Jamie A. Swenson has a new picture book, CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend, illustrated by Scott Magoon and was published by Paula Wiseman Books in July. Jamie has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Thank you for helping Jamie and Scott!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“This gentle, simply told story addresses the importance and enjoyment of friendship and collaboration.” —Kirkus Reviews

A chipmunk searches for someone to sing along with her in this sweet and funny celebration of true friendship, featuring art by New York Times bestselling illustrator Scott Magoon.

Chipmunk spends her days sitting on her rock and chirping her song—sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s bittersweet, and sometimes it’s very sad indeed. When Chipmunk goes off to find a companion that will sing along with her, she encounters some bumps (and pine cones) along the way, and finds friends (and harmonies) in unexpected places.

BOOK JOURNEY:

CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend started as a longing in my heart to comfort my friends. Two of my friends were going through traumatic events in their lives. My heart was filled with concern for them, and a desire to be there for them – but I just didn’t know how to do that. I knew that they needed all sorts of friends – friends to listen, friends to carry the load, and friends who could sing along with them – no matter the song. I didn’t have that as a fully conscious thought in my head before I sat down at my computer. I just wanted to write a book that supported my friends in my own little way.

I remember sitting down at my computer and pouring the story into the keyboard. I had been thinking about the classic stories from my childhood – where a character has a longing, heads out into the world to solve the problem, and returns home having completed the task. In this case, that character is a little chipmunk who longs for more.

I picked Chipmunk because about ten years prior, I had been traveling through Colorado with my family and I met her. We’d stopped at a roadside overlook for a break – and there – sitting on a rock – was this sweet, bold-as-can-be, chipmunk. I snapped a photo of her as she stood looking out across the world. She seemed to be longing for something. That image stayed with me. A tiny creature wanting something more. I didn’t realize that I was writing about her until I read my first draft. Then I realized that I had dug that chipmunk up from my memory and popped her into my book. I went to my photos and searched, and sure enough – I had the exact photo. I kept that photo near me as I revised that manuscript.

The storyteller in me always loves a bit of ridiculousness in a story. Especially when it’s clear to everyone listening that it’s absurd. The idea that my little chipmunk has a friend, Rock, who is a good listener felt silly, but also just right to me. I have plenty of friends who are rocks – they are there – and they are important – sturdy. They are the best listeners! But I also need friends who are not so stable! I need quirky people. I need those folks who go with the flow.

For the story, I knew I needed Chipmunk to go out on a quest that wasn’t completed immediately – so she meets Pinecone. A lovely sort of friend, who is agreeable and gets along with your other friends – but still, Chipmunk needed to keep looking for more friends. Plus, I knew kids would understand that a pinecone, while very fine, isn’t really the type of friend Chipmunk was looking for, after all, Pinecone is a pinecone. I still find that really funny somehow. In the story, Chipmunk searches until she finds Racoon and Moose – two very different friends who acknowledge her where she is at that moment – and let her sing a bittersweet song, they listen, and then they join in too.

In early drafts, Chipmunk immediately apologizes to Racoon and Moose for being sad. They both respond with, “keep singing – your song is lovely” – but my editor, Sylvie Frank, pointed out that maybe Chipmunk didn’t need to apologize for her song. I thought about it – and I’m so happy I removed that “I’m sorry” response. That is very much ME, but the story is better without it. Chipmunk is simply accepted for who she is in that moment. That is the story I wanted to share.

When this book sold to Paula Wiseman Books, I was worried that the bigger world wouldn’t understand it, or they would think it was too sad. But that is not the reaction readers have – instead – it seems the readers relate to the song Chipmunk sings, and to the little group of friends she builds around her to support her. That makes me so happy.

I hope that kids who read this book take away the idea that sometimes we need to go out into the world to find the friends we need. We all need all sorts of friends in this world. We need listeners, helpers, and those who simply accept us where we are and sing along sometimes too, but do not try to change us to fit their needs/moods. Conversely, we need to accept our friends that way too: who they are and where they are – without trying to change them. I think Scott Magoon’s art captures the tone of the book so well – there’s a spread where Chipmunk is singing her saddest song, the music wraps around her and turns her upside down. To me, the art fits perfectly, and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to help bring CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend into the world.

And that’s how CHIRP! was created.

JAMIE’S BIO:

Jamie A. Swenson received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in MN in 2009. She has worked as an early literacy storyteller/librarian for over twenty years at a busy public library. When not at her keyboard, Jamie can be found reading and recommending great books for kids and their families. Jamie’s work has been recognized by Junior Library Guild, the Zolotow Committee, various parents’ choice awards, and her titles appear on many best book lists.

Jamie enjoys teaching writing craft to children, teens, and adults. Look for her books: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! (FSG/Macmillan); BIG RIG(Disney-Hyperion); and IF YOU WERE A DOG (FSG/Macmillan); MEET WOOF & QUACK and WOOF & QUACK IN THE SNOW (HMH); and the forthcoming A FALL BALL FOR ALL (Millbrook Sept. 2018). For more information visit http://www.jamieswenson.com

SCOTT MAGOON’S BIO:

A native New Englandah, I’ve been designing, writing and illustrating books for young readers since 2003. Why do I make books? I love putting words and pictures together for kids. I was a voracious young reader myself in the 1970s, which is, frustratingly, longer ago each time I recollect it! I like to recall what it was like to experience books as a child and so I read to my two sons and to students during school visits.

In my spare time I like running, skiing, tennis and snorkeling. I love music. I sing, play flute and harmonica. I was in my school concert and marching bands from 5th-12th grades. Jazz is my favorite music to listen to when I draw but I also listen to audiobooks and podcasts.

I’m a proud Northeastern University alumnus. It was from there I that received a Bachelor’s degree in English literature—and my first paying drawing gig. The Northeastern News published Duct Tape Man, my weekly comic strip! I studied drawing at NU and Mass Art but for the most part I am self-taught.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) counts me as member and I am grateful to be in their ranks.

Jamie, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I loved reading about your journey and like how you gave Chipmunk a Rock friend, because everyone needs a rock in their life. I totally agreed that Scott’s illustrations fit perfectly with the story. Gook Luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 29, 2021

Agent Pam Gruber at Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

After 10+ years as an editor and editorial director, Pam Gruber became a literary agent at Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Her favorite part of the publishing business is working directly with authors and artists, helping them to shape not only their stories, but also their careers.

