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Q&A Blog

PBbio Picks for Kids Who Love Tennis, Bunnies, and Television.

Giving children biographies to match their interests 

This year I'm highlighting 2020 picture-book biographies that are inspiring, informative, and match a child's specific interest. Do you know kids who love tennis, bunnies, or television? Then these new releases are the perfect #pbbiopicks for them:

 

For kids who play tennis

Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis' Fleet-of-Foot Girl

Megan Reid and Laura Freeman

She couldn't just sit around. Althea was off to travel the world! 

Forehands in France, ground strokes in Germany, backhands in Burma, serving in Sweden!

In the 1940s, Althea Gibson was known as the quickest, tallest, and most fearless athlete on Harlem's Play Streets—an area closed to traffic for kids to play outside during the summer.  One fall, after the streets were reopened to traffic, Althea discovered a rare tennis club allowing African Americans to join. Working in exchange for lessons, Althea started her journey to making history. She travelled the world as a competitive tennis player but Althea had her heart set on Wimbledon. Kids will love seeing how Althea's big personality, confidence, and athletic skills served her well whether she was ruling the Play Streets of Harlem or battling racial discrimination. And kids who play tennis will give an extra cheer when Althea aces the "biggest and best tournament of them all."

  

For kids who love bunnies

Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit

Linda Elovitz Marshall and Ilaria Urbinati

On the third floor of a London Town house, a young girl sketched pictures of her pet rabbit,

Benjamin Bouncer.

Certainly this biography on author/illustrator Beatrix Potter would be a gorgeous gift for the young artists in your life. But also, if you know kids who are crazy for all things bunnies, see if they can resist this story about the creator of Peter Rabbit. With bunnies on almost every spread, this book shows young readers how Beatrix's childhood pet bounced his way into her art, stories, and children's hearts. The Tale of Peter Rabbit made Beatrix so successful (at a time when women weren't supposed to have careers!) that she was able to purchase four farms and 4,000 acres of countryside, saving it from developers, caring for its people and animals, and preserving it for future generations. Now that's some serious bunny power!

  

For kids who love TV

Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers

Laura Renauld & Brigette Barrager

To Fred, television had potential.... 

What if a TV show could leave someone feeling welcomed? Loved? 

Even...special?

 

As a child of the '70s, I spent a good chunk of time in front of a TV that only had a few channels. Thankfully Mr. Rogers was on one of them.  Calm yet playful, Fred Rogers welcomed children into a safe world where they could learn about all their feelings. Today there are countless shows and networks for children. But do your kids know how one of the most popular and longest-running children's television show started? The candy-colored illustrations will pop them into the story of how Mr. Roger's Neighborhood was created—from its inspiration to behind the scenes to legendary scenes (Koko the Gorilla!)—and how Mr. Rogers saved the show from being cancelled. So the next time your child asks for more screen time, snuggle up and read about Fred Rogers and the TV show that made millions of children feel special.

 

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PBbio Picks for Singers, Gardeners, and Curious Kids

Give children biographies to match their interests 

This year my blog will focus on matching picture-book biographies to children's specific interests. Each month, I will highlight a few inspiring and informative biographies that connect readers with a beloved activity—one that they share with the main character. Do you know kids who are passionate about singing, gardening, or asking questions? Then these January releases are the perfect #pbbiopicks for them:

 

For Kids Who Are Singers

A Voice Named Aretha

Katheryn Russell-Brown and Laura Freeman

"Aretha's voice had magic tucked inside. And that magic could work a spell."

If you know a girl or boy—especially a shy one—who loves to sing, this biography of the Queen of Soul is for them. Illustrated in gorgeous royal purples, reds, and golds, the book shows young readers how Aretha Franklin evolved from being a shy girl afraid to step on stage into a superstar who used her powerful voice to advocate for civil rights as well as entertain the world (including President Obama!) Bonus: if kids read the backmatter, they'll be delighted to know that the illustrator hid images of crowns throughout the book.

