Tuesday Debut – Presenting Vicky Fang!

Hello, all, and welcome to Tuesday Debut!

Today’s debut-ess has written a book I’m sure we all need at the start of summer.  What could be better than having all our little darlings invent their own perfect pets?

Invent-a-Pet
by Vicky Fang
illustrated by Tidawan Thaipinnarong
Sterling Children’s Books
June 2 2020
Fiction, Ages 4-7

Invent-A-Pet Cover

When a mysterious pet-making machine appears in her living room, can Katie figure out the formula for her perfect pet?

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Vicky!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We are so excited to have you!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

VICKY: The idea itself came from a mashup of two ideas I had jotted down in my notebook at very different times: “mixing machine” and “mixed-up animals.” I find that I often need to combine my random ideas to get a story with appealing depth. As a product designer of technology experiences for kids, I was also able to pull from deep personal experience and craft the heart of the story I wanted to tell.

 

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

VICKY: I wrote the first draft in May 2017 during my Writing With the Stars mentorship with Peter McCleery, who was an amazingly patient and insightful mentor. In early 2018, a pretty final version of the manuscript landed me my wonderful agent, Elizabeth Bennett! We sold the book in May 2018.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

VICKY: I rewrote this manuscript dozens of times, with the help of feedback from Peter, from my critique partners, from paid editor critiques at conferences, and editors via R&Rs. A lot of the revisions were really about craft – getting the pacing and character arc just right.

 

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

VICKY: At the point that I was getting R&R requests, I knew that I was close.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

VICKY: My agent submitted for me.

 

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

VICKY: There were two houses interested in the book, which helps to move things along more quickly (in relative terms for the publishing industry.) I think we had an answer in about six weeks.

 

SUSANNA: 6 weeks is amazing! How did you celebrate signing your contract?

VICKY: You know, I don’t think I even did! I think I quietly signed it, did a happy dance, and filed it away. I hadn’t told most people I was writing books yet and to be honest, I kind of didn’t think it was real.

 

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

VICKY: Everything was pretty standard about this contract. I think we adjusted some small things, like a few more author copies for me and more limited option terms. I really didn’t know what to look for, so I was grateful to have an agent to help me through this!

 

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

VICKY: My acquiring editor left, so there was a little bit of realignment that happened when my new editor, Rachael Stein, came on. It turned out to be a wonderful partnership! Rachael has since also left, but we worked together from initial manuscript to final ARCs.

 

SUSANNA: What can you share about your experience of the illustration process?

VICKY: The illustration process was so exciting! Rachael consulted me throughout the process, from early directions to my character vision, but Tidawan brought such energy, light, and humor to the art! My kids are completely enamored with the wacky animals she created.

Invent-a-Pet Spread

Invent-a-Pet spread, ©2020 Sterling Children’s Books

 

SUSANNA: It is very. engaging! 😊 Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

VICKY: My publicist sent me the Kirkus review before it launched, which was so exciting! It was such a relief to get a positive review.

 

Vicky Fang's 2020 Books

Vicky Fang’s 2020 books

 

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

VICKY: I still don’t have a copy of the book, as author copies are backed up right now! But offer in May 2018 to ARC in Feb 2020 took twenty months.

 

 

SUSANNA: That’s tough!  It’s hard enough to wait until publication day without having to wait beyond it to see your book.  Such crazy times we’re in!  What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

VICKY: I’m sure they’ve done much more than I am even aware of! I know that my wonderful publicist, Sarah Lawrenson, has been and will be sending it out to reviewers, media outlets, social media, trade shows, and award submissions. They also had a batch of fantastic bookmarks printed for me.

 

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

VICKY: I’m in the middle of this now. I’m doing blog interviews, posting on social media, and I put together a read-aloud/activity post that Sterling helped me boost.

 

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

VICKY: I started writing seriously in December 2016, so it took me a year and a half to sell my first picture book.

 

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

VICKY: I couldn’t have done it without the welcoming and supportive kidlit community!

