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: 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.