 

For Kids Who Are Gardeners

The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver

Gene Barretta and Frank Morrison

 "George decided to create his own classroom in the woods

and studied the subject he loved most—nature."

Born into slavery, George Washington Carver grew up to be a celebrated botanist, scientist and inventor. But did you know that, as a child, he had a secret garden? It was there that he taught himself about plants, especially flowers. Soon he became known as the "Plant Doctor" in his community, taking his neighbors' sick plants and healing them in his garden. The book covers the many challenges and successes of Carver's life but comes full circle with a celebration of his greatest childhood love—caring for his secret garden. If you have young gardeners in your home, let them dig in to this beautiful book.

 

For Kids Who Are Curious

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You.

Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael Lopez 

 "Instead of fearing our differences or ignoring them,

we can shed light on them and explore them together."

It would be easy to say that this book is a lovely gift for kids with special needs. Beginning with little Sonia Sotomayor's story of how she manages her diabetes, the book then weaves through the experiences of other kids who each describe the challenges—and powers—that come with living with asthma, blindness, deafness, dyslexia, autism, speech impediments, Tourette's syndrome, ADHD, food allergies, Down syndrome, and using a wheelchair. But really, this book is for every kid who meets someone who seems "different" and wants to know more. And because children are curious by nature, that makes this book a must-have for every kid.

 

 

What are your favorite PBbios for singers, gardeners, and curious kids?

 

As always, if you have read any of these books, please take a minute to review them using the links above. 

 

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I AM GOOSE!

Dorothia Rohner combined her love of science and art and earned a degree in Biological and Pre-Medical Illustration from Iowa State University. After working in scientific illustration, animation, and graphic design, she illustrated two children's books, Numbers in a Row, An Iowa Number Book, (Sleeping Bear Press) and Effie's Image (Prairieland Press). But next month marks her author debut with her #firstpicturebook I AM GOOSE!—"[A] honking good tale"—Kirkus Reviews.

 

Q. Was I AM GOOSE the first picture book manuscript you ever wrote? If not, what was the first picture book you wrote and what happened to it?

A. Hi Karlin, First of all, thank you for inviting me to talk about my upcoming book! I Am Goose!. (Feb, 18, 2020, Clarion Books—HMH Kids, Illustrated by Vanya Nastanlieva) To answer your question, no, this was not the first book, or second or third. I have a drawer full of dummy books. Some will stay in that drawer forever and some are under revision. The first dummy book I ever made was called "Monsters for Ari". It will stay in the drawer.

 

Q. What inspired I AM GOOSE?

A. I volunteer at Head Start here in my town. My official job is to play and talk with the
children. Whenever we head out to the playground, they almost always ask, "Do you want to play Duck, Duck, Goose?" The story idea came from watching, playing and interacting with the kids. They are hilarious and the animals in the book are based on the different children's personalities. 

 

Q. How did you pick the title of your book?

A. The title had many iterations— Cluck, Cluck Goose, Never Play Duck, Duck Goose with the Moon. I love to draw the moon, but I had to change this because it just didn't work. Because Goose is so self involved, I Am Goose! fit the best. My editor didn't change it, so the title stuck. 

 

Q. Do you write by hand or on the computer?

A. I start with notes in my idea book. I started doing this when I participated in Picture Book Idea Month, now called Storystorm. I have pages of various ideas and sketches. When I decide which one I want to work on, I develop the sketches and start writing notes. When the story begins to take on clearer focus, I translate all my scribbles onto the computer and begin to revise.The last step is making the dummy book. 

 

Q. What is your favorite part of the book? And was that part in the first draft? 

A. The squirrels commenting on the game, as if Duck, Duck Goose was a spectator sport, cracks me up. At one point I took the squirrels out because it was slowing down the pacing. But in the end I put them back in by shortening their comments. I also like Rabbit. She tries so hard to be nice but slowly looses her cool because Goose won't follow the rules. And of course, the ending, where Goose learns what goes around, comes around.

