Peppy Puppy Author Interview + Giveaway!

Welcome to another edition of Three Show Saturday where I am bringing you another exciting book for children! I also have an interview with author Deborah Diesen and a review of her newest book. Plus…A GIVEAWAY!

I loved this book and I think you will too! It has everything you hope for in a children’s book, humor, surprise, excitement, and PUPPIES! I seriously want to read this book to every child I know. It’s just so much FUN!

And now, on with the show!


Pippa and Percival, Pancake and Poppy: Four Peppy Puppies (2018, Sleeping Bear Press, Picture Book)

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From the publisher:

A puppy named Poppy hears a rustling behind her fence and does what any curious puppy would–digs a hole under! There she finds another puppy! The puppies find two more floppy puppy friends and go on a galloping, gamboling adventure…until they catch a fright and go racing back to their loving homes. Told in bouncing, rolling rhyme, this sweet story is sure to capture the hearts of little dog lovers everywhere.

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Review:

This book is so much fun! In this fantastic new book from author Deborah Diesen and illustrator Grace Zong, four peppy puppies go on a parading, pouncing adventure that is sure to be a hit with children and adults. With alliteration and fantastic rhythm, this is an awesome book to read aloud. Mystery and surprise on the page turns are sure to get giggles and squeals from young readers.

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This would be a great read for daycare groups, classrooms, or other groups of children. Highly recommended for children ages 3 to 7 especially as a read aloud.

5 stars for four peppy puppies!


Interview with author Deborah Diesen

I LOVED this book! It is so fun to read aloud, and I was immediately drawn in by the cover with the puppies’ names. How did you come up with the names for the puppies and what inspired you to write this peppy puppy tale?
Thank you for your kind words!  The idea for this story began when I went out for a walk one day and met a little girl with a puppy named Pancake.  Seeing the two of them playing together was the initial inspiration for the story.  Later, as I began to develop the story draft, I added more puppies.  I hoped their names would be as fun as Pancake’s, so when they introduced themselves to me as Pippa, Poppy, and Percival, I was well-pleased!
Readers are always curious about the author and illustrator relationship. Did you know your illustrator prior to this book, and did you have a vision of what your puppies might look like before seeing the illustrations by Grace Zong? 
Many people are surprised to learn that authors don’t give directions to illustrators.  But this actually makes for better books, because what an artist creates is always more wonderful than anything the writer might have envisioned.  And that was definitely the case for this book.  I love Grace’s art, and I’m delighted by the lively and playful puppies she created.  I hope I get to meet her some day so I can tell her that in person!
Aspiring authors often wonder what the process is like from story idea to published manuscript. Can you tell me about the path this book took as you brainstormed the first draft and revised to reach the final product? 
For this book, the time from idea to publication date was just over three years, which is actually a fairly rapid timetable for a children’s book.  When I first had the idea for this story, I jotted down a few notes and then put them in a drawer.  My writing process benefits from back brain time, when I allow my mind to think about a story without directly thinking about it.  After several months of percolation, I pulled my notes out again and got down to work, and developed a complete first draft within a day.  After several weeks of periodic fine-tuning of the story draft, I took the manuscript to my monthly critique group for input.  Based on their feedback, I made some additional revisions, and then began submitting to publishers.  I was happy to find a home for the story with Sleeping Bear Press, and then Sleeping Bear found Grace Zong to illustrate it.  The publication process got rolling, and now the puppies are officially out in the world on their adventure! 
Did you always aspire to be a children’s book author? 
I’ve always loved writing, but I never thought about writing children’s books until after my kids were born.  When they were young, I was immersed in the world of children’s literature with them, reading story after story, over and over.  Eventually I was inspired to try writing some stories of my own.  That was almost twenty years ago, and I’ve been at it ever since!
Who has most inspired you as an author, and what was the best writing advice you ever received? 
My parents get the credit for inspiring me, as an author and in all things.  When I was young, they instilled a love of books and reading in me, and as I grew they encouraged my interest in writing.  My Mom gave me what I consider to be the best writing advice I’ve ever received.  When I wrote my very first poem, she told me I should put a date on it, because writers always date their work.  I was thrilled to learn from her suggestion that I was a writer, and I’ve kept the habit of dating all my work ever since.
What hobbies do you enjoy away from work? 
I love to read, and I also enjoy crossword puzzles and KenKen puzzles.  I dabble in photography, taking lots of pictures of the birds that visit my backyard.  I enjoy a good walk, especially in the woods, and I’ve recently taken up tap dancing.  I’m pretty much the world’s worst tap dancer, but I’m having fun with it!  It’s good to keep trying new things.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your books or your career? 
Being a published children’s book author is a dream come true, and I’m so grateful to all the families, schools, and libraries that have taken a look at some of my books.  Books may be created by an author and an illustrator, but they don’t truly come alive until they have someone to enjoy them.  I appreciate the community of book lovers who bring books to life every day!

Thank you so much Deborah for taking time to visit with me!


Giveaway!

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You could win a copy Pippa and Percival, Pancake and Poppy! Sleeping Bear Press is giving away a copy of these four peppy puppies to one lucky reader of my blog. For a chance to win, just comment on this post.

