloud (video); write a letter to someone you love and/or appreciate to let them know you notice and care; read with other letter-writing books such as DEAR EARTH…FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN ROOM 5 by Erin Dealey, DEAR GRANDMA, or DEAR SANTA by Susanna Leonard Hill (apologies for listing my own books but they are examples of other ways and reasons for writing letters 😊)

text copyright Emerson Weber 2020, illustration copyright Jaclyn Sinquett 2020, HarperCollins

Why I Like This Book: For starters, I love that this book was written by an eleven year old – how inspiring for other aspiring young writers! And I love that she can have the kind of perspective shown in this book – from the appreciation of letter-writing which is becoming a somewhat lost art, to the desire to share her life and experiences with others, to her belief that people should be appreciated and thanked for all they do. There are a lot of adults who could learn something from a book like this, never mind kids 😊 This is a wonderful book at any time, but especially in the grip of (and hopefully soon in the wake of!) COVID-19 and all the challenges it has brought to so many, I think this true story celebrates all that people do to make our world function as it does and care for each other. As the book says:

There are lots of ways to help the world go round:
Some people collect the trash.
Some stock grocery shelves.
Some drive buses and trains.
Some help people who are sick.
Some deliver our mail.
And some people write letters.

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 – Red And Lulu

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and not a moment too soon!

Have you looked at the weather forecast for today and tomorrow? There could be no better way to spend the next two days than with a pile of perfect picture books and a cup of cocoa and your favorite little readers (or your favorite little or not-so-little writers. . . yes, you. . . who are reading perfect picture books to learn from the masters 😊)

Today’s Perfect Picture Book is so pretty and so touching I know you’re going to love it!

Title: Red And Lulu

Written & Illustrated By: Matt Tavares

Candlewick, September 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: holidays (Christmas), devotion, perseverance

Opening: “In the front yard of a little house,
on the branches of a mighty evergreen,
there lived a happy pair of cardinals
.”

text and illustration copyright Matt Tavares 2017, Candlewick


Brief Synopsis: [from the book jacket] “Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree.  But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each other again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles. . . . “

Links To Resources: the afterword contains a brief history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree tradition; what are some holiday traditions in your family? draw a picture, write a story or poem, or make up a song about a special holiday tradition in your family; in the story, the cardinals’ favorite Christmas carol is O, Christmas Tree, which was originally sung in German as O, Tannenbaum. Do you have a favorite Christmas or other holiday carol/song? Was it originally in English, or did it come from another language? Which one?

text and illustration copyright Matt Tavares 2017, Candlewick


Why I Like This Book: This is a such a sweet and lovely story – one of those stories that tug at your heartstrings and make it a little hard to read aloud in some parts past the lump in your throat 😊 Red and Lulu are so happy in their tree, and when the tree is taken, with Lulu still in it, Red flies as fast and as far as he can, determined not to lose Lulu. But a bird cannot fly as fast as a truck can drive. . . I love Red’s devotion and determination which clearly show his love for Lulu. I don’t want to give away the ending. . . so I won’t!😊. . . but it’s just right. The watercolor-and-gouache illustrations are full of detail – so pretty! Don’t miss this heartwarming story!

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 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!!! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Over The River And Through The Wood: A Holiday Adventure

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and what with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to share this wonderful book by Linda Ashman because the song it’s based on always makes me think of going to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving when I was a kid! (Although we went by car, unfortunately, not by horse-drawn sleigh! 😊)

Title: Over The River And Through The Wood: A Holiday Adventure

Written By: Linda Ashman

Illustrated By: Kim Smith

Sterling Children’s Books, October 2015, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: family, holidays (Thanksgiving/Christmas), travel

Opening: “Pack up the pooches and load the van.
We need to leave by eight!
There’s so much to bring.
Do we have everything?
Come on, we can’t be late!