  

Q. What made you decide to tell the story in first, second, or third person?  

A. This whole book is told with dialogue. It seemed the most immediate way to present the characters and the situation. 

 

Q. How much of the story did you know when you began writing I AM GOOSE? 

A. When I started, I only knew that I wanted to have a Goose playing Duck, Duck, Goose and cause a ruckus. Initially the rabbit was a boy with overalls and an accent.  With each revising, the animal personalities emerged. It went through many iterations before the final manuscript was submitted. 

 

Q. Did I AM GOOSE  receive any rejection letters? If so, how many (ballpark)?

A. My agent at the time, Laura Biagi, sent the manuscript out to about ten or twelve publishers. We got a few rejections before we got two offers. 

 

Q. Describe your reaction when you received an offer on I AM GOOSE .

A. I was super excited, but when the offers came in, they both wanted to choose a different illustrator. That was a little hard, because I had spent quite a bit of time coming up with illustrations for the manuscript.  But in the end, I was really happy to have my first manuscript accepted. I wrote a post about my experience here at the kidlitartistsblog: http://kidlitartists.blogspot.com/2018/04/im-illustrator-but.html.

 

Q. What kind of input did you have in choosing an illustrator for the book? 

A. They chose a few illustrators, and I was able to chime in on my preferences. 

 

Q. What jumped out at you when you saw the first sketches and jacket cover?

A. I never saw any sketches during the process. The first time I saw the book was when the uncorrected proof was sent to me. It was wonderful seeing it in my hands. The illustrations worked perfectly for the age group. 

 

Q. How long did I AM GOOSE  take to be published—from the time you received an offer until it was printed? 

A. I Am Goose! was acquired in 2016. It will be released on Feb. 18, 2020—4 YEARS! 

 

Q. Was there a part that you really loved but had to edit out? Or did you think of something later that you wanted to add?

A. It was a little tricky having so many animals and the squirrels talking. As I mentioned earler, I took the squirrels out to make sure the story wasn't being slowed down. But it wasn't as funny,  so I added them back in. 

 

Q. When you read I AM GOOSE to kids, which part of the book gets the best reaction?

A. They giggle when Goose has a tantrum and tries to convince everyone that he should be 'it". They liked the ending too. 

 

Q. Did you create any book swag for I AM GOOSE? If so, what kind?

A. I've ordered bookmarks and will be giving away t-shirts as door prizes for my first book signing at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines. I have a few paper coasters that I've been leaving with bookstores, libraries and teachers.

 
Q. What is your #1 tip for picture-book writers?

A. Write and illustrate what makes you happy. Stay connected with other picture book makers online or in person. Keep learning and honing your craft. Join SCBWI. Be patient.

 
Q. Do you have a favorite writing exercise or marketing tip that you can share?

A. One thing I do when I'm pacing out a picture book is to use index cards for a quick dummy book. It helps to have the words written on the card to flip through to see the page turns. We illustrators do this, but I think it is also really beneficial for writers. 

 
Q. What are you working on now?

A. I have two manuscripts that are out on submission. I'm finishing up another dummy book and it is almost ready to send to my agent. I've been working on a new technique for this next story that I'm really excited about. 

 
Q. Is there a public launch for the book?

A. My first event will be at Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, Iowa, on Feb 18th, 6:30 PM.
 

I'm planning on contacting book stores in the Midwest, Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas where I have friends and family. I'm researching some book festivals too. All of the event details will be posted at my website: www.dorothiarohner.com

 

Q. Where can people find you? (Website, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

A.

Website: www.dorothiarohner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dorothiar

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dorothiar/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dorothiarohner.illustration

Book trailer: https://www.dorothiarohner.com/i-am-goose

 

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Writing Tips for 2020!

 

Happy Holidays Kidlit writers! Need a few writing tips for 2020? Here are some favorites from #5Favorites contributors:

(Click on the author's name to see the full Q&A.)

