Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 30, 2021

Book Giveaway: CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend by Jamie A. Swanson

Jamie A. Swenson has a new picture book, CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend, illustrated by Scott Magoon and was published by Paula Wiseman Books in July. Jamie has agreed to share a copy with 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 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.

Thank you for helping Jamie and Scott!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“This gentle, simply told story addresses the importance and enjoyment of friendship and collaboration.” —Kirkus Reviews

A chipmunk searches for someone to sing along with her in this sweet and funny celebration of true friendship, featuring art by New York Times bestselling illustrator Scott Magoon.

Chipmunk spends her days sitting on her rock and chirping her song—sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s bittersweet, and sometimes it’s very sad indeed. When Chipmunk goes off to find a companion that will sing along with her, she encounters some bumps (and pine cones) along the way, and finds friends (and harmonies) in unexpected places.

BOOK JOURNEY:

CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend started as a longing in my heart to comfort my friends. Two of my friends were going through traumatic events in their lives. My heart was filled with concern for them, and a desire to be there for them – but I just didn’t know how to do that. I knew that they needed all sorts of friends – friends to listen, friends to carry the load, and friends who could sing along with them – no matter the song. I didn’t have that as a fully conscious thought in my head before I sat down at my computer. I just wanted to write a book that supported my friends in my own little way.

I remember sitting down at my computer and pouring the story into the keyboard. I had been thinking about the classic stories from my childhood – where a character has a longing, heads out into the world to solve the problem, and returns home having completed the task. In this case, that character is a little chipmunk who longs for more.

I picked Chipmunk because about ten years prior, I had been traveling through Colorado with my family and I met her. We’d stopped at a roadside overlook for a break – and there – sitting on a rock – was this sweet, bold-as-can-be, chipmunk. I snapped a photo of her as she stood looking out across the world. She seemed to be longing for something. That image stayed with me. A tiny creature wanting something more. I didn’t realize that I was writing about her until I read my first draft. Then I realized that I had dug that chipmunk up from my memory and popped her into my book. I went to my photos and searched, and sure enough – I had the exact photo. I kept that photo near me as I revised that manuscript.

The storyteller in me always loves a bit of ridiculousness in a story. Especially when it’s clear to everyone listening that it’s absurd. The idea that my little chipmunk has a friend, Rock, who is a good listener felt silly, but also just right to me. I have plenty of friends who are rocks – they are there – and they are important – sturdy. They are the best listeners! But I also need friends who are not so stable! I need quirky people. I need those folks who go with the flow.

For the story, I knew I needed Chipmunk to go out on a quest that wasn’t completed immediately – so she meets Pinecone. A lovely sort of friend, who is agreeable and gets along with your other friends – but still, Chipmunk needed to keep looking for more friends. Plus, I knew kids would understand that a pinecone, while very fine, isn’t really the type of friend Chipmunk was looking for, after all, Pinecone is a pinecone. I still find that really funny somehow. In the story, Chipmunk searches until she finds Racoon and Moose – two very different friends who acknowledge her where she is at that moment – and let her sing a bittersweet song, they listen, and then they join in too.

In early drafts, Chipmunk immediately apologizes to Racoon and Moose for being sad. They both respond with, “keep singing – your song is lovely” – but my editor, Sylvie Frank, pointed out that maybe Chipmunk didn’t need to apologize for her song. I thought about it – and I’m so happy I removed that “I’m sorry” response. That is very much ME, but the story is better without it. Chipmunk is simply accepted for who she is in that moment. That is the story I wanted to share.

When this book sold to Paula Wiseman Books, I was worried that the bigger world wouldn’t understand it, or they would think it was too sad. But that is not the reaction readers have – instead – it seems the readers relate to the song Chipmunk sings, and to the little group of friends she builds around her to support her. That makes me so happy.

I hope that kids who read this book take away the idea that sometimes we need to go out into the world to find the friends we need. We all need all sorts of friends in this world. We need listeners, helpers, and those who simply accept us where we are and sing along sometimes too, but do not try to change us to fit their needs/moods. Conversely, we need to accept our friends that way too: who they are and where they are – without trying to change them. I think Scott Magoon’s art captures the tone of the book so well – there’s a spread where Chipmunk is singing her saddest song, the music wraps around her and turns her upside down. To me, the art fits perfectly, and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to help bring CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend into the world.

And that’s how CHIRP! was created.

JAMIE’S BIO:

Jamie A. Swenson received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in MN in 2009. She has worked as an early literacy storyteller/librarian for over twenty years at a busy public library. When not at her keyboard, Jamie can be found reading and recommending great books for kids and their families. Jamie’s work has been recognized by Junior Library Guild, the Zolotow Committee, various parents’ choice awards, and her titles appear on many best book lists.

