Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 28, 2019

Book Giveaway: MARIA THE MATADOR by Anne Lambelet

Author/illustrator Anne Lambelet has a new picture book titled, MARIA THE MATADOR. Anne 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 Anne!


Maria loves tea parties and dancing and wearing her hair in pigtails, but more than anything in the world…Maria loves churros.

She’ll do anything to get her hands on more of them, even enter a bullfight. To win, she must outsmart the other matadors who don’t think she’s big enough, fast enough, or strong enough. With determination and creativity, spunky Maria will dance her way to victory―and into readers’ hearts.

Complemented by distinct, expressive illustrations, this charming story shows that you don’t have to fight to win, and you might even end up with more than you were hoping for.


It may sound crazy to say this, but the idea for MARIA THE MATADOR actually started out as a dream.  One night almost 4 years ago now, I dreamt that I was forced to enter the bullfight, but that I really really didn’t want to hurt the bull so, in the dream, I hadn’t known what to do.  After I woke up, I thought “ya know, if this dream would have been a picture book, I would have been able to figure out some amazing, clever way to wow the audience non-violently and save the bull.” So I just lay there in bed dwelling on bullfighting for a while.

For some reason or other, I feel like bullfighting is present in the childhood experiences of every person of my generation.  It appears in Bugs Bunny cartoons and Disney cartoons and in the classic picture book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, and I’m %100 sure that everyone at some point or other between the ages of 4 and 12 whipped a towel or blanket around pretending to be a bullfighter.  I definitely did that when I was little with my Winnie-the-Pooh blanket as a muletta and with the role of “ferocious bull” being reluctantly filled by Mittens the cat…but maybe that was just me. Anyway, I tried to think more about what the draw is there for kids.  I certainly didn’t know at age 6 that anything cruel was done to the bull at any point.  I just loved the flare and flash of it, and I realized that my childhood view of bullfighting wasn’t of a “fight” per se at all, but rather that of a dance.  A hilarious image of a tiny tiny girl dancing gracefully with a huge, bulky bull became seared into my mind, and from then on, that’s what I held onto as the motivating spark for why I absolutely HAD to get pencil to paper.

After that though, so many more narrative problems arose.  How could any little girl ever be enticed to enter a bullfight to begin with?  What lessons would exist for children at the core of this story? I struggled through so many drafts: one where Maria the animal-lover just wanted to protect the bull from abuse, one where Maria the misunderstood loner recognized  in the bull a fellow misunderstood creature, and one where Maria the dreamer had always wanted so badly to grow up to be a matador.  Each new version had it’s own problems and complications, and it just started to feel like I was banging my head against a wall.

So, I finally decided to approach the problem the way I’d come to that initial dancing image I’d clung to through all of this; I decided to dig through some childhood memories.  I made a long list of all of my favorite picture books from when I was little: Madeline, Strega Nona, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Muriel the Great, and The Story of Ferdinand just to name a few. Then I put little blurbs next to each of them describing what about them had fascinated me the most.  Lastly, I organized them into groups to try and create a hierarchy of story elements that had made me love stories as a child (silliness, whimsy, problem solving, involvement of delicious foods) as well as elements that had made those same stories stick with me into adulthood (peaceful, heart-warming solutions to problems, indictments of toxic masculinity, female empowerment, an immersive sense of culture and world building). My childhood fixation on food-motivated narratives and silliness came through so much in this process that I decided to discard all of the more serious, realistic, emotional reasons Maria might have had for entering a bullfight and just make her all about the snacks: a character that little me would have been on board with a thousand percent. It was like unlocking a door in my brain.  The fun came back into writing and everything came easily and naturally all of a sudden…for the most part anyway.