Type up a favorite picture book to see the words without the art.

Susan Hood

 
My favourite writing tip is from Nicholas Fisk who said "The plot can be allowed one thumping lie (say, the invasion of earth) but only one. Everything arising from the thumping lie must make sense."  I try to follow that.

Susannah Lloyd

 

If something is not working, shelve the idea for later and write something new.

Baptiste Paul

 

Instead of worrying about getting everything perfect the first time, get the first draft FINISHED. If there are detail-y bits you still need to work out, stick in placeholder text like "<something amazing here>" or "<xxx>" that you can search for later, if you need to. You will be revising later, but you can't revise

a blank page.

Debbie Ohi Ridpath

 
Write down what your intention is for your manuscript (to entertain, evoke feelings, offer an opportunity to reflect) as well as what the main question of the story is (Ex. How do you make a friend, what happens when you lose your lovey, etc.) and keep it by your computer. It's helpful to be reminded of both and it will keep your writing focused. 

Jodi McKay 

 

Read everything you write aloud.

Heidi Stemple 

 

If you have only 15 minutes to write, use all of those 15 minutes to write. Set a timer. Turn off your phone. (Not silenced, off.) Block out the distractions. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish if you don't wait for that perfect block of uninterrupted time.

Casey W. Robinson 

  

When I'm writing, I try my best to be an empty vessel.  Meaning, to not think of any book that I'm writing as "my" story but to approach it as though this is a story that has chosen to come into the world through me.  And so my job (and my responsibility to the story)  is to be the best listener that I can be.   If I'm not a little surprised, I'm usually doing something wrong, being too controlling. I've found that most of the best stories and poems have a life of their own, and my job is to stay out of the way.

Corinna Luyken

 

Be true to your story, not true to 'trends.'

Shana Keller

 

 

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Book Events To Check Out in 2020

Are you a Kidlit writer or illustrator who wants to add some book events to your 2020 schedule? Then check out these favorites from #5Favorites contributors. (Click on the author's name to see the full Q&A and event links.)

  

I don't make it to a lot of big book events, but every year, I go to the Empire State Award luncheon at the New York Library Association conference. It's always a joy to listen to the current winner's speech and get a book signed. The award is given annually to a children's author or illustrator living in New York State, and we have a lot of authors here! 

Rebecca Donnelly 

 
My favorite has always been nErDcamp Michigan. I always learn so much from the educators at the event, and I love that nErDcamp has always been focused on educators and their young readers rather than the authors, and am grateful to the behind-the-scenes volunteers to run the event.

Debbie Ohi Ridpath 

 

I have to say that the one that is nearest and dearest to me is the one that I have done the longest which is the Hudson Children's Book Festival held on the first Saturday of May in Hudson, New York. I've also never missed the Chappaqua Children's Book Festival held every October. And I'm one of the co-founders of the Schomburg's Annual Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem in January.

Jerry Craft

 
Multicultural Children's Book Day coming up January 31, 2020. This is our 7th year of celebrating diversity in children's books

Mia Wenjen

 

The New England Regional Spring Conference held in Springfield, MA in early May. (Full disclosure: I am Conference Co-Director for the 2020 conference!)The New England SCBWI region is so large and vibrant, yet the conference manages to feel close-knit and intimate. It's worth checking out if you've never been.

Casey W. Robinson


BEA New York City (Book Expo America) - I only got to go to it once, but it was exciting to see all those new books, authors, publishers, and agents in one place.

Susan Montanari 

 
I've been lucky enough to attend the ALA and NCTE conferences in the past few years, and I always come home energized from hearing great presentations, meeting friends old and new, and collecting armloads of advance reader copies!

Andrea Wang 

 
I absolutely loved KidLitCon this year. It was a cozy and wonderful blend of authors, librarians, and bloggers. I learned a lot and got to spend quality time with old and new friends.