Pam joined Irene Goodman in 2020 after she realized her favorite part of the publishing business was working directly with authors and artists, helping them to shape not only their stories, but also their careers. She looks for work that is gripping from page one, whether it makes her break out in a smile or gives her goosebumps (from excitement, not fear!). She loves complicated female protagonists, innovative twists on old tropes, and getting swept away by fully realized worlds—be they portraits of the next town over or an imagined universe unlike our own.

Originally from Philadelphia and raised by two artists, Pam knew she wanted to work in publishing from a young age. She brings an inscrutable eye for detail to every book she gets her hands on, and her experience at a publishing house gives her insight into how editors think, and what they’re looking for.

Fiction: Children’s, Commercial, Family Saga, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Literary, Middle Grade, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult
Non-Fiction: History, Humor, LGBTQ, Memoir, True Crime

She is on the hunt for adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction with literary voices and commercial concepts. Her taste in adult fiction is broad–contemporary, fiction, historical, fantasy, spec fic, and fantastical realism all appeal–but she is most captivated by a strong voice and a good hook. Recent favorite reads include The InterestingsA Gentleman in MoscowNothing to See HereThe Power, and the Broken Earth Trilogy. In middle grade, she particularly loves layered, literary fantasy like The Girl Who Drank the Moon or the His Dark Materials series. In teen, she gravitates towards contemporary coming-of-age stories filled with hope, feminist themes, and grounded fantasies with fresh plots. She also has experience working on middle grade and YA graphic novels, and would love to see more of those in her query inbox.

As for nonfiction, Pam always appreciates learning something new through a manuscript, especially as it sheds light on the human condition. Over the years, some favorite nonfiction reads have included Devil in the White CityThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksEducated, and Furious Hours. She is also interested in middle grade and YA graphic novel memoirs.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to pam.queries@irenegoodman.com

Please send your query letter along with the first ten pages of your manuscript, a brief synopsis, and your bio in the body of the email.

Guidelines & Details

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 28, 2021

Book Giveaway: WALRUS SONG by Janet Lawler

Janet Lawler has a new picture book, WALRUS SONG, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering and published by Candlewick Press on December 1st. Janet has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Thank you for helping Janet and Timothy!

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Janet Lawler’s WALRUS SONG (Candlewick, 2021) is a lyrical narrative nonfiction picture book about a unique arctic mammal. Dive right in with busy Walrus as he plays with puffins, lounges on ice, devours clams, and makes lots of noise!

What’s the ruckus?

What’s that sound?

Walrus calls and songs astound—

Honk, honkkkk! HOOO, HOOOOT!

Squee! Squee, SQUEEE! Toot, TOOT!

WALRUS SONG celebrates the wonders of walruses in a story that’s brought to life through Timothy Basil Ering’s exuberant artwork. Curious readers will find a spread of fascinating walrus facts at the end. Did you know that a walrus can eat more than four thousand clams in a feeding frenzy?

WALRUS SONG has been named a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

BOOK JOURNEY

How It All Began

Sometime during the first day that I attended Book Expo in 2017, I met with my agent. I wanted to do another nonfiction book (having enjoyed working on National Geographic titles RAIN FOREST COLORS and OCEAN COUNTING), and so we brainstormed animal ideas, and she mentioned walruses. That night, in my NYC hotel room, I began browsing and researching. When I came upon a YouTube recording of 10 Hours of Walrus Sounds, I was totally fascinated and hooked!

Coincidentally, on the train ride to and from Book Expo, I was reading In the Great Green Room by Amy Gary, a biography of the iconic children’s author Margaret Wise Brown. Brown lived such an inspiring and creative life, personally and professionally! Her writing style—spare, lyrical, playful, with an instinct for choosing perfect sounds to read aloud—has always influenced my writing. She was whispering in my ear as I began working on WALRUS SONG!

Writing Rhyme and Prose

Over the next several weeks, after a lot of research, reading, and listening to walrus sounds, I wrote a rough draft of the entire main story text in rhyme. I included parenthetical notes on the side, keying the facts (feeding, tusks, walking, sounds, babies, etc.) that I planned to develop in more detailed prose for sidebar or back matter placement.

I made a couple of changes based on my agent’s first reading of the main story (including her suggested title change from Where’s Walrus? to WALRUS SONG). I also shared multiple drafts of the poem with my critique group and tweaked it here and there based on the group’s thoughtful comments. I considered shortening the walrus noises, since I had written so many! I ultimately decided to keep it all in. The sounds are really the climax of my story and the most memorable thing about this species. And they would be SO much fun for kids to read, hear, and imitate!

The manuscript in this format (lyrical main text with parenthetical walrus fact notes) was submitted to Candlewick. After initial interest, I waited. Though I don’t know the exact acquisition route my story took over the coming months, I understand that Candlewick was evaluating where this manuscript might fit in their established lines of nonfiction titles. While waiting and hoping, I did additional research and writing to complete the kid-friendly informational back matter about walruses. In April of 2018, within a month of providing Candlewick with this additional material, I received an offer to publish!

Revising After Acquisition

Editorial revision requests were very reasonable, helpful, and few. One suggestion made a huge difference in making my story better. Of course, as is often the case, it was addressed to lines I particularly loved—in this instance, my story ending! My original final line summed up my total wonder and awe regarding this massive arctic mammal:

Walrus, by and in the sea.

Walrus—fascinating me!

I was asked to consider revising here because the unexpected interjection of a human narrator might startle a reader immersed in the story’s natural world and adventures of Walrus. So I pushed myself to look at the ending objectively. Then I went back to work and wrote the ending that I now totally love:

Walrus,

by and in the sea.

What will his tomorrow be?

 My new last line provides a deliberate double entendre to ponder. Not only am I asking readers to wonder what adventures Walrus might have the next day—will he hunt for more clams, hang around on an ice floe, fight with a rival? I am also bringing readers’ attention to survival challenges facing walruses due to hunting, poaching, and reduction of arctic ice habitat due to global warming.

Design Decision

I initially envisioned side bars on each spread to elaborate on facts touched upon in my narrative text. I’m grateful that Candlewick decided that all that information should be placed as back matter, cleverly keyed to the text to guide readers. This allows for the poem to be read and appreciated without the interruption of added information.

And with this presentation, the narrative story is short enough to engage the very young, while adults or more independent readers can learn more by reading the additional related facts at the end.

Illustrations and More

The best picture books are ones where an illustrator adds to an author’s story and elevates it to a higher level. Illustrator Timothy Basil Ering has certainly done that for my story! His fine and nuanced acrylic illustrations totally capture the power and massive beauty of Walrus and his frigid, watery world. Walrus beckons readers to join him with soulful and playful glances, and a reader can’t help but fall in love. Thank you, Tim!