Do you have a good recommendation for a book about facing fears? Or comment on anything you like! I will select one winner randomly from the comments.

Don’t forget to follow my blog via email so you never miss out on a giveaway or review.

Giveaway rules:

-Giveaway ends at 11:59pm CDT on Friday, April 13.

– You must be 18 or older to enter.

-Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.

-Only one entry per household.

-Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner will be chosen.

-Winner agrees to provide their preferred mailing address, to be forwarded to Sleeping Bear Press for shipment of prize.


Get these four peppy puppies from Amazon today!


Thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. And a special thanks to Deborah Diesen for the fantastic interview and to Sleeping Bear Press for providing a copy for a giveaway.

Blog Tour + Interview with Will Hillenbrand + Giveaway!

Welcome to the blog tour for I’m a Duck! I’m also excited to host an interview with Will Hillenbrand here on the blog today. This is a first for the blog, as Will has provided a video interview! How fun!

I can’t thank Will and Candlewick Press enough for arranging the interview and giving me the opportunity to share this great book with you all. Candlewick Press is also giving away a copy of I’m a Duck to one lucky reader of my blog! Just comment on this post for your chance to win.


I’m a Duck (2018, Candlewick Press, Picture Book)

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From the publisher:

Sometimes it takes a lot to get your webbed feet wet! An adorable picture book makes a splash with a satisfying story about conquering your fears.

I cannot swim, and that is bad.
A landlocked duck is very sad.

One day, an egg rolled out of a nest and right into a deep pond. Now that egg is a little duck, and the water is still very scary. Jumping into the pond at all seems impossible, never mind swimming in a line with all his brothers. “You’re a duck, and ducks don’t sink,” Big Frog points out. Practicing in a puddle helps a little, while backrubs and snacks from his mother help a little more. Big Frog offers to hold his friend’s wing and dive in together, but our little duck knows that some challenges need to be faced alone. Even when they are very scary!

Review:

I’m a Duck, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, is sure to be a hit with young readers. When little duck rolls into the water as an egg, it leaves him with a fear of the water after he hatches. This isn’t normal for a duck and everyone tells him there’s nothing to fear, but he’s not convinced. With a little practice, in a less scary puddle, and encouragement from his mother, duck works up his courage to try swimming in the big pond.

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The verse and rhyme are sweet and fun to read aloud, and the illustrations are adorable! This is a beautiful book that would make an excellent gift or treasured addition to any home library.

In this story of facing fears, perseverance, family and friendship, young readers are sure to have fears of their own and identify with little duck. The story will likely encourage discussion of fears, trying new things, and being a brave little duck.

Highly recommended for readers ages 3 and up.

5 stars to shine on little duck

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Interview with Illustrator Will Hillenbrand

Check out this great video from illustrator Will Hillenbrand all about his illustration process.


I’m a Duck Giveaway!

You could win a copy of I’m a Duck! Candlewick Press is giving away a copy of I’m a Duck to one lucky reader of my blog. For a chance to win, just comment on this post.

Do you have a good recommendation for a book about facing fears? Or comment on anything you like! I will select one winner randomly from the comments.

Don’t forget to follow my blog via email so you never miss out on a giveaway or review.

Giveaway rules:

-Giveaway ends at 11:59pm CDT on Saturday, March 31.

– You must be 18 or older to enter.

-Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.

-Only one entry per household.

-Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner will be chosen.

-Winner agrees to provide their preferred mailing address, to be forwarded to Candlewick Press for shipment of prize.


I’m a Duck is available from Amazon today!


Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Black Bird Yellow Sun: Author Interview + Giveaway!

Welcome to another exclusive author interview and giveaway here at Three Show Saturday!

Nothing makes me happier than sharing new books with you all, and this week I bring you a fantastically fun new board book from Candlewick Press.

I hope you find this book as charming as I did, and enjoy the exclusive insights offered by author/illustrator Steve Light. Don’t forget to comment on this post for your chance to win a copy of Black Bird Yellow Sun courtesy of Candlewick Press.

And now, on with the show!


Black Bird Yellow Sun (2018, Candlewick Press, Board Book)

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From the publisher:

From the creator of Have You Seen My Dragon? comes an exploration of color that truly soars.

As a solitary black bird wings its way through the day, little ones are treated to a magnificent flight from one vibrant color to another. Inimitable illustrator Steve Light showcases a new style in this board book for the youngest readers. Children can journey with the graceful black bird and its tiny worm friend past orange leaves, through green grass, onto gray rocks, under pink flowers, and more before coming to rest beneath a brilliant blue moon.

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Review:

Black Bird Yellow Sun, written and illustrated by Steve Light, will take the youngest of readers on a bold adventure. At first glance, this book is seemingly quite simple, a black bird is contrasted against a background of varying colors as he goes about his day, always accompanied by a small worm, but as the reader really looks at the illustrations and contemplates the simple text, the story becomes much more complex. The sharp contrast of the black bird against the brilliant light of the morning sun evokes a sense of anticipation for something to come. The black bird encounters a red snake in a scene that is sure to excite young readers, and my personal favorite is the black bird green grass scene where the textures seem to leap off the page.