Vicky Fang

Author Vicky Fang

Vicky Fang is a product designer who spent 5 years designing kids’ technology experiences for both Google and Intel, often to inspire and empower kids in coding and technology. Through that work, she came to recognize the gap in education and inspiration, particularly for girls and minorities. She began writing books to provide kids with accessible STEAM-inspired stories that they can read again and again, learning from characters they love. Her goal for her books is to inspire computer literacy for a wide range of kids—while letting their imaginations run wild with the possibilities of technology! Her debut books, LAYLA & THE BOTS (Scholastic early chapter book series) and INVENT-A-PET (Sterling picture book), are launching in Spring/Summer 2020 and feature courageous and innovative girls in STEAM. You can find Vicky on Twitter @fangmous or at her website  www.vickyfang.com.

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Vicky!  We all really appreciate your time and expertise and wish you the best of luck with this and future books!  And I hope you get your author copies soon! 😊

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

You may purchase Vicky’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

 

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Butterflies On The First Day Of School

Hurray! It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday and tomorrow is June!

What could be better?

I have a wonderful book to share today, and yes, it’s true that perhaps a book about the first day of school when we’re nearing the last day of school is a little out of order… 😊

But this book is too special not to be on Perfect Picture Books right now while I’m thinking about it!  So get ready to enjoy!

Butterflies

Title: Butterflies On The First Day Of School

Written By: Annie Silvestro

Illustrated By: Dream Chen

Sterling Children’s Books, May 7, 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: first day of school, nerves/anxiety

Opening: “A month before school, Rosie picked out her very first backpack.  It was covered with flowers, and she loved it with all her heart.
She paraded around proudly.  ‘Don’t worry,’ she told her sister, Emily. ‘Someday you’ll be big enough to go to school like me.’

Brief Synopsis: Rosie can’t wait for her very first day of school, but when the big day arrives, she’s suddenly unsure.  “Maybe I’d better stay home,” she tells her mom.  But with gentle encouragement from her parents, she heads off to school and discovers that she is not the only one with butterflies in her tummy.

Links To Resources: Butterfly Activities for Preschoolers; 5 Circle Time Lessons About Emotion; pair with First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg and/or The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and/or Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

fullsizeoutput_1903

text copyright Annie Silvestro 2019, illustration copyright Dream Chen 2019

Why I Like This Book: This sweet story is one every young reader can relate to.  Even if they don’t suffer a moment’s trepidation about going off to school, they are bound to have butterflies in their stomachs at some point about something!  Grown-ups too 😊 I particularly loved how the butterflies were released, one or two at a time, as Rosie (and other characters in the story) bravely tried new things, their success allowing the butterflies to fly away.  I won’t give away the lovely ending – you have to read it because  it’s so perfect!  I dare any mom not to get a little teary! 😊

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 – If You Had Your Birthday Party On The Moon

Wow!  Somehow it’s Perfect Picture Book Friday again!

Wasn’t it just here???!!! 😊

I seem to have moon books on the brain – maybe because I have one of my own coming out in less than two weeks 😊 – so would you care to join me for a birthday party in a venue that beats Chuck E. Cheese hands down??? 😆

birthday moon

Title: If You Had Your Birthday Party On The Moon

Written By: Joyce Lapin

Illustrated By: Simona Ceccarelli

Sterling Children’s Books, April 23 2019, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 7 and up

Themes/Topics: the Moon

Opening: “How amazing would it be to have your birthday party on the Moon?
Of course, everyone would want to come.  Not just because it’s the Moon – but who wouldn’t want to ride to a party in a rocket?
You’ll get to fly 40 times faster than a plane.  And for most of the trip, you’ll also get to. . .

Brief Synopsis: In the context of imagining a birthday party on the Moon, young readers will learn all kinds of amazing facts about life without gravity, air, or atmosphere, and about the Moon itself.

