Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 9, 2020

Book Giveaway: The Crankypants Tea Party by Barbara Bottner

Barbara Bottner has a new picture book, The Crankypants Tea Party, illustrated by Ale Barba and published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books on June 23rd.

Barbara 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 Barbara and Ale, 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!



The Day the Crayons Quit meets Winnie the Pooh in this hilarious and tea-riffic illustrated picture book about stuffed animals who start bickering at their tea party.

It’s tea time at Clarissa’s house, but her guests are not in the mood for a party:

Elephant is upset about the ice cream Clarissa dropped on his head.

Rabbit is still damp from being left outside.

Pig has a rip that’s yet to be repaired.

Monkey is miffed over being put to bed when he wasn’t even tired.

Bear has been forgotten all week long.

And, the stuffies declare, Clarissa thinks she’s Queen of the Universe!

So instead of a tea party, Clarissa finds herself at a crankypants party! Can Clarissa and her stuffed animals make up before their tea gets cold, or will they continue to steep in their crankiness?


This is a tale I can’t wait to tell because it spans over thirty years.

Yep. Thirty years!

Originally, it was inspired by my understanding of the psyche. Especially that part of the psyche that likes to blame and complain, argue and find reasons to avoid responsibility. It was very helpful to me when I began to write for children to remember how I was as a child and to locate those still-alive childish parts of myself. Some say we’re all the ages we ever were. I agree with that. Part of our jobs as adults is to mitigate these immature leftovers so that we can be more evolved humans, but knowing they are there gives authors a tremendous resource. We write for children knowing that in some ways, under the right circumstances, we too are still very young emotionally.

When I first worked with this story, I saw myself as the illustrator. I’d illustrated all my early books, in fact my goal in the beginning was to be an illustrator—my training was as a painter. I had no plans to write. But then I did! In any case, I loved drawing stuffed animals and accrued quite a collection of them. Every time I revised the project, I re-envisioned the visuals. I must have a mile of sketches, finishes and character designs. Alas, despite my commitment this project was turned down over and over again. At one point I was working with Arthur Levine, who since then has become a legend. He told me: “this has ET.” “What’s ET?” I asked. “Essential Truth,” he said. I was ecstatic. But then he turned it down.

Over the years, being very stubborn and armed with the ‘almost’ deals that came and went, I came to believe it would eventually see the light of day. By then, I was no longer illustrating books but when it came to this particular one, which was titled “Is She Good?” I continued to draw it. Originally, the stuffed animals held a trial for Clarissa. Some editors felt the trial motif was too harsh. Then, I tried a different tact: instead of a trial, I wrote about a time out. The title became “Time Out, Clarissa.” Off and on, various agents would submit it. As I said, this went on over decades, off and on. Then, one sunny afternoon I was having lunch with the amazing Caitlyn Dlouhy. I owed her a second book for a two-book deal. I was pitching a story I was very fond of, a kind of trickster tale. She seemed lukewarm on it. I pulled out my sketches and text for what is now The Crankypants Tea Party. She leaned across the table, picked up the pages and said something along the lines of: “this one I feel in my gut.”


Once she committed to publishing it, we had several conversations. The first one was that my drawings didn’t work for her. They were ‘old-fashioned.’ Well, no surprise there, they’d originated thirty years before! The second issue was, was there a better  way to frame it, something more positive than a time out. Caitlyn thought a tea party full of complainers was a great way to focus the story and she was right. Then, she suggested several illustrators. As a former illustrator–—and as a trained artist—who brought Peggy Rathmann into the game, (Bootsie Barker Bites) you can imagine I’m very picky. But when I saw Ale Barba’s work I fell in love. Even so, I didn’t imagine she’d take a ‘far out’ approach and bring all kinds of visual elements to the story to make it even more fun and zany and surprising, but that she did!

Now I can see that Caitlyn’s decision to reject my drawings was wise and inspired.

But the main theme of the original, decades-old story is still there. Clarissa has to hear about her alleged wrong-doing but then she has the chance to explain her behavior. The old element of ‘is she good’ is still tucked in there. She hears them out. When she finally gets to explain her point of view, we realize she hasn’t been shirking her care taking, and that she cherishes her stuffies. They will always be cranky, just like children are cranky at times. And she will always invite them to tea because she loves them no matter what.


Barbara Bottner has written about 50 books for children of all ages. In May, her first YA novel in free verse, I Am Here Now is coming out from Macmillan (Imprint) She’s written a NY Times Bestseller, as well as staffed prime time sit-com, sold screenplays, published essays and short stories in both national and literary magazines and reviewed children’s books for both the NY and LA Sunday Book Review. Many of her works have been multiply translated and animated, and adapted for short plays. When she was an animator, she won “Best Film For TV” from the Annecy International Animation Festival. When very young, she briefly appeared on stage and in Europe with La Mama Plexus and in television movies. She teaches writing for children privately but won The Distinguished University Teaching Award from The New School For Social Research. Her papers are collected in the Arne Nixon Center for Children’s Literature at Fresno State.

Former students include: Lane Smith, Robin Preiss Glaser, Peggy Rathmann, Bruce Degen, Barney Saltsburg and Antoinette Portis.
She feels blessed to have a passion that seems to stick with her no matter how the larger world goes out of control.

Barbara collaborated with Michael Emberley, resulting in Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don’t). Anyone who’s ever struggled with falling in love with reading, or is the parent or teacher of a picky reader will rejoice in the way Miss Brooks handles a curmudgeon of a first grader. Miss Brooks Loves Books has appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List and is nominated for the prestigious Bill Martin Jr. Award. Barbara teaches writing and consults with writers all over the country; she was honored to receive the New School Distinguished Teaching Award in 1990.


Ale Barba has been making art with a variety of mediums for as long as she can remember. She has been published in the Spanish language in Mexico, Denmark, and Colombia, and her work has twice been recognized by the National Council for Culture and Arts in Mexico. She is also the author of When Your Elephant Comes to Play. She lives in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Barbara, thank you for sharing your new book and its’ journey with us. Ale did a wonderful job capturing the fun. It looks like a quite a zany tea party. Good Luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wow what a fun-sounding story and a great deal of persistence!


  2. I love the title and what a cute story!


  3. I love tea parties! And this one is just fabulous! Congratulations!

    I follow by email and will tweet this post. Thank you!


  4. I loved the whole story here, and the book looks just fantastic. Congratulations!


  5. I love your persistence! Glad the book is out in the world. Such a fantastic story! Congrats. (I follow you, Kathy.)


  6. This looks really cute. I love the watercolors!


  7. Love the concept of this story and following it’s path to publication and the art just makes it pop! Congratulations! (I also shared this on Twitter)


  8. What a fun premise! Love the title. Crankypants anything is funny.


  9. This looks so great! Love the illustrations. (I follow you, Kathy!)


  10. Thirty years! That timetable sounds horrifying…and inspiring. I bet Crankypants Tea Party is worth the wait. I can’t wait to read it. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


  11. Sounds like fun, we should all be aware of our crankiness when necessary. 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 everyone!


  12. Wow. Thirty years! That should give us all hope. Thanks for a fun post. The book looks terrific. I can’t wait to read it.


  13. How amazing! I think you win the title for longest wait…and Crankypants sounds/looks like a winner–congrats! (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


  14. Subscribed! Looks like a truly fun story


  15. Wow! 30 years! That’s quite a journey. Congrats on making it to the finish line!


  16. What a fabulously long journey! Thanks for sharing it. Gives me hope.


  17. I shared on Twitter, FB, PInterest and I follow your excellent blog!


  18. The title alone is hilarious 🙂


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