Friday, March 21, 2014

If It's Snowy and You Know It by Kim Norman - Perfect Picture Book Friday

It's March 21 and there's still lots of snow outside. (Ugh.) But signs of spring are beginning to show themselves.

Last night was one example. I had an OWL MOON moment. You know, "Sometimes there's an owl, and sometimes there isn't," Jane Yolen writes.

But last night...there are two.

I'm a little red-eyed today because of the Whoo-whoo--whoo-whoo-whoo mating calls that went on for over an hour. But it was exciting—as exciting as a book I just discovered!

It also stars some snowy animals, and although it's not technically a fractured fairy tale (this week's PPBF theme), it is a remake of an old classic song.

What's remarkable about it is that the rhyme and meter are FLAWLESS.

Although I'm pretty sick of winter already, this book is so fantastic I'm willing to post another winter book on my blog.

Librarians and teachers will love this one.


Author: Kim Norman
Illustrator: Liza Woodruff
Publisher: Sterling, 2013
Genre/Category: Picture book, rhyme
Ages: 3-8
Topics: Winter, snow, arctic, skiing, polar regions, animals, song, rhyme, remake/adaptation
Synopsis: A bunch of arctic animals have fun winter adventures in each verse of this "Happy and You Know it" remake.

Why I chose it: Did I mention that the rhyme is PERFECT? Wow, makes a librarian's, teachers, or parent's job fun and easy. My kids love it. It's just a really well-done book from text to illustrations.


You can buy a version of the book with an audio CD here.

Here's the video where the author explains where she got the original idea:

Here are some photos from National Geographic Kids about Arctic Animals (this book features everything from Moose to Belugas!):

Here are some worksheets and printouts all about arctic animals:

If you want a list of other fairy tale remakes, check out Susanna Hill's PPBF list!


If it's melting and you know it...shout "Hooray!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Picture Books about Grief, Loss, Death, or Dying - A Quick List

Awhile back, I was working on a grief/loss picture book. I learned through my research that there are quite a number of these types of books on the market. I also critique a number of manuscripts from aspiring writers in which a grandparent or parent or pet has died or is already dead at the beginning of the manuscript. What I often notice is how many of these manuscripts overlap stories that are already on the market.

Since I've learned from editors that "grief books are a tough sell," I encourage anyone who is writing a picture book for children about death or loss of a loved one to study up some of the titles that have been published already.

Here's a quick list of picture books about death, grief, loss, or even terminal illness:

STILL MY GRANDMA by Veronique Van den Abeele






THE SCAR by Charlotte Moundlic



THE NEXT PLACE by Warren Hanson



Arlene Sardine by Chris Raschka

Goodbye Mousie by Robie H. Harris

Grandma’s Gloves by Cecil Castellucci

Wishes for One More Day by Melanie Joy Pastor

Ghost Wings by Barbara Joosse

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola 

Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley

Thank You, Grandpa by Lynn Plourde

Is Grandpa Wearing a Suit? By Amelie Fried

The Girl Who Wanted to Dance by Amy Erlich Samantha 

Jane’s Missing Smile by Julie Kaplow

Aunt Mary’s Rose by Douglas Wood 

This is certainly not a comprehensive list. Feel free to add titles of grief/loss picture books in the comments below.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I just saw the press release for my Monday speaking engagement with the awesome editor/writer Sharon Verbeten. I'm humbled! It's pretty awesome in that it refers to the two of us as a "Dynamic Duo."

Although writing and publishing have their fair share of challenges, this author-thing is proving to have some really fun perks.

Here's the press release. Hope to see all you aspiring local writers on Monday, February 17th!

NEWS RELEASE: For Immediate Release

Sue Lagerman
Communications and Library Program Manager

Write, Refine, Revise, Repeat. 
Dynamic Duo Discuss Dos & Don’ts of Getting Published

The Brown County Library hosts two local writing experts on Monday, February 17, 2014 at the Central Library, 515 Pine Street, downtown Green Bay beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the lower level Meeting Rooms.

