Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 1, 2020

Book Giveaway: EVERYBODY’S TREE by Barbara Joosse

Barbara Joosse has written a new picture book, EVERYBODY’S TREE, illustrated by Renée Graef and publish by Sleeping Bear Press. They have agreed to send a copy to the 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 other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Barbara and Renée.

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:

Over the course of eighty years a spruce tree grows, along with the little boy who first selected it at a tree farm. As the tree grows from sapling to magnificent evergreen, the child matures as well, becoming a father and then grandfather. Now at the end of its life, the glorious tree is chosen to be the centerpiece of a city’s holiday celebration. The tree journeys from rural countryside to big city center, where everyone, young and old, comes together to celebrate a tree for all; everybody’s tree.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Every author hears, many more times than we’d like: “Great story.  But the timing isn’t right.”  Shouldn’t a great story be right any time?  Shouldn’t you want to publish my great story NOW?

I wrote Everybody’s Tree over ten years ago, a heartfelt story of a sapling that grows into its destiny— the magnificent centerpiece of a city’s holiday celebration, the city Christmas Tree.  The story chronicles the tree’s life along with the small boy who plants it.  As the boy and his family grow, so does the tree.

At the beginning of the story, the little sapling has a big thought, one shared by many children:

 

I’m just a little sprout from a mighty spruce tree,

and I wonder—I wonder!—what I will be?

 

I don’t yet know what I will be

or if there’s something great in me.

But I will wait, and I will grow,

and one day, one year I will know.

 

This had been a dark time for me as an author.  No one was buying.  I asked myself if my stories were relevant to today’s market.  I asked myself if my life as a writer was over.

But I have this friend, Renee Graef, an illustrator.  She’s one of those friends who reminds you of who you are when you’ve forgotten, and she absolutely positively refused to let me give up.  So I dug in and tried again, writing “Everybody’s Tree.”

The story had all the elements I want my stories to have: playful, musical language, heartfelt connection, inclusivity and a sense of urgency:

Oh, the cold, it is a-stinging

and the bells, they are a-ringing

and everybody’s singing

for the lighting

oh tonight-ing

of EVERYBODY’S TREE!

Renee created pagination for the story along with sketches.  My agent sent it out, and “Everybody’s Tree” was met with the dreaded “great-story-not-t

he-right-time” response.  Ugh.

But writing the story had effectively removed writer’s block and I was on my way again.  Meanwhile, “Everybody’s Tree” was forgotten, like a once-beloved childhood toy.  I moved on, but not Renee.  After ten years, we’d collaborated on several books and now she was eager to find more stories for us to create.  She reminded me of our long-ago story.  “Yeah,” I said.  “I kinda remember it.  But I don’t think it was very good.”  Renee insisted.  Loudly.  “YES IT WAS!  READ IT AGAIN!!”

The problem was, I couldn’t even find it.  In one of my studio purges, I’d tossed it.  Renee was insistent.  “BARB!  LOOK.  AGAIN.”  This time I spied a shelf, so high I couldn’t reach.  I climbed atop a ladder, inching my fingers toward a small stack of papers.  I slid the papers down and there it was.  “Everybody’s Tree.”  I read the story and came to the same conclusion, “Not very good.”  But I sent it anyway, to Barb McNally of Sleeping Bear Press.

I’m not proud of this and I do NOT advise this to any author at any time.  I said, “I know this story isn’t very good right now.  It needs a lot of work.”  Undeterred, Barb read it immediately and within hours emailed back, “I love the story.  Do NOT touch it!”

Ten years had passed and, while the story hadn’t changed, the world had.  Covid made us feel isolated and afraid.  Politics separated us.  We longed to feel good, to feel that we were together, celebrating something as one— not people defined by party affiliation or color or age or neighborhood.  The sentiment of a tree—the loving gift of a family to “share with everybody everywhere”—was no longer cliche.    It was as fresh as the scent of a pine tree.  It was a sparkling story who’s time had come to shine.

 

I shine so the darkest corner has light

on the shortest of days and the coldest of nights.

I shine so you have something warm to share

when you hold hands together in the frosty air.

 

I shine for you.

I shine for me.

I am Everybody’s Christmas Tree.

BARBARA BIO:

Barbara M. Joosse is an American children’s writer. She has been writing for children for over thirty years. She has published fifty-four books for children, both picture books and chapter books. Through her writing, she aspires to find the things that are the same, and the things that are different, between us all.

She has toured worldwide to promote her books, which have been translated into twenty-eight languages and attended college in Wisconsin, first at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and received her B.A. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She attended University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee from 1977-80, taking creative writing classes. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Council for Wisconsin Writers.

RENEE’S BIO:

Renée Graef is an award-winning illustrator who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in art. She has illustrated over 80 books for children, including the Kirsten series in the American Girl collection and many of the My First Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Renée worked as a creative director for the Little House program at Harper Collins for five years and enjoyed traveling to the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites.