At my book’s page on my website, visitors can view the book trailer and download a free WALRUS SONG MAZE activity sheet. Teacher Tips will be posted there in early December.

JANET’S BIO:

Award-winning author Janet Lawler writes fiction and nonfiction picture books and early readers for children. Her work has been featured in Scholastic Book Clubs and the Children’s Book of the Month Club and has been translated into several languages, including Spanish, Japanese, and Hebrew.

Her more-than-thirty published titles include FRIGHT SCHOOLWINTER CATSMIRABEL’S MISSING VALENTINES, IF KISSES WERE COLORS, and KINDERGARTEN HAT. Her nonfiction work includes WALRUS SONG and National Geographic’s RAIN FOREST COLORS and OCEAN COUNTING. Upcoming titles include OCEANS OF LOVE (Viking), Celebrate! A Happy Book of Firsts (Feiwel & Friends), and THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOPE (Farrar Straus Giroux).

Janet is fascinated by the natural world and enjoys finding humor and hope in everyday life. She loves how words make music, and she marvels at the way illustrators add depth and detail to her stories. Learn more about Janet and her books at Home – Janet Lawler

And please stop by my blog, Janet’s Jottings, and sign up for my periodic musings on writing and nature. https://janetlawler.com/blog/

Janet enjoys visiting schools and libraries. Visit her website at http://www.JanetLawler.com

TIMOTHY’S BIO:

Timothy Basil Ering has illustrated numerous children’s books- including the New York times bestseller and Newbery Medal winning The Tale Of Despereaux written by Kate DiCamillo Which became an animated movie and remains in print around world, and his own creations including his picture book, The Story Of Frog Belly Rat Bone that now exceeds it’s 10th year anniversary in print and was adapted for the stage in Los Angeles. Other popular titles include Necks Out For Adventure!, The Almost Fearless Hamilton Squidlegger, Finn Throws A Fit!, Snook Alone, and Wild Boy; The True Story of the Savage of Aveyron- all receiving accolades from Kirkus reviews, Publishers weekly, School Library Journal, and more.

Anyone who knows Tim Ering would agree that he himself is a character, as inimitable as any that he may portray in his art. A compilation of words taken from reviews describing Ering’s work include; textural, atmospheric, ethereal, delicate, scrawly, powerful, inimitable, whimsical, light hearted, surreal, humorous, dark, beautiful, emotional, imaginative, randomness and control.

Janet, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It makes me want to dive right in with busy Walrus as he plays with puffins, lounges on ice, devours clams, and makes lots of noise! Timothy’s illustrations make this a very special book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 27, 2021

Illustrator Saturday – Emilie Boon

Born in the Netherlands, I spent most of my childhood in California and Mexico. It was during the ten years living in Mexico that I discovered my artistic eye and love of color. I graduated from high school in Mexico City, and returned to Holland to study at the Royal Academy of Art at The Hague. Here I developed my signature crayon and watercolor technique.

After graduating with a degree in graphic design, I moved to London, where I had the opportunity to work with wonderful editors and wrote and illustrated my first two children’s books. I’ve worked both as an illustrator and author/illustrator and published over 20 books. My books have been translated into Japanese, French, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch and Spanish.

Each year I visit many elementary schools teaching young children about the process of writing and illustrating picture books. I also teach workshops and conduct picture book making classes for children.  Besides teaching young children, I’ve taught at RISD (CE) and am inspired by my students work no matter what age! I make my home in the Boston area and have a studio in an old mill filled with fabulous artists and designers.

HERE IS EMILE DISCUSSING HER PROCESS:

Here are the steps for creating one illustration for We Want Snow: A Wintery Chant

Exploratory work starts in my sketchbook. I need to know who my characters are before I can do any work on the book! I liked this sketch of the three friends and it became my guide. It was scanned directly from my sketchbook.

 

Here’s another sketch scanned directly from my sketchbook. It’s fun to get an idea what the characters will look like in action!

 

Figuring out the color palette for the characters and the overall color scheme for the book is an important process in the early stages. I wanted the characters to be unique and different from each other, but still work cohesively as a group.

I scanned the sketches above and printed them out on watercolor paper. That way I can quickly do a lot of studies using different colors in watercolor.

Once I figured out the characters, I tried to get a feel for the setting and color scheme. The setting for this book changes a lot… but this page seemed to be the quintessential scene of the winter wonderland that the friends were imagining. I wanted the setting to have that magical quality immediately after snowfall when the sun shines and the snow sparkles.

Even though I did the final artwork traditionally, to quickly get an idea what the spread could look like, I put together the scans of the characters and the snowy setting in Photoshop. This also became a reference for the overall color scheme of the book.

At this point I sent character work to the art director for approval. They loved the characters and the color palette. So it was time to start on the layout and sketches for the dummy.

Once the dummy was approved, I started the final line work. I did this in a similar way to my original sketches. I scanned the graphite line and printed it out onto large pieces of watercolor paper. Most of the trees I planned to do directly with crayons and watercolors.

Even though the final painting was the next step… I practiced first to warm-up and fine-tune the technique. For this spread I used, white crayon, salt in wet watercolor and colored pencils for extra texture.

The final painting!   

BELOW IS MY INTERVIEW WITH EMILIE:

How long have you been illustrating and

I’ve been illustrating since art school, almost 40 years.

What and when was the first piece of art you created for money?

While still at art school, I was invited to create illustrations for a puzzle. That was my very first paying job creating art. Soon afterwards I illustrated a book of Dutch nursery rhymes for the same educational publisher.

What made your family move to California and to Mexico from the Netherlands?

My parents were adventurous and my father was accepted to attend an American university to finish his graduate studies in economics. We left our home in Holland, crossed the Atlantic to America by ship, and made our way to California. Later my father got a job with the United Nations and we moved to Mexico. We drove from the Bay area all the way down to Mexico City, our new home. My parents loved Mexico, the people and the culture and we ended up staying for ten years. We crisscrossed the countryside visiting beautiful places, archeological sites and small town markets when we weren’t exploring the vast city. It was a very influential time in my life both personally and artistically.

How old were you when you moved?

I was three when we moved to California and seven when we moved to Mexico.

Did you choose to return to Holland to study at the Royal Academy of Art at The Hague because of relatives living over there or did you want to attend the oldest school in the world founded in 1682?

My parents decided to return to Holland for the children’s education since the Netherlands had a very good education system that was almost free. I applied to the Graphic Design Program at The Royal Academy of Art while still in high school in Mexico. Luckily, I was accepted because it was the only school I applied to! It’s not the oldest school in the world… but I attended about three hundred years after it was founded!