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Board books are fascinating in their simplicity as they teach children their first words, first shapes, first colors, and some, like Black Bird Yellow Sun, can even help children understand first emotions, from the happy light of a yellow sun to the contemplative starkness of grey rock.

Highly recommended for children ages 1 to 3 years old.

Five stars for Black Bird on a Black Night.


Interview with Steve Light

Steve Light is the author-illustrator of many picture books, including Have You Seen My Dragon?, Have You Seen My Monster?, Lucky Lazlo, Swap!, and Have You Seen My Lunch Box? He lives with his family in New York City.

I enjoyed Black Bird Yellow Sun so much! Where did your inspiration come from for this charming book? 

I wanted to make a very impactful book visually but explore a very simple concept. I was inspired by the artist Ellsworth Kelly and his bold paintings featuring flat exciting colored shapes, so that led me to a color concept book. The Blackbird as the main character came from listening to the Beatles and the idea of this black dense shape against bold colors appealed to me artistically.

I love the different colors and textures in Black Bird Yellow Sun. My favorite scene is Black Bird Green Grass. Which illustration did you enjoy creating the most and were there any scenes that didn’t make it into the final draft of the book?

I enjoyed creating the Grey Rocks page because at first I was very worried that grey would be very boring. Then I discovered how to print the rocks with a splotchy texture and mixed some beautiful purple and pink greys. I also love that spread cause it conveys an emotion of the bird being lonely and scared after his confrontation with the snake.

Which of your books did you enjoy writing or illustrating the most?

Oh that is like asking to pick your favorite child. I loved working on Have You Seen My Dragon? Because it was the first book where I was drawing to illustrate just like I draw in my sketchbook. Swap! was fun because it was pirates! Lucky Lazlo was fun because it had the theatre, Alice in wonderland characters and a new kind of line work. And Black Bird Yellow Sun was a lot of fun because it was a different process of printing the artwork.

Did you always aspire to be a children’s book author, and what was your path to publication like? 

I always knew I wanted to do something with my art. I was doing corporate illustration for a while and hated it. I was a storyteller for a while (still am) and remembered all the stories I loved growing up and said let me try children’s books. After being rejected by every publisher in NYC I finally got published. To create these works of art that children read is a joy. I really feel I have found my calling.

What are some hobbies you enjoy outside of writing?

I collect old fountain pens and fix them up. I also modify the nibs of fountain pens so they make different kinds of lines to draw with. I also love visiting the museums in NYC and just being a tourist here, even though I have lived here many years.

Who has had the greatest influence on your writing and your career?

My teacher David Passalacqua has an incredible influence on my life and art. I was blessed to know him and have him as a mentor. He taught me how to draw, think and live. My wife is also a huge supporter of mine. She encourages me and takes care of me. I would have given up a long time ago if not for her love and guidance. Also teaching, being around children ages 3-5 everyday seeing which books and stories they respond to is a great gift to my writing.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your books or yourself?

Well, we did not talk about how the artwork in Black Bird Yellow Sun was created. It was all done by printing pieces of cardboard (chipboard actually like on the back of a legal pad). I simply cut out the shape of the sun etc. and inked it with printing ink and then stamped it onto the paper. The bird and worm were cut pieces of colored paper that I then collaged onto the printed artwork.

Thank you so much Steve for taking the time to visit with me and share about your life as an author/illustrator!


Giveaway

Candlewick Press is giving away one copy of Black Bird Yellow Sun to one lucky reader of my blog!

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To enter, simply comment below. What book do you first remember reading or having read to you as a child? Or comment on something else 🙂

And don’t forget to subscribe via email so you won’t miss out on future reviews, interviews or giveaways!

-Giveaway ends at 11:59pm CDT on Saturday, March 10.

– You must be 18 or older to enter.

-Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.

-Only one entry per household.

-Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner will be chosen.

-Winner agrees to provide their preferred mailing address, to be forwarded to Candlewick Press for shipment of prize.


Black Bird Yellow Sun hits shelves today, March 6, 2018! Get your copy at Amazon or other book outlets. Click on the cover below to buy at Amazon.

Stay tuned next week for another exclusive interview, this time with illustrator Will Hillenbrand and a giveaway of his new book, I’m a Duck.


Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review & More!

Happy Friday!

I hope you all have great books picked out for weekend reading. I have quite a few on my shelf at the moment. I also have a great review and author interview for you today, but first, what you’ve all been waiting for….drum roll please….

The winner of the Sleeping Bear Press and Jen Sattler giveaway is….Christina G.!

Congratulations Christina!

And now, on with the show!

My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella (2017, Stone Arch Books/Capstone, Chapter Book/Lower Middle Grade)

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From the publisher:

Holden, what have you done?! It wasn’t enough to ruin Maddie’s report on Cinderella, but now you’ve somehow broken the ACTUAL fairy tale? The ugly stepsister is marrying the prince and there’s no happy ever after! You need to fix this and the only way seems to be by entering the story. But beware: if you can’t mend it, you can never return . . .

Review:

My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella, written by Jerry Mahoney and illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff, puts a new, and very modern spin, on an old favorite. When Maddie’s stepbrother Holden “breaks” the Cinderella story, they are both surprised to be sucked into his tablet and dropped into Cinderella’s story. Taking on the roles of foot soldier and wicked stepsister, Holden and Maddie must work together (easier said than done) to set things right or be stuck in the story forever. With a crazy cast of characters, it’s not just Cinderella in the spotlight. My favorite minor character was Darreth, the Duke of Darkness, who is locked away in the dungeon but thunder rumbles every time his name is uttered.

Not just focused on the fanciful, the book does take time to ponder serious issues such as divorce set against the background of wicked stepmothers and rotten stepbrothers. Not to mention, the perfectly captured reality of bickering among siblings, or step-siblings. Add in logical twists and real emotions, and the story develops into something surprisingly insightful with characters more real than those found in most fairy tales.

The reader might hope for more illustrations, but otherwise this one is sure to get lots of giggles from the target audience. Fans of fairy tale retellings will especially enjoy this fun, quirky read. Recommended for readers ages 8 to 10.

4 stars for Cinderella and friends!


This is part of a series so readers who enjoy this “ruined” fairy tale, can check out more books in the series!


Interview with Author Jerry Mahoney

Thank you to Jerry Mahoney for taking time to visit with me and share about his writing career and inspiration!

After reading My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella, I’m super curious about the other books in this series. How did you come up with the idea for this series and how did you decide which fairy tales to “ruin”?

When my kids were younger and I would read fairy tales to them, I would sometimes have to hold myself back from rolling my eyes or making wisecracks. I mean, they’re great stories, which is why they’ve stood the test of time. Still, though, it’s inevitable that after hundreds of years, some of them will show their age. So I would find flaws, like the notion that a prince would try to find one specific woman by trying a glass slipper on random women all over his kingdom. Obviously, lots of people have the same size foot. Besides, she’s supposedly the love of his life, so shouldn’t he remember what she looks like?

I would bite my tongue, though, and not mention the issues I had with the stories, because I didn’t want to ruin them for my kids. That eventually led me to come up with Holden, a kid who doesn’t mind ruining stories for people. In fact, he loves it!

Through him, I could do what I was afraid to do and ask tough questions about stories that are pretty universally loved. The more I started picking fairy tales apart, the more plot holes I found, and I learned that a lot of them were issues that many people had with the stories. Maddie sprung from the other side of my personality, the part that loves being swept away by a good, romantic fairy tale and doesn’t mind making a few logical leaps along the way as long as she’s enjoying the read.

I wrote MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER RUINED CINDERELLA first, because it’s probably the most well-known and also had the most obvious plot holes to me. Then, when my publisher ordered it as a series of four, I read a bunch of fairy tales, then thought what plot holes Holden would find in each one and how the stories might change as a result. Together with the publisher, we decided which ones would make the best stories for the first four books in a series.

Of course, I have ideas for many more. I’m hoping these books will do well enough that I’ll get to write them! 🙂

Have you always enjoyed fairy tales? And if so, what was your favorite fairy tale as a child?

Who doesn’t love fairy tales? I think on some level, even Holden does. Lots of boys think that it’s uncool to like them, but show me a boy who refuses to go see a new Disney princess movie, and I guarantee you he was belting out “Let it Go” everywhere he went when he was 3.

I think “Beauty and the Beast” has always been my favorite. Of course, what Disney did with it was magical — with the dancing dishware and those gorgeous songs. But even if you take all that away, at the heart of it, it has such a sweet message about accepting people for who they are. Also, it’s one of the few fairy tales that doesn’t subscribe to the notion of love at first sight. Belle has to work really hard to get to know the Beast before she falls in love. That makes it all the more fulfilling when it finally does happen. And that’s been my experience in life as well. Sometimes, you have to dig really, really hard to find the good in people.

When you imagine someone reading your books, what do you hope they feel during and after reading your work?

That’s a tough question, because as a writer, you want to take readers through a range of emotions — excitement, fear, sadness, joy. I consider myself primarily a comedy writer, but sometimes, the moments I’m proudest of aren’t the jokes but the emotional payoffs. (In MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER RUINED CINDERELLA, it’s the moment where Beautianna gets into art school and tells Maddie that she’s realized she’s her fairy godmother. Oops, spoiler warning!)

Overall, though, I feel like if I’ve made someone laugh, I’ve done my job. There’s so much negativity in our world, so much conflict and so much to get down about. Nothing makes me happier than knowing I’ve made someone forget about all that for a few minutes and just have a good time.

Readers are always curious about what an author’s day to day life is like. When you are working on a project what is your day like and what are some hobbies you enjoy outside of writing?

My other job besides writing is being a stay-home dad. So my writing day starts after I drop my son and daughter off at school. Then, I try to do a few hours of new writing on whatever my main project is at the time. As you probably know, publishing is very slow, so what I’m writing now might not come out for two years or more. Or if it’s not working, I may scrap it and start something new instead until I have a manuscript I really believe in.

After working on new writing, I usually have some business to attend to, whether it’s writing a synopsis for the book jacket, approving a cover or answering a questionnaire like this. 🙂 This part is always much easier and more fun than staring at a blank page and having to fill it with something new.

By then, it’s time to pick my kids up, and my duties switch to checking homework, cooking dinner and losing to my kids at Mario Kart. Once they’re in bed, I usually try to squeeze in a bit more writing. Late night is a good time for brainstorming new ideas. Then I’ll read in bed, because I love hearing other writers’ voices and getting jealous of how good they are.

Anything else you’d like to share about your books or your writing career?

Yes! First of all — shameless plug alert! — my next book, BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE, comes out in March 2018. As you can probably guess from the title, it’s full of crazy, horribly inappropriate humor (yes, fart jokes), and therefore no one should read it under any circumstances. I like to think of it as a next step up for kids who grew up on the Captain Underpants books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It’s probably not going to impress anyone’s teacher if they do a book report on it, but it’s hopefully the kind of book kids will want to read just for fun — even if they have to hide it from their parents.

Beyond that, I’m very busy working on some new projects that I hope to be able to share with everyone soon. If you want to know more, come visit my website www.jerrymahoneybooks.com, or follow me on Twitter (@WhyJerryWhy), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jerrymahoneybooks/) and Instagram (@jerrymahoney). Most of all, thanks for reading!


Thank you to Jerry Mahoney for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour + Giveaway Time!!!

Book reviews, an interview, coloring pages, AND a giveaway?! Could this day get any better?!

Thanks so much for stopping by and don’t forget to comment for a chance to win a prize package from Sleeping Bear Press!

Jungle Gym (2018, Sleeping Bear Press, Board Book)

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From the publisher:

With a cast of characters including a zebra, toucan, and a hippo, everyday concepts such as up/down and in/out are hilariously demonstrated by animal friends on a playground. A new board book series by artist Jennifer Sattler.

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Dirty Birdies (2018, Sleeping Bear Press, Board Book)

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From the publisher:

One curious birdie playing in a mud puddle leads to four new friends, all getting into trouble. Toddlers learn to count from 1 to 5 with Dirty Birdies, where birds of all feathers get down and dirty and then all clean again. A new board book series by artist Jennifer Sattler.

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Review:

Jungle Gym and Dirty Birdies, written and illustrated by Jennifer Sattler, are sure to be hits with emerging readers and toddlers. With bright, colorful illustrations and simple, short blurbs of text, children and adults will enjoy reading these clever books. Both books feature adorable animals in funny situations and lots of new words for the youngest readers. With opposites and counting at the forefront of these books, little ones will learn new concepts and words without even realizing it. Board books are great for introducing children to reading and to new ideas, and these two books will not disappoint. Highly recommended for children ages 2-5.

5 stars for five dirty birdies and all their jungle pals!


Dirty Birdies and Jungle Gym hit shelves February 15, 2018, but they are available for pre-order now! Click on the pictures below to see the books on Amazon.


Interview with author Jen Sattler

JenSattler

Thank you so much to Jen for taking time to visit with me and share about her books and writing career!

Both Jungle Gym and Dirty Birdies feature funny illustrations that can be appreciated by children and adults, but I think children will especially relate to the dirty birdies as they are often messy and enjoy many of the same things as the birds. What is the process like for creating a board book as compared to a picture book? 

So much of the humor in a board book is visual. That’s really why I wanted to do a whole series of them. I absolutely love board books.  With a board book there’s no big arc of a story or a lot of character development, it’s just fun! And when you’re having fun, learning new concepts is much easier (color, opposites, counting) When I’m putting together a board book each page can have a more singular impact. So much of the fun for little ones is learning to turn the pages, learning the physical act of reading a book, so each page is a little moment that they can come back to over and over again.

I see your books often feature (adorable!) animal protagonists. Can you tell me more about your creative process and how these animal characters come about? Do you choose animals for any particular reason? 

I love drawing animals because their human characteristics come out of their physical forms. Inevitably a character will emerge that just speaks to me. It starts to have a personality. When drawing people it’s too easy for me to reference someone I know. They’re not born out of the page so to speak.

I still enjoy reading children’s books as an adult, but there is something really magical about books when you are a child. Did you enjoy reading as a child, and what book do you remember most fondly from your childhood? What book do you enjoy most as an adult? 

I didn’t have many books as a child. We had a few Dr. Seuss books though and I loved them. (I used to call him “Der Seuss”, I thought that was how you pronounced “Dr.”) There also used to be books at the grocery store; Golden Books. If we were good, my mom would get us a book. Like I said, we didn’t have many!  I still have all of those and opening them up brings my memory back in a really visceral way. I see through my much younger eyes. You’re right, it really is magical. My favorite book was Horton Hears a Who.

As far as what book I enjoy most as an adult? I’d have to say that I never get tired of Sandra Boynton’s books. Especially Hippos Go Beserk. I think the humor in those books is for everyone. There’s no age limit on finding six hippos showing up to a party with an uninvited “guest” hilarious.

Did you always aspire to be a children’s book author and what was the road to publication like for you?