Guest speakers, Sharon Verbeten and Miranda Paul, present on getting published in today’s tough writing market.  Attendees will learn how to find a writing niche; revise and refine one’s work; query agents, editors and publishers; write compelling query letters; and navigate the worlds of self and traditional publishing.  The dos and don’ts of being a successful writer will also be discussed.

Miranda Paul has written for newspapers, magazines and app/game companies and is an agented author with three soon-to-be-released children’s books from traditional publishing houses.  She is an instructor at The Children’s Book Academy, the Northeast Area rep for the Society of Children’s Book writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and founder of

Sharon Verbeten is a career journalist with more than 20 years’ experience as a writer and editor for newspapers and trade magazines. She worked for more than 10 years as editorial director at Krause Publications, overseeing three trade publications and authoring two books.  She currently owns her own freelance writing/editing firm, All Write Creative Services, and works as a children’s librarian at the Brown County Library.
This lecture is free and open to the public.  Free parking downtown after 6:00 p.m.
Program information is posted on the library’s web

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Metal Man by Aaron Reynolds

It's Perfect Picture Book Friday!

And my latest book deal was announced in Publisher's Marketplace this week! So here you have it. Long-awaited details of my next book:

(I actually missed the announcement because I was too busy working on another book project. How diligent of me!)

Moving on to Perfect Picture Book Fridays (you can learn more about this awesome list at Susanna Hill's blog), I've chosen a book that my son really loves because it involves power tools and creating things from junk, two of his favorites.

He discovered the book on the Reading Rainbow App—one I'd recommend, because of the quality of the titles, the ease of use (my son is four years old), and the extension or "field trip" videos with LeVar Burton.

And the picture book is. . .

Metal Man
by Aaron Reynolds

Title: Metal Man

Author: Aaron Reynolds

Illustrator: Paul Hoppe

Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2008

Category: Picture Book

Ages: 4-8

Genre: Fiction

Topics: Art, Sculpture, Creativity, Welding, Tools, Urban, Multicultural

Synopsis: With the help of the Metal Man, can Devon weld a sculpture of his own, or will the scrap metal amount to a pile of junk as his Mom suspects? 

First Page:

Why I Chose this Book: 
Actually, my son chose it But my husband worked in a quarry once, which involved some welding and creative metalwork, and since I love poetry, it's a natural fit for our whole family. My son is a lot like the boy in the book, always watching his Daddy working on something, then trying his own hand at invention. My son was also really into the pictures, and on the Reading Rainbow App, there are interactive elements that make the illustrations "move."

I think it's both a quiet book and a powerful one in that it's a poetic text about where we find inspiration and the courage or confidence to do something with those ideas.

Resource Activities:
KinderArt has a number of sculpture and collage art activities for children to do. Since this book is all about creating something of your own, this is a perfect start.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Great Joy!

It's 10 a.m. on the 10th day of a New Year, and I'm just getting to my first post of 2014. This week has been a little crazy—need I say more than Polar Vortex?

Yes, it's been cold here. And we've been thinking a lot about the homeless in our city (shelters have been filling up).

As it happens, Santa Claus brought the kids a very timely book this winter called GREAT JOY by Kate DiCamillo. It's not only timely because of the current climate, time of year, and subject matter of the book (which features a homeless man), but also because Ms. DiCamillo was recently named the Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Our family couldn't be more thrilled with this selection!

Today, the weather is finally above freezing and school is back in session. Thank goodness, because next week we're welcoming two girls from Peru into our home who have never seen snow. One of them emailed me to say her favorite books are Pride and Prejudice and Divergent—I can tell we're going to get along swimmingly. If that's not an invitation for joy, what is?

Recently, we also learned that our family in St. Lucia is all OK after the Christmas Eve flooding rains that caused mudslides and widespread damage. All in all, we have a lot of GREAT JOY to celebrate.

