Kid Lit Love: Tulip and Doug

Welcome to the Kid Lit Love blog series where new picture book releases are featured on Mondays with an author interview. I am thrilled to feature my critique partner, Emma Wood and her debut picture book Tulip and Doug, illustrated by Carla Martell, published by Scholastic New Zealand. And as an added bonus, I’m including a review of this adorable book!

TULIP AND DOUG by Emma Wood and Carla Martell

Synopsis:

Tulip was famous in her neighbourhood for two reasons: 1. She was a fearless adventurer. 2. She went everywhere with a seriously strange sidekick-a potato, called Doug!

Tulip and Doug are inseparable, until catastrophe strikes and Tulip
loses her best spuddy buddy. She is inconsolable, until another unlikely friendship blossoms.

My Review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and full of heart! An unlikely friendship between an adventurous girl and a potato (?!) is funny and full of delightful surprises. The adorable illustrations add whimsy and fun, plus the view from Tulip’s headquarters is spectacular. Will Tulip ever find find Doug? Will Doug be forced into the compost bin? There’s plenty of suspense in this story to keep the pages turning.

And now I’d like to welcome Emma Wood to the blog! Emma, author of Tulip and Doug, has been one of my critique partners since 2018, when we joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge.

Emma Wood
  1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.

It’s a familiar story, really – I read my own children many, many picture books, and soon developed a love for the form. I revisited all the titles I adored in childhood, which was gorgeously nostalgic. But the best part was discovering some remarkable contemporary picture books. It was a revelation to experience these beautiful, moving, profound, hilarious, outrageous and clever books, and to see how the interplay between text and art could elevate a story. I felt inspired to have a go at writing them, too.

In my day job, I write primarily for adults – I’m a former journalist who now works in communications and public relations. However, I’ve never been especially interested in writing adult fiction. I like to write for children because they are the most wonderful people on the planet. I write picture books because they introduce children to elements of language, art, storytelling, and the wonders and workings of the world around them. Children deserve to read excellent, fun, engaging, meaningful books – every bit as much as adults do.

  • Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book .

I was painting my living room walls and listening to a podcast, actually! The podcast guest shared that as a child, they had a rock friend called John that they pushed around in a pram. I found this funny and charming, and it struck me as a cute idea for a picture book. I then thought a potato friend might be even funnier than a rock.

I got to thinking about the potential ramifications of having a potato as a friend – that other children might find it a little strange, and that a potato wouldn’t be the most permanent of pals. The story of fearless adventurer Tulip and her dear, ill-fated Doug grew from that seed.

I’m delighted TULIP AND DOUG is now a book, and I hope children and their families will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! 

  • Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.

My advice is to find your people! There are so many excellent resources and supportive communities online for children’s authors and illustrators. I highly recommend Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, which is where I met my wonderful critique partners (hi, Cynthia!) and learned so much about the craft of writing picture books. SCBWI is another great resource. Storyteller Academy has some fantastic courses and teachers, as does the Children’s Book Academy. And there are heaps of Facebook groups like Kidlit 411 and Sub It Club where you can connect with fellow authors and illustrators. I’ve found all of these communities to be welcoming and encouraging, and a treasure trove of industry and craft knowledge.

Here are Emma’s social media contacts:

Look for more Kid Lit Love posts on Mondays! Want to have your book featured? Send an email request to authorcynthiamackey@gmail.com

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Kid Lit Love: How Long is Forever

Happy Monday and welcome to Kid Lit Love where new release children’s books and book creators are featured weekly. Today we feature HOW LONG IS FOREVER by Kelly Carey, illustrated by Qing Zhuang, published by Charlesbridge. This book was just released April 7, 2020! The title is a question many of us can relate to around the world as we wait for our isolation period to come to an end.

HOW LONG IS FOREVER?

Synopsis: In How Long Is Forever?, Mason is waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season and it’s taking forever. At least that’s what Mason thinks, until Grandpa asks him to prove it and sends Mason searching the family farm to find the meaning of forever.  

Fans of Guess How Much I Love You will love figuring out how long forever is alongside Mason and Grandpa.