birthday moon 2

Links To Resources: the book itself is a resource, nonfiction with sidebars on almost every page that add even more interesting facts.  The back of the book includes a glossary, selected bibliography, suggestions for further reading, sources for videos of astronauts moonwalking, and a link to NASA Kids’ Club.  Falling For Gravity activity; Moon crafts and activities for kids

birthday moon 1

Why I Like This Book: This book imparts all kinds of interesting information in a conversational tone.  Did you know that Pizza Hut delivered Pizza to the International Space Station? Or that astronaut Alan Shepherd snuck two golf balls onto Apollo 14 and became the first person to play golf on the moon?  I didn’t! 😊 And there are all kinds of birthday party related details that would work differently: candles wouldn’t light, balloons wouldn’t float, and you wouldn’t be able to hear the music of the Happy Birthday song.  Young readers will learn lots of fun facts in an entertaining way.  A great choice for budding astronauts, astronomers, and scientists… and anyone who has a birthday! 😊

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!!!  And enjoy the Waning Gibbous Moon! 😊

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday -Koala Is Not A Bear

I am having so enjoying Perfect Picture Book Friday lately!

I’ve read quite a few books I really love, and this one is no exception!

Get ready for some fun 😊

Koala

Title: Koala Is Not A Bear

Written By: Kristin L. Gray

Illustrated By: Rachel McAlister

Sterling Children’s Books, May 7, 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: friendship, family, animals (koalas, marsupials)

Opening: “Koala had never been to camp before.  She couldn’t wait to swim, toast marshmallows, and meet her cabinmates.  But she’d never been away from her family, so she packed a few reminders of home…just in case.

Brief Synopsis: When Koala arrives at camp, Grizzly tries to welcome her to the Bear Cabin, but know-it-all Kangaroo keeps insisting that despite sharp teeth and claws, warm fur, the ability to climb trees, etc. Koala is NOT a bear!  Where does she belong?

Links To Resources: a short author’s note at the back gives a nugget of information about koala bears; Science Kids Fun Facts About Koalas; National Geographic Kids 10 Facts About Koalas; All About Koalas For Kids – Freeschool (video); Koala Themed Activities and Printables; koala cupcakes

fullsizeoutput_1704

text copyright Kristin L. Gray 2019, illustration copyright Rachel McAlister 2019

 

Why I Like This Book: This is such a cute story!  Even though Koala has never been to camp before, she sets off ready to join the fun.  There’s a bit of disagreement about where she belongs when she gets there, though.  Grizzly supports her staunchly.  Kangaroon argues.  And Duck goes in search of a counselor 😊 Eventually, poor Koala begins to wish she was back home with her family.  She reaches for her family photo…and suddenly finds she has a lot in common with someone else and knows exactly where she belongs.  The art is delightful and just right for the book.  Sweetly told with plenty of humor, and a poignant moment when Koala longs for the people and place where she knows she fits, this is a story anyone who has ever felt out of place will relate to.  A lovely book for any shelf!

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 Cathy Ballou Mealey!

Hurray! It’s Tuesday Debut time!

I have to tell you, I love doing these posts so much!  So many of the authors who are featured here are writers I have watched come along from their first early steps into the world of writing picture books to their moments of great accomplishment.  I have had the opportunity to see how hard they work to improve their craft, research the agent market, polish their work to submit to agents and editors… and to see them keep trying when things didn’t go their way the first… or the fifth… or even the fifteenth time.  So I am extra especially thrilled when I get to see their first books in print! 🙂

Today’s Tuesday Debut-ess is a case in point!  Talented, determined, and now finally and most deservedly 🌟 published 🌟, I’m delighted to introduce you to Cathy Ballou Mealey and her wonderful picture book, When A Tree Grows!

When A Tree Grows
Written by Cathy Ballou Mealey
Illustrated by Kasia Nowowiejska
Sterling Children’s Books, April 2, 2019
Fiction, ages 3-7

Book cover

WHEN A TREE GROWS is a rollicking read-aloud that follows a zany chain of events triggered by a broken tree, a cranky Bear, a nut-loving Squirrel and his loyal friend Moose.

 

SUSANNA: First off, how cute is that moose???!!! 🙂 But getting down to serious business now 🙂  where did the idea for this book come from?

CATHY: I was hiking in the woods with my family when we heard a distant creaky Crash! Was it a tree? An animal? We froze, and after a long silence, hiked on. I started wondering: What if that crash had scared a bear or frightened a deer?

Building on that “OR” question, I framed a madcap tale with two different possible outcomes, one rather expected and one funny, unexpected outcome. Readers will find that “OR” spotlighted on the bottom corner of each recto page with a clever curled paper art effect.