Before I get to today's perfect picture book, I do want to share one more piece of SUPER AWESOME AMAZING EXCITING GREAT JOY. To be honest, it's not more joyful to me than that previous piece of good news I shared about our family being OK in St. Lucia. But it is worth large, highlighted font.


The contract arrived yesterday, and I am thrilled to be blessed with another forthcoming book! Since it's slated for 2016, there's lots of time for me to post more about it, and I'll spare the details thus far. (Warning: the suspense may kill you.)

I'll also spare the huge long "thank you list" of everyone I know who has helped me to realize my writing and publishing goals—for now, anyway. But know that you are appreciated far more than I might ever express on this blog, in a thank you card, or in person.

It is on that note of almost-make-you-sick bubbly gladness that I review GREAT JOY by Kate DiCamillo, today's Perfect Picture Book. (And I promise to return to my more usual, less-squeaky tone and witty sarcasm in future posts.)

Title: Great Joy

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline

Publisher: Candlewick, 2007

Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction

Category: Picture Book

Ages: 4-8

Topic/Subject: Christmas, New York, Homelessness

Opening Line: "The week before Christmas, a monkey appeared on the corner of Fifth and Vine." (Isn't that a great first line?!)

Why I chose this book: See above. Plus it has GOLD endpapers. This book looks like it's a hundred-year-old classic of great worth and importance and reads like a story anyone in any time period will appreciate. It's text is spare and contemporary, yet poetic in sense and detail. It's a great conversation starter for children and a reminder to parents not to let our busy-ness or fears get in the way of the love for all people. You know, that uncomplicated and amazing innocence, empathy and affinity for inclusion we had as a child? Trust me, we all still have it, and this book reminds us to embrace it.


Kate DiCamillo's Website:

PBS Kids has ways that kids can take action to help the hungry and homeless here:

Thank you for visiting. If you want to read about more Perfect Picture Books, head on over to Susanna Leonard Hill's blog. And if you missed my last Perfect Picture Book review on Seven Spools of Thread over the holidays, here it is.

I promise to reveal more about my new forthcoming book soon!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story

Yesterday, families across the country began Kwanzaa celebrations. My son, who is in preschool now, had the opportunity to make Kwanzaa candles this year. Although we aren't celebrating the full holiday here at home this year (we have another short trip planned), my husband and I have taken plenty of opportunities throughout the year to introduce our children to the principles of Kwanzaa.  

We are also keen on introducing other parts of our lives that are rooted in our culture and traditions—which, at this time of year, tend to be both exciting and exhausting. 

This year, we took another trip to visit Grandma, Grandpa, cousins, and family abroad in the Caribbean.

We visited the rainforest and had a waterfall to ourselves for an entire afternoon. 

Our son and daughter also spent countless hours playing hide and seek with nieces and nephews (I think I have 34 on that side of the family—so there were always companions willing and ready to play!)

For the kids, swimming in Uncle's rooftop pool highlighted the trip. 
(The high winds up there made Mom a little nervous.)

(Addendum: there were flooding rains in St. Lucia on Christmas Eve; please pray for everyone and all St. Lucians!)

We braved a nearly 100-degree temperature drop as we headed back to the Upper Midwest for Christmas. We also made the children dress up, try all kinds of foods, and patiently wait for hours before giving and opening gifts at family gatherings. To their credit, our childrens' behavior was impressive through all the holiday hustle and bustle this year. See how angelic they look?

But I digress. 

I'll now get back to the tradition of Kwanzaa, which is a beautiful holiday for a number of reasons. Regardless of whether your family celebrates it or not, there's a book I'd like to share with you. It's not a new book, but it is one I've been recommending for nearly a decade since I first read it and shared it with students. So, today's Perfect Picture Book is...

