Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 28, 2023

Book Giveaway: WATCH OUT FOR THE LION by Brooke Hartman

Brooke Hartman has a new picture book, WATCH OUT FOR THE LION, illustrated by Anna Süßbauer and published by Page Street Kids. 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 Brooke and Anna.

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!


Readers beware―there’s a ferocious lion in this book! The book warns that it has seen the lion already. First its bristly tail, then clashing claws, twitchy ears, fearsome fangs… and it’s lying in wait to turn any unsuspecting passerby into a child cheeseburger or rugrat ravioli.

But does a brushy tail always belong to a lion? When you touch the curvy claws, will they be attached to a paw? You never really know what might be lurking around the corner in this surprising story that challenges readers to face their darkest fears, and maybe even laugh about them.


A Growling, Prowling Idea:

Whenever I do school visits, the most frequent question asked is, “Where do you get ideas for your books?” In response, I tell the students (and any attending teachers and faculty) to look around them. The blue plastic chair they’re sitting on, the basketball hoop hanging from the gym wall, even their friend’s favorite dinosaur sweatshirt. All of these could be pure idea gold!

If you’re a writer reading this, you know this is true. Book ideas can pounce anytime, anywhere, from anything. You’re grabbing a jar of pickles off the shelf at the store or engaged in some mundane conversation about the cost of a tire rotation, and suddenly your brain snatches you up and drags you on winding trail through the woods (and then, if you’re like me, you’re frantically jabbing a finger at the notes app on your phone to get the idea down before it slinks away again).

Writers can often even pinpoint the exact moment when an idea for a book struck us. For instance, with my 2022 release The Littlest Airplane, I got the idea while flying with my family in our bush plane across southwest Alaska. With Pega Sisters Go to Camp, I was playing My Little Ponies with my two little girls, when one of them announced that two of the ponies were “Pegasus Sisters,” or “Pega-Sisters.” Lotte’s Magical Paper Puppets was inspired by a Facebook post link to one of her films on YouYube.

With Watch Out for the Lion, though, it wasn’t like that at all. In its final form, the book’s concept is that the reader is told there’s a lion somewhere nearby. There are clear signs (claws, teeth, tail, snout), but when they turn the page, will it really be a lion they meet on the other side?

Looking back, though, I can’t parse the exact moment the concept for the book came to me. Instead of one “gotcha!” moment, the concept gradually surrounded me, stalking slowly through my mind over the course of weeks and months until it eventually swallowed me whole and I had no choice but to write it down. But if I stop to think about it, the story is a Frankensteined mashup of three concepts:

  • My oldest daughter has always had some anxiety with trying or doing anything new: meeting new people, going new places, and of course trying new foods (don’t even ask her to taste anything with sauce on it!) I wanted to write a book that showed that, even though all signs seem to be pointing to something scary, it might not turn out as frightening as you think. In fact, it might be something you enjoy!
  • I’ve always loved the parable of the three blind men and the elephant. Each of them feels a different part (trunk, tusk, legs) and declares it to be something different than the next. In one version of this parable, their misconception even starts a war as they think they’re being invaded by an army! It’s a great example of our innate human tendency to jump to conclusions before having all the facts.
  • And finally… my family has a chocolate lab named Wrangell (aka “Big Vicious”) who barks his furry brown head off at EVERY DANG CAR that passes our house. We tell him to stop barking. He replies in his mimed doggy voice (please tell me I’m not the only one who has a voice for their dog) that the car might be driven by a velociraptor or a saber tooth dolphin. We tell him velociraptors are extinct and saber tooth dolphins don’t exist. Wrangell doesn’t believe us and proceeds to bark at the next car again “just in case.”

How or when these vastly different ideas smashed and squashed and mushed their way into a picture book that ultimately became Watch Out for the Lion, I have no clue! But it’s a prime example of the way our brains work, especially our writerly brains. Like saber tooth dolphins, inspiration can truly come from anywhere, real or imaginary.

After I succumbed to the book’s demands, the text came together quickly. This was one of the first non-rhyming books I’d written, and the freedom of writing without needing to stick to any pre-ordained meter or rhyme scheme was exhilarating. My writing was free. Free! And my author voice really partied with this book. It was a blast.

One problem, though: this was a “break the third wall” book that spoke directly to readers, and after the roaring success of The Book With No Pictures, publishers had dished up interactive manuscripts up like syrup at a pancake feed. Watch Out for the Lion went on sub to a market still a little soggy with the weight of all those fabulous interactive books. However, I knew these books were still getting published (Josh Funk’s side-splitting It’s Not Fractured Fairytale series is a prime example) and clung hope. Did my funny Frankensteined Lion book stand a chance?

Hope was delivered in the form of Page Street Kids editor, Kayla Tostevin who was in love with this project from the moment it hit her inbox. I couldn’t have asked for a better editor for this book: not only did she help me hone the text to allow for perfectly primed page turns (we had to axe a few animals—bye bye, platypus and buffalo! I miss you!), she found the perfect illustrator with German artist Anna SüBbauer. I’d originally envisioned the book’s illustrations as a little more stark and subdued—it’s about a terrifying lion, after all—and Anna’s specialized in bright, smudgy art that popped off of the page. Then I saw her sloth. Her SLOTH! So adorable. Now, I can’t envision Watch Out for the Lion any other way. The book just released this February and it’s already received a starred review from School Library Journal, and is one of my most requested read-alouds for school and library visits.

