Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Drawn to Help: Children’s Books to the Rescue!

Check out this wonderful program Tara Lazar shared on her blog today. Kidlit authors and illustrators are visiting sick children in the hospital, sharing books, and giving art lessons. What a great way to help someone who is going through a tough time! Way to go!

Thank you, Tara for sharing this!

Click the link below to read more about Drawn to Help: Children’s Books to the Rescue!


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Author Interview: Playing Possum by Jennifer Black Reinhardt (Clarion Books)

Playing Possum

Written and illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Clarion Books, July 2020

What joy! Playing Possum is such a delightful book! I fell in love with Alfred and Sophia and the way fear and anxiety dictated their actions. I enjoyed their many interactions and the way the forest creatures joined their adventures, many of them with their own responses to fear. The illustrations and story captivated my imagination and I couldn’t wait to turn the pages to see what happened next.

How does one make friends when burdened with such a built-in fear factor? Calmly and patiently! Jennifer Black Reinhardt has skillfully woven the story of kindness and friendship between unlikely friends in a magical woodland. I invited Jennifer to visit and tell us more about Playing Possum.

Here’s Jennifer!

Welcome, Jennifer! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, Angie, thank you so much for having me visit. I grew up with a mother who was an artist, and her mother (my MomMom) was an artist as well. So, I was always encouraged to create. When I was in second grade, I discovered that I could put words with pictures to tell even more of a story—- I was hooked.

I grew up in Pennsylvania and got my degree in Illustration from Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating, I worked as a freelance illustrator and had success illustrating pretty much everything except picture books. Finally, after many, many years of being persistent, I’m now getting to live my dream of writing and illustrating books for kids.

One is never too young (or I hope, too old) to write stories and draw pictures!

What was your inspiration for Playing Possum?

One night several years ago, my husband was taking out the trash and called to me to identify the animal in our trashcan. Sticking out of the top of the can was a snarling, frozen, possum! I remember feeling sorry for him. He looked so scared and I thought that it was probably even scarier not being able to run away.

Poor thing!

What was the writing and illustrating journey you took as you created this beautiful picture book?

I wrote the initial draft of the story (we all know there are many, many, drafts, and revisions) quite quickly. It is sparse text, but once I had my characters, this story seemed to fall into place (It’s not always like that). I shared it with my critique group and then sent it to my agent. We had interest from editors right away who wished to acquire it (again, not usually like that). Illustrating-wise it was important to me to find a believable balance between what is real and what is imagined. I wanted readers to feel Alfred and Sofia’s kindness toward each other and then having the desire to spread their empathy to help others.

Wow, you are right! Playing Possum fell together quite easily, but it’s not always like that.

How did you celebrate the July 2, 2020, release of Playing Possum? 

Well, a bit differently than for past books, of course. I teamed up with a local bookstore, Sidekick Coffee and Books, and held a virtual Zoom launch party.

Good for you! It is an odd year for book releases and gatherings. Sounds like you had a perfect plan.

Surprise us. What else would you like to share?

One of my earliest and warmest memories is of my mother reading me The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by one of my very favorite illustrators, Gyo Fujikawa. There is a tiny mouse that she has hidden on some of the pages. I can remember so clearly how much I adored looking for that little detail with my mom. It made me extremely happy that I could put so many hidden ‘critters’ in Playing Possum for other young readers to find. I hope they enjoy all those secret surprises.

I love surprises! I can’t wait to go back and reread my book and see how many I can find. Fun!

Thank you, Jennifer, for visiting today! Thank you so much for sending me a copy of Playing Possum via Picture Book Builders. I am very grateful to meet such wonderful characters and read about their adventures.

We send all the best wishes to you and much success with Playing Possum. I hope we get to meet Alfred and Sophia in a new adventure!

Here’s how you can support and get in touch with Jennifer:

Website: jbreinhardt.com

Instagram: jenniferblackreinhardt

Facebook: @jenniferblackreinhardtillustration

Twitter: @jblackreinhardt

Check out the book trailer for Playing Possum.

https://youtu.be/8eOKMhHWO08


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Author Interview: Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten by Laura Purdie Salas (Two Lions)

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Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten

Written by Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

Two Lions (August 2020)

 

Oh, such adorable characters! I’m a cat fan, but cute little Clover takes kitties to a new level. I truly enjoyed reading Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten, to myself and my grands (even the soon-to-be 6th grader was secretly listening). If you have a kitty, I mean child, beginning kittygarten this fall, however that looks in your town, reading this picture book will be the perfect activity to begin exploring and discussing all of the changes and anxieties of a new school experience.

