Hello Readers! Welcome to the Kid Lit Village blog. I’m glad you decided to stop by. Today I’m featuring the book THE STAR FESTIVAL by Moni Ritchie Hadley, illustrated by Mizuho Fujisawa . STAR FESTIVAL is published by Albert Whitman and Co. Just look at this absolutely gorgeous book cover! Release date: April 1, 2021.
Keiko, Mama, and Oba attend the Japanese festival of Tanabata Matsuri and relive the events of the folktale it celebrates.
Welcome, Moni to the Kid Lit Village blog! I was immediately drawn in by your book’s cover. What did it feel like when you first saw the artwork for your book?
With all the preparations an author takes for getting published, nothing prepares you for the moment you see your cover and character in full color. Mizuho’s artwork blew me away. I knew she was a talented illustrator. I had seen some of her work online. She seemed to use overlapping shapes, elegantly transparent. I had expected the book to be in a similar style. Instead, the colors are bold and saturated. They invite the reader to look. And her attention to detail is amazing. There is so much to see in every spread. Her depiction of the festival really draws the reader into Keiko’s world and the cultural experience. I consider myself lucky to be paired with Mizuho.
What part of being a writer do you love most?
Writing the first draft is my favorite part. It’s the beginning of an adventure. I love getting that nugget of inspiration and running with the idea. I furiously punch a string of thoughts together into the computer in true pantser fashion. Recently I have begun the habit of brainstorming and researching first, jotting down snippets of ideas, relationships, double meanings, and puns. This practice allows for a more productive first draft because I head into it with an abundance of knowledge and choices.
It is so neat to hear about your writing process. And your love for writing really shows.
Tell us how you build yourself up in the face of rejection.
Some rejections sting more than others. An optimistic person by nature, I usually try to move on. If it is a particularly painful one, I pout for a day but try not to remain in that place for long. That can be more harmful than helpful. I remind myself that I am making progress when I get that rejection. There is no way to get a yes if I don’t put my work out there. Some rejections are helpful with constructive feedback. I try to listen to those comments. Sometimes I am not ready to hear the words, so I print out and save the notes. Later, when I go through that pile of papers again, the suggestions usually make more sense. If a rejection plummets me into a deep funk, I sit in a sunny spot and escape into a good book. Reading takes the focus off me me me!
What a great strategy! Most writers do love to read and could probably benefit from this idea to help get over the emotions that come with rejection.
Tell us why you write books for children.
At first, writing was a way of observing my new life as a mom and documenting special moments. Kids do and say the cutest things! But, as a home/hospital teacher, I saw the power that books and stories had on my students. Some students I had from other countries learned English from hand-selected books. Some who had missed months of school due to illness told themselves they were horrible readers. But when introduced to books with engaging content and storylines, a transformation in their reading abilities and mindset took place. That is powerful. Books do that!
As I wrote THE STAR FESTIVAL, my debut picture book, I had many conversations with mom about my childhood in Japan and the culture. It has brought more profound meaning to our relationship and introspection into how my experiences living alternatively in Japan and different parts of the United States shaped who I am today.
THE STAR FESTIVAL introduces Japanese culture and my voice to young readers. I hope my writing offers a new perspective and inspires children to find their unique voice in the world.
Moni, what a pleasure to have you on the blog today. Thanks for sharing your unique world and perspective. I know readers will enjoy the opportunity to learn more about Japanese culture.
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