Perfect Picture Book Friday – Spellbound

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I know I should probably have a Memorial Day book to share today in recognition of this weekend, but as many of you know, I am living in New Baby Land, so I have a magical new sibling story instead 😊

Title: Spellbound

Written By: Jess Townes

Illustrated By: Jennifer Harney

Publisher: Union Square Kids, June 21, 2022, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: new sibling

text copyright Jess Townes 2022, illustration copyright Jennifer Harney 2022, Union Square Kids

Opening: “Willow loved magic.
And in her home, magic was all around.
It resided in the roots. It lingered in the leaves.
It blossomed on the branches.
And when it was ready, the magic wandered
on warm breezes in search of an apprentice.
Because magic, after all, is meant to be shared.”

Brief Synopsis: (From the publisher): “Willow’s world is perfectly magical, until Rowan is born. When her new baby brother seems to enchant everyone he meets, Willow becomes convinced he is an actual, real-life wizard. Can Willow put a stop to his hocus pocus, or is Rowan’s magic too powerful to resist?”

text copyright Jess Townes 2022, illustration copyright Jennifer Harney 2022, Union Square Kids

Links To Resources: Peek-a-boo, finger play rhymes like Itsy Bitsy Spider and Patty Cake, playing with rattles or musical instruments, singing songs, making funny faces or using silly voices to get baby to laugh – these are all things that children can do with new siblings to engage with them and help build a bond, making the older sibling feel valued, important, and included.

text copyright Jess Townes 2022, illustration copyright Jennifer Harney 2022, Union Square Kids

Why I Like This Book: Willow’s world is full of magic and she is the center of it. She mesmerizes her mom, dazzles her dad, and charms her bunny. But along comes Rowan and suddenly everyone is mesmerized, dazzled, and charmed by him! What kind of magic is this?! Every child who has gotten a new sibling knows the worry of being displaced, the jealousy when parents pay attention to the baby, the fear that maybe now that the newcomer is here, they don’t matter any more. Willow is determined that even if everyone else falls under Rowan’s spell, she won’t! But though she casts a spell on her ears so she won’t hear his laughter, and a charm over her eyes so she won’t see how cute he is, even she can’t resist him when he calls his big sister by her name. A lovely, lively, magical twist on a new sibling story with beautiful art that feels magical, too. A great choice for new big brothers and sisters, and a fun story for anyone 😊

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!

Happy Memorial Day, with gratitude to all who serve and have served! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Some Daddies

I’m not quite sure how this week flew by so fast (oh, wait… maybe it was partly because I posted so late last week 😊) but here we are at Perfect Picture Book Friday again!

With Father’s Day just a month away, I have a wonderful, brand new book about Dads of every kind to share with you this week! I think it’s a great book for anytime, but it’s especially appropriate at this time of year.

Title: Some Daddies

Written By: Carol Gordon Ekster

Illustrated By: Javiera Maclean Alvarez

Publisher: Beaming Books, May 17, 2022

Suitable For Ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: fathers/families

Opening: “Every daddy is different.
Some daddies wake up whistling.
Others need time before they talk.
Some joke around and tell stories.
Others like to listen.”

text copyright Carol Gordon Ekster 2022, illustration copyright Javiera Maclean Alvarez 2022, Beaming Books

Brief Synopsis: a celebration of the incredible diversity of modern fathers with an inclusive cast of characters and a wide array of fathers that will allow readers to catch glimpses of, and feel new appreciation for, their own fathers and father-figures and how they shine in their own unique ways.