 

What type of work did you do right after you graduated?

The program I attended was a five-year program and our last year was working as interns at a design studio. I did all kinds of graphic design jobs before I graduated. Afterwards I did freelance work designing book covers.

 Did you stay in Holland after you graduated before moving to London?

I moved to London a couple of months after graduating.

 What made you want to move to London?

At the time I had an American boyfriend, who later became my husband, and when he got a job transfer we moved to London together.

With living in so many countries, how many languages do you speak?

I speak English, Dutch and Spanish with distant memories of high school French.

 When did you decide that you wanted to illustrate books for children?

While working on assignments for my favorite illustration class at art school, I started using black crayons and watercolor which seemed well suited for the children’s market. For my final project, we had to choose a company or institution and create the “house style” for all the graphics. I chose something that actually existed in Holland––a library for toys! My portfolio naturally filled up with work focused on the children’s market and I decided that I’d love to illustrate books for children.

Do you do another other type of illustrating? Such as greeting card textile design, etc.?

From the beginning my illustrating was focused on creating children’s books. Occasionally my illustrating included puzzles, educational books, and magazine illustrations.

 It looks like you have written and illustrated seven books. How did you get the contract with William Heinemannin Englandin 1983 to publish your first book, Peterkin Meets a Star?

Including Ella & Monkey at Sea, it’s eight books that I’ve written and illustrated.

Publishing Peterkin Meets a Star in England included a little luck and some drama. Shortly after arriving in London I met a children’s book editor at Chatto & Windus. The editor loved my portfolio work and especially the little character who became Peterkin. In our first meeting she encouraged me not only to illustrate, but also to write a story for Peterkin.  When I expressed doubts about writing, she suggested creating a wordless book. That was all the encouragement I needed and on my way home, I came up with an idea and quickly started working on it. When she saw the dummy she immediately suggested creating a companion book, which I did. Not long after we signed the contract she called to tell me that the children’s division was closing down. This was really bad news just as we were packing up to go back to Holland. Now I had less than a month to find another British publisher! In the end I connected with the editor at Heinemann and she encouraged me to add words. We signed the contract for Perkin Meets a Star and Peterkin’s Wet Walk, right before I moved back to Holland. I only had six months to finish the artwork for both books before my next move. It was a stressful but ultimately satisfying time.

 

How did it get sold to Random House a year later?

Random House must have seen the proofs, or the British edition of the Peterkin books at Bologna. I lucked out because after our brief stint back in Holland my boyfriend and I moved to New York. Within a short period of time after moving to the city, I had two books published by a U.S. publisher. I went on two create two more Peterkin books directly with Random House.

Did they buy all the rights or just North American rights?

Random House only bought the North American rights. A Japanese publisher also picked up the Peterkin books. I continued to work on books long distance with my UK editor and she also sold the rights to Knopf and later Orchard Books in the US. All of the UK books had foreign rights sold and were published in foreign languages such as Japanese, French, Norwegian and a couple of the other Scandinavian languages.

It looks like Daddy, Can You Play with me? (Lift-the-flap book) published in 1988 was the first book where you illustrated someone else’s book. How did you connect with Harriet Ziefert to illustrate this book?

There were two picture books I illustrated for Heinemann with British authors. But yes, Harriet Ziefert approached me to illustrate Daddy, Can You Play with me? and Mommy Where are you? that were companion lift-the-flap books.

Amazon says Daddy, Can you Play With Me? is a 208 page book for children 2 years to 4 years old. Is that correct? Seems like a lot of pages for that age group.

Funny typo! These lift-the-flap books were short…. only 16 pages.

I see you have illustrated many of Harriet’s books. How many have you illustrated?

Harriet and I worked on eleven books together. My first child was born in 1988, and illustrating Harriet’s books was a fun way for me to balance work and home while my kids were small. But my passion has always been to write and illustrate my own books in addition to other author’s work. So I returned to that when the time was right.

Have you taken any digital graphic design classes to help you learn Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.?

While I was teaching at RISD CE, one of the perks was being able to take other classes so during that time I took one of each… Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

What inspired you to move from London to Boston?

After London, and briefly Holland again, I lived in New York for fifteen years. Both my children were born there. I loved the city but as the kids got older it was sometimes difficult with no family living nearby. We decided to move up to Boston so they could be closer to their grandparents.

In 2018 you wrote and Illustrated Ella and Monkey at Sea published by Candlewick. What was the inspiration for this book?

This book was inspired by my own childhood experience leaving my home in Holland behind and traveling by passenger ship to America. Just like Ella I really had a toy monkey, I really was sad to leave behind my beloved grandmother, Oma, and I really boarded a ship that encountered a hurricane at sea! In the middle of this stormy journey, while my mother was seasick, I spent time in the onboard “playroom”. Since I was only three, I felt a lot of emotions that I couldn’t easily express in words. Just like Ella, I drew a picture of the sun, which we had not seen the whole trip. I never mention this in the book… but in real life I won first prize for my sun picture even though it’s mostly yellow crayon scribble. But clearly the adults were charmed by this positive message…. it may be stormy now… but the sun will shine again! I changed some details in the book to make the story more satisfying, but in its essence it’s true.

 How long did it take you to write and illustrate this book?

This whole project took over a year. Besides characters sketches and a few key images, the story was written and sold first. Then I was able to go to Holland to do research, and last of all I created the dummy and final watercolor paintings.

 Do you think you will write and illustrate more books?

Writing and illustrating children’s picture books is my passion. I hope I’ll continue to have opportunities to inspire children to love to read!

 When did you start doing school visits?

When my kids were little and attended a NYC public school I did my first classroom visits.  At the time I was quite shy, and not too happy when my daughter’s kindergarten teacher insisted that I MUST share my books and talents with not only her class, but also all the other Kindergarten classes at the school. In the end I absolutely loved it, and once I moved up to Boston I began visiting schools frequently. It’s incredibly rewarding and satisfying for me to work with young students. Encouraging them and watching them create their own books is truly inspiring to me!

How did you get the job to be an instructor at Rhode Island School of Design in 2011?

The classes I taught at RSD CE were part of a Certificate Program in Children’s Book Illustration. The head of the program, a fellow illustrator and now friend, offered me the position when they had an opening. It was a really wonderful program that sadly doesn’t exist anymore.

Do you have an artist rep or an agent? If so, who and how long have you been with them?

I’m delighted to be represented by Jennifer Laughran at the ABLA agency and signed with her at the end of 2015.