So in conclusion, unlike the parable of the three blind men and the elephant, I’m not sure this blog has a moral. Unless to say, you never know when or where or even how inspiration will sneak up and snatch you in its jaws. But when it does, let it drag you with it, even if it’s on a dark, twisty path through the jungle filled with claws and teeth.

Because it just might lead you to a lion.


Brooke Hartman is an Alaskan mom and award-winning author of books for children. She serves as a member of the board of directors for the Alaska Writers Guild, a volunteer for the SCBWI Alaska Chapter, and an occasional instructor of writing for Alaska Pacific University.

She writes silly, serious, and sometimes strange stories for children and young adults. Her writing has garnered national awards, including honors from Writer’s Digest, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Her debut picture book, DREAM FLIGHTS ON ARCTIC NIGHTS, released in 2019 from West Margin Press and received a starred review from Kirkus. Her picture book biography, LOTTE’S MAGICAL PAPER PUPPETS, the Woman Behind the First Animated Feature Film, released in 2020 from Page Street Kids. Her second book, THE LITTLEST AIRPLANE with West Margin Press started 2022, folowed by PEGA SISTERS with Page Street Kids in May.

WATCH OUT FOR THE LION! (Page Street Kids) hit bookstores on February 7th, 2023 (KLYDE THE KRAKEN WANTS A FRIEND on April 25th 2023, Hazy Dell Press), LITTLE NARWHAL LOST (2023, West Margin Press), and ALL ABOARD THE ALASKA TRAIN (2023, West Margin Press).

When Brooke isn’t writing, you can find her flying, fishing, and having fun with her family, enjoying all the magic life has to offer in her home state of Alaska.

Follow her Alaskan writing adventures on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram at @BrookesBooksAK


Anna  grew up in Cologne, Germany and has loved drawing and reading since she was a child. After having her daughter Emilia, she decided to illustrate picture books due to her passion for graphic design and the love for clear structures and bright colors.

Anna Suessbauer is an illustrator focusing on children’s book and editorial illustration. Her career path included various steps. She discovered the creative aspects of every job, but after the birth of her daughter she knew that she wanted to have a career in the creative industry.

She has been a freelance illustrator since 2017, represented by Plum Pudding illustration agency. Her illustrations are humorous and whimsical and feature bright colours and expressive textures. She likes building characters with graphical elements and making them special with a lot of texture and exciting colour combinations.

Anna has worked for Brigitte Magazin and Highlights Magazine and has illustrated children’s books for Usborne, Harper Collins, Combel Editorial, Little Tiger, Hachette Worthy Kids, Pat-a-cake, DK Kids and Page Street Kids.

With my daughter and two dogs I live and work in Cologne.

Brooke thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. This is such a funny and clever book. I can tell how much you had writing this book. That really shines through the whole book. I love how the book show you don’t jump to assumptions. Just because you see a bushy tail, doesn’t mean it’s attached to a lion. It could be a giraffe. Or spying curvy claws could belong to another animal, like a sloth. Very, very clever. Teachers and parents will love reading this aloud to their class and children at home. It makes me smile imagining the giggles and belly laugh from the kids. Anna’s illustrations adorable and purr-fect for the story. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This looks like such a fun read-aloud! Thank you for sharing your book journey, Brooke and Anna! And thank you, Kathy!


  2. This is such a cute concept and I especially love how it encourages critical thinking in a playful way!

    I’m on the email list


  3. I have read this book and it is wonderful! Congratulations, Brooke and Anna! I shared this on Twitter and am a daily subscriber, Kathy.


  4. I love the fun way of sharing how people naturally jump to conclusions and that usually makes things worse than they really are. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Facebook, Pinterest, tumblr, and Twitter.


  5. Love the result of this mash-up of ideas! Books are never any one thing, are they? Congrats on the making of one adorable book!


  6. This looks so cute. I will be looking for it. I’ll pass on the giveaway since I recently won a book here. Thanks for the post.


  7. So clever and fun! Congratulations Brooke!


  8. OMG! This book is so incredible. I love it. Thank you for sharing a free copy with one lucky winner. I also posted on FB and twitter for extra chances to win. Look out! Here comes Lion will make your child and grandchildren laugh as they romp through the jungle with lion and his cohort of friends. Thanks you so much for sharing this book Brooke. Can’t wait to read with my grandson.


  9. I’ve read this book! It’s so much fun! I know young readers will love it! So. Much. Suspense! Congrats, Brooke and Anna!

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post.


  10. Love the interactive nature of this book and the wonderful twist at the end. Kids are going to love this journey! (Sorry about the platypus and buffalo 😦 Maybe they’ll get their own adventure.) Congratulations to both of you!


  11. I’ve read this book–it is so funny! I think my favorite section is when the narrator warns that the lion would enjoy “child cheeseburger” or “rugrat ravioli.” (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog and will retweet this post.)


  12. This one looks like so much fun. I can’t wait to read it. I put in a request at my library. I shared on Twitter. I receive your blog daily.


  13. What a fun book – thanks so much for sharing! I put in a request for this book at my library and am a newsletter subscriber.


  14. I shared on Pinterest, Twitter and FB. What a clever idea!


  15. What a fun book, perfect for my granddaughter! I’ll definately check this one out! Thank you for the recommendation!


  16. Such an interesting concept for a book, with a delightful, surprise ending. I enjoyed hearing the story behind the creation of this book. Thanks for sharing!


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