SEVEN SPOOLS OF THREAD by Angela Shelf Medearis

Title: Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
Author: Angela Shelf Medearis
Illustrator: Daniel Minter
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company, 2000
Category: Picture Book
Ages: 5-10
Genre: Folk Tale
Topics: Kwanzaa, Holiday, Values, Working Together, Ghana, Africa, Siblings, Kente Cloth, Grief/Loss, Multicultural
Summary: In an Ghanian village, seven brothers make life miserable with their constant fighting. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown, the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of thread or they will become beggars.

Why I chose this book: The colors and art in the book are stunning—Minter uses a very unique woodblock technique that isn't used often in children's books today. I'm also huge fan of folk tales and of studying values that affect our lives and communities. Most importantly, though, is that I've read it to groups of children again and again—and they get into it. (I think most of them relate easily to quarreling with siblings!) One group of children once turned the book into a short skit for their classmates, which was fun to see.

Resources: This book comes with an activity and resources at the end. I'll admit, the activity isn't the easiest for young children (or inept mothers!). But this year's hottest Christmas present in our family was the Rainbow Loom, which would make a perfect companion to this book if you're looking for a craft activity. 

This book, and celebrating Kwanzaa in general, is also a way to begin introducing some of the many new and amazing nonfiction picture books that narrate American history and African American heroes and previously "under-told" stories. 

And here are some more sites about Ghana, Kwanzaa, and kente cloth:

About Kwanzaa (with tons of activity ideas):

About kente cloth (from an actual Ghanaian weaver):

Paper kente cloth activity (easier than the activity in the book):

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you've had (or are having) a joyous season, however you and your family are celebrating this year. Oh, and if you'd like to see more Perfect Picture Books, head on over to Susanna Hill's blog!

(I still love saying that.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Yoo-Hoo, Ladybug! by Mem Fox - PPBF

Later today I'll be sitting on a #kidlit panel on Ethics in literature at The Reader's Loft Bookstore. As part of the Ethics Day events, I was asked to compile a list of books for kids that deal with moral/ethical issues and share with parents.

Of course, as I was compiling the list, something struck me. While there are so many amazing and great books out there that get kids thinking about ethics and goodness and values and all, there are also so many other functions of books. 

And books for kids should be for kids, right?
(Pondering this reminds me a recent Rate Your Story post, where Joan Donaldson writes about shoving the parents aside in your own story to make it child-centric.)

Tonight, as I share my selections at the kidlit panel, I will be sure to highlight many books that children will find enjoyable and engaging, showing the parents how books with good values don't have to be outright "about" ethics or overly didactic or written with an imperative tone. And I'll be sure to remind them that if we don't give our kids some strictly "fun" books in addition to "learning moment" books, we risk turning them off to reading. And that's an ethical dilemma in and of itself.

So today's Perfect Picture Book is one that is super enjoyable. It's not on my Ethics Day list, but it is one that reminds me of the importance to share all kinds of books with all kinds of kids. My own children beg to read this one again and again, just for fun. It is...


Title: Yoo-Hoo, Ladybug!
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Laura Ljungkvist
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), 2013
Genre/Category: Fiction, picture book
Age: 2-6
Synopsis (taken from jacketflap): Ladybug loves to hide. Can you find her?

First page: Ladybug loves to hide.

Why I chose this book: It's just pure fun! The rhyme is splendid! The colors are bright and hold kids' attention!

Resources: I don't want to be a spoil-sport, but sometimes I think we should just read a book with our kids and not extend it with all kinds of other learning activities. Just read it again. Maybe sing it! Memorize it! Write their own verses/pages. Or, read another book. JUST. FOR. FUN.

(P.S. See Susanna Leonard Hill's blog if you're not familiar with Perfect Picture Book Fridays.)

If you live in Wisconsin and want to attend tonight's storytime and Ethics Day panel session (11/15) at the Reader's Loft, it's at 6:30 p.m. Visit for directions. And don't forget, local SCBWI-Wisconsin writers, tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. at The Reader's Loft is our fall meet-up with three guest speakers!

