Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 2, 2021

Book Giveaway: IT WILL BE OK by Lisa Katzenberger

Lisa Katzenberger has written a new picture book, IT WILL BE OK illustrated by Jacklyn Sinquett and published by Sourcebooks Explore. They have agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

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 Lisa and Jaclyn.

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!


Sometimes the best thing we can do for our loved ones is listen and be present as long as they need us.

Giraffe and Zebra meet every day under their favorite tree to walk to the watering hole. But today, Giraffe isn’t there! Where could he be? Zebra spots him hiding in the tree; Giraffe has seen a spider and is scared silly. Zebra patiently talks to Giraffe and does the very best thing: supports Giraffe for as long as Giraffe needs it.

A sweet story about the power of friendship, kindness, and empathy that helps us face our fears no matter how silly they may seem.


IT WILL BE OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship

It all started with twitter. This (photoshopped) picture was posted as a writing prompt: caption it in 140 characters.

So I wondered, what would make a big, strong giraffe climb a tree and look so scared. My instant thought was that the giraffe saw a spider. Then I thought “Well that’s silly,” and then I thought, “Hmm, maybe it’s not. Maybe we are all afraid of small things sometimes.” And my story was born.

I wrote a first draft pretty quickly, but it was only 123 words. I ran it through critique partners and fleshed out the story. I couldn’t land on a good ending, but the heart of the story was there. Giraffe was afraid of something seemingly small, and he needed to share how he felt, and he needed a friend to listen.

A couple months later I attended the SCBWI Illinois Spring Thaw conference where we had a first pages roundtable session with an editor or agent. Kelly Barrales-Saylor, an editor from Sourcebooks, was at my table. We read pitches for 3 different stories, Kelly picked the one she found most interesting. Then the writer read the first page and Kelly provided feedback on the spot. It was a bit daunting to share your work with 10 other complete strangers and an industry professional!

But when I finished reading my first page, Kelly asked what happened next. I told her my (not great) ending, and she gave feedback on how I could change up the introduction. She said it was a story she’d not really heard before, and thought it would be a good fit for one of her imprints. I thought she was just being nice (Note: She was not just being nice! She was really interested!).

I worked on revising the story, and showed it to my current agent at the time, who thought it was a little too quiet. So it hung out on my computer as I worked on other things.

Then a couple years later, I was attending a Picture Book Intensive at The Writing Barn. Finally, I had some quiet time to think about my work. I looked over some of my older stories that I’d been letting simmer, and brought up my story about Giraffe. I still believed in it and thought it was pretty solid. I showed it to a friend who agreed.

Then, when I was in between agents, I went out on a limb and submitted the manuscript directly to Kelly – two years after the conference. She wrote back a couple days later that she liked the story and was sharing it with her colleagues. A offered followed soon!

I was so excited about this story, which is full of my own heart and emotions. During the editing process, Kelly only had a few changes. She wanted to change the title, SCARED SILLY, because she didn’t want children to think that there was anything wrong with being scared. I gave some suggestions, but it was the brilliant team at Sourcebooks that came up with the final title of IT WILL BE OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship. She also asked me to write up backmatter about how you can handle being scared or feeling anxious, and how you can help a friend in need. The editing process was pretty smooth.

And then I got to see pencil sketches! I fell in love with Jaclyn Sinquett’s characterization of Giraffe and Zebra right away! When I saw rough art, with the story paginated, that’s when I asked for some changes. I envisioned the last line being by itself on the final page, and I asked if Giraffe’s facial expression could be changed. I provided a really long (probably rambling) reason about why I felt his facial expression was so important to get just right in that final moment. And what Jaclyn came up with in the next revision was so on spot and beautiful!

The book was ready! Then came lots of waiting, learning about marketing, contacting bookstores. I received wonderful support from the Sourcebooks Kids marketing team for this book. They even created a poster and an Educator Guide.

And now it’s publication day! I am so happy to share this story with the world and I hope it helps children feel comfortable sharing their feelings and think about how they can be a good friend. I am grateful for all my critique partners who looked at draft after draft of this story (I wrote 40 versions!), my agent Wendi Gu, the amazing art by Jaclyn Sinquett, and the direction of my editor Kelly Barrales-Saylor. This book is dedicated to my mom, who taught me to love reading.


Growing up as the youngest of eight children, I had a vast imagination to keep me busy. I began my writing journey in third grade with an innocent creative writing assignment set in a haunted house. After 20 minutes had passed, and it was time for social studies or some other such nonsense, I told my teacher I hadn’t finished my story and had much more to say. “Well, keep writing then,” Mrs. Nagratski said. She let me ignore the rest of the day’s assignments and focus on my writing. I haven’t stopped since.

Many years later, trying to make my writing passion legitimate, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and embarked on a career as a technical writer. But I continued to pursue my love of writing. I took every creative writing class I could get my hands on. I started writing short stories, then dove into novels. I took a little pause when my kids were born, and then moved into writing picture books. I also write articles, mostly kid-focused, and personal essays about motherhood.

I live in La Grange, IL in a hundred-year-old Victorian house with sloping hardwood floors, glass doorknobs, and the tiniest bathroom you’ve ever seen. I have a great husband and amazing boy-girl twins. I’m an active member of SCBWI, where I volunteer as the Social Media Coordinator for the SCBWI-Illinois region. I work part-time as a technical writing consultant to fund my writing conference habit. I am represented by Wendi Gu of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.


