Kid Lit Village: LET’S BE FRIENDS

Hello and welcome to Kid Lit Village blog. I’m delighted to feature this adorable board book, LET’S BE FRIENDS by Violet Lemay, published by Harper Collins.

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Synopsis: This lift-the-flap board book filled with warm and lively illustrations by Violet Lemay teaches toddlers all about friendship.

We’re different! We’re the same! Can we be friends? Of course we can! 

Friends can come from anywhere. Friends can live in any kind of house. Friends can be different ages. Friends can look different. And friends can have different faiths. 

This sweet board book celebrates friendship and the importance of embracing our differences. It joyfully shows diverse children from all over the world and teaches a valuable lesson: we are all just people and we are all worthy of friendship.

Welcome to the Kid Lit Village blog, Violet!

Tell us about the inspiration for your book or the story of how your book came to be.
My family and I moved from the US to New Zealand in 2015, where we lived for five years. This gorgeous, diverse, peaceful country was devastated by a mass shooting in a mosque in 2019. Guns are not an issue in New Zealand, it’s nothing like the US in this regard. There is no gun violence, at all. Mass shootings are unheard of. The event was so horrible and shocking that it sent the entire nation reeling. 
I couldn’t stop wondering why our differences matter. Does it really matter that people look different, come from different places, worship differently? Aren’t we all ultimately the same? This swirl of questions became the inspiration for a proposed lift-the-flap board book, What Matters?, in which every spread showed people with different opinions, different life-styes, physical differences etc, and asked the question “Does it matter?”. Under the flap, the answer was always some form of “No!”. My agent pitched the idea to HarperCollins, where an amazing editor took an interest. She shared the proposal (which included a PDF dummy with complete color sketches) in a meeting, and apparently the project sparked conversation. My agent relayed their feedback: A person’s ethnicity, color, and religion do matter—they shape each person’s worldview! The agent asked me to pivot and send a revision. After a month of thinking and hand-wringing, I rewrote (and redrew) the book. The question changed from “Does it matter?” to “Can they be friends?”. I was very happy with the change. Not only did it make more sense, but the answer under the flap was always some version of YES, adding to what I hope is a loving, joyful, positive message. 

I must share with you that as an educator of young children, I’ve had many classes with diverse make-ups. The differences are more obvious some years but they are always there, whether it is based on skin colour or favourite foods, temperament or family composition or something else. This book will be valuable to teachers everywhere!

Tell us how you build yourself up in the face of rejection.
I was lucky enough to work as an art director for a small independent publisher for five years (during which I was also writing and illustrating), which gave me an insider’s look at how manuscripts are selected. I learned that there are a million reasons why an idea can be rejected that have nothing to do with the book proposal or the skill of the author. This experience helps me keep some emotional distance from the success or failure of my projects. I try to think of rejection as redirection. If my book doesn’t fit the list of Publisher A for whatever reason, great! I can cross that one off the list and move on to Publisher B. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit, like dating. I also think it’s tremendously important to always be searching for new ideas to develop, so that you’re always busy pitching more than one idea. Perpetual idea development is part of my lifestyle. The more ideas you put out there, the greater the odds that one will get picked up! If I’m feeling particularly discouraged about a rejection, I focus my attention on a new idea, which generally cheers me right up. I think it’s very important to stay positive. If you’re feeling down about a particular rejection, focus on whatever makes you happy. Later, when you’re feeling more removed from the rejected project, you can look at it with fresh eyes and see if it needs some tinkering before sending it off to the next publisher on your list.

Picking up on your comment of looking at it with fresh eyes, I’ve been using that in my querying strategy. When I receive a rejection, I make sure I review it before sending out the next query. I do think it helps to do that at a time when you’re feeling less disappointed about the rejection.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
I hope that parents and children who read Let’s Be Friends will learn not to fear people or avoid people who are different to them, but will instead embrace and celebrate diversity. My hope for all of my books is that the children who interact with them will feel loved & accepted. 

I think this could become a well-loved book in may preschool/kindergarten classrooms well and a great way of celebrating diversity!

Website Linkvioletlemay.com
Twitter Link:  bit.ly/violetTweets


Violet Lemay
violetlemay.com

Readers, thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village this week!

Did you know, I’ve written a couple of books too?

Cynthia Mackey

If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Kid Lit Village Review: Everything You Need for a Treehouse

Hello Readers! I’m happy to have another book review for you. Thanks for visiting the Kid Lit Village blog! This picture book is by Carter Higgins and Emily Hughes: Everything You Need for a Treehouse. The title has such childhood appeal, I couldn’t resist this book! This book is published by Chronicle Books.

