Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 21, 2022


Beth Anderson has a new picture book, FRANZ’S PHANTASMAGORICAL MACHINE, illustrated by Caroline Hamel and published by Kids Can Press coming out on May 3rd. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

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 Beth and Carolina.

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. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments By Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!


A self-taught inventor never stops following the call to imagine, discover, create.

From the time he is a small boy, Franz is curious about machines and how they work. He wants to try to build his own. Even though he’s needed to work on the family farm, and later marries and has a family of his own, Franz never gives up. He learns and tries and tests his ideas on his own. And though many don’t understand or appreciate it, when Franz completes his magnificent, elaborate World Machine, he finally finds an audience that recognizes his genius.

For every child longing to create the most amazing thing, Franz is sure to inspire their vision.BOOK JOURNEY:

The story that would become FRANZ’S PHANTASMAGORICAL MACHINE began a little more than a year into my writing venture, soon after I discovered my niche—true stories. A photograph of Franz Gsellmann’s World Machine caught my eye. Then a video of the machine in action amazed me and connected to my inner child. I’d never seen anything like it. Household items, scrap yard discards, flea market treasures—humming, spinning, screeching—flashing, blinking, ringing. The story grabbed my basement-scrap-builder, tool-tinkering-kid heart and wouldn’t let go! I was fascinated and dove in!

Research material was limited. And some of it was in German. So I learned a lot about researching. And lucky me—I had a critique partner who speaks German and a weaving friend from Germany! Of course, I hit plenty of dead ends, but I’d already connected to the story in so many ways. Just like Franz, I couldn’t stop. Result: it’d be “based on a true story,” historical fiction.

I analyzed mentor texts: Dream Something Big: the Story of the Watts Towers by Dianna Hutts Aston; Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming; and Talkin’ Guitar: a Story of Young Doc Watson by Robin Gourley. Then, like Franz, I gathered my pieces, imagined, and began to create.

From the start, Franz’s mechanical adventure flowed onto the page with sensory details and word fun. I categorized the machine’s parts according to use, shape, and action. I cut word slips with sounds and verbs to play with sets of rhymes and alliteration on my desk. I generated word lists and tried out refrains. (One of those word lists led to the discovery of “phantasmagorical” which leaped into the title.)

I experimented with different ways to bring Franz’s urge to create, an unseen force, to the page. It was a dream; it grew like a plant; it appeared as an itch (that one didn’t go over well with my critique partners!). Finally it came alive as a whisper that incessantly called to Franz.

Just like Franz, I had some problems. Still inexperienced as a children’s writer, I was trying out varied ways of organizing my process and hadn’t found a great way to address my needs. I also didn’t understand the essential concepts of the “so what” or vital idea, so that aspect was lacking. Needless to say, this manuscript was a huge learning process for me – how to research, craft story, and query. As Franz experimented, so did I!

Finally, I sent the manuscript off to a few agents, including a new one, Stephanie Fretwell-Hill. EUREKA! Franz’s story caught her interest! I signed with Stephanie, and she guided revisions to tighten the manuscript.

I dug in and explored. For me, the story was about so much: open ended inquiry, learning from failure, the joy of creating, process over product, and the innate curiosity in all of us. While all of these ideas enriched the story, I had to focus and nail down the “heart.” The piece that fascinated me and needed to be clearer was the nebulous intersection of science and art which was hard to put into words. So I looked at words…

The ancient Greek word for art is techne—interesting! Franz’s machine incorporated elements of art like movement, music, shape, form, color, rhythm, and at the same time, technology. I found all that was swirling in my head encapsulated in this quote from Albert Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” This quote became the epigraph in the book. While I had focused on the machine aspect of Franz Gsellmann’s creation, by pushing my own perspective to include art, the story connected to outsider art and the beginning of kinetic sculpture, and settled into place.After a few rounds of submissions and revisions, Franz’s story found a home at Kids Can Press. I had my first exposure to copyright and permissions with the machine as art and the Atomium, a building in Brussels that inspired Franz. Editorial revisions always teach me a lot. Though I lamented cutting what was probably my best opening line ever and some of my overzealous use of onomatopoeia, the story became stronger and more vibrant. During the writing and the illustration process, there were many questions about what mechanical devices were part of life in rural Austria in the 1920-50s. Illustrator Caroline Hamel brought a whole different look than I’d imagined, and her whimsical style and creative use of color made Franz’s joy in creating sing!

