Hello Readers and welcome to Kid Lit Village, where authors and illustrators of picture books get interviewed about their newly released picture books. This week we feature T. REXES CAN’T TIE THEIR SHOES by Anna Lazowski and Steph Laberis. The book is published by Penguin Random House. As you may know, I am from Victoria, B.C. and so it is always a pleasure for me to feature a fellow Canadian author. Anna is from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
A funny and encouraging alphabetic book about all the things animals CAN’T do but kids CAN! Every parent teaching their children new skills will be happy to have this super-positive picture book on hand. Bees can’t ride bicycles, penguins can’t play ping-pong, and zebras can’t go zip-lining.
Hi Anna, welcome to the Kid Lit Village blog! Thanks for doing the interview. Let’s start by talking about your book, T. REXES CAN’T TIE THEIR SHOES.
What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
I hope it will be fun for them to read, and be one kids want to return to. Illustrator Steph Laberis did such an incredible job with the images in the book, I was floored when I saw the final, colored proofs. I hope the text and pictures will open up discussion for kids as they learn about what animals can and can’t do, and will encourage them to cut themselves some slack the next time they try to tackle a difficult task. Everything has a learning curve and we need to give kids room to make mistakes and keep trying. I think there’s a good lesson in here for parents too. I would have found a book like this very helpful when my kids were little, so I’m thrilled it’s going to be on the shelves.
I love the way this book can help children to manage feelings around difficult tasks. There’s so much children are learning!
Tell us how you build yourself up in the face of rejection.
One of the things that I never thought about at the beginning of my publishing journey, was the next level of rejection that comes when your work starts subbing to editors. I, probably like a lot of other writers, was so focused on querying agents, I assumed once I jumped that hurdle it would get easier. That was WRONG! The first fiction book I took out on submission with my agent didn’t sell, and the first PB bio that went out missed being first to market by a few months (that was a heartbreaker because it was incredibly well-received). But, instead of dwelling on the rejections, I like to think about the fact that the best editors in the world have read my work! So even if they choose not to acquire it, when the best people in the business are looking at your manuscripts, that’s a pretty incredible feeling. And the usual advice of “write something new” holds true for me. I tend to get very excited by new pieces, so since manuscripts can be out on submission for months with no word, it’s very helpful to have a new story that you’re working on, getting critiqued and revising. I find distractions to be very useful instead of just waiting for the next rejection – because in this business there’s always another one headed your way.
I love the idea that instead of waiting for an answer on a project you can distract yourself by working on the next one!
Do you have any tips for querying editors and agents?
Yes, don’t stop! The people who have signed with agents and published books are the ones who found the will to keep going despite having to face rejection after rejection. My debut, T. REXES CAN’T TIE THEIR SHOES, was rejected by every agent and small publisher I sent it to with no personalized feedback. Since it was my first book, I (mistakenly) thought that meant it wasn’t good enough or that no one wanted alphabet books anymore. If Frances Gilbert at Doubleday hadn’t plucked it out of the #PBPitch Twitter feed in June of 2019, I’m not sure I would have queried it anymore. Even though I loved it, I thought those early passes meant it wasn’t going to sell and I should just move on. I have since learned how important luck and timing are in the world of publishing. Things can change very suddenly and if you’re not out there with your work, it’ll change for someone else.
That’s great advice, Anna. Glad you didn’t stop and that your book is out there for readers to enjoy!
Connect with Anna here…
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/anna_lazowski
My review of T. REXES CAN’T TIE THEIR SHOES
This book opens with a relatable spread showing a child trying pull on a sweater and another trying to reach a high shelf. The opening rhyme is catchy. And then the hilarious things each animal attempts to do will have children laughing. Yaks can’t throw yo-yos. What a fun way to realize that struggling with learning things is a universal problem. The ending spread shows that there are many things animals can do and the back matter has a lot of interesting facts. Did you know elephants make their own sunscreen? Fascinating! This new twist on the alphabet book will be fun for parents and children to enjoy together.
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!
If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.