No, I sure wasted a lot of time trying to “adult”. After getting my MFA in painting I taught college students for a few years. Then I had my children. In no time our house was full of picture books and it was clear that THAT was what I wanted to do! No more paintings to just hang on the wall. I wanted to make kids laugh… I finally released my inner goofball! It took a lot of rejections before my first book Sylvie came out in 2009. Since then I’ve had over 15 books published. It’s the best career in the world.  The harder I work, the more fun I have.

Who has had the greatest impact on your writing and your career?

When I first started out it was my daughters Mayzie and Lilia that had the biggest impact on my writing. They would ask me questions. For instance Lili asked me why flamingos were pink and after some fact searching Sylvie was born. As my kids’ personality traits emerged issues like making friends or doing something you’re scared of would happen naturally and stories came to me through the characters I was drawing. Since the girls are pretty big  ( one’s in college, the other a junior in high school) now I spend time with toddlers and preschoolers at my daughters’ old preschool/daycare. There’s nothing like spending time with little ones. It’s pure joy.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your new books or your career?

I’ve always wanted to do a series of original board books. Their humor and simplicity is so pure and direct. There’s so much to learn at that age and so many fun ways to show them. Each thick board page is a little funny moment. No one is as in touch with joy as a toddler. It’s the best job in the world to make something fun to put in their hands.

Thank you again Jen!


Check out these great coloring pages for your little ones (or for you!)

Just click on the link for a full size PDF coloring page that you can print.

DirtyBirdies_colorsheet

JungleGym_colorsheet


Giveaway!

I’m excited to offer you a fantastic prize package from Sleeping Bear Press! Please comment on this post for your chance to win a set of books and a tote bag!

What is your favorite children’s book? Have you read anything else by Jen Sattler?

Or comment on something else that interests you!

Please comment by February 8, 2018 end of day. I will randomly select a winner from the comments and announce the winner on the blog on February 9, 2018.

A big thank you to all who read and comment on my blog. You guys are the best! 🙂


Thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.


  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm CDT on February 8.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
  • Winner agrees to provide their preferred mailing address, to be forwarded to Sleeping Bear Press for shipment of prize.

Author Interview: Bonny Becker

I have a Christmas gift for my readers! Today I bring you an interview with author Bonny Becker 🙂

Bonny is the author of the fabulous Bear and Mouse picture book series as well as many other books for children. I can’t even describe how much I loved A Christmas for Bear or how excited I was that Bonny agreed to an interview with me.

Merry (early) Christmas!

 

Interview with author Bonny Becker:

I absolutely love A Christmas for Bear! I am so curious about what inspired the concept and how the book came about. Can you tell me a little about the development of this book?

Thank you, so much! This is the 6th book in a series of Mouse and Bear books. Usually Mouse is cheerful and ready to celebrate anything; grouchy Bear not so much. So in this book, I wanted to switch things up a bit and this time Bear is the one holding a party. A Christmas party.

I tried several different approaches to Bear’s Christmas party, including having him go way over the top and simply make Christmas way too big and too elaborate. But my editor felt there wasn’t enough tension between Mouse and Bear in that one. Mouse was just kind of a bystander.

So in this version I decide Bear’s idea of Christmas is to read a difficult poem, eat pickles with no presents necessary because I knew that would drive poor Mouse wild.

And I can’t get over bear and his Christmas pickle. That was such a surprise to me and really made me laugh. Is the Christmas pickle part of your holiday traditions or did something else inspire its inclusion?

Ha! No, there are no Christmas pickles in my life, either. But Bear likes pickles. In A Library Book for Bear, he only agrees to go the library so that he can get more books about pickles. Why pickles? Well, in the original draft of Library it was potatoes. I just wanted something boring and improbable for Bear to be interested in. But the illustrator, Kady McDonald Denton, wondered if I could please make something a little more interesting to draw than potatoes. That’s when I came up with pickles—which seemed perfect for my sour Bear!

I love the illustrations in your book and I am always curious about the working relationship between authors and illustrators. I see you and Kady MacDonald Denton have worked on a few books together in the Bear and Mouse series. Did you know each other prior to working together and how is it different working with the same illustrator multiple times versus working with an illustrator on only one project?

I love the illustrations, too. I don’t think anyone could have captured Mouse and Bear more perfectly than Kady. We didn’t know each other beforehand, but it’s been a delight to work with her. The main difference between a series like the Mouse and Bear books and a one-time book is that the author and illustrator get a chance to inspire each other.

For example, as the author, I knew Bear was grouchy and a loner, but I didn’t know he would live in a Tudor cottage, wear an apron and be rather dainty despite his enormous rear end. That all came from Kady. But as a writer, I could use this in future stories about Bear. I could make more of his fastidious nature and the layout of his house and so on.

I’ve had two moments of absolute delight as an author when it came to my illustrator. The first was with another Christmas book of mine, The Christmas Crocodile, when I first saw illustrator David Small’s drawings of the crocodile. The second was when I saw Kady’s illustrations of Mouse and Bear. Both had captured the characters so perfectly. They created what you hope for with any picture book—a marriage of words and art that is more than the sum of its parts.