Everything You Need for a Treehouse

Treehouses are for wonder.
Treehouses are for snacks.
Treehouses are for whispers and snickers and echoes.
Treehouses are for everyone.
This magical work of art from acclaimed picture book creators Carter Higgins and Emily Hughes celebrates the universal wonder of treehouses and all the adventure that live among branches.

My Review:

Reminds me of my childhood!

This picture book is written in a lyrical style which I find so appealing. I love the way the book begins and ends with looking up at the trees, trying to find the ‘just right’ one for a treehouse. From tire swings to blankets to stargazing to construction tools, this book has a little something for every child. The detailed illustrations make for excellent re-readability.

Sidenote:

I’m working with the people at CookiePitch on a way to encourage more picture book reviews posted on Amazon. Why? Because Amazon reviews help sell books and we want to support our fellow authors, that’s why! That being said, we continue to support Indie book stores and suggest you buy your books there or find them at your public library. If the library doesn’t have a book you want, you can request it.

One of my critique partners, Karyn Curtis, will be co-hosting Amazon Review Parties with me. So, bring your own books, sip your favourite beverage, share picture books you love, AND get ready for review writing sprints! Our first review party is scheduled for September 28th, 7:30 Eastern time. Join us!

Buy Indie! Review on Amazon!

Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village blog. Please support all our Kid Lit Village authors in whatever way you can. Leave a comment here, request their books from the library, or post a review!

If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Cynthia Mackey

Kid Lit Village: If Your Babysitter is a Bruja

Hello Readers! Welcome to Kid Lit Village. This week, I’m delighted to welcome back Ana Siqueira, whose book, Bella’s Recipe for Disaster/Success was released last year. Today, Ana is back with a new release published by Simon Kids titled IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA. The book comes out August 23, 2022. Illustrations are by Irena Freitas. And at the end of the post, you will get to see some of the interior pages for a sneak peek inside the book!

IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA

This bouncy, bilingual picture book is an enchanting, rollicking read-aloud for small ones with big imaginations.

On the night before Halloween, a new babysitter might be more than she appears. If she wears a black sombrero and cackles like a crow, she might just be a bruja! One little girl is determined not to fall victim to an evil witch or her cats. She knows bath time is really the bruja’s way of putting her in a boiling cauldron, and the only way to keep her at bay is with a magic potion—or is it?

With a boundless imagination and plenty of tricks up her sleeve, the young protagonist may just have the best night ever!

Ana Siqueira, children’s author

Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher, an award-winning Brazilian children’s author, and a published author in the Foreign Language educational market. Her debut picture book is BELLA’S RECIPE FOR DISASTER/SUCCESS (Beaming Books, 2021), Her forthcoming books are IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA/ CUANDO TU NIÑERA ES UNA BRUJA (SimonKids,2022), ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA/LA SUPERCAPA DE ABUELA (HarperCollins 2023) – two-book deal auction, BOITATA (Capstone 2023), ROOM IN MAMI’S CORAZON  (HarperCollins 2024) and some others that can’t be announced yet. Ana is a member of  SCBWI, Las Musas Books, and co-founder of LatinxPitch. 

Hello Ana and welcome back to the Kid Lit Village blog!

What appeals to you about writing books for children?

As a co-founder of Latinxpitch, a Twitter event that wants to promote Latine creators, I dream of the day that all children will see themselves in a book. As a Latina, I write about children in kids-relatable situations where I show that despite our differences, we are all the same. Universal emotions connect us all. Besides, writing is so fun. I can’t imagine my life now without writing. I think all the ideas in my head would explode. Oops!


2. What challenges you as a writer?

Time and Patience (or lack of) I work full-time as a Spanish teacher and I love it. But it’s hard to find enough time to work on all the projects plus marketing and publicity when you work. My dream is to become a full-time author one day, in a faraway future. 
Another challenge is waiting. It’s hard for an anxious person like me, and I guess to everybody else, to wait for publishers to reply. I keep looking at my emails hoping for some good news, and Nada! And then I waste the time I have to write looking through emails. This waiting life is so hard!

CUANDO TU NINERA ES UNA BRUJA

   3. List 5 favorite picture books. Explain what you like about them. I have so many favorites, so if you see a list from me next month, I might have different ones. It’s hard to choose.

I Wish You Knew by Jackie Azúa Kramer  and Magdalena Mora This book talks about a girl and her feelings after her father gets deported. It treats this subject with heart and gentleness. Other children also share their problems and the school community gets together to help each other. As a teacher, I can’t stop crying when I read this book and imagine how much some children go through. And the illustrations… Unbelievable. I hope Magdalena Mora will illustrate one of my books one day.

