Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 16, 2019

Book Giveaway: HOLY SQUAWKAMOLE by Susan Wood

Author Susan Wood has a new picture book titled, HOLY SQUAWKAMOLE. Laura Gonzalez illustrated the book. Susan 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 Susan!


This tasty take on the classic Little Red Hen story has a deliciously spicy twist! 

Yum, guacamole! That’s what Little Red Hen craves, and she could use some help gathering and mashing the ingredients. So she asks her friends, including an armadillo, snake, and iguana, to lend a hand. Every one just says “no.” But after Little Red Hen works hard to make the scrumptious fresh guac, all the animals want a taste. In a fun departure from the original tale, Little Red Hen cooks up a comeuppance for the slackers that they’ll never forget!


Holy Squawkamole! Little Red Hen Makes Guacamole is a perfect example of just how slow-rolling the path from initial book concept to publication can be. I’d bet most children’s literature creators are at least somewhat familiar with this sort of slo-mo creative process.

Way back in 2011, one of my kiddos misspoke during a taco meal, accidentally adding an S in front of the word “guacamole.” I heard it as “squawkamole,” which, dork that I am, kinda tickled me. Being a nerdy, word-y type, I played around with this new word in my head: Who would say that? Well, a squawking chicken, of course. In what context? Well, a squawk is a kind of fowl interjection, right? So maybe an excited exclamation, like “Holy squawkamole!”? It amused me so much, I jotted it down on a Post-it note and stuck it to my computer screen.

Where it sat.

For years.

Then in 2015, I read author Tara Lazar’s fun and instructive how-to for writing fractured fairy tales ( and—aha!—stumbled on the idea to pair my chicken-y exclamation with a beloved chicken-y tale, Little Red Hen. Following Tara’s suggestions, I tweaked a bunch of things. My hen’s making guacamole, not bread. My hen lives in Mexico, not a barnyard. My hen’s unhelpful pals are native Mexican critters, not farm animals. And my hen adds a secret ingredient that gives her story an extra-spicy twist.

These ideas didn’t all arrive at once. As often happens, one idea led to another and then another. To determine what ingredients my hen needed to gather on her culinary quest, I first researched guacamole recipes, which led to learning its fascinating history—it’s believed the Aztecs concocted ahuacamolli, or “avocado sauce,” in the 1300s—and about the way the dish is traditionally made—in a molcajete, a lava-stone mortar and pestle that’s used as a serving bowl as well. This info was so cool and interesting, I knew I had to include it in the book. So the intriguing history became the basis of the book’s back matter, and the molcajete became part of the story.

So if my hen’s using a molcajete, I reasoned, it would be most logical to have her living in Mexico; hooray, new setting! Next thought: So what animals live in Mexico, and all in generally the same region or habitat? Back to research, and, bingo, I found my cast of characters, keeping in mind that I needed creatures that could move or react in some visually engaging way within the illustrations. Hello, my hen’s new friends: Coati, Snake, Armadillo, and Iguana.

Then the retelling pretty much wrote itself. Unlike the typical Little Red Hen tale where she eats her finished product herself, though, I wanted my hen to share what she’s made with her friends. But I also wanted her to be a bit feisty, a bit wily, and not overlook their unhelpfulness entirely. So her surprise ingredient—which causes her lazy pals some gustatory discomfort—seemed a clever yet harmless payback.

To round out the back matter, I included a glossary of the Spanish words used in the book, plus facts about the animals. Then I added a kid-friendly recipe for Holy Squawkamole Guacamole, because, you know, squishing avocados is pretty darn fun, and slurping guacamole is pretty darn yum.

My agent took the manuscript to Sterling in February 2016, they made an offer that April, and the fabulous Laura González,, was brought on board to illustrate later that year. Laura’s illos are so bright and charming and whimsical­—I just adore iguana basking with his sun reflector and bottle of sunscreen—and the designer had a blast playing around with bold typography and colors. I couldn’t be more pleased with how the book turned out.

Guess I can take the tea-spattered Post-it note down at last, huh?


Susan Wood is an award-winning author of books for young readers, including Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless, She Persisted (Abrams), a CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Book for Young People; American Gothic: The Life of Grant Wood (Abrams), a Junior Library Guild Selection; The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale (Sleeping Bear), a CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Book for Young People; Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist (Charlesbridge), a Pura Belpré Honor Book and ALA Notable Children’s Book; and the forthcoming Sandy Feet! Whose Feet? Footprints at the Shore (Sleeping Bear, Spring 2019).

Susan is a member of SCBWI and lives in Virginia. Learn more about Susan and her books at

Twitter: @SusanWoodBooks,


Susan, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It look like such and fun picture books. I am sure it will be a big hit with kids.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I enjoyed reading your back story. My son the other day said two words to his baby brother and it made me stop and think. Then, a whole picture book went through my mind. Hopefully I can write the story. Thanks for the informative interview and inspiration. Congratulations on the book! Can’t wait to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fun story…yours and Gallinita Roja’s!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This looks great! I always loved The Little Red Hen story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another Sterling Sister — so happy to be introduced to this wonderful book! Good luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This book really looks beautiful and a Little Red Hen twist with guacamole is a wonderful idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s a fun retelling. I really enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I read about this one on another blog, ordered it at my library, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Congratulations, Susan, on this yummy new twist on an old tale.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love the post-it. I have several similar one’s on my desk. Thanks for the chance to win this great-looking book!
    I’ve tweeted a link:, and pinned an image with a link on Pinterest:
    Thanks again, have a great week!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hah! I love the post-it note to reality story! I can take a pic of my desktop to show you my own… hopefully my post-it concepts will one day become a reality too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh my gosh! I love this! The whole idea behind the story and the story itself looks amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yum! Can’t wait to read and share Gallanita Roja’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My kindergarten students would love this!


  13. What a fun book! Love the title. Thanks for sharing, Susan!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks, all, for your oh-so-kind comments! Hope you’ll share gallinita roja’s spunky, spicy story and try out her Holy Squawkamole Guacamole—yum! 🙂


  16. Super fun idea that’s sure to be a hit!


  17. I’m a teacher in VA and I’d love to share this with my class!


  18. Thanks for sharing. I love the clever twist on The Little Red Hen story!


  19. This book is adorable and the illustrations are SO beautiful. AND…by the end you REALLY want some guacamole! lol (and there’s a recipe 😀 )


  20. I love this new take on Little Red Hen! Congratulations!


  21. Holy moly! Pun intended lol. This book sounds deliciously delightful. I’d love a chance at a copy. Thanks.


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