 

OR page turn

 

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

CATHY: My first draft took roughly 6 weeks to complete before I had a preliminary version to share with my critique group and some trusted writing friends.

Squirrel work buddy (1)

Cathy’s work buddy 🙂

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CATHY: Yes! Those first critiques helped me tighten and distill my draft into a 32 page picture book format. I wrote ideas on sticky notes, plastering them on the back of my door and re-arranging them into funnier scene sequences. I cut sentence strips from my paper draft and pasted them into a book dummy with stick-critter sketches. Trying multiple revision strategies helped me trim text and focus on story.

 

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

CATHY: When writer friends kept asking “How is that TREE book coming along? Don’t sit on that too long. Send it out!” I trusted them!

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CATHY: I used Querytracker to find agents accepting picture book manuscripts. My goal was to send out three new queries each week. At the same time, I was polishing two additional manuscripts to have ready in case an agent asked to see more stories.

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?

CATHY: The first “call” came in May 2015 when I signed with Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency. After Liza submitted TREE to publishers, we got nice feedback and a request for revision. I revised for about a month, and the new version went to acquisitions at two houses. By December TREE was putting down roots at Sterling Books for Children with editor Meredith Mundy.

 

SUSANNA:How did you celebrate signing your contract?

CATHY: Since it was just before Christmas, I bought a special acorn ornament to hang on our tree.

2018 December Orange 004

 

 

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

CATHY: My agent was helpful in explaining technical contract bits that were important but unfamiliar. I also perused online resources for more information about publishing contracts. As others have mentioned, Hannah Holt’s author survey data – shared in her October 2018 Tuesday Debuts post – is current and extremely useful. I’d say my experience on the “business” side for TREE was on par with other debuts for advance, print run, author copies, etc.

 

SUSANNA: Tell us about the editorial process…

CATHY: The changes I had made during the R&R stage helped polish TREE to a high gloss. Specifically, the friendship angle between Moose and Squirrel deepened, and the visual humor was tweaked to a funnier level. I shared many illustration ideas both in manuscript art notes and by email with the editor and art director. See if you can find what I described as the “I Love Lucy” conveyor belt image!

 

SUSANNA: Tell us about your experience of the illustration process…

CATHY: I saw sketches and proofs throughout the process, which I never expected but found very exciting! I knew from the thoughtful questions art director Ryan Thomann posed that we shared a vision for how the final illustrations might look.

WATG interior

 

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

CATHY: Kirkus liked it – hooray! The review says “Laugh along as a story about a tree in the forest comes full circle, bringing three creatures along for a bumpy but fun ride.”

 

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

CATHY: Three years, four months. Once the PW announcement was released in March 2017, I could officially share the news with everyone that TREE was becoming a book.

 

SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?

CATHY: This interview is posting on TREE’s book birthday, so it is too soon to tell.

 

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

CATHY: Sterling sent TREE to reviewers and journals like Kirkus. They also promoted it to schools and libraries as part of National Parks Month in April with other Sterling titles.

 

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

CATHY: Three cheers for collaborative marketing efforts with my online debut PB groups, the marvelous Epic18’s and splendid Notable19’s. Through blogs, Twitter chats, Instagram, etc we are jointly boosting our debut releases to reach more young readers. I am also grateful to Danielle Davis whose amazing blog This Picture Book Life hosted my cover reveal in November, 2018.

 

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

CATHY: I wrote my first picture book in 2010 for the Cheerios “Spoonful of Stories” contest. I started to attend conferences, classes and workshops and joined SCBWI and the 2012 12X12 Challenge. I felt ready to query agents in 2015. So, approximately 3-4 years of learning and writing in earnest before selling my first book.

Cheerios (1)

 

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

CATHY: I’d like to thank YOU for giving me the opportunity to share some of TREE’s back story here. Ever since entering the very first Halloweensie contest in 2011, I’ve been truly fortunate to learn from, and connect with, like-minded kid lit writers, readers and reviewers right here through Perfect Picture Book Fridays, your seasonal contests, Would You Read It? and Oh Susanna! You have collated a treasure chest of material in your archives that are so helpful to writers. If my Tuesday Debut interview can add even a tiny tidbit to your resources, I am happy!