Kelly Carey

It was a pleasure to connect with Kelly through social media and she agreed to answer a few questions about her experiences as a writer.
  1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was obsessed with Dynasty and when she graduated from college she thought she was destined for chunky earrings, power suits, and the thrillingly creative field of …insurance. I ended up working with actuary tables, deductible formulas, and stop-loss policies. I learned about big business, marketing, and customer service, but I was miserable.

Enter motherhood and suddenly I was a happy stay-at-home mom rediscovering a joy in books and in picture books in particular. My own mother encouraged me to apply for a course at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Best decision I ever made! (Thanks Mom!)

I loved the feeling of crafting a story and creating characters, and I found that magical space where time stands still because you’re in the zone. Writing was my zone. My power suits were donated and I turned my attention to writing and finding the KidLit community through groups like SCBWI, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12, Storystorm, ReFoReMo, and The Writers’ Loft.

2. Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book.

            The nugget that inspired How Long Is Forever? happened when I was a teenager. A song I loved came on the radio and I excitedly squealed, “Turn it up! This is the best song ever.” My friend’s Dad scoffed, “Really? This is the best song ever?”.

That exchange stuck and launched the interaction between Mason and his Grandpa in How Long Is Forever?. Mason is waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season and it’s taking forever. At least that’s what Mason thinks, until Grandpa sends Mason searching the farm to find the meaning of forever. I loved the idea that what can seem like the best song ever to a teenager or feel like forever to an eight year old can be very different for an older adult.

The idea for a story can come from childhood memories that linger in your brain. Those standout moments that hold a reserved space in your mind, are probably the moments that will resonate with a reader. Those are the archives I love to mine when looking for a book idea.

By the way, my friend’s father was right. Thomas Dolby’s, She Blinded Me With Science was NOT the best song ever! And Mason is going to find out that waiting for a blueberry pie to bake is not forever.

3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.

The best thing I ever did for my writing was to really immerse myself in the KidLit community. My advice would be to take a class. Check out the offerings at the Institute of Children’s Literature, and join The Society of Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). Both offered me a wonderful way to get feedback on my work and to improve my craft. It was through SCBWI that I met my first critique partners and we started 24 Carrot Writing a blog for writers, that has been offering help and advice to fellow writers for over five years.

My advice to other writers, based on my journey, would be to get out into the writing community. Meet fellow writers, take classes and workshops, offer your own help and advice, listen to editors and agents, and become a part of the community. I think the community will reward you for your efforts – it did for me.

You can connect with Kelly here:

website:http://www.kcareywrites.com/   

twitter: https://twitter.com/KCareyWrites

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellycareywrites/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KCareyWrites

Look for more Kid Lit Love posts on Mondays! Want to have your book featured? Send an email request to authorcynthiamackey@gmail.com

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Kid Lit Love: Seven New Children’s Book Releases in 2020

A couple of months ago, I was able to connect with several authors in the kid lit community who have new books being released this year and would like to be included on the Kid Lit Love blog series. It was amazing to get such a positive response from creators of children’s books and has been a pleasure to help get the word out about them. Some of these are debut authors and though 2020 may not be the easiest year for a book release, it is a pleasure to celebrate book birthdays together! I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all who have participated and those who will be participating in the future. I hope you will take a closer look at these wonderful new releases. Let’s all spread some Kid Lit Love!

Here are the books and authors featured in March and April:

Thank you to readers for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Kid Lit Love: A Doll for Grandma


Welcome to the Kid Lit Love blog series, celebrating new picture book releases every Monday! Today’s new release is by Paulette Sharkey, illustrated by Samantha Woo, titled A DOLL FOR GRANDMA: A STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. I’m excited to showcase this book because my life has been personally touched by family members with Alzheimer’s disease. As a preschool teacher, I’ve had parents or grandparents ask me about how to explain this to young children and I’ve always felt picture books are one of the most natural ways to do so.

Synopsis

My debut picture book, A DOLL FOR GRANDMA: A STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, is coming May 5th from Beaming Books, illustrated by Samantha Woo.

