Kid Lit Love: SOAKED!

I’m thrilled to feature Abi Cushman’s new book, SOAKED! here on Kid Lit Love! Thank you for sharing your book with us, Abi! Published by Viking Children’s Books, SOAKED was just released July 14, 2020. Congratulations, Abi!

SOAKED by Abi Cushman

Synopsis

A Hula-Hooping moose, a badger with a bumblebee umbrella, a bunny in a cashmere sweater, and a very wet bear star in this unpredictable and laugh-out-loud picture book in which having fun gets the best of a grumpy bear.

It looks like a wet and dreary day for Bear and his trio of friends. How could he possibly have fun when he is soaked? But Badger, Bunny, and Moose don’t seem to mind. In fact, Moose can still hula hoop! And it looks like so much fun. Might Bear like to try?

Here is a story that shows that fun is not dependent on sunshine and blue skies. In fact, it might be more fun to be soaked!

Pub Date:​ July 14, 2020
Pages:​ 40 pages
Publisher:​ Viking Children’s Books | An imprint of Penguin Random House ISBN:​ 978-1984836625

Author, Abi Cushman

Abi took the time to share a little about her experience as a children’s writer and I’m so happy for the opportunity to give you the inside scoop on Abi’s experience as a children’s writer.

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

I’ve always been interested in illustrating picture books. In fact, I took a few illustration courses in college. But I never thought of myself as a particularly creative writer. That changed in 2015, when I was reminded how much I loved picture books after reading a ton of them with my new baby. And then, in a sleep-deprived New Mom moment, I had an idea of my own for a book. So I decided to make a go of it. I wrote the words and created a dummy and went to my very first SCBWI critique group meeting. Since then, it’s been so much fun writing stories I think my kids would love or ones that I would have loved when I was a kid.

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

It was a hot summer afternoon in 2017, and I was out for a walk with my husband and daughter. We were about a mile away from home when we felt the first few drops. The drops quickly escalated into a torrential rainstorm. Normally, we all would have just started booking it for the house, but I was eight months pregnant at the time, and my movement was down to a slow waddle. So I told my husband to run home with our daughter, and I’d meet them later. And what I realized on my soggy walk home was that once I was completely soaked, the rain was actually quite pleasant. Refreshing even! So I thought it would be interesting in a picture book to play around with the idea of your attitude changing despite the circumstances staying the same. And I thought it would be so much fun to show a character completely embracing the rain and splashing around in pure joy.

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

The simplest thing you can do to figure out how to write books well is to go to the library and read a bunch of new books and analyze them. For picture books, look for the main problem (what does the character want), what sets off the story, what escalates the tension in the story, and how is the problem resolved. And finally, what makes the book special? What gives it heart? After doing this many times, you’ll have a great foundation for how to structure your own stories, and you’ll get a sense of the kinds of books being published today.

Thanks, Abi. I love your rain storm story from 2017. It’s funny because that same summer, our family got stuck in a rain storm while in Florida. We were NOT dressed for rain. While I wasn’t pregnant, I was wearing really slippery shoes so I was the only one moving slowly because I didn’t want to fall. I really was SOAKED but I never laughed so hard!

You can connect with Abi here:

Abi’s Instagram

Twitter: @AbiCushman

Thanks for the interview, Abi and congratulations on your new release!

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

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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!

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