Have a great weekend (reading just for fun)!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Cloud Spinner - Perfect Picture Book Friday

Last weekend, after my usually-mild-mannered daughter had an "episode" in the car over something she NEEDED SO BAD and RIGHT NOW, I responded like this:

"Young lady, we need to have a talk about needs and wants."

She replied something to the effect of [**sigh**] "I know the difference, Mom."

"How do you know the difference?" I asked.

"Well, no one has ever told me directly," (yes, she really speaks that way), "but you hear teachers and grown-ups saying stuff like that all the time."

Good, I thought to myself. But I gave her a direct lecture about needs and wants anyway, just to be sure.

Little did I know, my 4-year-old son was quietly absorbing it all from the car seat behind me. (He was probably stunned and speechless that he wasn't being the one lectured for once.)

The next morning at breakfast, when his sister grabbed for extra pieces of bacon while singing a sort of a makeshift ode to bacon, my son felt the need to speak up.

"You know, bacon isn't a need. Nobody needs bacon to live."

And then his sister responded, cleverly, as always.

"Yeah? But without bacon, what kind of life is that?"

My 4-year-old was rendered speechless for the second time in 24 hours, thinking about what a life without bacon might really be like. Within a minute, he reached for another piece of bacon and they both began singing the love of bacon song. I stared at my plate, wondering what to make of the whole situation.
4 snapshots from this year's Mother's Day gift;
glad my love and kindness got in there somewhere.
As I reflected on the weekend, my thoughts brought a picture book to mind—one we had really fallen in love with a few months ago. It was the perfect story to re-read and continue our little "needs vs. wants" discussion in a beautiful, engaging, and non-lectury way.

So that brings me to today's PERFECT PICTURE BOOK selection:

Title: The Cloud Spinner

Author: Michael Catchpool

Illustrator: Alison Jay

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012 (originally published in slightly different form in Great Britain as Cloth from the Clouds by Gullane Children's Books, London, 2012)

Genre: Folk Tale / Myth, Fiction, Picture Book

Age: 4-8

Topics: Needs vs. Wants, Cautionary Tale, Nature, Folk Tale, Conscience, Conservation

Sypnosis (I took this from the jacketflap)—"A magical tale about the beauty and fragility of our natural world, and the wisdom and courage needed to protect it."

Opening line: "There once was a boy who could weave cloth from the clouds."

Why I chose this book: Besides what I shared in the post above, this book is an instant classic. It has all of the wisdom and truth and magic of any great story, and despite it's obvious "lesson" or "moral," it doesn't seem heavy handed because of the fact that Catchpool makes the adult characters less wise than the children, who end up saving the day. Anyone who has children or pays attention to them closely knows that most often, they are much wiser, more honest, and more open than the rest of us.

The language and art are beautiful, and this book gives me hope that there's still room in the trade market for quiet books with poetic language and a timely message for our world.

Additional Resources:

In the book, the clouds are depicted in all sorts of colors, depending on how the sunlight is reflecting off of them. This might be a great way for a science teacher to introduce what clouds are really made of, or an art teacher to begin a unit on imitating nature in watercolor. Here are some cloud resource pages for kids:

For scientific info and activities on real clouds: (scroll to bottom for activities!)

For creative art projects featuring different ways to "make" clouds:

This book is also an obvious segue to discussions about environmental conversation. National Geographic has a character named Zippy who will give your kids a few tips on being green:

Of course, don't forget the possible tie-ins to actual spinning. Since I live just a few miles away from an amazing living history museum called Heritage Hill, my children have gotten to card wool and watch artisans spin, knit, and crochet. But if your children haven't gotten the chance to see it, here's a 2-minute video!

And then, if you want to "spin" something more creative than yarn, there's always cotton candy—sure to be a hit with any classroom. Here's how to make it without a machine:

Have a great weekend! Comments are open!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Illustrator Reveal! and Perfect Picture Book Friday

I've been sitting on this news for awhile, and finally have been given the green light to announce it publicly:

One Plastic Bag will be illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon!

