Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 2, 2019

Book Giveaway: PLAYDATE by Maryann Macdonald

Author Maryann Macdonald has a new picture book titled, PLAYDATE. Rahele Jomrpour Bell, who was featured on Illustrator Saturday created the fun pictures. 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 Maryann and Rahele!


A picture book with minimal text and maximum impact, as portrayed through both the well-chosen words and the fun-filled, evocative illustrations.


The word “playdate” was a new one for me as a young parent.  Where I grew up outside Detroit, no such thing existed.  You just walked or rode your bike over to a friend’s house after school and yelled, “Susie, come out and play!”  And either Susie would come out or her mother would yell, “Susie’s not home!” and you would move on.


But in the London neighborhood where my children grew up, playdates were the norm.  Megan and Alison loved bringing friends home after school.  We had “tea (a British word for a mid-afternoon snack)” and then the children played in the house or garden.  Sometimes, we visited local parks.  It all sounds pretty simple, but it soon became clear that playdates were among the happiest times in my children’s lives.  No one ever wanted them to end.

Decades later, I began picking my granddaughter up from preschool in New York City.  The most exciting times for Leia, too, were when she had a playdate planned after school.  She would talk about it with great anticipation.  When the big day came, Leia’s friend would come with us to my apartment.  The children would share a snack and then begin playing.  Often, this involved using everyday objects in imaginative ways.  They had a lot of fun out of turning the space under the dining room table into a house, or a line of chairs into a train.  They played games, dolls, or hide and seek, just like Meg and Alison had.  Once in a while there were tears, but more often, screams of joy and excitement.  Both children were sad when it was time for the visiting friend to go home.  History was repeating itself.

It struck me that playdates are of immense importance in children’s lives, teaching them about patience, conflict resolution, group creativity, cooperation and socialization.  Yet I had never seen a children’s book about playdates.  I set out to create one, one that would reflect a typical playdate from beginning to end.  I wanted to use simple words so that the book could be used to name everyday objects and talk about playdates with the youngest children.    Two rhyming couplets came to me first:  “Tables.  Chairs.  Windows.  Stairs.”  I could see the images that might go with these words in my mind’s eye.  I worked backward from that point to the heart of the experience where I began the book:  “Me, You, One, Two.”  I imagined a child at home, all alone.  Another en route to the playdate.   One looking out the window in anticipation.  A happy arrival.  I added outings with:  “Stop.  Go.  Fast.  Slow.”  I continued with personal relationships and their inherent difficulties:  “Good.  Bad.  Happy.  Sad.”  I included encounters with other household members:  “Old.  New.  Red.  Blue.”  On the narrative went to the inevitable conclusion:  “High.  Low.  Stay.  Go.”

I wasn’t sure anyone but me would “get” this manuscript.  But, happily, I was wrong!  Sue Tarsky, an enthusiastic editor at Albert Whitman & Co. with whome I had worked with many years before in London, loved the idea.  She found Rahele Jomepour Bell, the prize-winning illustrator who rendered the images for the book with wit and style, using her own unique palette.  Playdate came to life, not in the way I had imagined, but in a lighter, livelier way.  This is one of the things I love best about picture books:  they are a true collaboration of minds and talents.  Rahele and I have both really enjoyed this collaboration.  Here’s hoping there will be more!


Maryann is the author of 29 books for children. Her latest is “Rosa’s Animals,” the story of the early feminist and animal painter Rosa Bonheur.
“An elegant, insightful portrait of an artist worth knowing.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“High-definition, full-page reproductions of her artwork, as well as supporting historical information about the era in which Bonheur lived, make this an accessible portrait of the artist.”
— School Library Journal
“Macdonald pares Rosa’s biography down to accessible chapters, highlighting such interest-sparking details as the artist’s need for documented permission to dress as a man to attend horse fairs and the mid-century portrait dolls modeled after her that became something of a rage. Plentiful, generously scaled reproductions of Bonheur’s work and that of several contemporaries will lure in browsers, and discussion of the Impressionist movement that drove Realism from the field adds important context.”
— The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

MaryAnn McDonald Dec 2011 Central Park, NYC
photo © Stefan Falke

Maryann’s love of books and reading began when she was growing up in a family of ten outside Detroit. She lived in Europe for many years, where she discovered Odette Meyers’ touching story, retold in “Odette’s Secrets.”

