Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 30, 2020

Book Giveaway: Jonas Hanway’s Scurrilous, Scandalous, Shockingly Sensational Umbrella by Josh Crute

Josh Crute has a new picture book, Jonas Hanway’s Scurrilous, Scandalous, Shockingly Sensational Umbrella, illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen and published by Page Street Kids. Page Street Kids has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is 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 Josh and Eileen, especially at this stressful time when authors and illustrators need to promote their books completely online.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Sometimes in London it drizzles. Sometimes it mizzles. Other times it pelts and showers and spits. And Jonas Hanway hates getting wet. How can he go about his day as a proper London gentleman when his shoes are soggy, his coat is always collecting puddles, and his wig looks like a wet cat? Fed up with damp and dreary London, Jonas sails far away, to places where the sun always shines. But what he sees when he gets there is…. scandalous! Shocking! Sensational! Perhaps also…quite genius? Now all Jonas has to do is convince the rest of London that they need an umbrella, too.

All about the real gentleman who introduced umbrellas to 1750’s London society, this is the perfect story of persistence, problem-solving, and how good ideas hold (off) water.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Jonas Hanway’s Scurrilous, Scandalous, Shockingly Sensational Umbrella

I can’t take much credit for this story. It happened long before me.

Jonas Hanway was an English gentleman, merchant, traveler, writer, and philanthropist who lived in the middle of the 18th century. He was known in his day for writing dry and didactic books, founding the Marine Society, and campaigning to put an end to abusive child labor, but it’s very possible that he would be unknown to us today, save for a very eccentric blip on his resume:

He is credited as being the first man to carry an umbrella in London.

Now, whether or not he was actually the first is unknown, but it’s clear that he was certainly the first man of reputation to do so, and his reputation suffered for it. People laughed and jeered at him and the cab drivers hated him so much (for threatening their business) that one of them tried to run him over! But Jonas was a stubborn man, and even though it took him thirty years of persistent brollying to end the bullying and see it catch on as a British necessity, he never wavered.

It may seem crazy to us today that such a famously wet country like England should resist the umbrella for so long. It wasn’t because they weren’t invented. Umbrellas, in some form or another, were as old as ancient Egypt. Yet in 1750, it was considered unthinkable for an English gentleman to carry an umbrella.

Why?

The answer lies in the phrase: “English gentleman.” Jonas was a man, and umbrellas were thought to be an accessory for women. He was also a gentleman, meaning he had money, and umbrellas were thought to be for people who couldn’t afford a coach. And, most importantly, he was an English gentleman, and umbrellas were popular in France, a country that the English hated (Hanway and others like him were reportedly jeered for being “mincing Frenchmen” and told “Frenchman, why don’t you get a coach?”).

So how did I come across this story? I was at the SCBWI summer conference when a friend (whom the book is dedicated to) sent me an article from Atlas Obscura about Hanway and his offensive umbrella. He suggested I turn it into a picture book and I immediately agreed. I contacted the writer of the article, Michael Waters, who generously pointed me to some sources. I read everything I could, then sat down to write the manuscript. More than anything I wanted it to read less like a history lesson and more like a humorous and entertaining story. Words began to pop into my head like headlines on a newspaper. SCURRILOUS! SCANDALOUS! SHOCKINGLY SENSATIONAL!

Once the manuscript reached a place I felt good about, I researched agents and sent out queries. Painted Words liked it enough to sign me, and from there, we sent it to Page Street Kids, who had published my first book. There, Kristen, Allison, and Courtney helped me edit and improve the prose. They also sent me suggestions for a potential illustrator, and after studying the portfolios, I begged, “OH MY GOSH, can we please please please please please please get Eileen Ryan Ewen????”

Eileen was the perfect illustrator for the book. She had experience with period pieces, and a background in portraiture, which meant she could fill an entire city with people and make each of them look fresh, alive, and distinct. I love books like Where’s Waldo, where there is something to look at in every corner of the page, and she has that quality to her work. In one spread, she fills a London street with golden windows and each of those windows has a person in it—a man scribbling at a novel, siblings waging a pillow war, taverners singing, a girl putting handprints on the misty window. Later in the book, she creates a breathtaking ocean spread, reminiscent of rococo art, that includes a mermaid with an umbrella. A MERMAID WITH AN UMBRELLA Y’ALL.

One final story. I hadn’t been to London before writing the book, but I got to visit during the editing process, fulfilling a lifelong dream. My friends and I toted umbrellas through the streets, walked past Queen Square where Jonas once lived, and stopped in nearby Twinings, the famous tea shop. They’ve got a miniature museum inside chronicling the history of the hot drink, and I suddenly remembered that Jonas Hanway once wrote a famous get-off-my-lawn-style public letter decrying the trending beverage.

“I wonder if they’ve got a copy of it here?” I said.

Sure enough, they did.

