Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 6, 2018


Author Alice Faye Duncan has new picture book titled, THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN TENNESSEE. Illustrated by Mary Uhles. It’s now available in bookstores. Alice has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. 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 do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Alice and Mary!


On the first day of Christmas my parents gave to me . . . a holiday book about my very own state!

The Volunteer state is GREAT! When Carly visits her cousin Teddy in Tennessee for Christmas, she discovers how amazing it is. She hikes the Great Smoky Mountains, dances to bluegrass music, tastes Nashville’s famous hot chicken, and meets more than one Elvis Presley. Every day, Teddy gives her a special Tennessee gift, from 12 rockers rocking and 11 eagles nesting to a mockingbird in a tulip poplar tree.


Sterling looks for artists who have some connection to each state featured in their Twelve Days series. I’ve lived in Tennessee a good chunk of my life but when I received the manuscript I immediately realized there were places I would need to visit! So over a school break my family and I toured several stops in East Tennessee. My favorite of these is reflected in Day 6, The Lost Sea Cave in Sweetwater, TN. It’s a huge lake 500 feet underground, it even has blind fish in it! While that is plenty amazing all on its own, the real reason this cave is on the map is for the tiny anthodite crystals that grow on  the walls – cave flowers. An early sketch had Teddy handing the flowers to Carly. After visiting the cave I learned that it is a crime to touch or break the crystals. So instead Teddy and Carly stare in amazement up at the crystals from the boat.


One of the most challenging pieces for me was the spread that contains ALL of the characters from every day of Teddy and Carly’s trip. I mean I had to get 7 train cars and 8 horses and 12 Elvis impersonators to fit! Then I remembered that there is a train trestle that goes over the Mississippi river….. and I came up with a perfect solution. A train on that bridge would tow 7 cars, each with one of the other larger characters on board while the smaller characters look on from around the bridge.

Finally two of my favorite spreads were for Day 5 and Day 10. The Christmas season in Tennessee is actually pretty full of color because we don’t get snow until January or February. It’s not unusual to see leaves changing up until Christmas and some December days can be downright warm and sunny. So I very much enjoyed doing the woodsy scenes with lots of leafy colors for ‘five gold finches’ and ‘ten turtles snapping. (They’re snapping cause they’re in a rock band, get it?)

Sterling released a board book simultaneously with the jacketed copy. While it doesn’t contain the letters Carly writes to her family, it does have the illustrations and song for each day. I’ve had a great time revisiting all the sites I did my initial research at and sharing the finished book!


Alice Faye Duncan writes books for young readers and adults. HONEY BABY SUGAR CHILD is a mother’s love song to her baby. The lyrical text sings and swings just like music. One must read it aloud with LOVE, JOY and SOUL!

MEMPHIS, MARTIN AND THE MOUNTAINTOP (The 1968 Sanitation Strike) is a lyrical combination of poetry and prose that explores Dr. King’s assassination and his last stand for economic justice in the city of Memphis. The illustrator is Caldecott Honor recipient, Gregory Christie.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN TENNESSEE is a child’s travel guide across the Volunteer State (GO VOLS!). Two cousins in ugly holiday sweaters visit important landmarks throughout the state, while traveling in a mini-van called the “Reindeer Express.” The illustrator is Mary Uhles.

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS will debut in January 2019. This is the first picture book biography to explore the life and times of Chicago poet–Gwendolyn Brooks. In 1950, Miss Brooks was the first African American writer to receive a Pulitzer Prize.

Have you heard the name, “Pinkney?” Alice’s book–JUST LIKE A MAMA will make its debut on Mother’s Day (2019). The illustrator is Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. Her grand father is Caldecott illustrator, Jerry Pinkney. Charnelle is a master artist too. Get ready to be charmed with impressive images and a lyrical text.


Mary Reaves Uhles has created illustrations for numerous books and magazines. Her newest picture books include A TUBA CHRISTMAS (Sleeping Bear) and THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN TENNESSEE (Sterling), both available Fall 2018.

She has also illustrated THE LITTLE KID’S TABLE by Mary Ann McCabe Riehle (Sleeping Bear); KOOKY CRUMBS by J. Patrick Lewis (Kane Miller); and BEYOND THE GRAVE Choose Your Own Adventure Series by Dottie Enderle (ABDO Magic Wagon Press). Mary has twice been awarded the Grand Prize for Illustration from the SCBWI Midsouth Conference and her piece, EAT was a finalist in the 2014 SCBWI Bologna Book Fair Gallery. Prior to beginning her career as a freelance illustrator, Mary worked as an animator on projects for Warner Brothers and Fisher-Price Interactive. As Midsouth Illustrator Coordinator of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mary lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Since creating characters and stories is her favorite thing in the world (even more than mocha fudge ice cream) she feels mighty lucky to do it every day in her hilltop studio.

Thank you Alice and Mary for sharing your book and journey with us. It looks like a fun picture book. Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. How fun would it be to celebrate Christmas in Tennessee! Thanks for this engaging read and fun offer!


  2. I love this series and can’t wait to check out this new addition. Congrats to you both!


  3. What a beautiful book. We’d love to get another Christmas book on our shelf.


  4. What a marvelous idea for a picture book. It looks delightful.


  5. Looks like great book.


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