And you even provided photo-evidence for me that sometimes cute rodents DO stow away on vehicles bound for the city.

Susanna Hill Stowaway rodent

the stowaway mouse on Susanna’s car 🙂

 

 

SUSANNA: Cathy, it is absolutely my pleasure to provide anything I may have provided that helped you on your way, and I know your Tuesday Debut post will be more than just a “tiny tidbit” for writers who get to read it!  Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your experience so we can all benefit!  I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best of luck with this book and the many others I’m sure will follow! 🙂

Cathy Mealey headshot

Author Cathy Ballou Mealey                                                                                                                    Please come connect and say hello! Tell me if you’ve seen a Moose in real life, or if you have ever rescued a friend from an adventure gone awry.

 

Cathy Ballou Mealey lives with her family north of Boston, where she delights in watching silly squirrel antics and is waiting patiently for a moose to appear. Her favorite nut is the hazelnut and her favorite cupcake is cardamom crème.

Website: https://cathyballoumealey.wordpress.com/about/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatBallouMealey

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cathy.mealey

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catballoumealey/

 

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

You may purchase Cathy’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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Holy Squawkamole!

Woo hoo!  It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday (and therefore nearly the weekend! 🙂 )

I saw the cover and the premise of the book I’m sharing today and thought I would like it, so I opened it eagerly.  Sometimes in that situation I am disappointed by the outcome, my initial expectation not quite met.  But this one more than lived up to it’s promise!  It turned out to be really fun and well done and I love it, and I hope you guys will all get a chance to read it!

Holy Squawkamole

Title: Holy Squawkamole!

Written By: Susan Wood

Illustrated By: Laura Gonzalez

Sterling Children’s Books, March 5, 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3 and up

Themes/Topics: fractured folktale, hard work, self-reliance, persistence

Opening: “One day, Little Red Hen was hungry for guacamole.  She looked around her cozy cocina.  She had masa and cumin.  She had beans and queso. But she didn’t have any avocados.  And there’s no guacamole without avocados!

71p8RHtO-BL

Brief Synopsis: In a new twist on an old favorite, the Little Red Hen (gallinita roja) is craving guacamole.  She asks her friends Armadillo, Iguana, Coati, and Snake to help her, but none of them are so inclined…though they are all willing to help eat it once it’s made!  Little Red Hen goes quietly about her business, and when the guacamole is ready, she kindly shares it.  But there’s a bit of a surprise for her friends!

Links To Resources: the back of the book includes “The Story of Guacamole”, a recipe so you can try out making your own Holy Sqauwkamole, and a glossary that tells about the animals, the Spanish words used, and any other terms that may be unfamiliar to young readers.

Why I Like This Book: I love that within the familiar framework of The Little Red Hen we get a brand new story.  Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the text in such a way as to make them understandable in context (though there is also a glossary in the back just in case.) Just as the original story teaches the reader a little something about what goes into baking bread, this version tells us in a fun way about the ingredients and the process of making guacamole.  While the original story uses farmyard animals, this one introduces us to Armadillo, Iguana, Coati, and Snake.  The art is warm, bright, and inviting – perfect for the story – and gallinita roja’s little surprise at the end (a chili pepper! 🙂 ) will have young readers giggling at the expressions on the friends’ faces as they exclaim, “Holy Squawkamole!” 🙂

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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 – A Song For Gwendolyn Brooks

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Folks!

If you live in the northeast, I hope you’re all prepared for the white stuff that’s coming!

Today I have such an amazing book to share with you that we must just jump right in!  With Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month all on the near horizon, this really is a Perfect Picture Book!

g brooks

Title: A Song For Gwendolyn Brooks

Written By:Alice Faye Duncan

Illustrated By: Xia Gordon

Sterling Children’s Books, January 2019, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 5+ (I think maybe a little more on the + side – the basic story is accessible to age 5, but there’s a fair amount of vocabulary)

Themes/Topics: writers/authors/poets, working hard to reach your goals, girl power, creativity, believing in yourself

Opening: “SING a song for Gwendolyn Brooks.
Sing it loud – a Chicago Blues.