A little girl and her grandmother always find ways to have fun together. Then Kiera notices that Grandma is changing: leaving keys in the refrigerator, knitting hats too small to fit anyone’s head. When Grandma moves into a memory-care home, Kiera finds a new way to sustain their close relationship. She embraces the altered reality inside Grandma’s mind and gives Grandma a doll. Now they can take care of their “babies” together. This is a story about empathy and kindness and the special bond between grandparent and grandchild. It’s about loving and accepting people as they are, even when they change.

author, Paulette Sharkey

Bio

Paulette Bochnig Sharkey worked for many years as a librarian, first in her home state of Michigan, and later in Australia, Nevada, and Wisconsin. She has also been a proofreader, ghostwriter, developmental editor, recipe indexer, and transcriber of children’s books from print into braille. A DOLL FOR GRANDMA: A STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE (Beaming Books, May 2020) is her first picture book.

Interview

It was a pleasure to connect with Paulette through social media. She took the time to answer questions and share some advice.

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.

I started writing nonfiction articles for children’s magazines in the late 1980s and sold quite a few to places like Highlights, Cricket, Spider, and Ladybug. But I really wanted to write a picture book, a genre I’ve loved since my daughter was little and we read stacks of them every bedtime. It took me until 2017 to realize that goal, when I signed up for a Writer’s Digest course on picture-book writing and drafted A DOLL FOR GRANDMA. Many revisions later, I sold the book!

2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book or how you came up with the idea.

Around the time I retired from my job as a reference librarian, about 15 years ago, I read that musical memories are held in a part of the brain often left undamaged by Alzheimer’s disease. I’m also a pianist, so I started visiting memory-care homes to play the piano for the residents. It was fascinating to see how they responded to the music. Even those who could no longer recognize family or friends could recognize old familiar songs, especially the World War II–era songs of their youth. Even those who could no longer speak could often sing along. My inspiration for writing A DOLL FOR GRANDMA came from these experiences as a volunteer pianist. I enjoyed including a scene in the book where the “piano lady” comes to play—that’s what many of my elderly audience members call me.

3. Please share a piece of advice for children’s writers.

One thing I’ve learned on my way to getting published is that it’s impossible to predict the twists and turns in the road. I certainly never expected that my debut book would be released during a coronavirus pandemic. All we can do is try our best to stay focused on our work and trust that our words will find a way to the children we’re writing for.

To order: paulettesharkey.com/books/

website: PauletteSharkey.com

twitter: @PBSharkey

Thank you for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Kid Lit Love: National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Welcome to the Kid Lit Love blog series, celebrating new picture book releases every Monday! Today’s new release is by Lisa Katzenberger, illustrated by Barbara Bakos, titled NATIONAL REGULAR AVERAGE ORDINARY DAY from Penguin Workshop. This celebratory book will be available June 23, 2020.

NATIONAL REGULAR AVERAGE ORDINARY DAY by Lisa Katzenberger, illustrated by Barbara Bakos


Synopsis: Peter does not like being bored, so he comes up with a way to have some festive fun–he’ll celebrate a different holiday each day! He even rates them on a scale of 1 to 10. But when he wakes up one morning to discover there isn’t a holiday, he realizes he’ll have to take matters into his own hands and make up his own! That’s easier said than done, though, and nothing seems to go right–until Peter realizes that even a regular, average, ordinary day can be something worth celebrating.

Lisa Katzenberger

I had the pleasure of connecting with Lisa through social media and I asked her a few questions about her experience as a writer. We realized that both of us have done the 12×12 Picture Book challenge and loved that experience. Here’s Lisa’s interview:

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.
I have always loved books and wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, taking creative writing courses in school any chance I could and studying journalism. I even landed a job after college as a writer — albeit a technical writer. As an adult, I kept writing on the side, focusing on short stories at first and then a few novels. It wasn’t until I had kids that I remembered the joy of books for children. Reading piles of picture books, I finally knew where I fit in!


2. Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book.
I used to work as a Social Media Manager and we began writing content around national holidays like International Women’s Day. Then I started to notice all the fun national holidays became popular on social media — like National Waffle Day. I wondered how a child might celebrate these different holidays and the story grew from there! 


3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.
My really basic, no-frills advice is to just keep writing. This week I was looking back on some of the picture books I wrote when I was starting out 5 years ago. Stories that I queried with, stories that went out on submission to editors but never sold, stories that I thought were good. Looking back, they were fine stories but they are not as strong as the stories I am writing today. What if I had given up when the first book I went out on sub with didn’t sell? I would have completely lost the opportunity to grow and hone my craft. I would have lost book deals. I would have lost my dream. But even in the face of rejection and frustration (which I still face today), I just kept writing. Keep writing everyone!