Links To Resources: Father’s Day Activities For Kids; Father’s Day Crafts, Activities, Games and Printables

text copyright Carol Gordon Ekster 2022, illustration copyright Javiera Maclean Alvarez 2022, Beaming Books

Why I Like This Book: I love that such a broad view of fatherhood is taken in this book. Fathers of many races, cultures, occupations, and interests, as well as a two-dad family, a single dad, and a stay-at-home dad are pictured so that every child will likely find some representation of their own father or father-figure. I think it’s wonderful for young readers to be introduced to the many kinds of things fathers can do, be like, and participate in so they can understand that not everyone’s father/father-figure is exactly like their own, and get a sense of the possibilities that exist for them someday. This is a lovely book to read around Father’s Day, or any time 😊

text copyright Carol Gordon Ekster 2022, illustration copyright Javiera Maclean Alvarez 2022, Beaming 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 – Pigeon & Cat

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

I have such a beautiful book about friendship, community, and learning to open your heart and trust the world around you. It was written and illustrated by Edward Hemingway, youngest grandson of Ernest, (and is a far cry from my 9th grade reading of A Farewell To Arms 😊) It is due out on June 21 and I think it’s a book classrooms and libraries can benefit from as well as home libraries. Have a look!

Title: Pigeon & Cat

Written & Illustrated By: Edward Hemingway

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books/Little Brown & Co, June 21, 2022

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, community, creativity, personal growth

Opening: “In an abandoned city lot there sits a cardboard box. Inside the box lives Cat.”

text & illustration copyright Edward Hemingway 2022, Christy Ottaviano Books

Brief Synopsis: from the publisher: “In an abandoned city lot, Cat lives alone in a cardboard box. He leaves only to find food. One day, Cat discovers an unbroken egg too beautiful to eat. Soon, out pecks Pigeon, and they become fast friends. Cat is happy to share his box with Pigeon. But when Pigeon flies far away from where they live, Cat must brave the city in order to rescue his friend. This journey will forever transform his understanding of home.

This heartwarming story explores unlikely friendships, the creative spark within us, and how to give comfort and kindness in small, impactful gestures. It is also a celebration of urban community.”

text & illustration copyright Edward Hemingway 2022, Christy Ottaviano Books

Links To Resources: as a parent or teacher, encourage your kids to be part of their communities – family, school, neighborhood. Look at family photos so kids learn who family members are and how important they are to you. Make a family storybook using photos, including birthdays and addresses and relationships so kids gain a solid understanding of their family community. Participate in school activities beyond the classroom – book fairs, sports events, school plays. Get out in the local community with your kids. Are there opportunities for helping with recycling, planting trees or flowers, making cards for seniors at holidays? If not, maybe you can start one 😊

text & illustration copyright Edward Hemingway 2022, Christy Ottaviano Books

Why I Like This Book: It can be easy for anyone who has faced hardship, hurt, or disappointment to wall themselves off from the world as a measure of self protection. So Cat lives his life, staying where he feels safe, never venturing forth, and threatening all he encounters with hisses, teeth, and claws because the world is frightening to him. But along comes Pigeon who has never known anything but love – Cat’s love for her and hers for him – and over the course of the story Cat opens his heart and his mind and comes to realize that the world can be a good and beautiful place to which he has a lot to offer, and maybe, just maybe, it has something to offer him. This book is a sweet and lovely celebration of friendship and community, taking something rough and making it better for everyone. The art is engaging, full of details. I love the places where Cat and Pigeon talk, because Pigeon has her own way of communicating, all in pictures 😊 I can’t imagine anyone not loving this book!

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 – Little Tiger

Okay.

So, in my mind I had this plan that I was going to post a Perfect Picture Book (on time!) today.

In reality, I am spending my days helping out with my new granddaughter.

“Helping out” (in case you’re unfamiliar with the term) in addition to actually helping out with baby care and laundry and grocery shopping etc. involves a lot of gazing at the baby and looking at each other and saying, “Isn’t she perfect?” and “Can you believe how perfect she is?”

SO…. not a lot of non-baby related work getting done around here at the moment! 😊

So instead of sharing a new book on time, I am sharing an old book late 😊

I chose Little Tiger because Charlotte, having been born in the Year of the Tiger, is a little tiger, and because I love this whole series by Julie Abery – perfect little books for youngest readers!

Little Tiger Cover

Title: Little Tiger

Written By: Julie Abery

Illustrated By: Suzie Mason

Amicus Ink, March 12 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: baby jungle adventure, mother/child love, language fun (rhyme)

Opening:
Little Tiger
waking,
shaking,
in the morning sun.”

