Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 24, 2014

Free Fall Friday – Book-Give-a-Way: Karen Romagna


Here is your chance to win a copy of Karen Romagna’s new book, VOYAGE. All you have to do is leave a comment and be willing to write a short review of the book if you win. The review can be on your blog, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Facebook, or Goodreads. (See more at bottom of this post.)

Voyage Covercropped

Karen Romagna has just finished illustrating her first picture book. Voyage launched at The National Book Festival in Washington, DC on August 30, 2014 and is available in bookstores October 1, 2014. Written by former US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, Voyage is the tale of a young boy setting off for an adventure on the open sea. Karen used the softness of watercolor in illustrating this wonderful dreamlike tale.

Romagna, Karen Headshot cropped

Karen is a traditional painter. Her illustrations are primarily done in watercolor However, she also loves painting in oil.

Karen grew up surrounded by art, music, brothers, sisters and parents that always supplied paint, paper, and the freedom to try new things. She lives in rural New Jersey where she and her husband, John, raised two sons, Matt and Tim, in a house filled with music and art… and hopefully a spirit that has allowed her sons to try new things too.

For those of you who are not a member of the New Jersey SCBWI, Karen is the Illustrator Coordinator for the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Romagna_Boy reading book

I asked Karen if she would share the story behind Voyage and it’s beginning. Here is what she told me:

“Voyage” had an interesting beginning. Billy Collins wrote the poem back in 2003 in celebration of John Cole’s 25 years as Director of the Center of the Book in the Library of Congress. As John Cole wrote at the beginning of Voyage, “The creation and presentation of “Voyage” was wholly in the spirit of the Center of the Book, which was created to stimulate pubilc interest in books, reading and literacy.”

In 2013 Bunker Hill Publishing approached me wondering if I might be interested in “a collaboration with the poet Billy Collins!”  Well…, of course!  The publisher had seen a copy of the poem hanging on the wall in John Cole’s office and approached Billy with the idea of making it a picture book.

Billy Collins likes to pick the illustrators for his books and went surfing the net. He came across a painting of mine that made him think I should illustrate this poem. He asked the publisher to get in touch to see if I might be interested in this project. Well… “Of course!” Bunker Hill had an illustrator in mind for the book as well and asked me to submit a sample illustration along with a thumbnail dummy. Wanting to make sure I was giving myself the best shot, I asked the publisher if he wouldn’t mind telling me exactly which illustration Billy Collins had seen that made him feel I was the right artist for his book. “Of course!” he said “It’s the one of the boy in a boat.”

Well, my heart melted… that was not one of my illustrations… it was a portrait of my younger son, Tim. There was always something magical about my second child. He would find himself in a great adventure with a piece of rope that he’d found.

In the end I was chosen to illustrate “Voyage”. …so Tim will carry on this great adventure for a long time.

You might be interested in watching this video of Billy Collins and Karen Romagna talking about the book at the National Book Festival where she launched her book in Washington, DC. I laughed when Karen said she almost threw out the email from the publisher she received asking if she had any interest in illustrating the book thinking it was junky mail. Thank goodness she didn’t. Congratulations, Karen!


If you would like more changes to win you will get additional entries when you Tweet, reblog, or talk about Voyager on Facebook (Must check back and let me know what you did, so I can enter the right amount of tickets with you name on it.

DEADLINE: November 3rd. Winner announce November 4th.

Check back next Friday to read the four first page critiques.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congrats Karen! I am so excited for you.


  2. Karen, this cover is absolutely stunning! I feel so proud and happy for you! How wonderful! AND to be hand-picked by the poet! Talk about a compliment 😀 Yay for you, and you bet I hope to win a copy! lol I’m about to watch this video. I mean—can ANYthing be more exciting than this?! Not much! lol

  3. OK, that was just too cool! Way to go, Karen!!!! 🙂

  4. Such a lovely painting work, congrats to you Karen, and Billy. Can’t wait to read it myself 🙂

  5. Congratulations, Karen! What a beautiful story about being discovered by the poet laureate himself.

  6. What a wonderful project. I look forward to seeing this book! I’m a big Billy Collins fan, and also an SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator for Illinois. Congratulations, Karen!

  7. Congratulations, Karen. what an incredible story.

  8. Karen,
    The illustrations on VOYAGE are so beautiful! Congratulations.

  9. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    Big Congratulations to fellow NJSCBWI member, illustrator Karen Romagna for her new Picture Book.

  10. Karen I love your book and it was great to be able to see that video!
    😉 Cathy Daniels

  11. Congratulations Karen!

  12. What a fairy tale beginning to this author illustrator partnership. Can’t wait to read/see the book. Crossing my fingers to win.

  13. Looks like a beautiful book!

  14. I look forward to reading this book and seeing the rest of the illustrations!

  15. This looks like an engaging book and your paintings are gorgeous!

  16. I reblogged this, left a comment, tweeted it , and posted to my FaceBook page. Would LOVE to win a copy of this!

    • Thank you so much Darlene!

  17. Congrats Karen! Your illustrations are beyond wonderful! 🙂

  18. Go Karen! Go!

    : )

  19. Congratulations on a beautiful book. I so admire artists, but I especially admire those that can work with watercolor. Can’t wait to actually see it. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

  20. Good morning. Thank you everyone for your kind words. I’ve had a busy weekend. Billy Collins has been in Newark at the Dodge Poetry Festival. He asked me to join him at his book signings to autograph copies of Voyage.
    As a result… I was able to get a few copies of Voyage with Billy’s signature!
    The book I will be offering in the Give-a-Way will have Billy’s signature as well.

    • All the more reason to want to win! 😀

  21. What a beautiful book–I love voyages and transformations!

  22. Karen is the best! The book is just beautiful.

  23. What a great story. The illustrations are charming. I will definitely be checking this one out. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  24. Yeah Karen!!! Can’t wait to see in person.

  25. The story and illustrations are just beautiful! So happy for Karen!

  26. Wow, a traditional painter of watercolor from Jersey- we are kindred spirits! Of course, I’m out West now, but once from NJ always from NJ 🙂
    I so hope I win a copy of this book. It looks beautiful.
    Thanks for the chance!

  27. This is truly a beautiful book by a very talented artist!

    • Susan,

      So glad you stopped by. Are you up to going out again?


  28. The beauty of VOYAGE is not only in the detail and flow of the watercolor paintings, but the mystical connections to life itself.

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