So…what was the secret of this machine?

No spoilers here!

It’s abundantly clear that, not only did I connect to Franz and his machine as a child who loved to tinker and create…I also found my journey as a writer reflected in his story!

A photograph of Franz Gsellmann’s World Machine


Beth Anderson, a former basement tinkerer and English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. With curiosity and a love for words, she writes untold tales, hoping to inspire kids to laugh, ponder, and question. She’s the award-winning author of REVOLUTIONARY PRUDENCE WRIGHT, TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE, “SMELLY” KELLY AND HIS SUPER SENSES, LIZZIE DEMANDS A SEAT!, and AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET.

Beth Anderson has always been fascinated by language. After years of using literature to teach English as a Second Language, she took off in pursuit of her “someday” and began writing for children. She loves exploring points of view, playing with words, and digging into history and culture for undiscovered gems. Beth is drawn to stories that open minds, touch hearts, and inspire questions. She has more historical picture books on the way, including CLOAKED IN COURAGE: THE STORY OF DEBORAH SAMPSON, PATRIOT SOLDIER, now available for pre-order.

Beth was born and raised in Illinois, she now lives near the mountains in Colorado.


Originally from Quebec City and graduated in graphic design in 1993, Caroline Hamel immediately began her career in a studio of
graphic design in Quebec to continue in an advertising agency, at Cossette (Blitz) and later at Marketel (McCann) in Montreal.

In 2001, her illustrative style took shape through a travel diary. Images from this series earned her distinction in Applied Art and marked the beginning of her career in illustration.

Thank you Beth for sharing your book and journey with us. I love how you found a photograph of Franz Gsellmann’s World Machine that caught your eye and turned into this book. Thank you for introducing me and your readers to Franz Gsellmann’s World Machine. I learn something new everyday. Caroline did a great job with the illustrations. I am sure kids will be inspired by your book. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. What a clever book! The art mimics the actual machine in such a perfect way. I want to read this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful! I remember reading (LONG ago) about this invention. Beth and Caroline, I can’t wait to read your beautiful book! Congratulations!

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post, Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another fascinating book, Beth! And I was that kind of kid too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think there are tons of tinkerers out there!


  4. I have read and then purchased every book Beth Anderson has written for my classroom. I can’t wait to read and share this new book with my students.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comments, Jennifer! So glad you are using my books in your classroom!


  5. Hooray! This book sounds like fun! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations, Beth on what looks like another wonderful book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you Kathy for sharing Beth’s new book. I enjoyed hearing about the book’s journey, and seeing the photo of Franz’s machine was really neat. Caroline’s illustrations look fantastic! I look forward to reading the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That machine is so intriguing! Hope you enjoy the book!


  8. Congratulations, Beth and Caroline! I can’t wait to read your book. It sounds superb! I shared on Twitter and follow your blog, Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love getting this newsletter in my inbox. This is such a great story: And I mean Beth’s as well as Franz’s. I love the process. Also, phantasmagorical. I mean, yeah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! sometimes the story of the story is a reflection of the story!


  10. I always enjoy Beth’s interview answers about her books and how she finds the heart of each–a concept/skill I’m trying to learn myself. I’m an email subscriber and shared and can’t wait to read this book:

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This looks like a wonderful book!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Kathy: I noticed something has changed about your weekly Writing and Illustrating Posts. I am leaving my comment here. Is this easier than the other way? I also will post on FB and Twitter tto earn three tickets to win one of Beth Anderson’s amazing books. This was an excellent article. Thank you so much for this service. I look forward to when my books are published.

    Have a great day.

    Penny Taub, MS ED

    STEAM Teacher

    Author for Children, Tweens, and Young Adults

    Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Blogspot

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for sharing FRANZ and jumping into the giveaway!


  13. Thanks for this insight into your process. I’m struggling with the “so what” of my current story. You give me hope! I can’t wait to read about Franz.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Franz’s story is one that writers can identify with – the secret ambition, the rejection, the reworking….. The “so what” can be so elusive. Dig into yourself and why you have a passion for a story, what intrigues you, grabs you? Keep at it, you’ll get it! Good luck!


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