Text copyright Linda Ashman 2015, illustration copyright Kim Smith 2015, Sterling Books

Brief Synopsis: Grandma and Grandpa have sent invitations to all the family: Come to our house for the holidays and bring your favorite pie! So all the families pack up and head out… but travel turns out to be trickier than expected!

Links To Resources: Who do you visit for the holidays? Make a photo collage of a family holiday get-together; If you travel on holidays, how do go? Draw a picture or make a model of your transportation – plane? train? bus? car? boat? Make up your own version of “Over the river” and sing who you go to visit and how you get there; Thanksgiving Turkey Rice Krispie Treats (Recipe)

Text copyright Linda Ashman 2015, illustration copyright Kim Smith 2015, Sterling Books

Why I Like This Book: This wonderful story feels new and familiar at the same time; familiar because we all know the song upon which it is based, new because the travel troubles are fresh and fun (and anyone who has ever traveled for the holidays can relate!) The story is written in Linda Ashman’s trademark fabulous rhyme which is so fun to read aloud. And the art is delightful – a perfect complement to the story – and filled with fun little details… like what happens to the pies along the way 😊 And I love that even in this day and age of planes and trains and automobiles, the whole family ends up arriving by horse-drawn sleigh! 😊

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 – Woodland Dreams

Title: Woodland Dreams

Written By: Karen Jameson

Illustrated By: Marc Boutavant

Chronicle Books, October 27 2020, fiction with nonfiction elements

Suitable For Ages: 3-6

Themes/Topics: bedtime, woodland animals

Opening:

“Come home, Big Paws.

Berry picker
Honey trickster
Shadows deepen in the glen.
Lumber back inside your den.”

text copyright Karen Jameson 2020, illustration copyright Marc Boutavant 2020, Chronicle Books

Brief Synopsis: Young readers will be lulled to sleep as woodland animals prepare for bed.

Links To Resources: How To Make A Pinecone Bird Feeder; How To Attract Rabbits to Your Back Yard (safe for you and them); what is your favorite woodland creature? draw a picture, or write a story or poem or even a song! Recipe: Turtle Sugar Cookies 😊 🐢

text copyright Karen Jameson 2020, illustration copyright Marc Boutavant 2020, Chronicle Books

Why I Like This Book: This is a lovely lullaby of a bedtime book. The rhyming text is lyrical, with such lines as “Meadow hopper clover cropper twilight whispers. Time to furrow. Curl up tight inside your burrow” and “Nectar sipper dizzy dipper stars are twinkling. Flutter. Search. Light upon your leafy perch.” The art is warm, cozy, and inviting, and will make young readers want to curl up and sleep with the woodland animals. As a bonus, elements of nonfiction are included through the animal descriptions and the artistic depiction of their homes/habitat. A sweet, gentle bedtime read!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

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

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific 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 Janie Emaus!

Welcome to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

I realize, of course, that it is not yet Halloween 😊 But that is no reason not to delight in today’s debut picture book about Christmas and Hanukkah! Enjoy! (and preorder so you’re ready for those holidays when they come along 😊) and join me in welcoming today’s debut-ess, Janie Emaus!

Latkes For Santa Claus
Written by Janie Emaus
Illustrated by Bryan Langdo
Published by Sky Pony
October 13, 2020
Fiction, ages 3-7

Anna is excited that Santa will be visiting her house for the first time, and she wants to leave Santa a treat that blends the holidays her new family celebrates: Christmas and Hanukkah.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Janie! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re excited to hear about your journey to publication! Where did the idea for this book come from?

JANIE: The idea grew out of my own experience. Having grown up in a Jewish home, I didn’t celebrate Christmas until I married my husband. When our daughter was small, I started looking for books to read to her about families that celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas. Not finding anything fun and playful, I decided to write one myself.

Every year the women in our family gather to make latkes. The title came to me while I was flipping over a latke. That is the only thing about the book which has remained the same.

One of my agents along the way suggested adding the recipes at the end.

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

JANIE: I came up with the idea about fifteen years ago.

