Hello Readers! Today on the Kid Lit Village blog series we are featuring author, Jess Hernandez and her new book, FIRST DAY OF UNICORN SCHOOL, illustrated by Mariano Epalbaum. FIRST DAY OF UNICORN SCHOOL is published by Capstone and recommended for children 5-6 years.
Synopsis: FIRST DAY OF UNICORN SCHOOL is the story of Milly, a donkey with dreams of attending the prestigious unicorn school. With a few creative photos in her application, she’s accepted and must make it through the school without anyone realizing what she really is: a donkey in a party hat.
Welcome to Kid Lit Village, Jess! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. And what a delightful premise for a children’s book!
Please tell us why you write books for children.
I write books for kids for a variety of reasons. For one, my whole adult life has been centered on kids and books, so it seemed a natural fit. I’ve been a middle school teacher, a youth services librarian, and a mom. Kids are who I interact with most, so it’s the audience I understand best. The other reason I write for kids is because I’m passionate about improving children’s emotional health. Childhood is also such an intense time – so many changes and so little power over most of it. It can be really scary. Books can be a safe place to work through emotions, learn from others, and figure out how to make it through. Kids need that, especially right now.
I am a teacher too and I witness firsthand all the big emotions children have to deal with. Books can be a great support for children and a comfort too.
What part about being a writer do you love most?
The thing I love most about being a writer is something I’ve discovered recently: hearing from readers. I’ve had the joy of seeing my book in the hands of kids and hearing about the impact it has on them. That’s better than anything I could have dreamed.
That’s wonderful! What a great feeling to hear from the children you hoped would enjoy your work.
Tell us how you build yourself up in the face of rejection.
Dealing with rejection takes practice, just like any other skill. The people who make it through the rejection learn to develop a sort of boneheaded belief in the quality of their work while maintaining enough humility to make necessary changes based on good feedback. Yes, there will be days when you’re convinced you are writing the crappiest piece of crap that ever crapped. (For me, this is a normal part of drafting. I HATE drafting.) But that’s why it’s important to have critique partners who will help you see the good in what you’ve made and help you make it better. Find your people and stick with them. Being an author is rarely as linear a journey as we’re led to believe. I’ve had friends who have had agents, left agents, sold books, wound up back in the query trenches, and some who have made it big only to flounder on the next book. This job is a privilege and a struggle. The only way you make it through is with help.
Well said, Jess!
Here’s how you can reach Jess online…
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Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village this week! I hope you’ll find ways to support these authors any way you can: request their books at the library, share on your social media, add their book to your Goodreads to-read list, or leave them a review. And do stop by on Mondays and discover new books for children; you’re always welcome.
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