Those of you who know the story of One Plastic Bag and are familiar with Ms. Zunon's work already know how perfect this illustrator choice is for my book about a West African environmental leader. But if you don't know her work—don't worry! Today's Perfect Picture Book review will introduce you to Elizabeth Zunon's amazing talent and artistry.

Today's Perfect Picture Book selection is. . .

LALA SALAMA: A Tanzanian Lullaby

Title: Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby

Author: Patricia Maclachlan (Newbery-award winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall)

Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator of My Hands Sing the Blues and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind)

Publisher: Candlewick, 2011

Genre: Picture Book

Ages: 3-7

Topics: Lullaby, Bedtime, Africa (Tanzania), Love, Culture/Multicultural

Opening Page:

Long ago, this morning,
the sun rose
above the hill
above our house,
spilling light over the hills of the Congo
and the lake with the beautiful name,
like a song.

Lala salama, little one.

Why I chose this book: 

Apart from the absolutely stunning illustrations and soft, poetic text, this book presents a slice of life in an African country (Tanzania) that is safe, calm, warm, and loving. It focuses on the progression of a day and the relationship of a family. While infused with words and experiences different from those of many of its readers, the book focuses on some of the universal human experiences and emotions that unite us all. Plus—it's a great "wind down" bedtime story (what mother doesn't love having a few of those around?).

If you're not familiar with Perfect Picture Book Fridays, by the way, visit Susanna Hill's blog here.

Additional Activities:

The book's title is a Swahili phrase for "sleep well." TIME magazine for kids has a website where you can learn some more Swahili phrases with your children or students here:

In the book, the baby is carried on Mother's back. One activity to try with students, (using dolls), is to take a large cloth or sheet and try carrying a baby doll around on the back! Watch this two-minute video for pictures and a video at the end so you can see how to lay out the cloth and tie knots at the top and bottom:

Lake Tanganyika is also one of the worlds largest, longest, and deepest freshwater lakes. You can use this book as an opportunity to open up a unit on water around the world. Here's an article with a little more information on this great African lake:

And here's a fact sheet with a chart about the largest lakes of the world (by volume):

Have fun reading and learning. I can't wait to see the art that Elizabeth Zunon will create for my book. Today is such a thrilling day! Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 11, 2013

We Stand Up for Girls!

Last February, on one of my first nights of the library project in Gambia with Isatou Ceesay, our colleague got a phone call. His wife was in labor! 

The rush to find a vehicle began. We needed to get her to the clinic ASAP. We hurried and arrived as soon as we could, but it took us so long that she ended up walking 2/3 of the way to the clinic while in labor. 

An amazingly short time later, we welcomed a baby girl into the world. And an even amazingly shorter time after that, Mom and baby rode home with us that night and we bathed the little baby girl by candlelight in the living room.

Isatou Miranda on the night she was born, with her older sister.

One week later, at the naming Ceremony, Isatou and I found out that the baby would be named Isatou Miranda. What an honor!

But these are mostly the joyous parts of the story.

 Since Isatou Miranda isn't old enough to speak for herself yet, we're standing up to tell the harder part of her story for her today, October 11, which is International Day of the Girl.

Isatou Miranda's family is under pressure to submit the baby to a circumcision camp where she will undergo a process called FGM. The way it is performed in rural Gambia, it is extremely hazardous to the immediate and long-term health and wellness of girls. Isatou Ceesay, Isatou Miranda's family, and I are making the pledge to keep her safe and the right to be able to make her own choice when she's grown. We know that this girl will face a lot of adversity in the form of teasing, taunting, and feeling outcast because of the decision not to undergo this practice. But we will be there to support her as she grows old enough to make her own choices for herself and her health.