JOSH’S BIO:

Josh Crute is a children’s book author. has lost too many umbrellas to count. His first picture book, Oliver: The Second Largest Living Thing on Earth, contains no umbrellas, but it does contain an unhappy sequoia tree. If you find one of Josh’s umbrellas, please give it a good home or return it to his umbrella stand in Birmingham (Alabama, not England).

Josh was born by the bays of Maryland, grew up on the beaches of Florida, lived on the coasts of California, and now resides in the hills of Alabama. When he isn’t writing at home or making movies with his friends, you can spot him in his native habitats, the public library and local bookstore.

ELLEN RYAN EWEN’S BIO:

Eileen is a freelance artist with a background in Fine Art and Creative Writing. While spending years painting portraits and other oil commissions, Eileen kept thinking about what made her fall in love with art and words in the first place–children’s books. After the birth of her youngest child, she decided to delve headfirst into the art of children’s books, and hasn’t looked back since.

Using traditional mediums such as watercolor, ink, and gouache, Eileen enjoys nothing more than the challenge of making characters and worlds come to life on paper. She has had the recent privilege to work on books that range from whimsical fiction, educational fiction, and historical non-fiction. And somewhere in between, she’s always working on the stories that are floating around in her own head. To date, Eileen has worked on multiple books for Sleeping Bear Press, as well as other commissioned work. Eileen lives and works in Cleveland Heights, OH, with her husband, four young children, and two very old cats.​​​​​​​ You can find more of Eileen’s work on her website: www.eileenryanewen.com

Josh thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I love how you came across this idea and how you took the time to create such a fun story with what you found. Eileen did a great job with the illustrations. I can understand why you were so excited to get her for your book. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. I’m always trying to get elementary students to enjoy history. This book has what it takes to get them excited!!!

    Like

  2. I love it! This book sounds like fun history and cool trivia. I know several young readers who will enjoy reading it. Congratulations!

    I follow your blog by email and I will tweet this, Kathy. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Like

  3. I love seeing new Page Street Kids books, and this one looks delightful, and gorgeously illustrated! Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks for highlighting this book, Kathy. I follow your blog by email. Sharing via Twitter.

    Like

  4. This book sounds absolutely delightful! I can’t wait to read it! Thank you Kathy for finding and reviewing all these amazing books.
    I subscribe to your newletter, and shared this on Twitter, FB, and Instagram.

    Like

  5. Congrats, Josh! This book sounds delightful. I’m an email subscriber, too.

    Like

  6. Stupendous! I love NF tidbits like this. Wishing you all the best 🙂

    Like

  7. I love umbrellas! I have a favorite one from Paris. The illustrations add to the humor. Congrats! Hopefully, when it comes to your success, when it rains, it pours!

    Like

  8. Another brilliant kids book with unknown history to boot. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1255972386702102529, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link as well: https://www.pinterest.com.mx/pin/336573772154905486/.
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com.
    Thanks again, have a safe and happy day everyone!!

    Like

  9. I’m intrigued. For some reason, I like umbrella stories. The title is great! My critique group tries to steer me away from big words, but alas, you did it! I’ll add this to my l-o-n-g reading list.

    Like

  10. What a wonderful book! Those illustrations are gorgeous and the story sounds so fun. Thanks for the heads up and the chance to win a copy!

    Like

  11. This sounds like a winner for sure. I shared on FB and Twitter.

    Like

  12. What a wonderful idea for a picture book & what a great way to write it! Can’t wait to read this!

    Like

  13. This looks like a book any child would want read to them again and again~for the super fun words and delightful illustrations!

    Like

  14. Great idea for a book, and looks fantastic. Thanks so much!!!

    Like

  15. Great interview! Thank you for such a wonderful recounting of the story of your book’s development, from idea to publication, Josh! And thank you, too, for the window into your thinking regarding the selection of the artist. Eileen does amazing work, and this is a great topic, beautifully handled! I’m sure it will be a hit in the school and library, as well as trade lists! Congratulations!

    Sincerely,

    Elizabeth McBride
    https://elizabethmcbridewriter.com/

    Like

  16. This book looks amazing!! Look forward to reading it!

    Like

  17. The book sounds so much fun! Love the art.

    Please throw in an extra entry since I subscribe to your blog.

    Like

  18. Love the art, and can’t wait to read this!

    Like

  19. Oh yes, and I’m a follower. Cheers!

    Like

  20. This looks like a fun book with some awesome artwork!
    I follow your blog.

    Like

  21. This sounds fascinating. I had no idea there was such a resistance to umbrellas in England. (Kathy, I subscribe to this blog.)

    Like

  22. I love everything about this book! The concept and beautiful illustrations! I’m a librarian and my favorite books teach and entertain. Love it and want it on my library bookshelf! I follow your blog and will tweet, sharing this interesting book.
    Thanks for sharing, Kathy.

    Like


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