I just featured WE WANT SNOW: A WINTRY CHANT by Jamie A. Swenson and published by Sleeping Bear Press on Writing and Illustrating. How did you get the contract to illustrate that book?

Sleeping Bear Press contacted my agent and offered me the opportunity to illustrate Jamie’s delightful text for WE WANT SNOW!

Do you take pictures and do research before you started illustrating a book?

It depends on the project. For my book ELLA & MONKEY AT SEA I did lots of research both in person and online. I discovered that the hurricane we encountered was actually called “Hurricane Ella”. That’s how my character got her name! Another delightful discovery was that the S. S. Rotterdam had been salvaged after over 40 years of sailing the seas, completely renovated, and turned into a museum in Rotterdam Harbor! It’s anchored in the same harbor the ship had sailed from all those years ago when I was little. I was grateful to be able to travel to Holland to visit relatives and board the ship once again. I took many reference photos and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. Just to bring my whole story full circle…. after the book was published, the museum gift shop on board the ship began carrying the book!

Has your style changed over the years?

My style has evolved. It’s softer and more detailed then it was for my first books. Now I like thinner softer lines and use graphite for the outlines instead of black crayon although I’ve been experimenting with ink lines too.

And are crayons still your favorite medium to use?

I‘ll always love crayons, but nowadays I prefer to use different colored crayons, along with colored pencils, to add textures. In WE WANT SNOW, I also had fun adding textures to my watercolors.

 

Is working with a self-published author to illustrate their book something you would consider?

I can’t imagine that right now. I always have my own stories to fall back on and I usually only take on work through my agent.

 

What do you think is your biggest success?

Any time that one of my books inspires a child to read and love books would be a big success, but unfortunately we don’t always hear about those successes! Besides getting a first book published, which is a huge success for anyone at any age, Ella & Monkey at Sea has been the most satisfying of all my books. It was lovely to return to that story and those earliest memories of creating art.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

For Photoshop work I use a Wacom tablet. I often scan sketches into Photoshop and then print out onto watercolor paper.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

It depends on what stage I’m at in an illustrating project. There can be intense periods of painting when that’s all I do. Otherwise, something daily, either writing or sketching or both, is my ideal. Working in my sketchbook has always been an inspiration.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I love what I’m doing. I’d hope twenty years from now to still be writing and illustrating books and that they would inspire young readers.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a dummy for a story I’ve written about the friendship between an elephant and a chicken. The inspiration came from a trip I took to India in 2018 which was an amazing experience. One of the highlights was visiting an elephant sanctuary and interacting with elephants.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I always keep a sketchbook for sketching and playing with dry media, but sometimes it’s fun to get messier! It’s hard to find nice inexpensive sketchbooks that hold up to paint and ink and especially one made with your favorite paper. So I recently started making my own sketchbooks with watercolor paper. You can use any paper you love that is foldable. It’s not hard at all and there are many different blogs and YouTube videos out there. Here is a link to one that includes easy step-by-step pictures. https://citizensketcher.com/2016/03/14/make-you-own-accordion-fold-travel-journals-for-watercolor-sketching/ 

 

 

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?

Keep and use sketchbooks regularly! Let yourself play and experiment without high expectations or worrying about mistakes. We all work with deadlines, rejections and pressures of all kinds… having some creative fun and just staying loose and free will produce all kinds of surprises. You start with a blank page and then you might discover a new technique or a new character will appear. And when it does…. it’s magical!

 

Emilie, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and showing us your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone.

You can visit Emilie using the following links:

WEBSITE:  http://www.emilieboon.com/

INSTAGRAM:  https://www.instagram.com/emilie.boon/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/emilie.boon2

AGENCY:  https://www.andreabrownlit.com/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

November’s Agent of the Month

Claire Anderson-Wheeler at Regal Hoffmann & Associates

Claire Anderson-Wheeler started her career at the Christine Green Authors’ Agency in London in 2008, before crossing the pond to New York. She has been at Regal Hoffmann & Associates (RHA) since 2013. Claire has a Law degree from Trinity College, Dublin, and a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, UK. Claire is Irish, was born in DC, and grew up in Dublin, Geneva, and Brussels.

She’s currently seeking MG and YA fiction, be it fantasy, historical, contemporary, or a mash-up – so long as it is challenging, emotionally sophisticated, and sincere. #OwnVoices manuscripts by BIPOC writers are particularly welcome.

Claire loves a story arc, no matter the genre. In terms of the fiction side, there is little she would reject out of hand, but there are certainly some genres she is less likely to go for. Example: Horror has never been her thing; nor has romance. 

She likes some fantasy, and some sci-fi. As with any other genre, though, the story has to feel original.  She, also likes books where there’s a little bit of fatalism, and some really interesting characters. 

She is seeking: YA or MG with a strong voice (realistic or high-concept).

FICTION GENRES

Middle Grade
Young Adult

SPECIAL INTERESTS

  • Enjoys historical and crime elements in YA
  • Likes alt-historical fantasy and smart mash-ups

HERE IS PART THREE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH CLAIRE:

Do you have any plans to represent a children’s book illustrator? Would an illustrator have to write before you would represent them?

I don’t do a ton in the picture book market, so I don’t tend to get queried a lot for a picture books. An author illustrator, I would definitely look at, but an illustrator only, there are illustrator agencies that would be a better fit.

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

I typically prefer to communicate via email; phones are great but I think things can get forgotten or misremembered when they’re not written down, and having a written record to go back to is handy. Also it helps keep me organized to have something in my inbox. As regards submission process, I think every author is different and it usually depends on the individual dynamics

What happens if you don’t sell a book and the author wants to self-publish a book? Would you be okay with that?

Absolutely

Do you seek help from othe agents at your agency to get suggestions on editors and/or publishers to submit to for the clients you sign up to represent?

Yes, my colleagues and I often share thoughts and ideas with each other. That said I do more on the children’s side than my colleagues do, so I don’t look to them all that often for this particular advice

Would you ever send a manuscript to another agent if it was good, but not your style?

I would share a manuscript with another agent at my agency if I genuinely thought they would be a fan of it.

What do you think of digital and audio books? Are they part of every sale these days?

Digital and audiobooks are great, they’re huge markets and just another way for people to find the content they want. It’s pretty much impossible to do a book deal without including digital rights these days, and increasingly that’s the case for audio too.

Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

We handle foreign rights, but have co-agents in almost all territories, which is the norm for most US agencies. Film rights we do on a case by case basis. My colleagues and I have different contacts in the film world and might co-agent with different individuals depending on the project.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

I am probably not a huge trend follower and honestly I find them hard to spot unless it’s in retrospect. And often, by the time you can see the bandwagon it’s a bit late to be jumping on it.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, secure an agent, and get published?

I guess it’s the age old wisdom, but read! Reading is just the best training you can get. Being part of a writers group or even just having one writing partner can also be a wonderful tool. And patience and persistence are key of course.

Would you like to attend other conferences, workshops writer’s retreats?

I’ve gone off conferences a bit recently, obviously with Covid and also because I’m generally trying to be conscious of my carbon footprint and most of what I can impart by showing up at conference centers, I can probably do as effectively in a virtual way. But as you can see I’m still available for interviews in online and virtual modes!

Claire, thank you  for taking the time to answer all the interview questions. They really helped us get to know you better. 

NOTE: Remember to check back next on December 3rd for the First Page Results!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

In the beginning Thanksgiving was not celebrated as a feast. Instead, the settlers gave thanks and fasted to celebrate the bumper crop. The feast started when the Wampanoag Indians joined them and turned the fast into a three day festival of dance and feast.

APRIL HARTMANN: Featured on illustrator Saturday.

The first Thanksgiving has always been credited to the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. But the first recorded Thanksgiving actually occurred three years earlier 600 miles south in Virginia. On September 16, 1619, the Good Ship Margaret which was only 35 ft. long and weighed 47 tons set sail from Bristol England with 35 settlers commissioned to 8000 acres 30 miles west of Jamestown on the James River. The land was given to the Virginia Company by King James and is the current site of Berkeley Plantation.

KIMBERLEY BARNES: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

The crew was comprised of settlers, many of whom were craftsmen who were offered indentured status to settle at the site and carve out a working enterprise out of the wilderness. The Margaret arrived at Berkley Hundred on December 4, 1619. The 35 hearty souls who had traversed the North Atlantic on a 35 ft ship for two and a half months, came ashore with their luggage. The instructions from the Virginia Company required Captain John Woodlief to immediately conduct a religious ceremony of Thanksgiving.

LISA GOLDBERG: Featured on Illustrator Saturday.

The first Thanksgiving Day was held in 1621 and included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians and it continued for three days. It was eaten with spoons and cut with knives but there were no forks which were not even invented and came into use 10 years later.

MICHAEL ROBERTSON: Featured on Illustrator Saturday

The first pardon of Turkey happened in 1947 when the then US President Truman started this ritual. Every year since, the US President pardons a turkey and saves it from being eaten for thanksgiving dinner. This year President Trump Pardoned Corn and Cob.

DEBORAH MELMON: Featured on Illlustrator Saturday

Turkeys can run at a speed of 20 miles per hour. However the domesticated turkeys are specially bred and fattened and can’t run fast.

KAYLA STARK: Featured on Illustrator Saturday

More than 46 million turkeys are consumed by Americans for Thanksgiving Day. California tops among all states in consuming most turkeys in US Thanksgiving day.

PETRA BROWN: Featured on Illustrator Saturday

The record of the heaviest turkey is 86 pounds according to the Guinness Book of records.

LENA RALSTON: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Hanukkah and Thanksgiving came together in 1888 and will happen again only after 70000 years.

PATRICIA ARCHILLES: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

According to the National Turkey Federation, 88% of Americans consume turkeys on thanksgiving which means 12% people do not eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

BECCA STEDTLANDER: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in1863. It was due to the efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb” who in a long campaign stretching to 17 years convinced President Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday.

MELISSA SWEET: https://www.melissasweet.net/

In 1924, 400 employees marched from Convent Ave to 145th street in New York City in what was to become the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. There were no large balloons and the march featured only live animals from Central Park Zoo. 

In 1927, the gigantic balloons that are now the signature element of the parade made their first appearance with the help of helium. The balloons replaced the zoo animals that were frightening to some children, and the first balloons included cartoon characters like Felix the Cat.

The Macy’s Day Parade has been televised nationally on NBC since 1953.

OLGA SKOMOROKHOVA: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

The customary and all important football games started way back in 1934. It was the first NFL games which was broadcast nationally and was played between Detroit Lions & Chicago Bears.

TIMOTHY BANKS: Featured on Illustrator Saturday.

The Americans are not the only ones to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Canada has been having the official Thanksgiving Day since 1879. The date was not fixed until 1957 when it was ruled that the second Monday of October will be celebrated as Thanksgiving Day.

*******

MAY YOUR THANKSGIVING BE FILLED WITH LOVE, GOOD CHEER, AND A FULL TUMMY!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 24, 2021

Book Winners – Kudos – Contest Opportunity

BOOK WINNERS

Vivian Kirkfield won PLANTING FRIENDSHIP by Melissa Stoller

Penny Taub won BEVAN: A Well-Loved Bear by Petra Brown

Judy Sobanski won MAYA’s TREASURE by Laurie Smollett Kutscera

Winners please send me your address along with the title of the book. Please use: kathy(.)temean(at)hotmail.com

*******

KUDOS:

CONGRATULATIONS to David L. Harrison and THE DIRT BOOK.

Check out the awards below:

The Dirt Book

  • Named as one of eleven “Can’t Miss” poetry books on “2021 Poetry: Versification for the Masses,” for School Library Journal, 2021

  • Art from the book displayed in New York City at The Society of Illustrators “Original Art” exhibit. This exhibit showcases original art from the year’s best children’s books as determined by a jury of outstanding illustrators, art directors, and editors.⁠

  • NCTE Notable Poetry Books, 2022

  • On the NYC Public Library list for best books for 2021

*******

It’s Time for the Goodreads Choice Awards

Pick the best books of the year across 17 categories! Opening round: Nov. 16th to Nov. 28th

Minotaur Books

THE TONY HILLERMAN PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST MYSTERY SET IN THE SOUTHWEST

NO FEE CONTEST

Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, D.C. and Canada (excluding Quebec)

Must be 18 or older

Must not be a published mystery novel author

Click here to download the form to enter.

Before entering, please ensure that your manuscript is formatted as follows:

  1. The manuscript must be either a Microsoft Word document or a PDF
  2. Text must be double spaced
  3. Pages must be numbered consecutively from beginning to end
  4. The Manuscript must be saved as “Manuscript Title_Entrant Name”
  5. Do not include Entrant name in the manuscript itself.

DEADLINE: for the 2021 competition, must be received by 11:59 pm on January 1, 2022.