So, my son and I STAND UP FOR GIRLS! Here's the video we made to show the world that we're joining forces with LitWorld's campaign today. Thank you for sharing Isatou Miranda's story.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Storytime at the East Branch Library - September 11, 2013

Hey local kids + parents!

If you live in Brown County, WI, come and spend the morning of September 11 with me and Molly Senechal, one of Green Bay's most enthusiastic children's librarians!

Here are the details:

Who: Author Miranda Paul & the Notorious, Hilarious Children's Librarian Miss Molly!
What: Local children’s author Miranda Paul will share her original stories, talk a bit about what it’s like to be a writer and lead some energizing action rhymes. Don’t miss it!
When: Tuesday, September 11, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
Where: Brown County Library, East Branch, 2255 Main St., Green Bay, WI
Why: Because everyone loves to rhyme and get moving!
How: With clothes on? Energetically? (not sure how to answer this one)

Don't forget to check out all of my upcoming events, too! Miranda will be traveling a bunch of places this fall! See this page for more information about where she'll be next.

Here is also a snapshot of the fall events for the East Library:

Happy back to school, everyone! I hope to see you in the hallways at some point. Remind your teachers to invite me in (and I promise not to make TOO much of a mess!).

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour

1) What is the working title of your next book?
   I have two books coming out in 2015. One Plastic Bag and Water is Water.

 2) Where did the idea come from?
One Plastic Bag is based upon the story of a real woman I've had the pleasure of meeting. The story is inspired by her efforts as one of the first women in her country (The Gambia, Africa) to undertake a grassroots recycling project and beautify her village.

The idea for Water is Water literally popped into my head one day. I'm a big science/nature fan. I grew up minutes away from Lake Michigan, and originally entered college to study aquatic biology.

 3) What genre does your book fall under?

Both fall under the picture book category with a non-fiction component (something akin to faction, perhaps?). OPB is probably for a little older audience (5-12), while WIW's text appeals to the very young (3-7).

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I'm not sure if my books really would ever be animated or turned into films. However, my agent did retain film rights just in case :). I really have no idea who would play the parts, though. I'll pass on this one...

 5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One Plastic Bag: A narrative story inspired by Isatou Ceesay and the recycling women of Njau, Gambia.

Water is Water: A backyard, year-round water journey as seen through the eyes (and hands) of a group of children.

6) Who is publishing your book?
OPB - Millbrook Press (Lerner Publishing Group)
WIW - Neal Porter Books (Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan)

 7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

OPB - I wrote the very first draft within a week or so. Mind you, the story had been stewing in my head for nearly six years prior to actually writing it, and I'd interviewed more than 30 women from the recycling co-op in the years leading up to this. I revised it and began submitting it about three months later.

WIW - I actually had four first draft versions of this book, which each took months from idea to something that resembled a complete first draft. Then I had to choose which version I liked best and wanted to continue working on. I chose, and did more revisions on that version. Then, my agent loved it, but asked for a few tweaks. Then, my editor loved it, but had some ideas for it. . .then. . .you're starting to get the point, right? The real question is not how long it takes to get the first draft done, but to get the actual book done.

 8) What other books would you compare these stories to within your genre?
I'm not entirely sure what to compare WIW to yet, but OPB is comparable to THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (picture book version).

 9) Who or what inspired you to write these books?

I think I already answered this!

 10) What else about the book(s) might pique the reader's interest?

Water is Water is going to be illustrated by Jason Chin.

Just In: I've also learned who will illustrate One Plastic Bag and I am SUPER THRILLED. But....I can't announce it yet. I know, I know.  I will announce who as soon as I get the go-ahead from the publisher (doesn't the suspense kill you??). Connect with me via Facebook or Twitter so you can share in the exciting news as soon as I post it.

Next up on the Next Big Thing Blog Tour is Jacque Duffy, all the way over in Australia! She'll be posting soon about her exciting new book that's coming out soon.

Thanks for stopping by!

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