Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 9, 2020

Book Giveaway: ALIEN TOMATO by Kristen Schroeder

Author Kristen Schroeder has a new picture book titled, ALIEN TOMATO, illustrated by Mette Engell and published by Page Street Kids. PSK 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 Kristen and Mette!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

It streaked through the sky on a perfect day in July and landed in the garden…

When a mysterious red orb appears one day, the vegetables aren’t sure what to make of it. They decide that it must be an alien tomato! They name her Allie and try to make her feel as welcome as possible. But Gopher isn’t convinced. He’s sure it’s just a ball.

This delightfully silly tale and its equally hilarious art are a perfect fit for gardeners and sci-fi fans alike.

BOOK JOURNEY:

The idea for ALIEN TOMATO came out of the clear blue sky one day, kind of like the first line in the book:

In real life, the words “alien tomato” spilled from my daughter’s lips, on a perfect day after school, and landed in my brain. We still have no idea why she said it, but after my daughter randomly blurted out “alien tomato”, I started thinking about a story where a round, red object landed in a veggie garden. That was my catalyst. I imagined a veggie cast of characters and disagreement about whether the object was an alien tomato or a red ball.  A contrary gopher character arrived on the scene, and the story came together quite quickly.

I sent an early draft to my critique partners, but it was hard to follow with text, dialogue and illustration notes all jumbled together. I created a three-column table which made it much easier to scan and see what was happening on each page. Here’s a sample of an earlier draft.

I emailed ALIEN TOMATO to my agent, Christa Heschke, and she liked the story and the table format. After a few tweaks, she declared it submission worthy in June of 2017. We got some encouraging feedback from editors in the first small round of submissions, and continued subbing into 2018. Then, on the back of a “revise and resubmit” request, I got the news I had been waiting for. Page Street Kids made an offer on ALIEN TOMATO in August of 2018. I was over the moon! My debut picture book would be coming out in 2020!

Working with Page Street Kids was a dream. They asked for input on illustrators and involved me in the selection process. They focused on illustrators who could bring anthropomorphic characters to life. When Mette Engell was hired as ALIEN TOMATO’S illustrator, I was thrilled.

As you can see from my earlier draft, I wrote three different speaking parts for veggies but didn’t specify the type. A squash, a carrot named Reggie, a broccoli named Beverly and a bunch of radishes ended up sharing those lines in the book. Asparagus, corn, beans and peas rounded out the garden. My favorite veggies are the peas in the pod, who don’t have any dialogue and weren’t part of my vision, they were all Mette’s idea. They’re so expressive and their antics provide the special little details that children love in a picture book.

As I was writing ALIEN TOMATO, my initial focus was on the humor stemming from the contrast between the veggies’ and Gopher’s reactions to the arrival of the round, red newcomer. The disagreement about whether the red object is a ball or an alien tomato builds tension and draws the reader to wonder who’s right. To give the story some heart, I developed a central theme of kindness and acceptance for ALIEN TOMATO based on the veggies’ approach to Allie. The veggies are unfailingly polite and kind to Allie which builds Gopher’s frustration and leads to the climax of the story (no spoilers!) And I hope I was able to make room for empathy for Gopher’s character as well.

 

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Kathy!

Having a debut picture book released in 2020 has definitely provided some challenges, but I have loved every minute of this journey.

The best part has been seeing photos of children enjoying ALIEN TOMATO.

This is what it’s all about!

 

 

KRISTEN’S BIO:

Kristen Schroeder grew up in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. Some of her best childhood memories involve discovering a new favorite book or author at her local library. Books introduced her to other countries and worlds.

Kristen loves to travel and lived in Australia for 11 years. She returned to Minnesota with an Aussie husband, two children, and dual citizenship. She began writing for children in 2014 in between running a business and raising her kids. Her second picture book, FREDDY THE NOT-TEDDY, comes out in April 2022 with EK Books, and a third picture book entitled SO MUCH SNOW will hit shelves in late 2022 from Random House Studios.

METTE ENGELL’S BIO:

Mette Engell is a self-taught children’s illustrator and a surface designer. She grew up in the northern part of Zealand, the largest island in Denmark. She studied biology at the university of Copenhagen, where she earned her masters in marine biology. She has always loved coming up with stories and characters, so after her first child was born, she picked up her pencil and hasn’t put it down since. Today she lives by the ocean with her husband and their 3 kids, 2 cats, and a lionhead bunny in a blue house filled with art supplies, picture books, and Lego.

 

Kristen, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. You made a great story mixing science fiction, aliens, and vegetables together for this book and Mette’s illustrations are delightful. I have a copy and I love it, so I know you will hit this one out of the park and into outer space with the children and parents who read it to their kids.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Love the thought of an Alien Tomato! Out of the mouth of babes! can;t wait to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Kristen, for showing your progress for this story. It sounds adorable, and Mette did a beautiful job with the illustrations. Congratulations and Happy Book Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. what a fun and whimsical book!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How amazing that your child provided the idea that blossomed into a story! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the sound of this book—congrats, Kristen!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hilarious and fun!! Made me giggle:) Congrats on publication.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This looks awesome! Congrats! Can’t wait to read it! (I will also post on Twitter!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for a very informative post. The book looks really cute.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. this looks adorable. Shared on PInterest, twitter, and FB.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This book looks so good! Great job! I have to read it now—it piqued my curiosity! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for sharing your book journey, Kristen! I particularly liked the sneak peak of your table-format (I’ve never seen one with three columns to include speech bubbles as well as art direction). I’m happy to share your good news on twitter & Facebook!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This looks like a really fun book for kids. I’d love to have a copy of Alien tomato.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1292551642529898497, and pinned an image with a link on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.mx/pin/336573772156125159/.
    Thanks again for the chance to win, have a safe day everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This sounds absolutely adorable! Thanks for letting us in on your journey. I always wonder about how to show speech bubbles. Congrats to both Kristen and Mette! I am sharing this one for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This looks adorable! Congrats, Kristen and Mette.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks for showing how you laid out the storyline for this. I’ve got a book I’m working on right now that will benefit from this lay-out. Looks like a fun read!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I have been enjoying my tomato crop this year (we are going to try to make ketchup this year!) And my son is my garden helper, so we would love to read this. I thought the spreadsheet layout was a very cool idea too.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great interview! What an amazing idea for a book! I know my firsties would love this whole story. The journey Kristen took from her daughter’s declaration all the way to getting published was fascinating. Mette’s colorful illustrations are perfect for this book too.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This looks like such a cute book! Thanks for the opportunity to share it with my fourth graders.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This looks hilarious! Now I’m wondering about the true identity of that alien tomato… (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Congratulations! Such a fun idea. Amazing how kids can give you so many ideas. Thanks for sharing your chart. A great way to see the story clearly. I Shared on Twitter and I receive your blog emails.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Sounds fabulous! Shared on Twitter and FB 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank you for sharing your book’s journey. I love the table format for clarification for sharing/submitting! Congratulations!

    Shared on Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. So much garden fun! Alien Tomato indeed! Thanks for sharing your story with us! Can’t wait to read it! Love the format of how you mapped out your book as well. 🙂 Congrats!

    I will Tweet this post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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