Brief Synopsis: a “day-in-the-life” adventure in which Little Tiger romps and plays and experiments… but mama is always close by to watch over and keep him safe.

Links To Resources: Special Resource straight from the author!!!

Hi Susanna.

Thank you so much for inviting Little Tiger to Blueberry Hill. We have been looking forward to visiting you on Perfect Picture Book Friday for such a long time!

We are so happy that you and your granddaughters loved our book sooo much! How about a little painting fun to go with the book.

Little Tiger handprints…

tigerhand

TIGER-ific!

Fun and easy to make, just don’t forget to have a bowl of soapy water to wash those paint-covered hands.

We hope that you enjoyed the Little Tiger craft time.

Thank you so much for taking time to stop by and share these wonderful activities with us, Julie!!!

Why I Like This Books: the story is sweet, engaging, and accessible to youngest readers/listeners.  The rhyme is fun to read aloud, with perfect rhythm and fun internal rhyme as well as end-of-line-rhyme. The story lets us play and explore along with the baby animal, always feeling the safety of mama’s watchful eye and the warmth of her love. A lovely, gentle read, perfect for bedtime or any time!!!

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 Carrie Tillotson!

Good morning, and welcome to Tuesday Debut, everyone!

Today’s debutess is Carrie Tillotson, and just wait until you see how fun her debut picture book, COUNTING TO BANANAS is!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Title: Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book
Author: Carrie Tillotson
Illustrator:  Estrela Lourenço
Publishing House: Flamingo Books/Penguin Young Readers
Release Date: April 12, 2022
Fiction, Ages 4-8

A hilarious, mostly-rhyming picture book about a banana and narrator who can’t quite agree on what their book is about.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Carrie! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re looking forward to learning from you! Where did the idea for this book come from?

CARRIE: Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Susanna! The idea came from an interaction between my son and his swim instructor. Every lesson, my son had to perform a starfish float, where he lay on his back and floated for ten seconds. The instructor counted “One-two-three, four-five-six, seven-eight-nine, BANANAS!” and my son would laugh hysterically. One day, the instructor said, “Don’t you love my counting to bananas?” In that moment, I knew a picture book title was born.

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

CARRIE: I let the idea simmer for about a year before I even started writing it, because I had no idea what the story was about. But once I committed to it, I first journaled with a stream of consciousness approach to see what ideas bubbled up. From title idea in 2017, to first draft in 2018, to final draft in 2020, it took about 3 years.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CARRIE: I think I had about 16 drafts from start to finish, and often took months-long breaks in between some of them. One key for me and this manuscript was receiving a critique ninja visit from 12×12 Picture Book Challenge critique-ninja-and-author, Carter Higgins. Her feedback on a couple of things was key in helping me streamline one of the layers of the text that ended up just not being necessary.

Carrie in her blanket fort office with her writing buddy 😊

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

CARRIE: Ha! When one of my critique partners was like, “Why aren’t you sending this out?!”

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CARRIE: I attended the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Plus Conference in the fall of 2019, and had a pass to submit to agents and editors from that conference. I submitted Counting to Bananas to two of those editors and a handful of agents, and submitted other manuscripts to other editors and agents, based on their preferences and what they were looking for.

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

CARRIE: I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was about four to six weeks.

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

CARRIE: Because I submitted directly to editors from the conference, things went a little out of order for me. After I submitted the story, my editor requested an R&R. After that, she emailed to  say she was interested in taking the story to acquisitions, encouraged me to continue seeking an agent, and gave me permission to let agents know she was taking the story to acquisitions. I already had submissions out with several agents, so I was able to notify them of an editor’s interest. Shortly after, my now-agent Tracy Marchini set up a call with me, and happily, she and I felt like a great match! Once I signed with Tracy, it was just a couple of weeks until we had an offer for Counting to Bananas.

