Congratulations to author/illustrator Patricia Keeler on her new book LIZZE AND LOU SEAL. She has agreed to participate in our book giveaway. All you have to do to get in the running is to 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 did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.
Lizzie lovers her flip-flops. They go shuffle shuffle across the rug, smack smack on the floor tiles, and thwap thwap down the stairs. Lizzie also loves her blow-up toy, Lou Seal. Lizzie and Lou Seal are off to the beach, but beach fun turns to beach disaster when Lizzie loses her flip-flops and Lou Seal starts losing air! It’s a sink or swim scenario. What will Lizzie do?
This is a beautiful book with mixed media art and a lovely retro feel, for fans of Ladybug Girl at the Beach. Children will relate to Lizzie’s independence and creative problem solving and fall in love with Lou Seal themselves. Filled with lots of fun words and sounds, this is a perfect read aloud book for parents and children alike.
Developing LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL
I happened across articles from The Washington Post titled “The Podiatric Dangers of Flip-Flops”, and blogs like Pedorthics with posts titled Children Shouldn’t Flip Flop Their Way Through Summer. The dangers of flip-flops seemed amusing and serious to me at the same time. Why not a story that included flip-flops?
Soon I began writing one with the working title FLIP FLOP STOMP. The main character, a little girl named Lizzie, loved, loved her new flip-flops. She was excited to wear them everywhere. She was tickled by the sounds they made as she flip-flopped her way across different surfaces down to the sand. Unfortunately, her flip-flops were always tripping her up.
I brought the manuscript to NJSCBWI in 2014 and received supportive and insightful critiques.
I revised my manuscript. I set the story at the beach in a small retro trailer. I scrapped Lizzie’s parents and gave her a pal, a blow-up seal, named Lou Seal. I began to illustrate the dummy. As I sketched, Lizzie got younger and Lou Seal got bigger.
A lot bigger!
Lou Seal was making space for his own part in the story. So what was Lou Seal doing while Lizzie was fussing with her flip-flops? It occurred to me that Lou Seal could be having his own difficulties. Events Lizzie doesn’t see, but the reader does! Even the youngest readers/viewers like catching onto the story before the main character does.
After working with my author/illustrator group, Drawn To Picture Books, and creating a final dummy in my studio, I was ready to shop my picture book proposal with the new title, LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL. I returned to NJSCBWI.
How I Sold LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL or David’s Rule of Five
David, a wise friend indeed, said children’s books exist on a different time continuum than normal life. It takes 5 times longer to create a picture book dummy than you’d imagine. Expect 5 weeks to get your takeaways printed and organized, instead of the one week you’d planned. And meeting an editor 5 times only counts as 1 connection.
The wonderful thing about NJSCBWI is that you CAN connect with the same editor 5 times. There are the one-on-ones, workshops and portfolio shows. There is breakfast, lunch, dinner, and (my favorite) happy hour.
Publishing houses spend a lot of effort and money, as well as trust, in the author-illustrator to create a dynamic picture book. According to David’s Rule of Five, you first need to give an editor adequate time and a variety of venues to get to know you and your work so that a level of working relationship can be established.
I use this Rule of Five model instead of seeing how many different editors I can meet. I research the editors attending an NJSCBWI conference and find the one who has published picture books most similar to mine. And if my writing or illustrations aren’t what my chosen editor is looking for, I’ve made a wonderful friend!
I focused my NJSCBWI conference time on connecting with Julie Matysik from Sky Pony Press, and reconnecting with Liza Fleissig from Liza Royce Agency. Luckily, both were successful!
Pull out your sketchbook and pencil and try your hand at drawing Lizzie with me!
Patricia Keeler received the Christopher Medal in 2011 for her illustrations for WOULD YOU STILL LOVE ME IF, written by Wendy LaGuardia. She was also the winner in the children’s book category for the New York Book Festival 2013.
Patricia has been positively reviewed by the New York Times Book Review, along with Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal. Her work has also been a selection of the Junior Library Guild and the Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club.
The Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, which houses the largest collection of children’s books in the world, has obtained the original illustrations, galleys, proofs, acceptance letter, contract and pages of editorial critiques for Patricia Keeler’s DRUMBEAT IN OUR FEET. The Drumbeat collection is currently studied by future children’s book authors and illustrators.
Patricia Keeler lives across the Hudson River from New York City in Hoboken, NJ, with her husband, photographer Francis X. McCall. Ms. Keeler received an undergraduate degree from Virginia Polytechnical and State University and a master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. Before coming to Hoboken, Ms. Keeler worked in advertising for the Richmond Times Dispatch and was art director for PBS Television (WCVE, Channel 25) in Richmond, VA.
She has illustrated and/or written many books, including Thank You, Angels (Hay House, 2007), Drumbeat in Our Feet (Lee & Low, 2006), Car Wash (Lee & Low, 2004), A Huge Hog Is a Big Pig (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2002), and Unraveling Fibers (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon and Schuster, 1995). She is the illustrator for Brain Food: 100+ Games That Make Kids Think, published by Prufrock Press. Ms. Keeler has also created a variety of illustrations for magazines, posters, and educational projects with Scholastic, Pearson, Victory Publications, and Techbooks/GTS.
Thank you Patricia for sharing your book and your journey with us.