You can connect with Lisa here…

Website link: www.lisakatzenberger.com

Twitter link: www.twitter.com/fictioncity

Look for more Kid Lit Love posts on Mondays! Want to have your book featured? Send an email request to authorcynthiamackey@gmail.com

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Kid Lit Love: Bedtime, Daddy!

I am thrilled to be returning to my Kid Lit Love series featuring picture books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book, to be released in May 2020, is titled BEDTIME, DADDY! by Sharon Giltrow, illustrated by Katrin Dreiling, published by EK Books.

BEDTIME, DADDY! by Sharon Giltrow and Katrin Dreiling

SYNOPSIS

Putting Daddy to bed can be hard work. Especially when he starts crying! This story will show you how to wrestle your daddy into his pajamas and read just one more bedtime story. “I’m thirrrrrrrrssssssty,” says Daddy. “I need to poop … I’m hungry … But I’ll miss you,” he says, while he looks at you with cutie eyes. You’ll have to battle the bedtime excuses and use go-away monster spray until Daddy finally goes to sleep. Bedtime can be a mission for many, but with these gorgeous illustrations of a little bear and his dad, this is the perfect role-reversal bedtime story to help put any fussy child to bed in a fun and positive way. Full of heart and humour, Bedtime, Daddy! is for anyone who wants to try and put a grown-up to bed.

Sharon Giltrow

Bio

Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, WA with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. When not participating in writing challenges and writing, Sharon teaches with children with Developmental Language Disorder. Sharon was awarded the Paper Bird Fellowship in 2019. Her debut PB Bedtime Daddy, is due to be released May 12th 2020 through EK books.

For those homeschooling their children, you can download Sharon’s Teacher Guide to accompany the book here.

It was a pleasure to connect with Sharon through twitter! She took the time to answer a few questions, giving us a behind the scenes view of BEDTIME, DADDY and writing for children in general. And her list of facebook groups is so valuable for children’s writers.

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.

I loved reading and writing as a child and even had my own personal library set up in my bedroom with library cards and all. Also, from a young age I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Now as a teacher what I love most is to read books to children. Writing my own picture book seemed to be the logical next step. So, I started writing picture books back in 2006 when my first child was born. It has taken fourteen years for my first picture BEDTIME DADDY to be released.

2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book.

My picture book BEDTIME DADDY is based on real life events. Well mostly 😊. The inspiration behind BEDTIME DADDY is my children and their daddy. One night when my husband was putting our son to bed, I thought that I would love for someone to put me to bed, especially at 7 o’clock. Cue lightbulb moment! How about a book where the child puts the parent to bed? Then I researched or mostly remembered all the steps it takes to put someone to bed.  The protests, the stalling, the distractions, the excuses, the monsters but as well as all the sweetness and fun of bedtime. A sprinkle of humour and BEDTIME DADDY was born.

3. Share a piece of advice or a resource for children’s writers.

My advice for children’s writers would be to find your writing community. Join the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators. Join writing groups. Find critique groups. Surround yourself with other writers. Having a supportive group of fellow writers is essential. Here are some great Facebook groups you can join:

Also read as many picture books as you can. It is a great way to learn the craft of writing picture books.

Connect with Sharon Giltrow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new picture book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Reading for Research: Reforemo Challenge Wrap Up

At the beginning of March, when I began the Reforemo challenge, I had no idea that the libraries would be closed and much of the world shut down. Here’s my March 7th post, before the world changed. The first half of the month, I was able to check out many of the books and I still have many of them at home with the library currently closed and the loan period extended. Honestly, the whole world pandemic thing threw me for a bit of a loop, how about you?

