Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 26, 2020

Book Giveaway: KINDERGARTEN HAT by Janet Lawler

Janet Lawler has a new picture book, KINDERGARTEN HAT, illustrated by Geraldine Rodriguez and published by Little Bee on June 9th. Janet just received a Starred KIRKUS REVIEW – Congraultations Janet!

Janet 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 Janet and Geraldine, 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!


Carlos Abredo is scared to start kindergarten, but a special teacher with an amazing hat helps give him the confidence to start the school year with a smile.

Carlos Abredo loves building forts, playing soccer, vrooming cars, and gardening. But after moving to a new town, he’s nervous to start his first day of kindergarten. What if the bus gets lost? What if he can’t make friends? What if he can’t find his teacher?! Starting school can be intimidating for anyone, but when you’re also the new kid, it can be downright scary.

When Carlos receives a letter from his new teacher, Mrs. Bashay, asking him to send a photo of himself doing something he loves, he starts to feel a little better. She also requests that he bring a flower for her huge hat on the first day of school. He sends a photo of him gardening. The morning school starts, he picks his biggest daisy for her and takes it on the bus. But his insecurity grows—everyone seems to know each other, and his flower is accidentally destroyed.  When he finally meets Mrs. Bashay, she greets him warmly. Carlos comes up with a clever solution to his destroyed-daisy dilemma and gains the courage to start his first day with a great big kindergarten smile.


I don’t keep perfect records of the many drafts of my manuscripts. The earliest, but undated, version of KINDERGARTEN HAT that I can locate has a word count of 1,100—much too long! A May 2007 revision was down to 835. I continued to revise and pare the story many times, and I received quite a few encouraging and not-so-encouraging rejections over the several years it went in and out of the “active” drawer. I actually forgot about this project for a while.

Then, in 2017 Brett Duquette at Sterling acquired Mirabel’s Missing Valentines. He loved the heart and hope in that story, and we really connected throughout the editing process. Brett moved to Little Bee just shortly before that book published, and we kept in touch. My agent and I thought he’d like KINDERGARTEN HAT, and that it would be a match for Little Bee, and we were right! The polished version that I submitted was 625 words.

Revision before and after acquisition

I agreed to do a revision of the story before Brett presented it for acquisition. I trusted his instincts when he suggested that I focus more on Carlos’s anxiety and nervousness about going to school and less about the state of his flower on the bus. Brett also wanted the bus driver and other kids to be encouraging potential friends.

When an editor recognizes the core of your story, you need to be open to his or her suggestions to better develop it to connect with readers. This is sometimes difficult to do, especially if one is wedded to a particular approach to a story, or to particular words or phrases that may be tied to one’s own personal history. I am glad that the revision process for KINDERGARTEN HAT resulted in a picture book that will better make universal connections than the one I first submitted for acquisition.


And in lieu of words and phrases I had to let go while revising this story, I now have new favorite ones. I kept gardening as a bright spot among all of Carlos’s anxieties, sharing my love of gardening in a way that hopefully will resonate with readers young and old:

But most of all, he loved gardening—the fun of his fingers in the dirt, the surprise of seeds sprouting, and the brightness of the blooms.

Illustrations and beyond

Illustrator Geraldine Rodriguez has done a fabulous job bringing Carlos’s story and world to life with color, depth, and emotional resonance. I love her delightful depiction of his garden, complete with toy figurines and a “Carlos’s Garden” sign. And Mrs. Bashay’s hat is truly magnificent, stupendous, and tremendous!

It is likely that little ones starting school this fall following the coronavirus crisis may be struggling with messy feelings and worries. Hopefully, the humor and heart of KINDERGARTEN HAT will make them feel less alone and help each of them start their first day with a great big kindergarten smile. Thank you, Kathy, for spreading the word about my latest picture book!

At my book’s page on my website, visitors can download a free KINDERGARTEN HAT coloring sheet/craft and a CCSS Curriculum/Parent Guide.

And please stop by my blog, Janet’s Jottings and sign up for my periodic musings on writing and nature.


Janet Lawler’s critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction children’s books, published by major, specialty, and mid-publishers, include If Kisses Were Colors, Snowzilla, The Prehistoric Games, Love Is Real, Fright School, and Mirabel’s Missing Valentines. Ocean Counting (Nat’l. Geo.), featuring undersea photos by award-winning Brian Skerry, was named an Outstanding Trade Science Book by the Nat’l. Science Teachers Association and was followed by Rain Forest Colors.

Her coffee-table quality pop-up books include several for major holidays, as well as ones offering thematic, early non-fiction (LEAVES; SHELLS).

Janet’s love of family, nature, and “all things silly” inspires much of her writing. Her family shares their home in Connecticut with a dog and assorted wildlife visiting the backyard.

Janet enjoys visiting schools and libraries. Visit her website at


Geraline was born in Mexico and an artist since as long as she can remember – as a child she was always drawing (especially sketching over-the-top of Mexican cooking books). Art has always been a part of her life- colour and simple forms are the way she express herself.

She is always willing to see the good in every situation. The world around gives her the inspiration to create.
Geraldine Rodríguez is represented by Lucie Luddington at the Bright Agency.

Janet, thank you for sharing your book and your book journey with us. I love Carlos’ teacher Mrs. Bashay. I wish every child had a smart loving teacher like her. Kids will love her hat. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Such a wonderful book! This is the perfect book for anyone getting ready to begin kindergarten! I used to be a kindergarten teacher…wish I had known about this creative way to stand out for new students! Congratulations, Janet!

    I will tweet this and I follow by email. 🙂


    • Thanks, Angie! I am sure you were creative in other ways with your students!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, we tried! LOL


  2. This looks really sweet and inspiring for young kids starting school. Congrats!


  3. I shared on FB, Twitter, and Pinterest and I follow your blog. I’d love to win this for my granddaughter who is entering Kindergarten in the fall. Thanks!


  4. I love Janet’s books, and this one looks terrific, too! Congratulations!


  5. Awww. What a sweet book for kids getting ready to start school. Thanks for the post. I will pass on the giveaway since I just won a book.


  6. What a fun approach to starting school jitters! The illustrations are lovely and colorful, too! Congratulations!

    Kathy, I shared on twitter. I get your daily blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great story, one that lots of kids can relate to. 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:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a safe and happy day!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This looks like such a great picture book! I imagine there will be teachers who follow the example in your book.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “And in lieu of words and phrases I had to let go while revising this story, I now have new favorite ones.” — This comment is so encouraging. It’s hard to cut stories you love! (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


    • Glad another Janet won my book! And glad my post provided some encouragement!


      • I can’t wait to read it! Thank you!


  10. I loved Mirabel’s Missing Valentines, so I’m sure I’ll love Kindergarten Hat too!


  11. Thanks, everyone, for such lovely comments and for spreading the word! Every bit helps. (My big local launch event had to be canceled, and the “real” Mrs. Bashay, now retired to a warmer climate, was going to attend as guest of honor.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: