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Q&A Blog

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This Valentine’s week, let’s treat ourselves to a box of chocolates and rereading these lovely #firstpicturebook Q&As:

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT YOU: “It seemed natural to tell the story in the first person. I wanted the child to feel the parent/caregiver was speaking directly to them.”

ANIMALS SPELL LOVE: “A wise author listens to and learns from editors for whom his/her book isn’t a “fit.”

LOVELY: “I wrote most of this book on post it notes.”

I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES: “When I’m looking for inspiration I like to go on ‘writing walks.’”

THIS IS NOT A VALENTINE: “The best picture books are created by people who are true fans of the form.”

I LOVE YOU, BUNNY: “I wrote it as a short poem first, then started sketching and storyboarding.”
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Happy 2018! Let’s start this year off with some love. Alison Goldberg’s #firstpicturebook “celebrates a love that’s longer than the longest train and stronger than the strongest excavator” (The Boston Globe) and “will appeal to kids who love vehicles of all sorts” (Kirkus Reviews). 
And a portion of book proceeds from I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES will support the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger (led by the Food Research and Action Center).
What could be more lovely than that?

Q. Was I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES the first picture book manuscript you ever wrote? If not, what was the first picture book you wrote and what happened to it?
 A. I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES was the fifth or sixth picture book manuscript I wrote. The very first one I attempted is about a girl named Genevieve who lives in Iceland and has a very special bond with a glacier. That early story is buried on my computer, but is one of the seeds for the middle grade novel I’m working on right now.
 A. When my children were toddlers they adored trucks and trains. For my son, this love lasted for several years. We read many vehicle books and spent hours visiting construction sites, standing on bridges to watch trains go by, and sought out events like tractor parades. After a while, these vehicles captured my imagination.
The bedtime game, “How much do you love me?” turned into a comparison of the size, strength, and length of all things that go. After many nights of coming up with these examples for my own children—longer than the longest train, stronger than the strongest excavator, taller than the tallest crane--I thought this could be a fun take on a love book.
Q. How did you pick the title of your book?
 A. My original title was “Longer Than the Longest Train,” but since it is a love book my editor encouraged me to include the word “love” in the title. I remember a day of brainstorming titles with my neighbor while my kids jumped on her trampoline. We pulled “miles and miles” from the first stanza of the story which seemed to captured the breadth of these many vehicles.
Q. What is your favorite part of the book? And was that part in the first draft?
 A. Right now my favorite part is seeing the words come to life through Mike Yamada’s amazing illustrations!
Q. How did you decide between telling the story in first or third person?
 A. The story is written in first person to capture the intimacy of a parent, grandparent, or other caretaker expressing their love for a child.
Q. How much of the story did you know when you began writing I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES?
 A. When I look back at the very first version of this story, the superlative statements were always in there, as well as the sentiment, but the structure differed. It took awhile to figure out the best way to build the stanzas so they had a repeating structure and captured layers of meaning with few words.
Q. Did I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES receive any rejection letters? If so, how many (ballpark)?
 A. This story received about ten rejections and went through a bunch of revisions. This is the first picture book my agent and I submitted to editors. I’m so grateful for all of the editorial notes I received--I learned so much through the process! Ultimately, I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES found the perfect home with Janine O’Malley at Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Q. Describe your reaction when you received an offer on I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES.
 A. I was at the playground with my children when my agent, Kathleen Rushall, called with the offer. At that exact moment my daughter got her finger stuck in a hole in a picnic table. I hung up the phone to help her. Thankfully, we got her finger out of the hole quickly and I was able to call Kathleen back to celebrate.
Q. What kind of input did you have in choosing an illustrator for the book?
 A. My editor shared Mike’s portfolio early on in the process. When I saw Mike’s dynamic and playful illustrations I was absolutely thrilled.
Q. What jumped out at you when you saw the first sketches and jacket cover?
 A. Mike creates such unique and exciting perspectives. The plane on the cover is flying toward the reader!
Q. How long did I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES take to be published—from the time you received an offer until it was printed?
 A. Two and a half years.
Q. What is your #1 tip to those who want to write picture books?
 A. Connect with other writers to share information, support each other through the highs and lows, and build a writing community.
Q. Do you have a favorite writing exercise that you can share?
 A. This is less a writing exercise and more about process. When I’m looking for inspiration I like to go on “writing walks.” I set out with an intention for a problem that I’m trying to solve away from the computer. As ideas come to me, I’ll stop and type notes into my phone.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. More picture books and a middle grade novel.
Q. Where can people find you? (Website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
A. I can be found online at and on Twitter @alisongoldberg.
Book trailer:
I also blog about activism in children’s literature at M is for Movement:
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