Jamie enjoys teaching writing craft to children, teens, and adults. Look for her books: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! (FSG/Macmillan); BIG RIG(Disney-Hyperion); and IF YOU WERE A DOG (FSG/Macmillan); MEET WOOF & QUACK and WOOF & QUACK IN THE SNOW (HMH); and the forthcoming A FALL BALL FOR ALL (Millbrook Sept. 2018). For more information visit http://www.jamieswenson.com

SCOTT MAGOON’S BIO:

A native New Englandah, I’ve been designing, writing and illustrating books for young readers since 2003. Why do I make books? I love putting words and pictures together for kids. I was a voracious young reader myself in the 1970s, which is, frustratingly, longer ago each time I recollect it! I like to recall what it was like to experience books as a child and so I read to my two sons and to students during school visits.

In my spare time I like running, skiing, tennis and snorkeling. I love music. I sing, play flute and harmonica. I was in my school concert and marching bands from 5th-12th grades. Jazz is my favorite music to listen to when I draw but I also listen to audiobooks and podcasts.

I’m a proud Northeastern University alumnus. It was from there I that received a Bachelor’s degree in English literature—and my first paying drawing gig. The Northeastern News published Duct Tape Man, my weekly comic strip! I studied drawing at NU and Mass Art but for the most part I am self-taught.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) counts me as member and I am grateful to be in their ranks.

Jamie, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I loved reading about your journey and like how you gave Chipmunk a Rock friend, because everyone needs a rock in their life. I totally agreed that Scott’s illustrations fit perfectly with the story. Gook Luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. This is such an adorable book. No need to put me in the drawing. I already have a copy.

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  2. so very cute

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  3. Can’t wait to hear Chipmunk sing — thanks for sharing. [Newsletter Subscriber]

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  4. This sounds like a sweet book and I do love the illustrations. Reminds me of the chipmunk who resided in the roof of my family vacation home. But my chipmunk seemed to be yelling at me every time I sat on the deck to read and have my coffee.

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  5. What a beautiful story, Jamie! And the illustrations are fabulous, Scott. Congratulations to you both!

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  6. This book looks and sounds adorable–I’m intrigued about the song Chipmunk sings! Congrats, Jamie and Scott. Kathy, I subscribe to your daily blog.

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  7. CHIRP! is a wonderful picture book full of heart, humor and gorgeous illustrations. Congratulations, Jamie and Scott!!

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  8. I LOVE the idea of a friend being a rock. It’s a great metaphor! Congrats to Jamie and Scott. I’m a newsletter subscriber, and I’m sharing this.

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  9. Oh! This looks SO cute! I can totally imagine having a pinecone for a friend. And looking for someone to sing with. Looking forward to reading this one for sure.

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  10. Congratulations, Jamie and Scott! What a fun story concept with a heartfelt message. I shared this on Twitter.

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  11. This looks like such an adorable book! Can’t wait to read it!

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  12. What an adorable story! As someone who hears chipmunks singing outside her window all the time, I love the premise of this book. Congratulations, Jamie and Scott!

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  13. Very sweet story and adorable illustrations! Congrats!

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  14. All the dimensions of friendship are so delightfully explored in this books. Congratulations Jamie and Scott!

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  15. It’s not surprising that a story that comes so deeply from the heart ends up touching readers deeply. Congrats to Jamie and Scott for making such a beautiful book!

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  16. Great post! Thank you for sharing our book Kathy & Jamie. I so enjoyed reading about how our book began. I loved drawing it; I saw myself in Chipmunk in how she connects with others through her art.

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  17. Your book journey made me tear up for Chipmunk along his journey! You clearly developed this story to a point where it will resonate with readers in a universal way. Bravo! The illustrations are a fine complement to your text and Scott has given Chipmunk the personality and heart he deserves. Kathy, thanks for sharing this book with your readers.

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  18. My summer “reading buddy” is a friendly chipmunk that lives under my front porch. I love the heart of your book and added it to my TBR. I’m an email subscriber and shared: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570620215296058041

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  19. Thanks for sharing your book journey. I look forward to reading about little chipmunk’s quest for friends! The illustrations are wonderful, too!

    Kathy, I shared on twitter and get your blog daily.

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  20. Jamie and Scott, this looks adorable! Can’t wait to read it. (I’m signed up for the emails, too.)

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  21. This is so cute and inspiring! Love the final picture that you shared where Squirrel tells Rock to stay right there. 🙂 Congratulations to both of you!

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post. 🙂

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  22. Such a sweet story, and the illustrations are beautiful!

    Kathy, I shared on twitter and get your blog daily.

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  23. Congratulations on your book! I would love to add it to my classroom library!

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  24. I’ve already read CHIRP! and it’s delightful. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)

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