Renée has also illustrated classics such as The Nutcracker and My Favorite Things, as well as books about American icons: Mount Rushmore and Paul Bunyan. She has worked on books/cookbooks for Lidia Bastianich (of PBS’s Lidia’s Italy). Renée’s most recent alphabet books are on timekeeping and on lighthouses of the Great Lakes. Renée worked with the Getty Museum in Los Angeles on Thèrése Makes a Tapestry, a historical fiction highlighting the weaving of tapestries during the 1670’s in Paris.

Ms. Graef’s accomplishments have been honored by the Society of Illustrators-Los Angeles and the State of Wisconsin’s House of Representatives, among other groups and her work has been exhibited in numerous solo shows. Renée splits her time between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Los Angeles, California.

Barbara, thank you for sharing your book an journey with us. I love how this cover glows in the dark. I find myself turning off the lights just to enjoy the lights on the tree. As always, I love Renee’s gorgeous art and I loved my journey reading and watching the sapling grow into a beautiful old tree that is shared with everyone. And I especially love the last page, which you shared above, but is worth sharing again.

I shine so the darkest corner has light

on the shortest of days and the coldest of nights.

I shine so you have something warm to share

when you hold hands together in the frosty air.

I shine for you.

I shine for me.

I am Everybody’s Christmas Tree.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. What a beautiful story!! Love its journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing journey for this story and heartfelt post. I’m glad it made its way into a book. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me, too, Ashley.
      Thanks!

      Like

  3. Barbara Joosse is one of my favorite authors, and Christmas stories have a special place in my heart! This one looks like a winner with Renée Graef’s illustrations. (I posted on Twitter.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lovely to hear your words, Cathy.

      Like

  4. Oh, congrats! What a wonderful book!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful book and the story of it’s creation over time is very interesting! Congratulations and I’d love to win a copy!

    Like

  6. Barbara, I love the story of your book’s journey and your friendship with Renee. Congratulations! This is a book we all need right now. xo. I am grateful to be a follower of this wonderful blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda, I’m lucky to have Renee in my life! And yes, we’re all hungry for connection now.

      Like

  7. Not only does the book itself look wonderful–but the story of it’s ten year journey is wonderful to read. Not that I wish everyone’s stories take ten years, but that you didn’t give up on a gem that just needed the right time and place to flourish. YAY! Sharing on twitter and FB!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Don’t we all need just the right time to flourish. Seeds waiting to germinate!

      Like

  8. What a sweet book! Thanks for the chance to win a copy. I receive your posts by email every day.

    Like

  9. This reminds me of The Blue Spruce! So sweet!

    Like

  10. What a great looking Christmas book with such a wonderful message. I’d love to have a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1333864496482324480, and shared an image with a link on Pinterest too: https://www.pinterest.com.mx/pin/336573772157486251/.
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks for the chance to win, have a great day!

    Like

  11. What a beautiful story! I recently signed up for your newsletter and I’m so glad, I love these reviews!

    Like

  12. Wow, ten years–incredible, but the long wait certainly was worth it judging by the sample text and illustrations…congrats! Kathy, I receive your daily blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love this! What a beautiful book.

    Like

  14. Thank goodness for perserverance and good friends! This looks like a great book.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Congrats, Barbara and Renee! (I’m signed up for the emails, too.)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Looks like a wonderful book! Congrats, Barbara & Renee!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Congratulations, Barbara and Renee! What a journey this has been!! Thank you for sharing the story-behind-the-story of this beautiful book. Retweeted.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I love Christmas books and need a new one. This looks perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I mean WOW … what an uplifting book about a tree that moves so many people!! It is so very, very special and who can not use an uplifting ❤ & moving story AFTER this year!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been amazing to be part of this story’s journey. A whole lot of people are hungry for connection, sharing something lovely together. When I wrote the story, covid was not a reality, along with the other difficult parts of 2020. But here it is–the right book at the right time. This happened to me once before: Mama, Do You Love Me?

      Like

  20. How beautiful! Thanks for sharing such lovely thoughts!

    Like

  21. Love this !

    Like

  22. Love this story!! And the illustrations! Have known of Renee for quite awhile, but am new to know Barbara Joose. Am looking forward to learning more about her. Thank you for sharing!!

    Like

  23. How nice. Thanks for an inspiring story.
    Shared on Twitter.

    Like

  24. Thanks for the reminder that rejection is sometimes just about timing. Sweetie illustrations and story!

    Like

    • *sweet

      Like

  25. Shared in fb Char Murray Kochensparger

    Like

  26. This is a lovely story. I’m glad you kept your balance on that ladder so the story could see the light of day when we need it most.

    Like

  27. Your editor and Renee were so right — it’s the perfect story for 2020! Thank you for writing it and tucking it away “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) Blessings this Christmas!

    Like


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