If you have questions or need further clarification regarding the rules and guidelines of this competition, you may contact us at tonyhillermanprize@stmartins.com

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 23, 2021

Book Giveaway: CATERPILLAR’S SURPRISE by Janet Halfmann

Janet Halfmann has written a new picture book, CATERPILLAR’S SURPRISE, Illustrated by Emily Krueger Boon and published by Black Rose Writing. It will be available on December 2nd. Janet has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Janet and Emily.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION: 

A masquerade ball with a blue ribbon! Caterpillar dreams of winning, but wonders how she can since she is just a baby. Tadpole convinces her that her natural baby disguise as bird poo is perfect.

As Caterpillar grows, her look changes, and she worries again. Tadpole tells her she now looks like a scary snake, and is sure to win! Then . . . just weeks before the ball, Caterpillar spins a chrysalis and hangs unmoving from her tree. Now, even Tadpole (who is changing into a frog) is worried.

Will Caterpillar break out of her chrysalis in time? And if she makes it to the ball, will she still think winning is the most important thing of all?

BOOK JOURNEY:

Caterpillar’s Surprise got its start about twenty years ago. I have long been fascinated by butterflies, which flit around our backyard and gardens every summer. So I wrote a lyrical nonfiction story titled A Day with a Butterfly. The story got a couple nice notes from editors, but no acceptance.

Then a few years later I saw a request from a small publisher for natural science picture books spotlighting animals of the eastern United States. I decided the eastern tiger swallowtail would be a great critter to feature because it’s very popular in this region and rarely the star of a butterfly book.

So I researched tiger swallowtails—which had many amazing caterpillar and butterfly traits all their own—and incorporated some of my original butterfly story in the new one. This new story, still nonfiction, became Tiger Swallowtails in the Sun.

After months of back and forth with this publisher, my story didn’t get a go-ahead. But the next year it got a bit of a nod from an editor I’d worked with before who suggested that it might be fun to add a frog and have both the butterfly and frog go through metamorphosis together in a fictional story.

This new story became Caterpillar’s Surprise—with a masquerade ball and coveted blue ribbon, featuring a caterpillar and tadpole who become friends and share adventures as they go through big changes together. In the end, the new story didn’t win a slot on this editor’s list either.

I continued to submit the story from time to time, and got a few other nice comments. I felt the story had promise so I kept fine- tuning it, including having it critiqued at some writers conferences.

Then in 2017, my hometown of Milwaukee got a new publishing company, and its owner/editor loved Caterpillar’s Surprise! She and I seemed to be on exactly the same page. We tweaked the story some to have all the changes/disguises of animals at the masquerade ball be true to life rather than just fun costumes. Emily Krueger joined the project as illustrator, giving the characters fun and captivating personalities. The book’s editing and art were well on their way when the publishing company had to fold for financial reasons. Major disappointment, to say the least!

What to do now? The rights reverted to Emily and I, so I asked her if she was okay with me looking for a publisher that wanted stories that included the art. We got an acceptance from Black Rose Writing in late 2020.

In addition to doing the cover and inside art, Emily also chose the text font, placed the copy, and formatted the book. That worked extremely well for us as we finished the book because once I could see the copy with the pictures, I could cut and tailor it to work even better with the art.

It’s been a long journey, but I feel Caterpillar’s Surprise has so much to offer its young listeners and readers. It is not only the amazing story of metamorphosis and other animal disguises, but also the story of a friendship, the adventures of growing up, and the importance of treasuring your friends. It’s been a long journey, but a very worthwhile one!

JANET’S BIO:

JANET HALFMANN’S BIO:

Author Janet Halfmann is an award-winning children’s author who strives to make her books come alive for young readers and listeners. She has written more than forty fiction and nonfiction books, many about animals and nature.

Previously, Janet was a newspaper reporter, children’s magazine editor, and a creator of coloring & activity books. She grew up on a farm in Michigan and now lives in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Find out more at www.janethalfmannauthor.com.

EMILY KRUEGER’S BIO:

Illustrator Emily Krueger is from Esko, near Duluth, Minnesota. She grew up loving the outdoors, animals, and drawing, and graduated from Bemidji State University majoring in Fine Arts and Graphic Technology. She lives in the woods with her husband Steve, kids Otto and Liv, dog Taavi, and the occasional bear. Although she enjoys oil painting, colored pencil, and mixed media for personal work, she often creates her illustrations digitally with her drawing tablet and Photoshop. Find out more at http://www.emilykruegerillustration.com.

Janet, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. The life cycle of a butterfly is a fascinating story to tell. I look like you along with Emily have done a wonderful job tell that story with interesting text and illustrations. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 22, 2021

Alyssa Eisner Henkin Founder of Birch Path Literary

Alyssa Eisner Henkin founded Birch Path Literary, a full-service literary agency, in January of 2021 after more than twenty years in publishing first as a children’s book editor at S&S Books for Young Readers and then as a literary agent and EVP at Trident Media Group. She is proud to represent a stable of bestselling and multi-award authors including Ruth Behar, Julie Berry, Jen Bryant, Lisa Greenwald and R.J. Palacio, whose #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder was turned into a major motion picture and sparked a movement to #choosekind.

She is passionate about heartfelt storytelling and innovative ideas that fill holes and/ or break new ground in the market. While kidlit will always comprise the bulk of her list, She is alos seeking to represent select upmarket fiction and nonfiction projects for adults.

Fiction: Children’s, General, Graphic Novel, Historical, LGBTQ, Literary, Middle Grade, Picture Books, Young Adult

Favorite sub-genres: Graphic Novels (for all ages), Middle Grade, Multicultural, Multiple POV, Upmarket Fiction, Upmarket Nonfiction, Young Adult, Picture books.

Right now, she is on the hunt for the following:

Character-driven YA romcoms that are heavy on the comedy and feature quirky underrepresented voices in the spirit of Never Have I Ever.
Early graphic chapter books by debut author-illustrators—a Dog Man format with a Madeline flair—would be a dream.
Inventive nonfiction for board book through young adult written and/or illustrated by changemakers and experts in their fields.
Upmarket fiction – both historical and contemporary. Books about book lovers and book clubs are especially intriguing.
Not A Fit: category romance, SFF, horror, suspense or inspirational.

Fun facts about Alyssa:

She says, “We have a wheaten terrier named Winnie. Her name was inspired by The Wonder Years, Pooh, and Tuck Everlasting in that order. Clearly, I love alliteration…. When I am not reading manuscripts, I love to be at our kids’ soccer games, on the beach, hiking in National Parks, and enjoying seasonal pastimes. There is nothing as delightful as a sunflower maze in late August except maybe maple sugaring in early March!”