I’m pleased to welcome Laura Purdie Salas, author of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten. After reading her new book, I reached out to Laura and invited her to visit my blog. Thank you for stopping by Laura! Happy book birthday!

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  1. Welcome, Laura! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a former English teacher and copyeditor who’s been writing book for kids for (gulp) 20 years. Poetry and nonfiction mostly, but I have lots of stories inside, too. CLOVER’s my first pure fiction picture book! I’m also a game player, donut lover, and eager learner, and I love to walk and work at my treadmill desk.

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  1. What was your inspiration for Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten?

I listened to the All the Wonders podcast where Matthew Winner interviewed Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant about their book, I Am (Not) Scared, several years ago. I wondered what was the most unlikely fear a child could have. Puppies! That’s what I thought of. Those morphed into kitties eventually—equally unscary!

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  1. What was the writing journey you took as you wrote Clover Kitty?

I had to justify a character being afraid of puppies or kitties. Over the course of a year and a dozen or so drafts, I tried out many different conflicts and character traits for Clover. Was she anxious? Just used to doing things her own way? Strongly introverted? I learned a bit more about Clover with each draft, and eventually this evolved into a back-to-school story, and Clover became a kitty who experiences sensory overwhelm. So Clover sees a bunch of kitties on the playground at recess, for instance, as “a squealing tornado of fangs and fur.” As someone who is not great at making friends myself, and who also finds crowds overwhelming, I definitely see a bit of myself in Clover.

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Donavyn and Autumn ready to read about Clover!

  1. How have you celebrated the release (August 1, 2020) of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten?

Oh, boy. It’s a rough year to release a book, isn’t it? In-person events were all canceled, of course. I did a virtual readaloud to some lovely kids through Gigi’s Playhouse (https://gigisplayhouse.org/gigisathome/), but that’s about it in real time. I devoted a bit of extra energy to making some printables to help teachers and families during this nerve-wracking back-to-school time. I’ve got puppets and activity sheets and a school countdown calendar—lots of things to celebrate friends and help kids think about what tools THEY need to make their back-to-school experience a great one! Or at least one with more ups than downs! And there’s been a super blog tour, which I’ve been so grateful for. I have links and excerpts on my site, along with all those printables, at https://laurasalas.com/clover/.

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  1. Surprise us. What else would you like to share?

I’m learning that anxiety is something that can strike anytime. I’m usually upbeat and very practical. With the state of the world right now, however, author visits, book sales, book acquisitions—they are all taking a hard hit. Honestly, I’m worried about my writing career. So I’m gathering my own survival gear. I may not need earmuffs or sunglasses like Clover, but I’m digging deep to find the tools I can use to keep moving forward and making picture books—my favorite thing in the whole world.

Thank so much, Laura, for sharing your journey and your imagination in the form of Clover Kitty!

Here’s how to get in touch with Laura. Check it out – a Clover Kitty page with fun stuff!

  • site: com
  • Clover Kitty page with lots of downloadables: com/clover
  • order signed, personalized copies of the book through Red Balloon: com/clover
  • blog: com/blog
  • Twitter: @LauraPSalas
  • Instagram: LauraPSalas
  • E-letter for educators: com/p5q54g8
  • Patreon (for children’s writers): com/LauraPurdieSalas

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Giveaway Winner and Upcoming Author Interview

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Congratulations, Melissa!

I’ll be sending you a copy of the October Missions Mosaic magazine. Watch that mail box. Thanks for commenting and checking in on my blog. 😉

This weekend, Friday and Saturday, Vivian Kirkfield will be my featured author. On Friday, I will post a Book Report about her new book Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, January 14, 2020). On Saturday, I’ll share an interview with Vivian where she’ll talk about her new book and her writing life. We’d love to see you as we celebrate Vivian’s new book and Universal Music Day (since her new book is about musical friends).