Gina Perry 

 

nErDcamp, without a doubt. My first was a few years ago on Long Island, and after that one, I started going to every single one I could -- New Jersey, Kansas, Michigan, Vermont, Northern New England... There is nothing like the energy and spirit of nErDcamp. The events celebrate and put into highly productive practice the belief that kids' educators and kids' book creators are colleagues, that our missions are, at the end of the day, the same -- to improve and enrich the lives of kids through reading and books. The more we work together, the better work we can all do.

Jarrett Lerner

 

My favorite book event of the year, as both an attendee and a speaker, is the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland. Amazing authors from around the country in a homey civic park atmosphere. With the occasional tooting of a passing train! (Books, parks and trains are an evocative combination to me.)

Jonathan Roth

 

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5 Favorites from . . . Jonathan Roth!

Author/Illustrator Jonathan Roth

Jonathan Roth is the author-illustrator of the chapter book series Beep and Bob (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin), which is aimed at elementary kids who like funny, exciting stories and cute, bluish aliens. Jonathan travels daily through both space and time, from his Rockville, Md. home where he lives with his wife and two kitties, to the school where he teaches art to the creative minds of today and tomorrow.

 

So what are Jonathan's 5 Favorites?:


My favorite place to write:

I keep meaning to find my muse in scenic riverside cafes. The mundane reality is that most of my writing and drawing is done at an old wooden drafting table in my small home office.Though when kids ask where I get ideas, I tell them much of my best thinking is done as I'm walking or cycling. Butt in chair, but also move that butt too!


My favorite mentor text:

For wit and wisdom, humor and heart, I probably owe Charles Schulz and Peanuts more than anyone. As for my sense of fantastical space absurdity, where would it be if not for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? And I can't neglect a plug for Lynda Barry, whose Picture This, What It Is and now Making Comics are mind-blowing texts on creativity.


My favorite writing tip:

"No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader." I would also substitute "fun" for "surprise". This doesn't mean writing isn't sometimes (usually) a terrible struggle, but if you're not also hitting those zones of pure creative enjoyment, then what's the point?


My favorite marketing tip:

Be part of a diverse, genuine a community of writers, artists, librarians, booksellers and educators, even well before you have a book out, and pay it forward. I prefer to do this locally and in person, though I have the benefit of a large metro area (DC).


My favorite book event of the year:

My favorite book event of the year, as both an attendee and a speaker, is the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland. Amazing authors from around the country in a homey civic park atmosphere. With the occasional tooting of a passing train! (Books, parks and trains are an evocative combination to me.)

 

To learn more about Jonathan and his work, visit his website.

 As always, if you have read any of the books discussed here, please consider writing a quick review using the links above.

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5 Favorites from . . . Susannah Lloyd!

Author Susannah Lloyd

Susannah Lloyd is the author of The Terribly Friendly Fox, illustrated by Ellie Snowdon, and This Book Can Read Your Mind, illustrated by Jacob Grant. She loves reading stories to her two sons above all things, and picture-book sections in libraries and book shops are her happy place.   Her writing is inspired by dusty stuffed animals in museums, by long walks through woodlands, and by all things small in the world.


So what are Susannah's 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write: 

Rebecca Solnit wrote that the mind works at its best at three miles an hour and I do find my best writing ideas tend to come when I'm walking.  I'll be walking along, with a totally blank mind, and all of a sudden some characters will start talking to each other in my head, and I have to stop, grab my notebook, and scribble it all down before all that chatter evaporates.

 

My favorite mentor text:  

The children's books I love the best are the ones where you get the feeling that the writer or illustrator was thoroughly enjoying themselves, having an absolutely marvellous time, creating it. Fattipuffs and Thinifers by Andre Maurois and Fritz Wegner, and the books that Russell Hoban or John Yeoman wrote with Quentin Blake all give me that feeling. However I think this is especially true of Hoban and Blake's two Captain Najork books, which I adore.  Mac Barnett's and Jon Klassen's books also have that feeling about them too. I love the line 'I may have been swallowed but I have no intention of being eaten' from their book The Wolf, The Duck and the Mouse.