I think A Christmas for Bear could become a holiday staple in many households. I know I would enjoy reading it every year. Are there any books you enjoy every year during the holidays? What were your favorite Christmas traditions as a child?

It’s rather embarrassing to admit, but actually The Christmas Crocodile has become a holiday staple for my extended family. I have a relative who reads The Christmas Crocodile every Christmas Eve at a big family gathering. He’s a wonderful reader and I laugh shamelessly at my own story every time.

As a child, my dad always read The Night Before Christmas; sometimes he would read A Christmas Carol. I loved putting up the tree and the excitement of trying to sleep the night before Christmas. I come from a family of six kids and on Christmas morning we would all gather in my oldest sister’s bedroom, and my brother would go downstairs, bring up our stockings and report on the massive pile of presents under the tree. I remember food, warmth, the satisfaction of at least a few awesome presents and family.

Have you always dreamed of writing children’s books and what was the road like to becoming a published author?

I’ve wanted to be a writer, pretty much for as long as I can remember, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write. I think originally I imagined myself writing the Great American Novel, but as I got older I remembered the books I had loved as a kid and realized those were the kind of books I wanted to write.

The road to becoming a published writer is pretty murky. There’s no clear, certain path. I’ve been a writer almost all my adult life—been a journalist, done corporate communications, freelanced articles and newsletters. When I realized I wanted to write for kids, one of the first things I did was join SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.) I can’t recommend it highly enough. For aspiring writers I would say: Write, don’t just talk about it. Take some classes. Join a critique group. You just have to somehow start. The rest will follow as you go along. Oh, and read, read, read!

Is there anything else you would like to share about your writing career or other projects?

I’m excited that I have another picture book coming out next fall (2018) that is very different from the Mouse and Bear books. It’s called The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael. It’s a macabre tall tale about a boy who gets on the #13 bus one dark and stormy night. I’m also working on a middle grade set in Africa and have a number of picture book manuscripts circulating.


A Christmas for Bear (2017, Candlewick Press, Picture Book)

christmas for bear

From the publisher:

One frosty night, Bear hears a tap, tap, tapping on his front door. “Merry Christmas!” cries Mouse. Mouse is there for a Christmas party, and Bear has never had one before, but he’s certain that pickles (preferably from France) must be an essential component, along with the reading of a long and difficult poem. The problem is, whenever Bear comes back from the kitchen with more treats, Mouse has vanished — only to be found, small and gray and guilty-eyed, scurrying under the bed or rifling through the closet. Will there be even a tiny present involved? “Hogwash!” scolds Bear. Get ready for holiday anticipation and the best kind of surprises as the curmudgeonly Bear and a hopeful Mouse return in a warm, funny tale full of holiday cheer and true friendship.

Review:

A Christmas for Bear, written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, is the latest book in the Bear and Mouse series. This book is absolutely darling! I loved it so much and think it could become a Christmas staple in many households. The illustrations convey so much emotion and set the mood for a quiet Christmas at home surrounded by friends and family. Children and adults will love the simple message of friendship and love what an unlikely pair Bear and Mouse make. Highly recommended for the whole family and children of all ages.


Thank you to Bonny Becker and Candlewick Press for the interview and for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author Interview and Giveaway!

It’s the spookiest time of the year and I have great Halloween reads to share with you all!

To kick it off, I bring you an interview with author Stephanie Shaw and a chance to win a signed copy of her book Schnitzel: A Cautionary Tale for Lazy Louts!

See the end of the post for details on how you can enter to win this fantastic prize!

Schnitzel: A Cautionary Tale for Lazy Louts (2016, Sleeping Bear Press, Picture Book)

schnitzel

From the publisher:

Apprenticed to a famous wizard, young Schnitzel is not known for his hard work. In fact, it’s just the opposite. He’s lazy and lacks motivation. So late one night, when a door-to-door salesman selling vacuum cleaners offers to help, Schnitzel sees an answer to his housecleaning woes. Little does he know, however, that this is no ordinary salesman and the vacuum is no ordinary dust-buster. In this retelling of the classic tale The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Schnitzel is about to find out why it’s never a good idea to invite a cape-wearing, fang-toothed stranger in after dark. Fortunately for him, there’s magical help ready to lend a hand.

Review:

Schnitzel, written by Stephanie Shaw and illustrated by Kevin M. Barry, is the perfect Halloween read! With stark illustrations and spooky scenes, children will be delighted with the disaster that befalls poor, lazy Schnitzel when he invites in a strange salesman. Children will immediately see that Schnitzel should have done his own work, and hopefully the message will sink into their own lives as they reflect on their own household chores.

Overall, a delightful story written in rhyme, and sure to be a Halloween hit with children ages three to seven.


Interview with author Stephanie Shaw

stephanie shaw

Stephanie Shaw (photo from http://www.stephanieshawauthor.com)

Me: I love your new book Schnitzel: A Cautionary Tale for Lazy Louts, and I especially love that it was inspired by The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Although, I must admit my first thought was of Mickey Mouse and not the original poem!

Which original fairy tale is your favorite and which retelling have you most enjoyed?

SS: I love fairytales so it would be hard to choose.  As a child I loved the classics — Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel. And, folktales and fables were (and still are) favorites!  There are several modern retellings of The Three Little Pigs that I think are super clever.  