As this is my first picture book, I had to remember to leave room for the illustrator to expand the story. I had difficulty in the beginning as I was used to writing middle grade and young adult stories. I was getting too wordy and descriptive.    

Early on, I had an agent who helped me shorten the word length. I worked with her until she thought it was ready for submission. Most of the editors passed on the book because they didn’t need another holiday story. Ultimately my agent left the business and I continued on my own.

Throughout the years, I would put it away and work on something else. But the story wouldn’t leave me alone. Every year as the holidays approached, I searched for books with a similar theme.

Last year I pulled it out again and was determined to work on it until it sold.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JANIE: Yes, dozens, if not hundreds!

It started off in verse. I dumped that rather quickly and started approaching the story from a hundred different angles. Where to begin was the most difficult decision.  

In the original version, the main character was alone. Then I gave her a brother. Upon the suggestion of a critique partner, he became a stepbrother. And I amped up the cooking challenge. 

Every time I had a new version, I would read it aloud to myself, listening to the flow of the story. And I kept cutting words with the illustrator in mind. If I thought I was describing too much, I hit delete. Believe me, I wore the letters off that key.

Janie’s work space

SUSANNA: When did you know it was ready for submission?

JANIE: This is a hard question to answer. I knew it was getting better with each revision. Yet, I  wasn’t sure it was the best it could be. Every time I reread it I changed a word here, a word there.  I took long walks, talking to myself, reciting the story. But at some point, I knew I had to get it back out in the world. I hoped an editor or agent would like it enough to want to work with me.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JANIE: I began querying agents in Oct 2019. Several passed with a polite “Thank you. Not for me at this time.”  One agent did express interest but wanted some changes. She suggested I send it back to her in three months.

Meanwhile, I entered #PitMad on Thursday, December 5th, 2019. #PitMad is a Twitter event which occurs four times a year. Writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed manuscript, along with the corresponding hashtags to identify the genre of their work. The participating editors and agents make requests by “liking” the tweeted pitch.

Nicole Frail of Sky Pony Press liked my tweet. On Saturday, I sent her the manuscript. On Monday I received an email saying she loved my book and was taking it to her publisher. On Tuesday she offered me a contract.

I like to say it took a mere decade for me to achieve overnight success!

Janie’s work buddy, Ziva, watching her write 😊

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?

JANIE: On that Tuesday, I was driving when my phone dinged. I glanced down quickly and saw an email from Nicole. I immediately pulled over and read her offer to publish the book.

I let out a scream and pumped my fists in the air. To the passing cars, I’m sure I looked like a middle aged women in the midst of a seizure!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate?

JANIE: The day I signed the contract I had a martini with my family. And then another one!

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected?

JANIE: I actually had no idea what to expect as this was my first contract with a traditional publisher. My advance was under $1,000. But I was assured the book would appear in bookstores as well as outlets, such as Target and Walmart. That aspect was more important to me than the advance.

I had no idea it would distributed by Simon and Schuster until the announcement came out in Publisher’s Marketplace in February 2020. I googled the book and then I really became excited.

SUSANNA: Can you tell us anything about the editorial process?

JANIE: I didn’t have to make any major changes.

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

JANIE: From the start I was very involved with the illustration. I was asked for my vision and for a possible list of illustrators. I was given the chance to see Bryan’s work before he was offered the contract. And throughout the process I was sent digital files. All the suggestions I made were passed on to Bryan and incorporated into his illustrations. I’d have to say, I was extremely pleased.

text copyright Janie Emaus 2020, illustration copyright Bryan Langdo 2020, Sky Pony

SUSANNA: Did you get to see any advance reviews? What was that like?

JANIE: So far I have not seen any reviews.  They did get blurbs for the book before it went to print. And I was very happy with those.

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

JANIE: At the time I’m answering these questions, I still haven’t seen a hard copy! I did see the finished PDF and I loved it!

