Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 3, 2020

Book Giveaway: MAC AND CHEESE by Jolene Gutierrez

Jolene Gutierrez has written a new picture book, MAC AND CHEESE, illustrated by Heather Bell and publish by Clearfork/Spork. Jolene has 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 Jolene and Heather.

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!


Mac and Cheese are the class guinea pigs, and Oliver is their biggest fan. So he watches them to learn how he can be a good friend. But while snuggling might be fine for guinea pigs, Oliver’s classmates don’t like him getting in their personal space bubbles. With the help of his teacher and classmates, Oliver learns that being a friend means respecting personal space.

“At a time when parents and teachers struggle to teach kids about how close is close—what is appropriate personal space—here comes Mac and Cheese to gently show the way. Jolene Gutiérrez’s text and Heather Bell’s illustrations provide a light-hearted story that demonstrates how kids live, think, and act. Sure, it’s needful teaching but it does so in a sweet and meaningful way.” —Avi, winner of the Newbery Medal and author of over 75 books


Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog again, Kathy! My debut picture book Mac and Cheese and the Personal Space Invader was released this year by Clear Fork/Spork Publishing. Mac and Cheese was edited by Callie Metler-Smith and edited and art directed by Mira Reisberg. Both of these women are powerhouses and a delight to work with. I’m also honored to present at Mira’s Picture Book Palooza about “Writing About Neurodiversity and Disability.” The Palooza runs December 5-7; here’s the sign-up link: The money raised by this Palooza goes to the Children’s Book Academy scholarship fund. In 2018, Mira awarded me a scholarship to attend her Craft and Business of Writing Picture Books course through Children’s Book Academy, so I’m excited to be able to give back by being part of the Palooza! 

One of the manuscripts I worked on in Mira’s course was a story that I hoped would help children understand the importance of personal space. I’ve been a teacher librarian at a school for diverse learners for the past 25 years, and personal space seems to be evergreen topics in most classrooms. My first draft of Mac and Cheese and the Personal Space Invader was written and shelved in 2013 because it just wasn’t working. Mira’s course gave me the skills I needed to revise my original manuscript and connected me to Callie at Clear Fork/Spork.

Even though I never say so in the book, my main character Oliver is on the autism spectrum and his struggles with social skills are based off on some of my students’ and my daughter’s experiences. Callie is the mom of and an aunt to children with autism, so I felt that she’d be the perfect person to critique my manuscript. During Callie’s critique, she suggested some edits that really resonated with me and said she’d love to see the manuscript once I made the changes. Callie also started me thinking about adding a class pet to the story. Once I decided on guinea pigs as class pets and came up with the names Macaroni and Cheese, Callie is the person who said (in her lyrical Texas accent), “I just keep calling them Mac and Cheese.” So Mac and Cheese were born! J And after I shared the new and improved story with her, Callie offered me a contract!


Authors aren’t always consulted in regards to the artwork, but Mira and Callie shared their thoughts with me. I knew we were in luck when they found illustrator Heather Bell. They asked Heather to create some character sketches—of Oliver, of his teacher, Ms. López, and of Mac and Cheese. Mira and Callie showed me the sketches to see what I thought, and I instantly fell in love. I knew Heather’s artwork would add so much to my manuscript, and it did. As soon as people see Oliver, Mac, and Cheese, they’re charmed by how sweet these characters are.

Jolene grew up on a farm, surrounded by animals, plants, and history. She is an award-winning teacher-librarian and has been working at Denver Academy for the past 25 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Library Science. She’s a wife of 22 years and mama to two humans, three dogs, a tortie kitten, and an ever-rotating variety of other rescue animals including a crested gecko, a hedgehog, a ferret, and a squirrel. She’s an active member of SCBWI and The Author’s Guild, a Children’s Book Academy scholarship winner, a We Need Diverse Books mentorship finalist, a Highlights Foundation scholarship winner, and the winner of the Cynthia Levinson nonfiction picture book biography scholarship to the Writing Barn. She’s a member of the critique group 6 Ladies and a MANuscript and a co-creator of #KidlitZombieWeek.

Jolene is the author of a picture book, MAC AND CHEESE AND THE PERSONAL SPACE INVADER (Spork, 8/20), a nonfiction middle grade book, BIONIC BEASTS: SAVING ANIMAL LIVES WITH ARTIFICIAL FLIPPERS, LEGS, AND BEAKS (Lerner, 10/20), and the biographical series STARS OF LATIN POP (Carson Dellosa, 01/21). Jolene is agented by Kaitlyn Sanchez of Olswanger Literary.

Find her online:







Heather Bell whole-heartedly believes that hidden within our everyday lives is a secret realm glimpsed through books, music, and children’s laughter. Holding a BFA in Painting from the Kansas City Art Institute, she is a member of SCBWI, a participant in the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, a Children’s Book Academy graduate, and a mommy. When not illustrating and writing, she searches out story ideas as an undercover school bus driver.

Heather Bell is an author/illustrator represented by Kaitlyn Sanchez at Olswanger Literary Agency.

Jolene, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. Thank you for telling us about how Mira at the Children’s Book Academy got your story started and your editor Callie saw a gem and helped you to polish the book to get it to market. Heather’s wonderful illustrations make this book a winner. Good Luck with the book,

Talk tomorrow,



  1. that is so cute and they have the perfect names!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Jolene. Thank you for sharing your story. I love your characters and storyline. I can’t wait to read your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your support! 🙂 And if you don’t win a copy, a great way to get your hands on the book is to ask your local public library to consider purchasing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll definitely make that request!


  3. This book is so sweet with a gentle message -congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a warm and thought-provoking story. This is such an important concept. I’ll be sure to share with my teacher friends and librarians and will post on social media. Wishing y’all much success!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your support and kind words, Helen!! ❤


      • You are very welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a warm and thought-provoking story that is gracefully illustrated. I’ll be sure to share with teachers and librarians and on social media.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congrats, Jolene and Heather! (I get the emails, too)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love reading about the collaborative process that went into creating this book. Mac & Cheese are the perfect names for the class pets. (Reminds me of that scene in Forrest Gump where he says “Jenny and me were like peas and carrots.) Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes, I love that Forrest Gump scene! 😀 Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words, Carrie!


  8. I watched your presentation on Picture Book Palooza this past weekend. Really nice job! Best of luck with this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Autism Candles.

    Liked by 1 person

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