Bisa’s Carnaval by Joana Pastro and Carolina CoroaA festive book filled with dance, culture, family, and love. The text and the illustrations bring alive this Carnaval in Olinda, Brasil. And even though this party is all about dancing and fun, in this book, this party is also about not leaving anyone behind, especially your lovely bisa (great-grandma). I love seeing all the colors and movement of the Carnaval in Olinda. This is a great book to share with kids about another culture and the universal theme of love. 

Drum Dream Girl By Margarita Engle, Rafael López This rhythmic book will take you on a magic drum trip with this Chinese-African-Cuban girl, who broke the taboo of girls not being allowed to play drums. This is a poem song filled with rhythmic words, sounds, and heart. Beautiful words, beautiful art,  gorgeous story. I hope after reading it, you’ll feel inspired to dance and dream. I danced around the house, then I sat down and wrote beautiful stories and dreams. 

Run, Little Chaski by Mariana Llanos and Mariana Ruiz Johnson Through this book, little ones will learn about history, the Inkas, Peru, and its animales. But all in a super fun way filled with tension. Will our little messenger – a Chaski – deliver the important message on time? Kids will be involved in this story, cheering for our little Chaski all the way. This book has received many awards. So well deserved to both the author and the illustrator.

If You Want to Take an Alligator to School, Don’t by Elise Parsley This book and her other ones in this series inspired me to write the Bruja story in the second person. I could see how much fun you could add to the story and how less scary it could be. I read all the books to my grandson, and he laughed so hard. Super fun, period. 

4. Tell us about the inspiration for your books.
All my books are inspired by my own stories. Some are based on my own experiences as a child, others are based on my children or grandchildren, and some are based on my life as a teacher and my fabuloso students. But the Bruja was inspired by something that happened between me and my daughter.
Here it is: My three-year-old daughter Karina and I were at the beach. She kept asking me, “One more dive. This is the last one.” After the 100th the last one, I said, with my strict teachers-voice, “No more! We must leave now!”  And that’s when the humiliation started. My sweet daughter started shouting, “You’re not my mom. You’re a witch.” And I had to walk three blocks, dragging her, while she kept shouting. It was not a fun moment. But everything worked out. After a shower and some hugs, she recognized me as her mother again. And now, after thirty years, I wrote this story. Well, not exactly the same story because (here is a tip for writers) even though your stories will be stronger, in my opinion, when based on your experiences, they should be changed so it’s more fun and relatable to our universal emotions. 

Ana, I know there are a lot of parents who can relate to the requests for one more dive, one more story, or one more cookie! It’s wonderful that you book can relate to adults and children alike and that Latina children will be able to see themselves in more books. Thanks for being a guest, it’s been great to have you! I especially enjoyed learning about some of your favourite picture books.


Find more about Ana and her books atWebsite: https://anafiction.com/Twitter https://twitter.com/SraSiqueira1307Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/asiqueira1307/?hl=en

Interior artwork…

Interior artwork
Interior spread

Thanks to my readers for stopping by kid lit village today! I hope you enjoyed a sneak peek of Ana’s new book.

Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village blog. Please support all our Kid Lit Village authors in whatever way you can. Leave a comment here, request their books from the library, or post a review!

If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Cynthia Mackey

Kid Lit Village: James’ Reading Rescue

Hello lovely readers! And welcome back to Kid Lit Village. Today I have an interview with Dianna Wilson Sirkovsky along with a feature of her book, James’ Reading Rescue, published by Clavis Books. The book is Illustrated by Sara Casilda.

James’ Reading Rescue

Synopsis:

James struggles with reading – and even has to miss recess to practice! Feeling blue, he stops by the animal rescue where he likes to play with the cats and meets Ghost, who hides in a box. James wants to help Ghost overcome his fear and begins reading to him and the other cats. What he doesn’t realize is that his kindness is improving his reading skills. It’s a win-win!

Welcome to the blog, Dianna! And congratulations on the publication of your book!

Dianna Wilson Sirkovsky

Please tell us a bit about why you write for children.

1. I have always wanted to write for children. I fell in love with picture books reading to my children many moons ago. Several years ago I came across a true story I thought would make a wonderful picture book and decided I had to write it. In picture books I love the way words and illustrations work together to weave a story,  creating a book a child can love for years.

What things challenge you about being a writer?

2. Every time I sit down to write I feel challenged. Have I found my main character’s voice? Have I achieved what I want with this story in the fewest possible words? Will children and their parents love it as much as I do? It is always a challenge, but one that always beckons me forward towards the next story.

Please tell us about a writer you admire.

3. There are so many wonderful writers out there! I have a special fondness and admiration for Vivian Kirkfield. Like myself, she began writing later in life. She was an inspiration to me. She often writes about real people, as do I, and she is so giving of her time to the writing community. She really is a beacon of joy and light.

Can you share some of your favourite picture books?

