Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 6, 2022

Book Giveaway: OLD FRIENDS by Margaret Aitken

Margaret Aiken has written a new picture book, OLD FRIENDS, illustrated by Lenny Wen and published by Feiwel & Friends. 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 Margaret and Lenny.

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:

Paired with colorful and vibrant art by Lenny Wen, Old Friends by Margaret Aitken is an inventive and heartfelt debut picture book that celebrates found family, caregiving, and the value of intergenerational friendships.

Marjorie wants a friend who loves the same things she does: baking shows, knitting, and gardening. Someone like Granny. So with a sprinkle of flour in her hair and a spritz of lavender perfume, Marjorie goes undercover to the local Senior Citizens Group. It all goes well until the Cha-Cha-Cha starts and her cardigan camouflage goes sideways. By being true to herself, Marjorie learns that friends can be of any age if you look in the right places.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Thank you for having me, Kathy. I am thrilled to share the journey of my book, OLD FRIENDS.

Like many books, OLD FRIENDS started with a different title. The manuscript was initially called MARJORIE, after my main character. In fact, the entire story started with her.

One day I was sitting at my kitchen table with my laptop, brainstorming picture book ideas. Of course, not all of my writing sessions are so productive, but thankfully, that morning, some story magic sprinkled down from the kitchen ceiling —or it may have been dust — and a character poped into my head. It was a girl who was an ‘old soul’. Hmmm. I was intrigued. I instantly knew she enjoyed hobbies not typically associated with kids, like knitting and gardening. But what was her story?

I made some tea —I’m British, after all— and thought some more. Perhaps this girl struggles to find friends her age? Yes. Finding friends was a goal picture book readers were sure to relate to. So, what could the character do about it? Who would she befriend?

That’s when my mind drifted to intergenerational groups I had read about, and how beneficial they are for both young and old. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this character found friends who just happened to be older than her? It was an idea I hadn’t seen explored in picture books.

So, I knew my character —who I named Marjorie—would seek out older friends, but I also wanted to add an element of mischief to the story!

Before moving to the U.S., I worked as a community doctor in Scotland.  As part of my job, I cared for patients of all ages, including many of the oldest members of society. I found that many of my most senior patients had a great sense of humor. I wanted to challenge the stereotypes western society has about aging. But, how could I add fun to the story?

For some mysterious reason —maybe that dust again— my mind thought back to Halloween when I was seven years old. In the good old days (1990), we didn’t buy costumes from Walmart but instead made them from whatever we had lying around the house. That year, my brother had dressed up as an elderly lady, complete with some old glasses and my mum’s knitted shawl. It was perfect! Marjorie would dress up in disguise and sneak into a Senior Citizens Friends Club.

And, of course, the disguise would have to fall off. Perhaps she could dance it off? Or even better, cha-cha-cha! The pieces of the story puzzle were slowly clicking together.

After the story was acquired, my editor at Feiwel & Friends, Erin Siu, had the ingenious idea to add an element of loss to the story. At first, I was nervous that Marjorie’s grief would make the story too melancholy, but we worked to keep the balance between sadness and humor just right.

Together with Lenny Wen’s incredible art, I’m delighted with how the book turned out. The illustrations perfectly capture the joy, tenderness, and mischief I had been hoping for. Lenny has been a dream to work with and has become a dear friend.

Primarily, I hope that readers will find OLD FRIENDS a fun and touching story. And perhaps, it will open a few minds to the idea that age is just a number.

MARGARET’S BIO:

Margaret Aitken is a Scottish writer for children. As a child, Margaret could often be found outside hoping to stumble upon the characters of Brambly Hedge and Beatrix Potter. Along with her husband and three sons, Margaret is currently enjoying life in a New England-style farmhouse in Maine. When she isn’t writing she can mostly be found at the beach, in the garden, or baking something gluten-free.

LENNY’S BIO:

Lenny Wen is a children’s book illustrator and author born and raised in Indonesia. She currently lives in the countryside of Austria.

She loves to draw whimsical, spooky, funny, and nostalgic childhood illustrations, possessing a mixture of storytelling, imagination, and emotion.

When she is not illustrating or writing, you might find her staring at the trees, doodling hundred of bears in her sketchbook,  filling up her cup with coffee, or hugging her dog a bit too much.

Margaret, Thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. This book is so much fun. I love Marjorie.  She wishes she could do all the things she loved doing with her grandmother. What a entertaining  smart little girl, coming up with joining the Senior Citizen Friends Group at the Community Center. They love to make crafts, bake, and garden and they meet every Saturday morning. Best of all the sign says, “New members are welcome.” I adore how she dressed up like her grandmother and join the seniors on Cha-Cha-Cha Day. Young and old enjoying each other – Wonderful. Lenny Wen did a fabulous job bringing out all the fun in this book. Best of luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. I love this book. I have a review copy and it is delightful. I’ll pass on the giveaway since I already have it. Thanks for the post.

    Like

  2. I love mischief and can’t wait to read this book by a fellow Maine writer. Congrats on your success!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Laurie! I love meeting other Maine authors! 😃

      Like

  3. Thank you for the insights into this story’s development. I enjoyed how this character came to life and the message is so heartwarming and I hope this does challenge elder stereotypes. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Pinterest, Facebook, tumblr, and Twitter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your kind comment and support, Danielle 😊💕

      Like

  4. I love this! I would read it to the Seniors group at church in a heart beat! Beautiful story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That thought makes my heart happy! Thank you, Linda 😊💕

      Like

  5. This book looks fantastic! I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing. Congrats!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Marci! 😊💕

      Like

  6. I love this book! It’s such a sweet read. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Jena. I hope you are doing well 😊💕

      Liked by 1 person

  7. this book looks adorable! congratulations, Margaret and Lenny!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your kind comment! 😊💕

      Like

  8. How wonderful to show the world the importance of young and old together. I love seniors, (‘oops, I forget I am one’) but friendship with older people has always been important to me!

    Like

  9. Such a sweet story!!
    Retweeted/subscribe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Hannah! 😊💕

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m so excited to read this story. Learning the backstory makes it even better. (My 21-year-old volunteers at the Senior Center and fits well there! He shares their taste in music and board games.)

    Like

  11. I love this story! My dad spend many years in assisted living, so I can really relate to this. Terrific idea!
    I too, write at my kitchen table…perhaps some story magic – or dust – will work for me too! 😉

    Like

  12. I adore this story!!! Marjorie is so cute and I love her uniqueness and fun personality!!

    Like

  13. Our society seems to be somewhat age-segregated, but intergenerational friendships can bring so much joy. I’m glad you’re featuring one in a story. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)

    Like


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