What is recently out is my fairy tale PIECE BY PIECE. It is an original story and once again Sleeping Bear Press took my breath away with the choice of illustrator. So, for the moment that’s my favorite retelling!

Me: People often wonder about the author-illustrator relationship especially when they might not know each other.

Did you know your illustrator, Kevin M. Barry prior to working on this project and what was the process like from your original text draft to the final product? Did you have any vision for what the illustrations might look like as you were drafting the manuscript?

SS: I have never met any of the illustrators for any of my books.  It’s true that authors (at least I do) ‘see’ the story as they write it. As picture book and so much of the heavy lifting is done by the artist. Schnitzel is my third book with Sleeping Bear Press and I trusted the SBP team to choose the best illustrator to take on the text. But, wow! Did they ever surprise me! I remember the day Senior Children’s Editor Barb McNally asked me, “What do you think of the work of Edward Gorey?”  Are you kidding? I love Edward Gorey!  Then she explained how Kevin thinking of doing the art in gray scale with just a touch of color.  I was intrigued and amazed.  And, I am so very happy with what Kevin did.

I make it a point to not communicate with an artist during the development of the book.  First of all, I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler and wouldn’t be any help at all. But, mostly I don’t want the illustrator to feel I am looking over his shoulder and pressuring him.  

As far as the process of the text from start to finish, again, Barb is just a super editor.  I don’t believe we changed the text much at all. But, then one day she contacted me.  There was a spot near the end that was slightly confusing. As the story was coming to its finish, it read a bit like ‘it was all a dream’ (which was not my intention at all).  So, Barb asked me to be sure to clarify that stanza.  It was one small line but I did five rewrites before we finally settled on the phrasing that satisfied us.

Me: I love the back page activity where you encourage children to write their own retelling of a popular story. When did you first start writing and do you remember any stories you made up as a child?

SS: I began writing after working with children in schools for many years. I was an elementary principal when I took an early retirement in 2006 to care for my mom. I had always loved children’s literature and writing was something I turned to for fun between care shifts. I sold my first story to Highlights Magazine in 2011 and my first book manuscript in that same year.   Honestly, I think the only stories I remember making up as a child were more ‘tall tales’ about the disappearance of the chocolate chips from the kitchen cupboard.

Me: Who or what would you say had the biggest impact on your writing career?

SS: Easy peasy! My parents influenced me by reading to my siblings and me every night. And, we had our library cards as soon as we could write our names. Saturdays were spent walking to the neighborhood library and carrying home armloads of books.  Books were also given to me as gifts and I still cherish a copy of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice that was the very first picture book my dad gave me.

Socerer's Apprentice

Illustration from original Sorcerer’s Apprentice picture book given to the author by her father. Written by Richard Rostro (William Morrow & Co. publisher, 1941).

Me: What advice would you give young writers or aspiring authors?

SS: Read the genre you want to write.  Read what’s coming out but also read all those wonderful classics. Writing is no different than learning a language or sport or musical instrument. If writing is where your heart is, invest in that dream through classes and workshops. It will save you from so many mistakes (trust me). And, also join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It is a fantastic network of creative people and everything you ever want to know about the craft is available through SCBWI.

Me: With Halloween right around the corner, your book is a great story to share with little ones. Not too spooky, and lots of fun! What’s your favorite holiday and what’s your favorite holiday tradition?

SS: As much as I love Halloween (treats more than the tricks), I think my favorite holiday is Christmas.  When I was small we went to bed on Christmas Eve without a single decoration in the house except our stockings hung on the mantle.  But, in the morning Santa would have delivered a fully decorated tree and packages! How magical is that?  My poor parents had to wait until we were asleep to do all the work, but oh it was so enchanting! Of course, as I got older I noticed other people had trees up before Christmas, so that part ended. But, absolutely no gifts ever showed up until Christmas morning.  I still like that tradition!

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to share about this book or your writing career?

SS: Golly, I just want to say thank you so much for asking about Schnitzel and my writing. I love hearing from readers — kids, parents, teachers, writers.  If there is anything else I can share I can always be contacted through Sleeping Bear Press or my website www.stephanieshawauthor.com.

Happy Halloween!  

Me: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions and share about your fabulous writing! It’s a pleasure to feature you on my blog and your book is perfect for the Halloween season. 


 Giveaway!!!

Sleeping Bear Press and Stephanie Shaw have been kind enough to offer a copy of Schnitzel as a prize to one lucky reader. And not just any copy…a copy signed by Stephanie Shaw! No tricks here, just treats 🙂

To Enter:

Comment below with your favorite Halloween story or tradition.

Comment by Friday, October 27th to be entered for a chance to win. There will only be one prize awarded to one person selected randomly from the comments. The winner will be announced Saturday, October 28th on the blog. Once the winner is selected, he or she will need to provide mailing information and I will get the book sent out!

Don’t be shy, go ahead and comment!

Thanks for reading and good luck!


Thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thank you to Stephanie Shaw for allowing me to interview her and for providing a signed copy of Schnitzel to a reader of this blog.