  

My favorite writing tip:

My favourite writing tip is from Nicholas Fisk who said "The plot can be allowed one thumping lie (say, the invasion of earth) but only one. Everything arising from the thumping lie must make sense."  I try to follow that.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

My debut picture book only just came out so I don't feel I've got to grips with the idea of marketing at all yet, except, perhaps to say, try to be yourself, because I would imagine any other way lies madness.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

My youngest son and I went to see by a book event by Emily Howarth Booth around her book The King Who Banned The Dark at the Bradford Literature Festival. I've seen a lot of events where the authors or illustrators are in an all singing, all dancing performing mode, but Emily was very softly spoken and had a wonderful gentle and quiet way of drawing out the most creative ideas from the shyest of young audience members.  We both loved it.

 

To learn more about Susannah's work, visit her website

As always, if you have read any of the books discussed here, please consider writing a quick review using the links above.

 

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5 Favorites from Ed Shankman and Dave O’Neill!

Illustrator Dave O'Neill and Author Ed Shankman.

Author Ed Shankman and illustrator Dave O'Neill are the creative team behind 12 children's books, and counting. From the award-winning I Met a Moose in Maine One Day to the newest title, Where's the Bathroom?Shankman and O'Neill create fun, exciting stories and characters for children and parents to share. 

 

So what are Ed & Dave's 5 Favorites?:

 
My favorite place to write/illustrate:

Ed: A lot of my writing takes place in my head — often in the car, in bed, or on a quiet walk — long before I write it down. (It's not unusual for me to jump out of bed at 2:30 AM to capture a stanza that finally falls into place in my mind or some inspirational idea that materializes by my bedside and nudges my shoulder until I give in, get up, and write it down.)

Dave: Anywhere when doodling, but at my home office desk when digitally painting and doing the graphic design work. I used to love drawing on the subway, but now I'd much rather color on the floor with my daughter.

 
My favorite mentor text:

EdDr. Seuss was a major presence in my childhood. He showed me the music of words. He showed me the enormous value of nonsense (a principle that has permeated my life ever since). Perhaps most important, he demonstrated, beyond any doubt, that the imagination has no limits. He pointed the way through that open door and I've been running through it, gleefully, ever since. I tip my hat to the master.

Dave: So much of what Chuck Jones did in his career drove me to create characters with lots of emotion and comedy. He used to describe looking in the mirror to accomplish this and I loved that idea. 

"You've got a million bad drawings in you; you better get started."― Chuck Jones

 

My favorite writing/illustrating tip:

Ed: I have two tips. First of all, as others have said: there's no great writing only great editing. So, capture the inspiration, then chisel it mercilessly until it glows. Folks often flatter me by saying that my rhymes sound effortless. They have no idea how much effort that takes. Secondly, to all those who say, "I once thought about writing a story," or, "I'd love to write," or, "I wish I could write", I have a mind-blowing suggestion: write.

Dave: Don't stop drawing ever. Do it every day, even if you hate what you are drawing. You absolutely have to draw each and every day.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

Ed: As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck." You never know who you may be talking to on line at the supermarket, who your colleague's father is, or who's going to show up at your next book signing. Talk to everyone as though he or she may hold the key to your success.

Dave: No one knows what you want to accomplish more than you do. You are 1000% in charge of your brand, your work and your titles. Engage with fans, be active online with them and above all, BE KIND. No one wants to deal with a grump. Be kind, give people your time and energy, and they will repay you the best way possible—by being a fan.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

Ed: My favorite book event has been our annual signing tour in Maine. We sign at stores in the beautiful towns of Freeport, Portland, York, Ogunquit, and Kennebunkport. We've become good friends with the store owners who always welcome us with open arms. Families come to tell us what our books have meant in their lives. What could be more gratifying than that? And in the evenings, between signings, we enjoy the beautiful aura of the great state of Maine.

