Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 8, 2021

Book Giveaway: WHOLE WHALE by Karen Yin

Karen Yin has a new picture book, WHOLE WHALE, illustrated Nelleke Verhoeff and published by Barefoot Books. They have agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

Just 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 how you shared the good news. If you follow my blog and have it delivered daily, let me know in the comments 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 Karen and Nelleke.


One hundred unusual animals try to squeeze into the pages of this raucous rhyming tale. But will there be room to fit a whole blue whale? The humorous ending features an expansive double gatefold and educational endnotes list the 100 animals in the book.


I pitched Whole Whale during #DVpit, Beth Phelan’s Twitter pitching event for marginalized authors and illustrators. It was October 2019, two months after I enrolled in Children’s Book Academy’s picture book writing course and one month after I completed the manuscript. It was exciting to receive a couple of likes, including one from a Barefoot Books editor.

The editor encouraged me to take my time submitting, citing unavailability to read soon, but I sent the manuscript right away. It was Whole Whale’s first journey to a publishing house and, actually, the first manuscript I ever submitted.

Days later, I began hearing back from CBA’s hand-picked lineup of judges for the Golden Ticket round. Let me back up a bit: In every CBA course, students are invited to pitch their projects for possible acquisition and/or representation. The judges are lit agents, editors, and art directors actively seeking projects to acquire or creators to represent. Getting a Golden Ticket from a judge was equivalent to getting a manuscript request. Before November was over, eight judges out of twelve had awarded me a Golden Ticket—the highest number in the history of the academy. So I sent Whole Whale into their inboxes as well.

Months passed, but no good news came. Among the eight CBA judges, two editors passed but requested to see more. One loved it but recommended a bigger house. One agent requested an R&R (revise and resubmit) but ghosted. One editor promised—twice—to respond but never did. Another editor quit.

So I kept going. The year flowed into another, and by January I signed with Red Fox Literary. I was thrilled when my agent sent another manuscript, So Not Ghoul, out on submission, but I continued to dream that Whole Whale would be my debut. It was my Big Idea about a Big Problem: How can we fit a whole whale inside a book already crammed with ninety-nine creatures? The “make space for all” message aligned with the mission of Conscious Style Guide, which I launched in 2015 to spread inclusive and conscious language. So, between my long-time career as an editor and my budding career as a children’s book author, it made sense for Whole Whale to be my calling card.

But not getting an offer after ten manuscript requests was disappointing. Debuting with Whole Whale felt increasingly far-fetched, especially since it was in rhyme, which editors are rumored to dislike. I focused on writing and took an illustration course with CBA, which continues to change my life in profound ways. When I least expected it, I got an email from Barefoot Books. “Hi Karen!” the editor wrote. “I wanted to check in with you about Whole Whale. Is it still available? If so, I believe my team would like to make you an offer!”

In March 2020, five months after I submitted a manuscript in response to a #DVpit like, doors opened wide to make space for Whole Whale. Working with the Barefoot Books team has been the most amazing experience, and I’m grateful that the pieces fell in place the way they did.

P.S. So Not Ghoul will be published by Page Street Kids in 2022.


Karen Yin is an award-winning writer and editor in Southern California. Her debut picture book, Whole Whale (Barefoot Books, 2021), is a story about making space for all. Her second book, So Not Ghoul (Page Street Kids, 2022), tells the tale of a Chinese American ghost caught in bicultural fashion limbo. Winner of the 2017 ACES Robinson Prize for furthering the craft of professional editing, Karen is the founder of several acclaimed digital tools for writers and editors, including Conscious Style Guide, The Conscious Language Newsletter, and the Editors of Color Database. Conscious Style Guide was named by Poynter as a top tool for journalists in 2018 and is recommended by SCBWI, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Poets & Writers, Winning Writers, Jane Friedman, and many others, including NASA. Acclaim for Karen’s fiction includes a Lambda Literary Fellowship, a Table 4 Writers Foundation grant, an SCBWI Nonfiction Grant, and selection of her flash fiction by the L.A. Public Library for its permanent collection and Short Story Portal. Find Karen online at and her book recommendations at

Twitter: @KarenYin
Instagram: @KarensOffice


Nelleke Verhoeff is an artist / illustrator based in Rotterdam in Holland. She started her professional career as a theater-performer. Together with her partner they travelled through the Netherlands and parts of Europe. They made physical and visual theater, using circus techniques and masks. They played for adults and children in theaters, on the street and in schools.

In the meantime I discovered my love for drawing, painting and digital art. I did an intensive painting training at the Vrije Academie Rotterdam. In 2007 we changed direction and started Yepr, a company, which made websites and applications. Design was her part. It was then she found out what her real passion is: making art and illustrations.

She has since illustrated several books and was a finalist in the Silent Book Contest at the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Nelleke has also illustrated The Bread Pet and Whole Whale for Barefoot Books.

Karen, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. Kids love animals and kids love rhyme. This book has both along with fun illustrations that always give children plenty of things to discover. This looks like a winner to me. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I so remember this book from its pitch and knew it would find an ocean to swim in. Best of luck to all! Kathy, I am a newsletter subscriber.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like a splendid book and a “whole” lot of fun! (couldn’t resist the pun)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on your book! What an incredible journey it had to publication. I’m adding it to my Goodreads. I’m an email subscriber and shared:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fun and colorful book–congrats! I can’t wait to “net” a copy:-) Kathy, I subscribe to your daily blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This would be perfect for my little nephew. He’s fascinated with sea creatures, he’s even having his whole bedroom redecorated with that theme. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted:, and shared:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This book is brilliant on so many levels. I also love the story behind the story – thank you for sharing and congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a beautiful book! I love animals (especially whales) and this book just looks so fun.
    I’m an email subscriber.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Shred on Twitter

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Shared* on Twitter

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love the story behind the story and looking forward to reading this example of successful rhyme!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Congrats, Karen and Nelleke! Looking forward to reading this. (I’m signed up for the emails, too.)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So excited for a rhyming book with 100 animals!
    I’m a (new) email subscriber and I tweeted the giveaway as well (@halforange).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sorry if this shows up twice, I was having login trouble! I’m a subscriber and I tweeted–this book looks so fun! I am a rhyme-writer, so I’m very encouraged when I see rhyming books getting published. Plus, 100 animals?! Can’t wait to read. I requested it from my library today! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This book looks fantastic! Congrats!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Congratulations! This book sounds like so much fun. I subscribe to your daily blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I can’t wait to read this book! Sounds so cute. Congrats. Loved hearing the back story!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Whole Whale dilemma is solved!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. This sounds like such a fun book! Congrats!!

    Liked by 1 person

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