Skip to the beat of elevated trains.
They grumble, rumble, and roll real fast.

The year is 1925.
Gwendolyn Brooks is eight years old.

Gray bursts of smoke hide the yellow sun.
Can flowers grow without sunlight?

Gwendolyn leans on the front yard gate.
Gwendolyn is unsure.

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text copyright Alice Faye Duncan 2019, illustration copyright Xia Gordon 2019

Brief Synopsis: Gwendolyn Brooks grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the 1920s. She wrote her first poem at age 7, and was nurtured and encouraged by her parents  to cultivate her talent. She ultimately published twenty collections of poetry, two autobiographies, and a novel.  She gave voice to the urban black experience and became the first Black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Links To Resources: this book is a resource in itself, using some of Gwendolyn Brooks’s own poems, including an information-filled author’s note, a timeline of Gwendolyn Brooks’s life and accomplishments, suggested further reading, and a useful bibliography; encourage your students or children to write their own free verse poems about moments and/or details of their own experience.

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text copyright Alice Faye Duncan 2019, illustration copyright Xia Gordon 2019

Why I Like This Book: I just love the way this book is written – a mixture of Gwendolyn Brooks’s poetry and Alice Faye Duncan’s.  The text is so lyrical – wonderful to read aloud – and expresses so much in so relatively few words.  Anyone who has ever had doubts – writers in particular – will connect with this story.  My favorite part is:

But sometimes – Gwendolyn doubts her radiance,
When jarring, crashing, discordant words,
Splotch and splatter her notebook paper.

And when RIGHT words don’t crystallize,
Gwendolyn grabs her mother’s garden trowel.

She digs beneath the snowball bush,
And buries her poems in a backyard grave.

Doesn’t that sum up the creative experience well?! The art is mostly warm hues of brown and pink that perfectly suit the mood of the writing.  This lovely book gives us a glimpse into the life and creativity of an incredibly talented writer – a beautiful and interesting read!

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text copyright Alice Faye Duncan 2019, illustration copyright Xia Gordon 2019

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 – stay warm and safe!!! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Business Pig

Welcome back to Perfect Picture Book Friday – the 2019 Edition! 🙂

I have an unusual (but fun) title to share with you today!

business pig

Title: Business Pig

Written & Illustrated By: Andrea Zuill

Sterling Children’s Books, September 4, 2018, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: fitting in/belonging, someone for everyone, being yourself

Opening: “One morning at the Sunshine Sanctuary for Farm Animals, Jelly Bean the sow gave birth to a litter of piglets.
Right away the volunteers noticed something unusual.”

Brief Synopsis: Jasper the pig is different from the other pigs – a suit-wearing, flow-chart-loving, genuine business pig.  The farm animals mostly accept him for who he is.  The trouble is, no one seems to want to adopt him.  It takes a special person to bond with this special pig.

Links To Resources: make your own business model for getting adopted – what are your good points? what are your skills? what makes you lovable and fun to have around? make a poster! 🙂 How To Make Piggy Cupcakes

Why I Like This Book: The premise of this book is familiar – someone longing to be accepted and find his place in the world – but the delivery is delightfully inventive.  Who would think of a business pig being born at an animal sanctuary? 🙂 Jasper applies his considerable business skills to the most important task of all – getting adopted – and proves in the end that there’s someone for everyone – you just have to look in the right place.  The girl who ends up adopting Jasper is perfect 🙂  The art is very engaging, somehow managing to make a pig in a business suit look irresistibly sweet and cute.  Although some kids might not engage with the whole business model, I think many kids will find the originality of this presentation fun and fresh.

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 – Look At Me! Wild Animal Show-Offs

Yay!  Here we are at Perfect Picture Book Friday!

This week, that means that tomorrow is the annual New York State Sheep and Wool Festival!