Dave: My favorite book launch party was at LL Bean in Freeport to launch "I Met a Moose in Maine One Day". The team there made us "Moose" cake, had balloons and placed us right in the main lobby on their big 4th of July party weekend.

To learn more about Ed & Dave's work, visit their website

As always, if you have read any of the books discussed here, please consider writing a quick review using the links above.

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5 Favorites from . . . Rebecca Donnelly!

Author Rebecca Donnelly

Rebecca Donnelly is a middle grade and picture book author. Her most recent books are The Friendship Lie (Capstone) and Cats Are a Liquid (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). She's also a children's librarian. Rebecca lives in northern New York.

 

So what are Rebecca’s 5 Favorites?:

 

Favorite place to write:

Most of my writing gets done at the dining room table or the couch, but maybe one day I'll get a real desk!

 

Favorite mentor text:

For rhyming picture book nonfiction, I love WATER IS WATER, by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin. The gentle rhythm, the perfect page turns--it's genius.

 

Favorite writing tip:

Not sure if this is a tip, but as you go along in your career, your ability to glean the useful elements of an idea and visualize it as a written piece tends to improve. It gets easier to yes to the right ideas and no to the wrong ideas. If it seems like all you see are the wrong ideas, wait--the right one will come along.

 

Favorite marketing tip:

If you buy one thing to advertise your book, buy postcards. They're versatile and comparatively cheap, and they make a great showcase for your cover. You can use them like a bookmark, but you can also mail them!

 

Favorite book event of the year:

I don't make it to a lot of big book events, but every year, I go to the Empire State Award luncheon at the New York Library Association conference. It's always a joy to listen to the current winner's speech and get a book signed. The award is given annually to a children's author or illustrator living in New York State, and we have a lot of authors here! This year, it's going to Bryan Collier.

 

To learn more about Rebecca’s work, visit her website.

As always, if you have read any of the books discussed here, please consider writing a quick review using the links above.

 

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5 Favorites from . . . Debbie Ridpath Ohi!

Author/Illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the author and illustrator of Where Are My Books? and Sam & Eva (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). Her illustrations also appear in books by Michael Ian Black, Judy Blume, Rob Sanders, Lauren McLaughlin, Aaron Reynolds and Colby Sharp. Debbie writes about reading, writing and illustrating books for young people at Inkygirl.com

 

So what are Debbie’s 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write:

My favorite place to write is in my basement office, with the door closed.

However, I make a point of regularly writing in other places as well, so I can still be productive when I'm on the road. For that reason, I try to do a lot of writing on my iPad Pro. Whenever possible, I take my sound-cancelling headphones so I can work anywhere and not get distracted.

 

My favorite mentor text:

I have sooooo many, both picture books and middle grade! One of my current favorites in middle grade: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. I love the storytelling format combining memories, facts about jellyfish and current action. Another is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead because of the way the different story lines interconnect, the inclusion of small details that enhance reader experience, and the way pieces in the mystery gradually fall into place.

 

My favorite writing tip:

Instead of worrying about getting everything perfect the first time, get the first draft FINISHED. If there are detail-y bits you still need to work out, stick in placeholder text like "<something amazing here>" or "<xxx>" that you can search for later, if you need to. You will be revising later, but you can't revise

a blank page.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

Instead of doing hard-sell marketing ("My book is available for pre-order! Please buy!") when your book is about to come out, work on building relationships NOW. Support and get to know like-minded people in the kidlit community. Engage. Give good karma and it will come back to you.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

My favorite has always been nErDcamp Michigan. I always learn so much from the educators at the event, and I love that nErDcamp has always been focused on educators and their young readers rather than the authors, and am grateful to the behind-the-scenes volunteers to run the event.


To learn more about Debbie and her work, visit her website. (Picture-book writers—check out Debbie’s guides, free templates, and resources for Creating Picture Books!)

As always, if you have read any of the books discussed here, please consider writing a quick review using the links above.

 

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