Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 25, 2022

Book Giveaway: THE SNOWMAN WALTZ by Karen Konnerth

Karen Konnerth has written a new picture book, THE SNOWMAN WALTZ, illustrated by Emily Neilson and published by Sleeping Bear Press. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did 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 Karen and Emily.

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!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

On a cold winter’s night under a starry sky, a dozen snowmen swoop down into a woodland glen. With a swing and a glide, they waltz in pairs, moving gracefully along a frozen river to a one?two?three tempo. Wearing top hats and colorful mittens, the snowmen bump, spin, and laugh as they make their way to dance on a frozen pond in a clearing. But wait, who is tramping down the hill and into the very same space? A dozen penguins, with their gleaming eyes and red bowties, march into the clearing, interrupting the dance. It’s a collision on ice. What a disaster! How can both groups share the same space? What will it take to sort out this kerfuffle to the satisfaction of both parties? Told in lyrical text with contrasting rhythms, this fun read-aloud offers a subtle lesson in cooperation for readers of all ages. Back matter includes song and sheet music, as well as a finger dance activity.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Although the story concept actually came to me in an instant, the journey of The Snowman Waltz was certainly gradual. I have been performing both original and folklore based stories as a full time puppeteer for decades, and have also worked as a musician, composing songs, and playing piano and violin. Apparently it was those threads that wove themselves together for the idea of a conflict resolution story built around contrasting musical rhythms. I do not usually write stories in verse, but this theme demanded it – to allow the reader to actually feel the two rhythms. And as I worked on the text, a melody was always in my head for the waltz segments, so I wrote that down and arranged it for piano to include in the book.

So, it was a combination of that fascinating wonder when the brain simply has a life of its own and is up there gathering bits and pieces to collage into something new, and conscious work to refine and pull it together in further work on the imagery and consistent rhymes and rhythms. That is pretty much the story of the text.

How it ended up as a book is more complicated. I started working on a dummy, illustrating with digital collage, which I was still experimenting with. I had years of experience sculpting in various media, and building all kinds of three dimensional figures, sets, etc. for puppetry, but not so much experience in traditional two dimensional media.

Around this time I also signed with an agent, Tanusri Prasanna (now with DeFiore and Company). She had tried diligently to place a couple other titles, without success. She asked what else I was working on, and I sent her The Snowman Waltz text only, as I did not feel confident yet with the illustrations. It did not take long for her to find interest with Sleeping Bear Press. Since she had submitted what I sent her – text only – we decided not to complicate things by resubmitting with illustrations when they said yes. Sleeping Bear found illustrator Emily Neilson, who did a lovely job bringing the text to fun and lyrical life.

Oh, and the finger waltz dance step chart is a brilliant idea I saw on a placemat in a restaurant in Argentina (for tango rather than waltz).

I am now developing music curriculum related activities to go with the book, so that it can be an asset in a music classroom, as well as providing teachable moments on accepting, appreciating, and respecting differences in cultures, customs, and more.

I have one other picture book out at this time, Calliope Kate and the Voice of the River (Pelican Publishing 2022), which I illustrated using photos of the carved Czech marionettes I made to perform the story, as well as The Sophisticated Sock: Project Based Learning Through Puppetry, which I self published in order to share with teachers my extensive work using puppetry as well as creative writing to teach across the curriculum.

Further information on my website: www.karenkonnerth.com.

KAREN’S BIO:

Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, my background as regional and world traveling professional puppeteer became the foundation for my visual storytelling through writing and illustration for children as well as my specialization in arts integrated teaching. I have shared my classroom experience developing and implementing arts integrated projects with educators at the National Art Education Association, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and for the U.S. Embassy English Language Specialist Program in Central America,  Asia, the Middle East, and South Africa.

 

A small project sampling:

• Louisiana librarians learning to use puppet theater to augment library literacy incentives

• Classroom teachers in Wisconsin creating a puppet community to teach social studies

• Pre-school teachers in Umlazi Township, South Africa using puppetry to nurture literacy

• English teachers in Bahrain using shadow puppets to encourage natural use of language

• Mothers at a hospital in Chenai, India, making puppets for their children of tailors’ silk scraps

So, my favorite thing is : Evolution – allowing new skills, interests, and opportunities to guide my direction in contributing to the work of nurturing young imaginations in hopes for a harmonious world. My present main focus is writing and illustration, along with school author visits to celebrate and nurture creative writing.

EMILY’S BIO:

Emily Neilsen is a children’s book author/illustrator and a stop motion fabricator based in Portland, OR.

As a kid she always wanted to write and illustrate books. She says, “I think if I had known that animated films were made by actual humans, I’d have wanted to work on those too!” So when a variety of stars aligned, bringing her into the world of stop motion, she was ridiculously happy. She’d skip into work every day and chip away at a miniature mountain, or tree, or prop and then skip home and make things for herself.

A week after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015, she settled in Portland, OR where she’s worked as a Look Development artist on Laika’s Missing Link. After four wonderful years at Laika, I left to finish the illustrations for my first book, CAN I GIVE YOU A SQUISH? (Which was featured on Writing and Illustrating).

She then spent three years working as a set dresser and model maker on a Netflix stop motion feature called Wendell and Wild, directed by Henry Selick, during which she wrote and illustrated her second book THE RAINBOW PARADE that came out in May 2022.

Recently I have had the opportunity to do some visual development and character design for Dwarf Studios and Bix Pix.

Emily has worked as a set dresser and model maker on a Netflix stop motion feature called Wendell and Wild, directed by Henry Selick.

Emily was featured on Writing and Illustrating’s Illustrator Saturday.

Karen, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. Who doesn’t love Snowmen and Penguins? Kids will want to turn every page to watch the dapper Penquins join the the colorful snowmen with their tops hats, mittens, and scarves parade out on the ice to dance together. The illustations are so stunning you can feel the rhythm coming off every page. So happy to see a book nurturing an appreciation for music and dance. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Oh the ways to enjoy and share this book! What a wonderful ambition, what a wonderful concept. Bless you both for creating this wonderful story!

    Like

  2. This will be fun to read this winter as I try to appreciate all seasons. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Pinterest, Twitter, tumblr, and Facebook.

    Like

  3. What a lovely and rhythmic story! Thanks for sharing. Congrats, Karen and Emily!

    Like

  4. Love the concepts of cooperation and inclusion. The art work is adorable.

    Like

  5. This looks delightful! (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)

    Like

  6. This looks so wonderful!! I can’t wait to read this, and love the concept!!! Congratulations!!

    Like

  7. Congratulations! Your book looks adorable!

    Like


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