Hello readers and welcome back to Kid Lit Village! I’m so glad you’re here and can’t wait for you to meet today’s author. She is Serena Gingold Allen, author of two new board books for young children: SUNRISE DANCE and MOONLIGHT PRANCE, published by Chronicle Books. The books are illustrated by Teagan White. If you are new to the series, you can see some past interviews here on my blog. They happen on Mondays, so follow me if you’d like to learn about new and upcoming children’s books. I also do inspirational quotes on Wednesdays and every so often, a book review on Fridays. And now for Serena’s lovely new books…
SUNRISE DANCE: As the sun rises, playful animals are already waking up. Push and pull the sturdy tabs to make dragonflies dance and bear cubs bustle as they prepare for a sun-filled day.
MOONLIGHT PRANCE: At the end of the day, nocturnal animals aren’t getting ready for bed—they’re getting ready to play! Push and pull the sturdy tabs to make foxes frolic and hedgehogs hustle through a fun-filled night.
Serena, I’m thrilled to have you as a guest on the blog. Congratulations on the publication of your two books. They look adorable!
Tell us about the inspiration for your books.
After having our first child, my husband and I found ourselves reading a lot of board books to our son. One day, my husband was complaining about how bored he was reading aloud really simple board books. He suggested I write a non-boring board book–something that was fun to read aloud. I had never written a board book before (at that point I was a couple of years into my children’s book writing journey and I had been focused solely on picture books), but I decided that once I found a good idea, I would try to write a board book. Not long after, inspiration struck while I was breastfeeding my son in the middle of the night. I started wondering who else was awake and immediately thought about nocturnal animals. The first rhyming couplet popped into my head and the next day I dove into research and wrote a first draft.
Lovely! It totally make sense to write the book you wish you had, but cannot find.
What part of being a writer do you love most?
There’s so much I love about being a writer that it’s hard to pick one thing. But I do particularly love when a story idea arrives in my head and then the whole framework (and sometimes a few great sentences) just flow out all at once. I’ve actually only had this happen in the middle of the night and it feels really magical.
Those moments of inspiration really are special. And when the writing flows? Magic indeed.
Tell us about your path to publication.
Since I was a kid, I wanted to write children’s books. I wrote a lot when I was young, but I didn’t start to pursue a career in writing until I was an adult. After teaching elementary school for nearly a decade, I found myself wanting to shift gears. In 2013 I started reading craft books and writing some really bad stories. In 2014, I decided to give myself a year to focus on learning how to write better. I “retired” from teaching, attended my first SCBWI conference, and joined a critique group. In September 2016 I wrote the first draft of Moonlight Prance and by February 2017 it was ready to submit. I sent it directly to eight publishing houses (ones that felt like a good match and that accepted un-agented and unsolicited manuscripts). I got a few rejections right away and then no word from the other houses. I was caught up in being a stay-at-home mom and I forgot about it entirely. And then in August 2017, I opened my email app and there was an email from Chronicle Books asking if Moonlight Prance was still available! I was so excited I couldn’t even speak. I was literally jumping up and down. My editor brought the manuscript to acquisitions and her group liked it so much they asked if I could write a companion title to go along with it so they could publish both together!
What a moment! Just having one book published is wonderful, but to have two for a debut author must have been thrilling. Congratulations!
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