Jaclyn Sinquett grew up playing in her dad’s garden, feeding worms to box turtles and tossing french fries to seagulls at the Jersey shore. She now spends her time painting shells with her little daughter, catching up on a certain great baking show, and illustrating books for children. Her favorite color is yellow ochre.

Her family always encouraged her creativity and provided inspiration with gorgeous nature books and lots of different art supplies.

Jaclyn still loves drawing animals and nature, and crafting thoughtful, detailed illustrations using a wide range of techniques. Her work is best loved for its fresh color palettes, hand-lettering, and characters that touch the heart.

Jaclyn received her BFA in Illustration from the University of the Arts in 2008. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and is proud to be represented by Christy Tugeau Ewers at the CAT Agency.

Lisa, thank you for sharing our book and journey with us. Your story of meeting your editor who expressed an interest in your story and two years later, in-between agents, you went out on a limb like Giraffe and sent her the manuscript. I’m so glad you did and that she took the book. I bet there are a bunch of writers who have been told the same thing about a manuscript and never followed thru. I can hear them running to their computers to send theirs out. 

I discovered your book when I featured Jaclyn on Illustrator Saturday and knew I wanted to share your book with everyone. Jaclyn’s illustrations are a perfect fit. I hope your book helps young children look for their own Zebra to help them face all those little scary things they face in life. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great post, Kathy. Lisa, I love how your book came to be. The illustrations by Jaclyn are adorable, a blue and white zebra, a polka dot giraffe. Sweet, and the book’s message is perfect for these times.


  2. Great post Lisa & Kathy. I really love the interactions the Zebra and Giraffe have and enjoyed the behind the scenes look at how the book was birthed. Seems even book babies give us labor pains!
    I shared on FB & Twitter and am a subscriber of your blog Kathy.


  3. what a beautiful book with a beautiful message


  4. Lisa, what a lovely story. It’s such a needed theme for children and adults. Excited to read it!


  5. Happy book birthday, Lisa!


  6. Congratulations Lisa! Such a great title and an amazing cover.


  7. Congratulations, Lisa! I LOVE this book. So glad young readers will finally be able to enjoy it too!


  8. This book looks wonderful. I love the concept of friendship and empathy. Beautiful illustrations.


  9. I cannot wait to read this story! Spiders ARE scary. They move too fast. And then disappear. Of course other things are scary too. This book sounds like the perfect one to read with the littles. Congratulations!

    I tweeted this post, Kathy. And I follow by email. 🙂


  10. A book with such an important message for children and families. Well done!


  11. What a great looking book. The images of the frightened giraffe in the tree are both hilarious and heart wrenching. I’d love to have a copy, thanks for the chance to win one.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and shared an image on Pinterest with a link too:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com.
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!!


  12. I love the story of how this book came to be. I can’t wait to read it–sad to say that I identify with the giraffe!


  13. Wow, the themes of this adorable picture book are so important! This is the kind of book that kids will want to hear over and over and adults will be happy to read. It can also serve as an entree into a more personal discussion. And I love the appealing art! Thanks for this wonderful interview.
    Am sharing on FB and twitter and I am a subscriber.


  14. The illustrations are adorable and so bright! I love the idea of this book and it’s important and universal message. Thank you for sharing the behind the scenes story with us. I am a subscriber to this blog and shared this post on tumblr and twitter:


  15. Congratulations on your book birthday! I enjoyed reading how you stuck with this story & love the message of the book.


  16. What a wonderful story, Lisa. Your perseverance and belief in yourself paid off!


  17. Congrats, Kathy and Lisa! Social emotional learning books like this are so needed right now. (I’m signed up for the emails, too.)


  18. I love books that focus on empathy, so can’t wait to read yours! Congrats on persevering. And the illustrations are adorable!
    Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.


  19. I love this!! And the title is most wonderful. Congratulations!


  20. This looks like a great book and I love the illustrations. I enjoy getting your blog, Kathy.


  21. What a lovely story and so needed by kids of all ages. I am sharing GB on twitter, FB and reblogging th IU s winner!


  22. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    I fell in love with th he idea behind this book and had to share it.


  23. Love this book! Congrats, Lisa!


  24. This book looks adorable–I can’t wait to read it! I’m happy to tweet to spread the word!


  25. What an adorable book on a topic that all children will relate to. The illustrations are wonderful – full of expression and life. Thanks for a great post. I follow your blog everyday and love it. Thanks!!


  26. This book looks perfectly adorable. I can’t wait to read it. I receive your post every day by email.


  27. Love this sweet book to help children deal with fears and scares. Very creative. Also posted on FB.


  28. What a fabulous book! How fun! Than you for sharing this important book on coping skills. I’m also a Newsletter subscriber.


  29. this book looks amazing


  30. Thank you for sharing your process with this book’s journey. I’m so excited for you, Lisa! Beautiful artwork, Jaclyn!!


  31. This looks sweet and funny — my favorite combination. It’s always encouraging to hear about stories that take a long time to develop, too. Not every success comes instantly! (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


  32. Congratulations, Lisa! It looks like a wonderful book!


  33. Thank you for sharing.


  34. This looks like such a wonderful story! Congrats! Can’t wait to read it! 🙂


  35. What a sweet story!


  36. Congratulations, Lisa, on your book birthday! What a feat to pack such an impactful, emotional message/experience into so few words. And Jaclyn’s illustrations couldn’t be more inviting!


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