Maryann now lives in New York City, where she came across Rosa Bonheur’s masterpiece, “The Horse Fair,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She wrote about it in “Rosa’s Animals.”


Rahele came to United States in 2011 to pursue her dream of being a free international artist, and graduated with an MFA in Integrated Visual Arts from Iowa State University in 2015. She now lives in the beautiful tiny city of Ames, Iowa with her husband and her little girl Darya, and works as a full time freelance illustrator in her home studio.

She has been an active member of SCBWI since 2012 and has worked with Cricket Media, children magazines since 2016. Her Illustration work was selected as a finalist for the SCBWI Bologna 2016 and shortlisted for the SCBWI Bologna 2018. She has illustrated 7 books published by an Iranian publisher in Tehran. She is the recipient of 2018 Illustration Mentorship Awards from We Need Diverse Books #WNDB. In August 2018, she won the portfolio showcase grand prize award at the SCBWI LA National Conference. She also was the winner of the 2018 SCBWI Social Media Mentorship for Illustrators at the LA National Conference. Laurent Linn and Debbie Ohi were her awesome mentors.

Rahele is originally from Iran, and saw war in her home country when she was just 8 years old. There were two things that could make her black and white world colorful. One was all-night family gatherings at her Grandma and Grandpa’s house every Friday. Her Grandma would tell Rahele fairy tails told to her by her mother, that were told to her by her mother. Stories she has never found in any book. The other was traveling through books full of images of life and nature made by illustrators from all around of the world, such as Zdeněk Miler, Fyodor Khitruk, Bani Asadi and Farshid Mesghali.

She is happiest creating illustrations that make the imagination travel, take a new look at old ideas, and reaffirm the viewer of their natural place in this world.

Maryann and Rahele, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. The text and the illustrations are so much fun. Good Luck!

Visit Maryann at:

If you want to see more of Rachele’s illustrations, here’s the link:

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I love the illustrations. We need more diverse children in children’s books.


  2. I too love the illustrations. They are exceptional. The little girls are perfect and I also love the dog and the cat and the hint at the end that they too can have a play date. I will retweet your blog post :)))


  3. Sounds and looks like such a lovely book! I really enjoyed the interview too.


  4. I love the simplicity.


  5. This brought back memories of my children having playdates in London, too. I look forward to reading Playdate.


  6. What a fun book for pre-schoolers. I love that little dog playing along. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link as well:
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!!


  7. Adorable! I’ve already fallen in love with the dog and the cat 🙂


  8. Great interview! Loved hearing about the journey of this book. Congratulations! 🙂


  9. Love the illustrations, they’re just gorgeous!


  10. Love the mixture of reality and whimsy in the illustrations. Gorgeous.


  11. Terrific interview by the way.
    I am very happy to know that RAHELE JOMEPOUR BELL was able to escape her country of origin and the violence she was exposed to there and that she has been able to fulfill her dream of a career as an artist.


    • Hi Amie! Thank you do much for your comment! I just wanted to tell you that I have not scarped my home country!!! I came here to the US to continue my education and be among all other international artists and explore new ways as an artists! I LOVE my country!!! I just Do Not Like the Government there 🙂 !!


      • Hi Amie! Thank you so* much for your comment! I just wanted to tell you that I have not escaped* my home country!!! I came here to the US to continue my education, to be among all other international artists and explore new ways as an artist*! I LOVE my home-country!!! I just Do Not Like the Government there 🙂 !!Hope that will be also fixed soon*!


  12. Thanks for giving both Rahele and me an opportunity to describe Playdate’s journey, Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you so much Kathy! You are the BEST! I love this interview!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love everything about this book, ladies! 😀


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