4. So many fun and fabulous picture books! I loved to read Gregory The Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat to my kids and it still stands the test of time. If you haven’t read it please treat yourself! Other favorites are Vivian Kirkfield’s Making Their Voices Heard and From Here To There; This Book is Spineless by Lindsay Leslie; Great Joy, Kate DiCamillos first picture book; The Rough Patch by Brian Lies; Luis and Tabitha by Stephanie Campisi and The Bear Ate Your Sandwich which is my favorite story within a story. Each has something special to offer readers!

Please tell us a little about your path to publication.

6. My path to publication was a lucky one. I was a debut author with no idea about the process of writing and publication. I was helped along the way by generous people whom I contacted and by doing LOTS of research. I sent out my first story to 40 publishers and was fortunate enough to be accepted by Clavis. I had to read their email 3 times before I realized it wasn’t a nice refusal! It took around 3 years from first writing the story to actual publication.

Where did you get your inspiration for the book?

7. The inspiration for James’ Reading Rescue came from a true story I read online a number of years ago about a young boy who struggled with reading and improved by reading aloud to cats at the local rescue. The story captured my heart. My own son struggled a bit with reading and my family and I are deeply committed to animal rescue. My kids grew up with 9 rescue cats. It just seemed like a story I had to write. A few weeks ago I had a zoom reading with children at that original cat rescue in Berks County PA. It was a special moment for me and felt like  bringing the story full circle. Just wonderful.

I mostly write stories inspired by true stories. There are so many wonderful and interesting ones out there waiting to be told!

Dianna, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for Kid Lit Village readers. We wish you the best with your book and future books as well!

Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village blog today! Please support all our Kid Lit Village authors in whatever way you can. Leave a comment here, request their books from the library, or post a review!

If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Cynthia Mackey

Writing Space

Like many of you, my writing space changes constantly. Because up until now, I didn’t have a designated space. Sometimes, I write at the dining room table, sometimes at the kitchen bar. Other days I bring my lap top to the couch. I’ve written in coffee shops and in my car while waiting for kids at soccer practice. I’ve always thought it would be wonderful to have a writing space to call my own.

This summer I’ve been working on exactly that. I’ve moved our television out of our spare room and put a desk into the empty space. My daughter is happy because the tv is in her bedroom now. (She is in university so it’s kind of like having a dorm room at home for her.) The sofa hide a bed stayed since I’m so used to writing on the couch already so if I’m tired of sitting in the chair, I can move there with my laptop. We had a beach themed room so I removed some of the ‘beachy’ items you see above.

Then I brought in some more of my books! A lot of these had been stored under my bed and I love having them out where I can see them. Most of my picture books are already stored in the closet (not shown) so that didn’t need to change. I found an empty David’s Tea container for pens which I think is really cool. I like being resourceful and re-using items. I didn’t buy a new desk either as you will see.

Then I bought a few office things from IKEA. I got an office chair, which my husband refers to as my mushroom chair. Maybe it would be better to call it a toad stool for picture book inspiration. Hee hee. I added a desk lamp, a drawer unit, a message board, and a couple of book holders. According to reviews, the message board is better used with magnets than as a white board and that’s fine with me. The desk itself has a story. This is where my husband did all his school work as a teenager and his great uncle built it! It is actually a gate-leg table so I can make it smaller if needed by folding down the front section.

And now I’ve surrounded myself with inspiration. Books to fill the well, a desk and a chair for writing. A sofa for reading. Lots of cozy pillows. It’s pretty darn awesome! My cozy office hideaway is nearly complete.

Looking at my progress so far, I will probably add a little more shelf space for books. You can never have too many books, right? I will keep you posted if I make any further changes. Thanks for reading.

Kid Lit Village Review: Once Upon a Jungle

Hello wonderful readers! Thanks for stopping by today. I’m doing a review of Once Upon a Jungle by Laura Knowles and James Boast. It was published in 2017 by Firefly Books.

Synopsis:

Once upon a time there lived a jungle, but that was just the beginning… Delve into the undergrowth to discover the story of a food chain.

Once Upon a Jungle

My Review:

Brilliantly and simply written, Laura’s words take the reader through the jungle food chain from ants to panther, showing how animals depend upon one another. Even in death, the panther helps the soil become richer. Laura’s simple, straight to the point words paired with James’ bright bold illustrations bring the jungle to life and show the reader how everything is connected. There is back matter that details the parts of the food chain: sunshine, producers, consumers, decomposers, and nutrients.

Laura uses just enough repetition to engage young readers and weave together the threads connecting all jungle life.

Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village blog today! Please support all our Kid Lit Village authors in whatever way you can. Leave a comment here, request their books from the library, or post a review!

If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Cynthia Mackey