During this entire process I also split amicably with my first agent, went on the hunt for a new agent, found Stephanie Fretwell-Hill at Red Fox Literary (who is amazing and I can’t say enough good things about her), and met Kristen Nobles, head editor of Page Street Kids, at one of the annual SCBWI winter conferences in New York City.  Kristen let everyone at the conference know that she was on the hunt for new manuscripts and new author-illustrators, and luckily for me, Maria had really come into her own just in time.  Stephanie helped me polish her up and send her off to Kristen and the rest is history!

Now Maria is on the shelves of Barnes and Nobles and local bookstores around the country, and I’ve got two more books coming out with Page Street Kids in 2019: Dogs and their People in June (also by me) and The Traveler’s Gift (written by Danielle Davison and illustrated by me) coming out in October.  It’s been a wild ride since I had that crazy dream all those years ago, but I’m hoping that the time I took along the way to re-connect with my childhood self will ensure that MARIA is able to connect with whatever children get to read the book today.


Anne Lambelet  earned a bachelor’s degree in illustration from the University of the Arts in 2014 where she was awarded the Roger T. Hane award for the top illustration portfolio by a senior.

Her first author-illustrated picture book, Maria the Matador, was published by Page Street Kids in February of 2019 followed by a second author-illustrated book, Dogs and their People, in June and The Traveler’s Gift by Danielle Davison in October .

She currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband Brice, her adorable dog, Eevee and her morbidly obese (but also adorable) cat, Fitzgerald. For children’s book illustration, she is represented by Stephanie Fretwell-Hill at Red Fox Literary. You can contact her by emailing her at or by using one of the methods below.


Anne, thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with all of us. You already know how much I love this book. Obviously, Page Street Kids did, too. Good luck with the book! Look for Anne on Illustrator Saturday in the near future.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. LOVE how you worked through your plot problems, Anne. Genius. This story sounds adorable! Congrats!

    Shared on twitter

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations, Anne! When I first saw the cover, I shrunk back, being opposed to bullfighting, being a vegetarian and animal advocate. But your cover really caught my eye: girl. I’m really looking forward to sitting down with your book. Your illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, so full of energy. Lovely palette. Reading about your journey, your analysis and process of analyzing stories was interesting. Well, everything here was. A dream come true, for all your hard work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How exciting that your dream blossomed into a book! At first I was taken aback, especially after researching bullfighting for my bio of Henry Bergh, MERCY, plus actively advocating for animals, but I love the comparison to Ferdinand plus the idea of a peaceful dancing resolution…can’t wait to read your book!


  4. I remember as a kid seeing matadors depicted in cartoons, etc. I didn’t realize, either, until I was much older the cruel end to a bullfight. I am anxious to read how Maria battles the bull (non-violently!). Congratulations on your book. I also shared on twitter @jkspburg.


  5. Great illustration. Thanks for sharing your experience.


  6. I’m with Maria all the way, churros are delicious!! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book!!!
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link:
    Thanks again, have a great day!!


  7. Looks amazing! Can’t wait to read this!


  8. Oh I also posted on Twitter @WriterRebeccaGL


  9. I love that the concept for this book visited you in a dream. Best wishes for your success. I posted the column to FaceBook and tweeted it.


  10. This looks perfectly adorable. I love the spread showing Maria facing the bull. Cracked me up. I will pass on the giveaway. I won recently.


  11. Thanks for sharing the process it took, even the plot problems. Such great strategies to work through it. I loved how it all started with a dream. Congratulations!


  12. I shared on FB, Twitter, and pinterest. I’d love to win this for my Spanish-teaching daughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a fun premise!


  14. Such a delightful character. I look forward to reading Anne Lambelet’s debut picture book, MARIA THE MATADOR.

    I shared on Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, and my WordPress accounts.

    Suzy Leopold


  15. People often ask writers how they get their ideas. And Anne can tell them this one came to her in a dream. It just goes to show that dreams do come true.


  16. Lové this story! I love how the churros play such a big part. Great job! Congratulations!


  17. This book is SO beautiful, and I once again have it in my possession for conference research 😀 LOVE it and Page Street!


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