I was told the initial print was going to be around 2500

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

JANIE: I received an email in August that B&N had picked up the book for their holiday promotion and had committed to 2300 copies. That was another middle-aged seizure moment! I was on vacation with my grandkids and I was jumping up and down with my youngest grandson.

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

JANIE: I have set up interviews and contacted book bloggers. And I have an appearance in November at The Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada, California. But COVID has certainly put a damper on book signings and appearances.

I made postcards announcing the book and I put the photo on my business card as I was planning on attending several conferences between the signing of my contract and the release date. So, now I carry them with me everywhere I go and pass them out. And I mean everywhere! Starbucks, restaurants, novelty stores. I even gave one to the Geek Squad guy who came to set up our new TV.

Yum! Latkes 😊

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

JANIE: I’ve been writing seriously for over thirty years. But wasn’t always concentrating on picture books. My very first sale was a rhymed story, The Jogging Frog, to Cricket Magazine. This is it, I thought. I’m on my way. Well, I was on my way, alright, to hundreds of rejections. Years passed before I sold another story.

The first rejections hurt the most. I’d poured my heart and soul onto the page and was devastated when agents and editors didn’t accept what I had written.

But as the years passed, I realized how subjective this business is and that I wanted and deserved someone who shared my vision.

SUSANNA: What is the most important thing you learned?

JANIE: The most important thing I have learned is perseverance. Don’t give up. And believe in your vision for your story. I’ve had horrible experiences along the way. Times when I rewrote based on an agent’s recommendations and then it all fell apart So, trust your instincts.

It’s hard not to take rejections personally, but remember agents and editors are just people. I used to be in awe when pitching face to face. I would break into a sweat and stumble through my pitch and walk away thinking. Oh, why did I say that? And then I would obsess over the meeting well into the next workshop.

Oh, and one last thing. Join writing organizations. SCBWI has been invaluable to my success.

Thanks for reading.  And good luck with your writing.

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your writing and publication experience, Janie! We are grateful for the opportunity to learn. And I know I speak for everyone when I wish you all the best with this and future books!

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

Author Janie Emaus

Website – http://www.janieemaus.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/janie.emaus/
Facebook author page – https://www.facebook.com/Janie-Emaus-Books-Blogs-473633136036884
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Janie_Emaus
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/janieemaus/
Medium – https://medium.com/@janieemaus

You may purchase Janie’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!)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Little Boo

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! And now that it’s October, I feel justified in breaking out the Halloween picture books!

How cute is this one? 😊

Title: Little Boo
Written By: Stephen Wunderli
Illustrated By: Tim Zeltner
Henry Holt & Company, August 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: Holidays (Halloween), Emotion (patience/impatience), Nature (lifecycle of a seed), Common Childhood Experiences (wanting to be bigger/older)

Opening: “The wind blew, the leaves fell, and a tiny seed hid in the garden.
“Boo,” the seed said to a leaf rolling by.
“You’re not scary at all,” the leaf said.

illustration copyright Stephen Wunderli 2014

Brief Synopsis: A little pumpkin seed tries hard to be scary but he just can’t seem to scare anyone – not the leaves or the grubs, not the snowflakes in winter or the bees in spring!  “Be patient,” the wind tells him, “you’ll be scary soon enough.”  But it’s awfully hard to wait!

Links To Resources: plant a seed and watch it grow – indoors in a container or outdoors in a garden; 40 Things For Kids To Do With Pumpkins9 Easy Pumpkin Recipes For Kids

illustration copyright Stephen Wunderli 2014

Why I Like This Book:  It’s just so cute!  Look at that little pumpkin seed face – how can you not love it?! 🙂  The story is simple but so relatable for kids who always seem to want to grow up faster than nature allows.  And within the sweet story we also get a nice little glimpse of the life cycle of a seed – so cleverly slipped in there!  To top it off, the art is absolutely gorgeous –  colorful and warm and so appealing!  This is a wonderful one to add to your Halloween book shelf 😊

illustration copyright Stephen Wunderli 2014

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!

Enjoy the long Columbus Day 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