I love this festival, and highly recommend it to anyone who does any type of craft with yarn – so much gorgeous yarn to choose from! plus classes and exhibitions on how to  knit, crochet, weave, shear sheep, spin, etc, and tons of beautiful gifts – or to anyone who really likes hanging around with sheep, alpacas, and llamas and enjoys indulging in fall fair food 🙂

I will be signing copies of my books courtesy of Merritt Bookstore in Building B all day Saturday and Sunday.  If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by and say hi!  My good friend and fellow author, Iza Trapani, will be there too with all of her wonderful books!

Anyway, on to Perfect Picture Books!

Quite by accident, I chose nature-oriented nonfiction books for older picture book readers two weeks in a row!  This is a beautiful one that I think you’ll really like!

look at me

Title: Look At Me! Wild Animal Show-Offs

Written & Illustrated By: Jim Arnosky

Sterling Children’s Books, September 4, 2018, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 6-10

Themes/Topics: animals, nonfiction

Opening: From the introduction written by the author: “Whenever I view a distant bird up close through my camera’s telephoto lens or hold a glistening trout in my hands as I release it back into the water, I am awestruck by their beauty.  Why are wild animals so stunningly beautiful?

From the first section: Fanned Tails: “Behold the glorious peacock! When fully displayed, a peacock’s spectacular tail is four feet wide and two feet high. That’s eight square feet of tail! Combined with the bird’s loud, raucous call, a displaying peacock gets plenty of attention.

Brief Synopsis: From the publisher’s summary: “Meet the show-offs! With their wacky eyebrows, beautiful patterns, and bright feathers and scales, many animals seem to be saying: “Look at ME!” That behavior certainly won’t protect them from predators, so why do they do it?  Jim Arnosky explores a multitude of creatures from across the globe to reveal the reasons behind their attention-grabbing behavior.”

Links To Resources: the book itself is an incredible resource.  Full of interesting facts, and amazingly detailed illustrations. An author’s note at the back gives a glimpse into the author’s experience and process of writing the book.  A useful bibliography of further resources is also included.  Draw a bird, animal, or reptile and decorate with your own feathers, textures, sequins, etc.  Make it as realistic as possible or invent your own creature and make it as fanciful as you like!

Why I Like This Book: I love learning about animals and nature, and this book is terrific for that.  The information presented is interesting and accessible, but actually, I truly love this book for the art!  The illustrations are exquisite!  Most of the pages fold out so that the illustrations are the size of 4 pages.  The colors and attention to detail are incredible.  This is an excellent choice for the animal and/or nonfiction-loving young reader and would make a great addition to classroom, library, or home bookshelves!

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Look at the detail!

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And here’s one of the fold out spreads that is 4 pages wide

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 – Allie All Along

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday again, folks, and isn’t that nice?

Not only does it mean the weekend is basically here, it also gives us a great list of new picture books to enjoy during it!

So get ready to make a list for the library! 🙂

My choice for today is all about something a lot of kids (and adults) find hard – how to manage feeling angry.

Allie All Along

Title: Allie All Along

Written & Illustrated By: Sarah Lynne Reul

Sterling Children’s Books, August 2018, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: emotions (anger), understanding, siblings

Opening: “SNAP! Allie’s crayon broke.  I blinked.  She was suddenly furious, fuming, frustrated, and so, so, sooo ANGRY!”

Brief Synopsis: When Allie’s crayon breaks, she gets really, really, really angry!  Her brother knows Allie is still in there somewhere, but it’s hard to see her under all that anger.  There has to be a way to make things right again.

Links To Resources: Anger Management Games And Activities For Kids (scroll down to that section); Helping Kids Learn About Facial Expressions and Feelings ; talk about what makes you angry and what are some constructive ways to cope with that anger.

Why I Like This Book: We all know that feeling when something happens – maybe even something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to anyone else – that sends us over the edge of fury.  Emotion that large is hard for anyone to manage, especially a young person who hasn’t had a lot of practice.  I love that this book shows the situation that causes the anger (a broken crayon), the immensity of the anger and how the individual feeling it can get lost within it, and a caring person (in this case Allie’s brother) who understands her anger and helps by offering a variety of constructive ways to deal with it until Allie emerges, once again herself.  It’s simply and beautifully done, and will remind your little ones that they are not alone in feeling angry sometimes.

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!!! 🙂