Thank you Carrie Charley Brown and Kristi Call for doing this challenge; I hope to catch up and read through the daily posts I’ve missed over the coming weeks.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve read over the past 2 weeks, some of which I’ve researched using You Tube read alouds:

  1. Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli
  2. Vroom by Barbara McClintock
  3. Twinderella by Corey Rosen Schwartz
  4. Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers
  5. The Bear’s Garden by Marcie Colleen
  6. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
  7. Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
  8. The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
  9. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  10. Truman by Jean Reidy
  11. How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
  12. Nine Months by Miranda Paul
  13. Pirasaurs! by Josh Funk
  14. Whale in a Fishbowl by Troy Howell and Richard Jones
  15. On Gull Beach by Jane Yolen
  16. Little Frog and the Scary Autumn Thing by Jane Yolen
Truman

How did I do with the challenge?

So keeping it real, I didn’t quite make it through the Reforemo challenge to read 100 picture books in the month of March, but I did discover a bunch of fabulous picture books in my research and what strikes me above all is the sheer diversity and variety of books out there available to children. It opens up new possibilities for creating books for young children and inspires me to keep writing as each writer has a unique voice that contributes to our diverse and changing world.

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers for my picture books, including my 2020 release, The Lullaby Monsters.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. You are welcome back any time!

Kid Lit Love: Little Mole Finds Hope

I am thrilled to feature Little Mole Finds Hope written by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Sally Garland, on the Kid Lit Love Blog Series today! Little Mole Finds Hope is published by Beaming Books and comes out in a year (2020) where hope is exactly what the world needs.

Little Mole Finds Hope by Glenys Nellist, Illustrated by Sally Garland

Synopsis: When Little Mole is feeling sad in his dark, underground home, his mother shows him how to look for hope. He finds that signs of spring are everywhere, from the daffodil bulbs under the soil to the tiny buds on the branches above. Hope can be found–even in the darkest places. 

Author, Glenys Nellist

Today we welcome Glenys Nellist to the Kid Lit Love Blog Series!

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.
Originally a primary school teacher in England, it wasn’t until I relocated to the USA in 2000 to become a Children’s Ministry Director in a small church that I began to explore writing for children in a serious way. In my position at that church, I began writing my own curriculum, which included retelling Bible stories. Then one day, I picked up The Jesus StoryBook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. I read it, cover to cover, and immediately knew that I wanted to write like her. It was the inspiration I needed to write my first book, published in 2014 by Zonderkidz. It was called Love Letters from God and it quickly turned into a series of its own.


2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book.
Little Mole Finds Hope was inspired by one of the letters from God that I penned in that first book, Love Letters from God. In the letter, I was exploring the idea that hope lives in darkness: a baby is born from the darkness of the womb; a butterfly emerges from the darkness of the cocoon, and daffodil bulbs spring forth from deepest, darkest earth. I knew, then, that I wanted to write a story of hope that would encompass this truth, and Little Mole Finds Hope was born.


3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.
When I was writing that first book (Love Letters from God) I became discouraged and gave up half-way though. I put the manuscript on the shelf, where it sat for over a year. If it hadn’t been for my husband, who encouraged me, I would never have picked it up and finished it. And without that first book, I would never have written twenty more. I often think about all those half-written manuscripts, lying on dusty shelves in hope-robbed rooms. So, my advice to all children’s writers and aspiring authors would be.. don’t give up!  

Thank you, Glenys, for sharing your lovely new book with us today! Please find links below to learn more about Glenys and her books.

Peek Inside Little Mole Finds Hope
Author Website Facebook
Twitter Instagram

For more new picture book releases, both fiction and non-fiction, stop by the blog on Mondays!

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers for my picture books, including my 2020 release, The Lullaby Monsters.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. You are welcome back any time!

The Lullaby Monsters: Book Swag

I’m excited to tell you, I’ve been working on some other manuscripts while waiting for the final edits and book design for The Lullaby Monsters, a night time adventure about facing fears with Kelsey, Thomas and a bunch of cute monsters. This will appeal to 5-8 year olds and is divided into short chapters for beginning readers.

Today, I decided to do something fun; create some book swag for my readers! With the gorgeous artwork of Paula Nasmith, I’ve created some adorable stickers and book plates to go along with the book. And I’m giving you a preview right here, right now! Check it out…

Book plate sticker
Book plate sticker

I can’t wait for this book to be ready! We’re hoping for May or June. When it comes out I’ll be happily sending out books and stickers. I have a bunch more character stickers that I will reveal closer to the release date. Sign up for my newsletter and learn more.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!