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

CARRIE: About 4-5 months.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

CARRIE: Oh, I’m sure I had ice cream – that’s how I celebrate everything!

SUSANNA: A girl after my own heart 😊 Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

CARRIE: The contract was pretty much what I expected, from having researched in other places like the Author’s Guild, and Hannah Holt’s author surveys. I was happy that my agent was able to negotiate some increases in various items on my behalf, and appreciated all her work during the negotiation process!

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

CARRIE: When my editor first asked for an R&R, the changes were pretty minor. Once the manuscript was acquired, we had one more round of revisions. My editor and I had a phone call to discuss, which was very helpful because it helped clarify a couple of questions I had about her comments. From there, revisions were pretty straightforward.

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

CARRIE: I LOVED seeing the illustrations take shape! I remember in particular being asked if it was OK with me for the fruits to have faces and personalities. I hadn’t considered that before, but was definitely OK with it. Once I saw the initial sketches, I was so glad I had said yes because I fell in love with all the hilarious fruit expressions! It was really exciting to get to see the process from sketches to final art, and I really appreciated the opportunity to give my own input at various stages, which I hadn’t expected going in.

text copyright Carrie Tillotson 2022, illustration copyright Estrela Lourenço 2022, Flamingo Books/Penguin Young Readers
text copyright Carrie Tillotson 2022, illustration copyright Estrela Lourenço 2022, Flamingo Books/Penguin Young Readers

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

CARRIE: Yes, I saw an advance review from Kirkus and it was thrilling! I was happy to receive a positive review, knowing that they sometimes have a reputation for being a bit blunt if they don’t like a book – and to have my book compared to one of Mac Barnett’s felt great!

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

CARRIE: The offer came in July of 2020, and publication was April 12, 2022, so just a few months shy of 2 years.

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

CARRIE: They have done so much, and I appreciate every bit of it! My publicist sent the book out for reviews and helped arrange a couple of virtual events with local bookstores, as well as preorder signing opportunities for me. And the marketing team helped create a downloadable activity guide, animated trailer, and adorable posts on social media. They probably both did so much more than I’m even aware of, and I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done!

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

CARRIE: One of the biggest and most helpful things I have done is to join a debut group of picture book creators, Kidlit Caravan. It has been really helpful to talk with other creators navigating the debut process to get ideas and see what others are doing. A few specific things I did were to create some bookmarks, which I plan to give away for school visits and at book stores, helped create the activities for the activity guide, and have appeared on a few blogs. I tried to keep my promotion efforts tied to things that would be fun for me, and not worry about the rest!

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

CARRIE: 8 years! After years of lurking on the SCBWI website and wanting to be involved in making children’s books, I finally realized that the only thing standing in my way was myself. That summer of 2014, I signed up for my first SCBWI conference, and I’ve been writing ever since.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

CARRIE: Probably the most important thing I’ve done is to get out of my own way. Like I mentioned in the previous question, I thought for years that authors and illustrators were these amazing people, and I wondered how to be like them… until I realized the only thing stopping me was myself. So to everyone who has dreams they want to achieve, I say go for it!

Author Carrie Tillotson

Website: carrietillotson.com
Twitter: @carrietillotson
Instagram: @carrietillotson

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

CARRIE: Thanks so much to you and your readers for giving new authors an opportunity to share!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

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

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

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

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

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Gardens Are For Growing PLUS A Giveaway!!!

Welcome to today’s edition of Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I have a lovely book to share – perfect for spring time! It makes me want to get out and garden (and I have a black thumb, so that’s saying something! 😊) I’m sure it will have the same affect on you and any young readers you share it with.

As an added bonus, we have a little Q&A with the author, Chelsea Tornetto, who is also offering winner’s choice of a picture book manuscript critique or a copy of her beautiful book to one lucky commenter! So please leave a comment on this post by Wednesday April 20 at 9PM Eastern and you could be the randomly selected lucky winner! Check out Chelsea’s critique service HERE so you can see what she offers!

Now, let’s have a look at the book!

