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: Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids

I am happy to continue the Kid Lit Love series featuring new release children’s books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book, recently released in February of this year, is Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids by Rowena Rae. It is published by Chicago Review Press.

What makes this post extra special for me is that Rowena Rae is part of our Vancouver Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators group and it is so thrilling to share her success… AND because I am a teacher of preschool who loves to take children outdoors, this book will be practical for me personally as I will be able to use the activities and biography of Rachel Carson as a teaching tool.

Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids: Her Life and Ideas by Rowena Rae

Synopsis:

Rachel Carson was an American biologist, conservationist, science and nature writer, and catalyst of the modern environmental movement. She studied biology in college at a time when few women entered the sciences, and then worked as a biologist and information specialist for the U.S. government and wrote about the natural world for many publications. Carson is best remembered for her book Silent Spring, which exposed the widespread misuse of chemical pesticides in the United States and sparked both praise and fury.

Carson’s personal life and scientific career were rooted in the study of nature. Using examples from Carson’s life and works, Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids  introduces readers to ecology concepts such as the components of ecosystems, adaptations by living things, energy cycles, food chains and food webs, and the balance of ecosystems. This lively biography includes a time line, resources, sidebars, and 21 hands-on activities that are sure to inspire the next generation of scientists, thinkers, leaders, agricultural producers, environmental activists, and world citizens. Kids will:

  • Collect a seed bank of local plant species
  • Chart bird migration through their region
  • Make birdseed cookies
  • Model bioaccumulation and biomagnification
  • Build a worm farm
  • And more!
Rowena Rae, author

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

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t start writing for children until I had my own children and read out loud to them. I loved the picture book format and began jotting down ideas. I also enrolled in local children’s writing classes and online classes, and I heard about Highlights Foundation, in Pennsylvania, which holds workshops for children’s authors and illustrators. In 2013, I took their nature writing and science writing workshops and, two years later, their middle grade nonfiction workshop. That’s when I realized that my writing voice was older than picture books. I became hooked on writing about science and nature for middle grade readers!

2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book.

In 2015, I met Amy O’Quinn (at Highlights). She was writing a book about Marie Curie for Chicago Review Press (Marie Curie for Kids), and when the book came out, I bought and read it. I loved learning about Curie’s personal and work life, and the book design and photographs were gorgeous. I told Amy how much I’d like to write a book for the same series, and she encouraged me to submit a proposal to the publisher. But who would I propose writing about?

I didn’t have to think for long. I had discovered Rachel Carson’s books when I was studying biology at university. Her descriptions of sea life and other organisms captivated me. Later, I went to Johns Hopkins University (where Carson had studied biology) to do an MA in science writing and rediscovered Carson’s books, this time appreciating her lyrical writing style. So when I was thinking about who to write a biography of, it seemed obvious: I should write about a woman who had been both a biologist and an author. The fact that Carson also has a fascinating life story kept me enthralled throughout the many months I spent researching and writing my book, Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids.

3. Please share a resource for children’s writers.

Everyone approaches things differently, but what’s worked for me has been to take classes and workshops (in-person, online, self-directed), to read books and other resources (mentor texts, books on craft, blogs, etc.), to connect with other children’s writers (both published and aspiring), and especially, to write as much and as often as I can.

Right now, during the rather strange time we’re living through with the COVID-19 pandemic, Highlights Foundation is offering a series of free craft webinars. (I know I keep mentioning Highlights in my responses. No, I’m not on their staff! Yes, I’m a huge fan of their workshops and the inspirational setting where they hold their in-person workshops in rural Pennsylvania.)

Contact Rowena:

Rowena is having a productive year with three more books soon to be released! Look out for these titles:

  • Meg and Greg: A Duck in a Sock (April 14; fiction for struggling readers ages 6-9, first in a series); 
  • Chemical World: Science in Our Daily Lives (May 12; nonfiction for ages 9-12); and 
  • Meg and Greg: Frank and the Skunk (August 18; fiction for struggling readers ages 6-9, second in the series).

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: 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!