Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 12, 2023

Book Giveaway: OPAL’S SPRINGTIME BIRDHOUSE by Emily Matheis

Emily Matheis has written and illustrated a new picture book, OPAL’S SPRINGTIME BIRDHOUSE, illustrated by Albert Arrayas and being published by Yeehoo Press on March 28th. Yeehoo Press has 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 Emily and Albert.

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 charming picture book tale that showcases how the rewards of our efforts can come from the most unexpected of places.

Bang! Whack! Whirr!

It’s time for a birdhouse-building contest!

Opal’s friends all have endless ideas on how to make their constructions stand out. There are bells, pom-poms, basketballs, and many more materials to use―and yet Opal still feels stuck.

Maybe a simple, sturdy piece wood…a few nails and screws will be just right. But when the judges don’t pick Opal’s birdhouse, she may still discover that her humble home is just right for someone else.

In this charming picture book tale, creators Emily Matheis and Albert Arrayásor showcase how the rewards of our efforts can come from the most unexpected of places.


The journey of OPAL’S SPRINGTIME BIRDHOUSE getting published is a long one! I actually conceived the idea for this character–Opal–about four years ago now, and I’m proud to say the original concept of a hammer-and-nails loving little girl has stayed with every iteration this book has taken. STEM themes in young people’s literature are important, but with Opal, the angle puts those STEM applications in the literal hands of kids. We’re building something from nothing. It’s creativity, functionality, sustainability, and a little bit of dirt all thrown together to create a passion. When I first started thinking about how to tell Opal’s story, it was much bigger. There were forts, simple machines, and all told in rhyme! It was all over the place. The character was getting lost, her passion was too complicated, and Opal’s goal was diluted. I had to go back to the drawing board.

Between real life inspiration along with thinking outwardly about taking Opal’s love of building and using that for good, the birdhouse concept started to take shape. From there, I got rid of the rhyme and replaced the linguistic fun of writing with onomatopoeias. Later, it was more refining, refining, refining. Like taking one grain of sand out and adding another back. Picture books often have a misunderstood conception story with many thinking that with such few words, they must be quick to write. But instead, it’s a constant negotiation within the author with how to convey messaging without being didactic–over-explaining–and enough room for the reader to see themselves within the book to find what resonates in their space. It’s like trying to sit down next to a child and listening with understanding, supporting without lecturing, and being a safety net when exploring new feelings. It’s a lot to take on in about five-hundred words, and I love it.

The final version showcases her love for her tools–as always–along with a compassion for nature, learning, and that winning can come in the most unexpected of places.
I’m so proud of the character Opal became with the tremendous support of so many critique partners, beta readers, my agent, and of course my editors.


Emily Matheis writes picture books and adult novels with a focus on STEM and showing women and girls in positions of power. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and is a first-place award-winning writer through the organization.

She got her first taste of writing books as a member of the Young Author’s Club in elementary school, where she wrote and illustrated a story titled “The Silly Crocdiel [sic]” that, sadly, is not likely to be published. She worked as a journalist for her university newspaper interviewing anyone from mayors and nonprofit leaders to student activists. Her post-graduate opportunities moved her into technical proposal writing. A few years later, she was inspired to write books for children, as she found published books to be woefully lacking in stories of female heroism. From there, she branched out into novels, adhering to the same focus and drive for women in intelligent, adaptable, and exemplifying roles.

Whether it’s mysteries and suspense for all of their captivating puzzles and intricate characters, romantic comedies that flourish with charming hope for a Happily Ever After, or the all-important genre of picture books and the profound windows and mirrors they provide for children to be seen and valued, Emily explores it all in her writing.


Albert Aarrayas was born in Barcelona, Spain (1990). He studied Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona and then I did a course at The Women School (Escola de la Dona) and I am still working as a professional illustrator.

He has 25 children’s books published. For the moment he has published in Spain, Portugal, Germany, China, South Korea and Brazil.

In 2014 he published ´The pirate of stars´ in Spain. It was my first children’s book as an author and illustrator. It has been published in Germany. In 2017 he published The Mistery of Chickentown in Spain by Babulinka Books and for his second book as an author and illustrator.

He just published his third book as author and illustrator, A Thousand Hugs and a Sweet Nudgeen Spain by Lumen.

Albert regularly collaborates with magazines and publishers all over Spain.

Below are a few books he has published as an illustrator:

– Mahatma Gandhi, 2019, Alba Editorial, Little People & Big Dreams, UK, USA, Spain, Portugal, Germany (…)
– Om. The wild boy, Alba Editorial, 2016, Spain.
– Where’s the moon? 2015, Akiara Books, Spain, Portugal, China & South Korea.

Albert is represented by Lilla Rogers Studio (LRS) For illustration work please contact Lilla Rogers Studio:

If you are from Spain write mail him at:

Emily, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. Opal sets a wonderful example for children on the power of perseverance even in the face of a setback. I love that this book could help inspire future bird watchers and inspire parents and teachers to try building a birdhouse at home or at school. Both birdwatching and building a home for birds is something  children will remember and enjoy for the rest of their lives. Kids will love Albert’s colorful Illustrations and keep them turning every page. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This looks like such a fun and inspiring STEAM book. I can’t wait to read it. Kids will love the colorful illos.


  2. Congratulations! Fly high! [Newsletter subscriber.]


  3. This book is so creative–I love how it has many layers of meaning for readers to find and connect to. I am an email subscriber and shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and tumblr.


  4. We love making birdhouses, but I think this is the first kids’ book about them I’ve ever seen. And it looks like a cute one!

    I’m on the email list


  5. Congratulations, Emily & Albert! The book looks adorable and I can’t wait to read it! [Newsletter subscriber.]


  6. Congrats on the book to both Emily and Albert. It looks like a terrific one. I’ll be looking for it. I am a blog subscriber. Thanks for the post.


  7. Looks amazing!


  8. A fun concept with lovely illustrations. Congrats to you both!!


  9. Very creative! and encouraging.


  10. Opal sounds like a great character. Looking forward to seeing more of her!


  11. Cute!


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