Title: Gardens Are For Growing

Written By: Chelsea Tornetto

Illustrated By: Hsulynn Pang

Publisher: Familius Publishing

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: gardens/nature, growth, family, cycle of life

text copyright Chelsea Tornetto 2022, illustration coptright Hsulynn Pang 2022, Familius

Opening: “Shovels are for turning soil,
and clumps are meant for breaking.”

text copyright Chelsea Tornetto 2022, illustration coptright Hsulynn Pang 2022, Familius

Brief Synopsis: A father shows his daughter how to take a patch of earth and till and plant and tend until it grows into a beautiful garden. As the garden grows more lush with every passing year, the little girl grows up.

text copyright Chelsea Tornetto 2022, illustration coptright Hsulynn Pang 2022, Familius

Links To Resources: First, a treat! A little Q&A with author Chelsea Tornetto!

SUSANNA: How did you come up with the idea for Gardens Are For Growing?

CHELSEA: My husband puts in a backyard garden every year.  When our daughter, Tessa, was small, my favorite thing about spring and summer was watching her hanging out in the garden with her dad.  As she grew older the tasks she could/would help with changed, but the memories they made were always precious.  It struck me how she was growing up just like the garden did each year.  And Gardens Are For Growing was born!

SUSANNA: What do you hope kids will take away from it?

CHELSEA: I hope families are inspired to take time to get outside together!  I also hope it helps them realize that the best, most powerful memories are usually made in the small moments.  You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a big fancy vacation to make lasting memories.  

SUSANNA: What is your favorite part of being an author?

CHELSEA: I love the creativity of it.  I love the challenge of finding just the right word to complete a rhyme or create a certain feeling.  And I love giving my words to a talented illustrator and seeing their vision come to life!

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Chelsea! It’s so wonderful to know a little about the background of the books we love!

Next, some wonderful activity pages!

Why I Like This Book: This lovely story, told in rhyme, shows young readers the many things involved with growing a garden, from breaking up the earth, to sowing seeds and watering, to seeing earthworms, to watching things grow. With each turn of the page, the garden grows, going from a patch of earth, to neat garden with thin, young plants, until eventually it is a lush, mature garden. As the garden grows, a young girl grows alongside it, until the garden, the seasons, and the girl and her father together demonstrate the cycle of life. The art is bright and full of details, a wonderful complement to the text. Young gardeners (whether in the country with a true patch of earth, or in the city with a pot on a windowsill) will especially love this chance to learn about gardening, but it is a beautiful story anyone will enjoy.

text copyright Chelsea Tornetto 2022, illustration coptright Hsulynn Pang 2022, Familius

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! Happy Passover and Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates! 😊

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to be randomly selected to win your choice of a copy of this book or a picture book manuscript critique from Chelsea!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – This Could Be You

It’s Friday!

Thank goodness!

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

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

Title: This Could Be You

Written By: Cindy Williams Schrauben

Illustrated By: Julia Seal

Publisher: Cardinal Rule Press, April 1, 2022

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: being yourself, believing in yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kimberly Wilson!

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

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

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

Are you ready to meet today’s debut?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: When did you get the email?

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

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews?

KIMBERLY: Yes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Kimberly Wilson

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

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

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

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

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – A Family Is. . .

Hello, my friends!

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

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

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

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

But now, the book!

Title: A Family Is. . .

Written & Illustrated By: Lisa Thiesing

Publisher: Aladdin, March 8, 2022

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

Themes/Topics: family

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

text and illustration copyright Lisa Thiesing 2022 Aladdin

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

text and illustration copyright Lisa Thiesing 2022 Aladdin

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

text and illustration copyright Lisa Thiesing 2022 Aladdin

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

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Amy Duchene!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

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

. . . with someone else?

Today we have a special treat!

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

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

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

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

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

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


ELISA: Of course, I said, “YES!”

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

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

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

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

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


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

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

Author Amy Duchene

https://www.amyduchene.com/

Author Elisa Parhad

https://www.elisaparhad.com/

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

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

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

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

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