Hello readers and welcome to Kid Lit Village! I’m so glad you stopped by. Each Monday I give you an author or illustrator interview and feature their work. Today I’m thrilled to welcome Jamie Michalak to the blog. Her book DAKOTA CRUMB: Tiny Treasure Hunter is illustrated by Kelly Murphy and published by Candlewick Press, July 2021.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter
In a clever take on the “night at the museum” theme, a little mouse with a genius for collecting leads picture book readers—and seek-and-find fans—on a thrilling nocturnal adventure.
A Junior Library Guild Selection
“A delightful, entertaining romp with lots of surprises!” —Kirkus
“Dakota Crumb is a delight that readers will return to again and again. In that way, it’s a bit like a favorite, fabulous museum.” —BookPage
“The writing draws listeners into the story with hints of daring escapades, and its tone sets the stage for adventure. The inviting artwork … enhances that atmosphere with shadowy scenes of the exhibit halls at night. Fun for reading aloud!” —Booklist
Kelly Murphy is a New York Times-bestselling author-illustrator and recipient of the E.B. White Award. She has notably illustrated the works of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Beatrix Potter, as well as book covers for various Newbery Medal winning novels, creating thousands of illustrations and award-winning art for clients worldwide. Her 47 books have been translated in 16 languages, earning countless awards and starred reviews, featuring on “best books of the year” lists by Publishers Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Kirkus and The New York Times. Kelly teaches illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, is a keynote speaker, competition juror, and leads professional workshops nationwide. She lives in Providence, RI, with her husband, author-illustrator Antoine Revoy, and their many animal companions.
Jamie Michalak is the author of numerous children’s books, including Frank and Bean, illustrated by Bob Kolar; about which Booklist said, “The humor is absurd, over-the-top, and laugh-out-loud funny.” She also wrote the highly praised Joe and Sparky early readers series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz; and the forthcoming picture book Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites, co-written with Debbi Michiko Florence and illustrated by Yuko Jones. When not writing, she can often be found singing off-key, drinking too much coffee, or hanging out with her two sons. Jamie lives with her family in the smallest state, Rhode Island.
Welcome to the blog, Jamie. It’s a pleasure to interview you!
Q. Please tell us about the inspiration for your book.
A. Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter began with my love for miniatures. I wanted to write a picture book about a small character who went on adventures to collect tiny objects and somehow curated their collection for readers. But the story didn’t fully form until I was waiting in line to visit an art museum in New York, and I imagined a mousehole museum by my feet. What if a mouse searched for rare tiny treasures in a big museum by night, and then curated a mousehole museum with those very treasures by day? I wondered.
Later, I layered on the seek-and-find game so kids can hunt for tiny objects in the pages, too.
The seek-and-find game adds that extra dimension to the book that makes it something children will want to read again.
I’m sure readers will find Dakota, the treasure-hunting mouse to be adorable!
Q. Tell us about your path to publication.
A. It involved a little serendipity and a lot of persistence. After college, I wanted to write for magazines, so I enrolled in the Rice University Publishing Program. It covered both magazine and book publishing. I quickly fell in love with the book portion of the program and moved to New York City to interview anywhere I could.
Luckily, I landed a job at Dutton Children’s Books as an editorial assistant. Reading thousands of manuscripts in the slush pile was the best education a children’s book writer could ask for. At this time, the slush pile was literally boxes and boxes of unsolicited manuscripts. Reading through them, I learned what worked, and even more illuminating, what didn’t work. (I still try to do this by reading as many picture books as I can.)
After years of being a closet children’s book writer and receiving rejections, I thought I had a story that would fit Candlewick Press’s Brand New Readers line. Joan Powers signed it up — oh, happy day! — and we’ve worked together ever since. Joan edited Dakota Crumb.
All that reading as an editorial assistant must have given you great insight into the world of publishing children’s literature. What a wonderful moment, signing your contract with Candlewick!
Q. Tell us how you build yourself up in the face of rejection.
A. Above all, I remind myself it’s not personal. Rejection is part of the game, and you have to pick yourself up and keep moving. As my dad says, “If you don’t take a swing, you can’t get a hit.” So take all the swings.
Being on the editor’s side of the desk, I know that editors all have different tastes. You’re not going to please everyone. So when you receive a rejection, you have two choices — you can either reassess your story and revise it, if you think it would make the story stronger OR decide that your story is simply not that particular editor’s cup of tea and move on to find one who might click with it.
Also, I’ve found that rejection stings less when I’m busy working on other projects. Otherwise, I’m refreshing my in-box every two seconds (instead of, erm, ten.)
I like the idea of moving on to new projects instead of waiting for replies. I try to do that myself.
Thanks again, Jamie! The book looks adorable and I’ve got a review post scheduled for this Friday, so I hope curious readers will come back for my review!
Connect with Jamie and Kelly on social media:
Jamie’s website: www.jamiemichalak.com
Jamie’s twitter: @Jamie_Michalak
Kelly’s website: www.kelmurphy.com
Kelly’s twitter: @yllekyhprum
DAKOTA CRUMB FREE ACTIVITY KIT:
For treasure hunt ideas and other fun educational activities, download the free Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter activity kit.
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!
Did you know, I’ve written a couple of books too?
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Hope to see you back here next week!