See you Friday and Saturday!

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Reading for Research Month 2019 is Here! #ReFoReMo

Reading for Research Month is here! March Madness of the Picture Book World, here we come!

This is my 4th or 5th year participating in ReFoReMo. Happy 5 years to #ReFoReMo! Focused blog posts guide researchers (us) to read picture books that illustrate the information found in blog posts. I look forward to this month as an opportunity to read lots of picture books and study their techniques, formats, and picture book elements. If you love picture books, this month of reading is for you.

Is it a coincidence that Reading for Research Month occurs the same month as Read Aloud Day on March 2? I think not (or maybe so, but it is a cool coincidence.)

Read, friends. Read.

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Book stacks from previous ReFoReMo! Be prepared for the time AND space commitment! LOL

Great things happen during ReFoReMo:

– picture books are read, studied, dissected

– blog posts are shared by professionals in the kidlit field

– the kidlit community gives support to one another

– interaction between fellow writers, authors, bloggers, and kidlit enthusiasts is invigorating and addicting

– learning about picture books, in oh so many ways, grows in direct correlation to the amount of time spent reading and studying PB texts

– libraries are flooded with requests for picture books (which, as we all know, trickles back to authors – yay!)

– so much fun to be had!

REGISTRATION opens today! Visit ReFoReMo to register.

And start requesting those books! Find the book list here.

I’ve printed the book list and registered for ReFoReMo. Who’s with me?

 

 


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10 Gift Giving Ideas that Support Writers & Authors

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Do you have a writer in the family? A friend who is a writer? Or maybe you love to read books?

Writers work hard, most don’t make enough to pay the bills, and many need to build their readership (so in the future perhaps they CAN make enough to pay the bills and not hold down a full-time job AND write at the same time). Christmas is the perfect time to support the writers you know and love. Anytime is the perfect time to show support and help writers on their journey.

Here are some GIFT GIVING IDEAS that Support Writers & Authors.

1. Purchase the book. Paperback, hardback, digital. Spring for a REAL copy. This will financially support your writer and encourage him or her to continue writing.

2. Join Goodreads. Look up titles you read. Write a review, rate the book, follow the author. Goodreads is a great community of writers, readers, and professionals dedicated to the world of books. My kind of community. P.S. You can discover new authors and books by reading reviews and suggestions!

3. Post book titles you are reading on your social media accounts. I love to include a snapshot of the cover so other readers will remember the title, author, and cover. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, and more are great social media ways to show and tell.

4. Check out the book from the library. Even if you’ve purchased a copy. Tell the librarians how much you enjoyed such and such author. Check out other books by the same author.

5. Not in the library? Most libraries have a way to suggest titles for purchase. I’m fortunate that my library system has a very up-to-date web site. I can go right in and suggest titles. I love it when I get a confirmation email for an approved purchase. I’m also the first in line to check it out! Pretty cool.

6. Write a review on Amazon. The more reviews a book has, the higher it ranks in importance. Don’t ask me to explain more, because that’s all I’ve got. Somehow, reviews help drive the benefits authors receive from Amazon (benefits=promotions=sales=income for authors). Even ONE sentence helps!

7. Tell someone why you like the book. Share your copy. Tell others about your favorite authors. Don’t keep it a secret.

8. Suggest books for book chats, book discussion groups, or book gifts. Give books as gifts. Include book titles on your wish list.

9. Make book giving a tradition in your family or circle of friends. I love to give a new book to my grandchildren each year. Some families (granted, with only one or two children) have a book pile for Christmas Advent, each book individually wrapped. One is opened and read every day leading up to Christmas. This could be a shared advent project for families with more than one child. OR if you are independently wealthy, each child could have his or her own advent stack of books.

10. Send a note to an author. Tell what their books or writing means to you. Give the gift of encouragement. Now that’s a jolly gift!

Extra Gift Idea: Follow authors on your social media platforms. Look for their web sites and follow those. Sign up for newsletters to receive notices of new book releases. Read their blogs. Join discussions by commenting. All efforts will be appreciated.

How about you? Can you think of any other cool gifts to give to writers? Share below in the comments. Thanks! Happy Gift Giving!