Hello Readers! Welcome to Kid Lit Village where every Monday we feature a new children’s book plus an author or illustrator interview. Today the featured book is ABC RISE UP AND BE by Annemarie Riley Guertin! The book is illustrated by Sandie Sonke and published by Bushel and Peck.
In a world where you can be anything, be . . .
Accepting: A rising leaf doesn’t cause others to fall. Be the wind that helps everyone soar to new heights.
Big-hearted: A big heart embraces life and all of its beauty and marvels.
Courageous: Courage is a whisper from inside that says, “You can do this.” Fighting for what is right will never be wrong.
In this empowering alphabet to inspire kids to become their best selves, readers will discover traits like humble, just, mindful, persistent, and twenty-two other character-building words with thought-provoking advice designed to empower and encourage. Each page includes an adorable illustration of kids with famous heroes who have exemplified each of these traits: kind like Mother Teresa, generous like Clara Barton, encouraging like Anne Frank, respectful like the Dalai Lama, and more!
Welcome, Annemarie to the Kid Lit Village blog!
Please tell us why you write books for children.
I chose to be a writer for children for several reasons. I think the catalyst happened in 2014 when I was bumped from teaching Kindergarten to first grade. As I was preparing my lessons and units of study on fairytales and folktales, I noticed there wasn’t much in the way of “new” or lesser-known stories for children. Every time I pulled a story to read, I heard, “We read that last year.” That’s when the fire was lit, and I worked to find different tales to bring to market. I found How the Finch Got Her Colors in an old anthology from the early 1900s and rewrote that story with my vision. That is how my first book, How the Finch Got His Colors came to fruition, and the rest is history.
Like you, I have been a teacher for many years and have wanted to write picture books for children. Maybe it is because of seeing first hand the important role books play in a child’s life. When they are young, they need so many stories!
Tell us about the inspiration for your book.
I wrote ABC, Rise Up and Be! in May 2020 when our country was going through a bit of a rough patch. I had the idea for an ABC book for a long time but knowing they are a hard sell and coming up with content that was different proved to be a bit of a challenge. One night at dinner, I was having a conversation with my husband about the importance of instilling good values in our children. That conversation started the wheels spinning. Every parent wants their child to be a good person, and many parents read to their children, so I thought maybe this was my chance to make a book about it. I began by jotting down good character traits using each letter of the alphabet, and that is how the first draft of ABC, Rise Up and Be, came to life. After I finished it, I began to look for houses that might be a good fit. I started looking at houses that didn’t have alphabet books on their lists and made a note of them so I could send mine. Shortly after, I found Bushel and Peck. I worked with its founder on two of my books when he worked for Familius, so I reached out with my idea, and thankfully he loved it.
I’m also curious to know how you generate ideas for books.
I get my ideas from a lot of different sources. I might see an image on social media that sparks an idea, or it may happen from a conversation I’ve had with someone. Some of my stories have come from my own personal experiences as a child, and others have been born from a need I see in the marketplace. I think the best way to come up with story ideas is to be open to however they present themselves. You can pull a story out from just about anywhere. I usually have a notebook on me or at least my phone, and when the idea hits, I jot notes down, so I don’t forget them. Then once the idea is there, I ruminate on it for a bit. I think about who the mc will be, what issue they will tackle (if applicable), and the story arc. When the pieces fall together, I begin to craft.
Share a piece of advice for children’s writers. Any time an idea pops into your head, it takes two seconds to jot it down somewhere you can refer back to. Don’t put it off- chances are you won’t remember that great idea later on. I’ve done that one too many times. I use the notes app on my phone if I don’t have my notebook handy.
So true! You never know when an idea hits or which one may lead to a great book!
What part of being a writer do you love most? The best part of being a writer has to be the messages from readers. Every time I get an email or a tweet from a reader about how they enjoyed my book or that my writing has inspired them in some way, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My goal in writing for children has always been to inspire and spread messages of kindness and acceptance. There is no better feeling than that.
Tell us how you build yourself up in the face of rejection. Rejections are an unfortunate part of the process. We all get them. Some are easier to swallow than others. I admit that I have a good cry every now and again. Sometimes you just have to feel it to move past it. If the editor leaves a note (and some will), I consider their advice and use it to strengthen my story for the next submission (if it resonates). If they don’t offer feedback, I assume it is just not the right fit for them and stay the course. You can’t win them all, so when you do have a victory, be sure to celebrate because it is an amazing achievement!
It is tough to get rejected for sure but having a good attitude about constructive advice is so important as well!
Do you have any tips for querying editors and agents? Make sure to address all editors and agents by name. It takes just a few seconds to look that information up. Also, be sure to spell check their names before sending. Also, take some time to look at the books those specific agents or editors worked on (not the agent or editor’s house- I mean the actual books they have worked on). Mention those works in your query.
What do you hope readers will gain from your book? I hope my readers will look to see the good in people and I hope that in a world where they can be anything, they will be kind.
What a powerful message to give to children! Thanks for taking the time to do the interview and good luck with all your books!
Annemarie Riley GuertinAuthor of: How the Finch Got His Colors (2018), Why Evergreens Keep Their Leaves (2019), ABC, Rise Up and Be! (2021), Thundermaestro (2022), Finding Mr. Trunks (2022)
Readers: Thanks for stopping by Kid Lit Village blog; I hope you’ll be back next week to discover another new book release from the amazing Kid Lit Community!
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