Submissions should be emailed to submissions@birchpathliterary.com

ahenkin@birchpathliterary.com
@AgentHenkin

All query letters and submissions should be sent via email to submissions@birchpathliterary.com.

Novel, Non-Fiction, Picture & Chapter Book Authors

Please include a synopsis AND the first 20 pages in the body of the email.  No attachments, please.

Picture Book Illustrators / Author-Illustrators

Please include a low resolution book dummy as an attachment in the email or a password protected link to your project.

Graphic Novelists

Please include a synopsis AND the first 20 pages as an attachment in the email (low resolution) or a password protected link to your project.

You will receive an automated email confirming receipt of your query. I will make every effort to respond to each submission within 60 days.  If you receive an offer of representation from another agent, and I have not yet replied, please let me know.  Thank you in advance for your patience.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 21, 2021

Book Giveaway: We Want Snow: A Wintery Chant by Jamie A. Swenson

Jamie A. Swenson has written a new picture book, WE WANT SNOW: A WINTRY CHANT, Illustrated by Emilie Boon published by Sleeping Bear Press. SBP has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Jamie and Emilie.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In this raucous, rhyming plea for snow, a group of youngsters imagines the cold-weather delights they’ll enjoy once winter arrives. From sledding down hills and skating on ponds to building snow forts and snowmen to sharing crackling fires and mugs of hot cocoa, they want snow and plenty of it! The snow can’t arrive soon enough. But once the flakes start to fall, are the youngsters in for more than they bargained for? Readers young and old will enjoy this celebration of winter’s snowy activities, recalling past pleasures and imagining future ones.

BOOK JOURNEY:

When I was a child growing up in North Dakota and Wisconsin winter meant fun: sledding, skating, snow people, cocoa, cozy fires, warm blankets – joy. Even now, I always wait with expectation for the first delicate flakes to float down & cover the brown grass.

One winter day about ten years ago, I walked out of a snow-themed storytime at the library where I work – and looked out across a snowless brown field. I had just read a few of my favorite snowy books, but the kiddos had not experienced snow yet for the season. I promised the kids that they would very soon get to play in snow (which was met with mixed reactions from the adults – mostly groaning!). But as looked across that snowless world, I thought, “Not a flake. Not a flake. Not a flip-flop flake! We’ve been waiting all year for goodness’ sake!” And I knew in that moment I had the opening to a picture book. “SNOW! SNOW! We want snow!” my brain chanted.

I went to my computer and wrote a rough draft. Of course, that first draft was not a full book. My first drafts are usually an intense feeling poured onto the page – in this case – a mixture of my own childhood memories and a plea for a bit of wintry fun for my library kiddos. I had the refrain, but I needed to structure it and create a book, not just a jumble of my feelings. My early drafts went in many different directions – from waxing poetic about spring, summer, and fall – before the snow – to trying to create a version of “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes” – a version I struggled with for months before deciding the story simply wasn’t working and putting it away.

Fast forward about seven years (give or take), I went to a conference as sat in on a session about reviving dead manuscripts. I jotted down a list of books that I had started, but never quite completed. WE WANT SNOW was one of those – that first line had never left my head. Each November as I waited for snow it would pop back in – SNOW! SNOW! We want snow! Up to our ankles, up to our shins, up to our knees, up to our chins! – and this time, when I read the manuscript, I saw the issue. It was a cluttered mess. I realized that the book was meant to be simply about the joy of playing in the snow – and that magical expectation that children (and some adults) feel as we hope for those flip-flop flakes to float down from the sky!

Once I revised the book with that in mind, I knew it was working. My agent, Sean McCarthy, agreed and sent it off to Sleeping Bear Press, which is located in a snow-appreciating area – Michigan! Sleeping Bear Press did a fantastic job matching my text with an illustrator, Emilie Boon, who captured the joyfulness of the snowy season. Emilie’s art is simply delightful and adds just the right tone and energy.

And that is how this book came to be – because I love, love, love the excitement of that first snow. I love seeing families out playing in the snow together. I love my memories of chasing my brothers around in the snow, of sitting in front of a fire defrosting my toes, and of pulling my children on a sled across a field so white it all but blinds you! Each year, I marvel at the way snow transforms the world. But, come February, I am ready for SPRING!


JAMIE’S BIO:

Jamie A. Swenson received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in MN in 2009. She has worked as an early literacy storyteller/librarian for over twenty years at a busy public library. When not at her keyboard, Jamie can be found reading and recommending great books for kids and their families. Jamie’s work has been recognized by Junior Library Guild, the Zolotow Committee, various parents’ choice awards, and her titles appear on many best book lists.

Jamie enjoys teaching writing craft to children, teens, and adults. Look for her books: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! (FSG/Macmillan); BIG RIG(Disney-Hyperion); and IF YOU WERE A DOG (FSG/Macmillan); MEET WOOF & QUACK and WOOF & QUACK IN THE SNOW (HMH); and the forthcoming A FALL BALL FOR ALL (Millbrook Sept. 2018). For more information visit http://www.jamieswenson.com

EMILIE BOON’S BIO:

Born in the Netherlands, I spent most of my childhood in California and Mexico. It was during the ten years living in Mexico that I discovered my artistic eye and love of color. I graduated from high school in Mexico City, and returned to Holland to study at the Royal Academy of Art at The Hague. Here I developed my signature crayon and watercolor technique.

After graduating with a degree in graphic design, I moved to London, where I had the opportunity to work with wonderful editors and wrote and illustrated my first two children’s books. I’ve worked both as an illustrator and author/illustrator and published over 20 books. My books have been translated into Japanese, French, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch and Spanish.

Each year I visit many elementary schools teaching young children about the process of writing and illustrating picture books. I also teach workshops and conduct picture book making classes for children.  Besides teaching young children, I’ve taught at RISD (CE) and am inspired by my students work no matter what age! I make my home in the Boston area and have a studio in an old mill filled with fabulous artists and designers.

Jamie, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I love how this book captures the excitement of waiting and wishing for snow, and how children can’t wait to do all the fun activities snow provides. It brings back memories of sledding down hills, skating on ponds, building snow forts and snowmen, then coming inside to warm up with a mug of hot cocoa. It has me checking the weather and looking at the sky chanting “Snow! Snow! I Want Snow!” I’m sure kids will want to join in the chant, when they read this story, just like the children in this book. Emilie has created a winter wonderland with her gorgeous illustrations. I will be featuring her this coming Saturday, so check back to see more of her work. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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