Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Author Interview: Kindergarten Hat by Janet Lawler (little bee books)

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Kindergarten Hat

Written by Janet Lawler

Illustrated by Geraldine Rodriquez

little bee books, 2020

 

Happy book birthday to Kindergarten Hat (June 9, 2020)! As a former kindergarten and preschool teacher, I love any book that helps young students conquer their anxiety and make that leap into going to school. I enjoyed reading about Carlos, his mother, and his new teacher with the giant hat! Janet Lawler is spot on with this lovely, colorful book.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Janet! Don’t forget, everyone, to help Janet celebrate her delayed book birthday on Tuesday, July 28, at 10 AM (Connecticut time). See more info below and mark your calendar.

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Without further delay, here’s Janet!

Welcome, Janet! Tell us a little about yourself.

I started writing picture books as a second career after practicing law for more than a decade. Both careers require that you communicate clearly and simply. But writing for children is a joyful passion that gives me deep satisfaction and peace. I love how words make music, and I marvel at the way illustrators add detail and layers to my stories. Each book is a new adventure! I have had over twenty-five books published and have several more in the pipeline.

What was your inspiration for KINDERGARTEN HAT?

My son and daughter had the same terrific kindergarten teacher, 9 years apart, at our neighborhood grammar school. Judy Baccei always wore a huge flowered hat on the first day, so her students could find her easily. That hat inspired my story.

What was the writing journey you took as you wrote this book?

 My writing journey for this story started over thirteen years ago! I went through many revisions before starting to submit the story to various publishers. I did some submissions on my own and more than once put the manuscript in the “back drawer” as I worked on other stories.

Mirabel’s Missing Valentines was acquired by Brett Duquette at Sterling in 2017. Brett and I really connected throughout the editing process. So I asked my agent to submit KINDERGARTEN HAT to Brett after he’d moved to Little Bee. After one round of pre-acquisition editing, to add depth to Carlos’s emotional journey, the manuscript was acquired. Thereafter, I did another round of revisions, as well as several additional “tweaks” to get the story just right.

Everything is different right now with COVID-19, but how did you celebrate the book birthday of KINDERGARTEN HAT?

The pandemic certainly changed my plans for promoting this book! I had planned for a large launch event on May 30th that was canceled. I did a book birthday posting on my Facebook page, and both my publisher and my agency spread the word via Twitter and Instagram. I e-mailed and messaged indie bookstores and friends, fans, and family all over the country. I have recorded a virtual story time that will post live on the Kids Place of the Farmington CT Public Library on Tuesday, July 28 at 10 a.m. That will be my delayed “book birthday” launch! Anyone can visit that day or thereafter, to hear more detail about the book and listen to my full reading of the story. https://www.facebook.com/flkidsplace/

Surprise us! What else would you like to share?

I have had a 2nd book released this summer—Good Night, Little Engine. , The classic tale by Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could, celebrates its 90th Anniversary in 2020!  Grosset & Dunlap asked me to write a rhyming bedtime story as part of the celebration. Good Night, Little Engine is beautifully illustrated by Jill Howarth. I hope that both KINDERGARTEN HAT and Good Night, Little Engine will help comfort and encourage kids during uncertain times.

Congratulations, Janet! I look forward to reading more of your books!

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Amazon Blurb:

A practically perfect first-experience story, especially for anxious hearts and gentle spirits.” Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Carlos Abredo is scared to start kindergarten, but a special teacher with an amazing hat helps give him the confidence to start the school year with a smile.

Carlos Abredo loves building forts, playing soccer, vrooming cars, and gardening. But after moving to a new town, he’s nervous to start his first day of kindergarten. What if the bus gets lost? What if he can’t make friends? What if he can’t find his teacher?! Starting school can be intimidating for anyone, but when you’re also the new kid, it can be downright scary.

When Carlos gets a letter from his new teacher, he starts to feel a little better. He picks out a gift for her, and after a much-needed hug from Mom, he sets off for his first day. But when his present is accidentally ruined, will Carlos be able to salvage his first day of school?

From Janet:

Carlos is new to town and his anxieties grow as he prepares for the first day of school and travels on the bus with a special flower for his teacher’s hat. This floral take on the starting-school theme was inspired by Janet’s son and daughter’s wonderful kindergarten teacher. She always wore a huge flowered hat on the first day, so that kids coming off the buses could find her.
It is likely that little ones starting school this fall following the corona virus crisis may be struggling with messy feelings and worries. Hopefully, the humor and heart of KINDERGARTEN HAT will make them feel less alone and help each of them start their first day with a great big kindergarten smile.


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The Stage of WHY: Preschoolers Rock

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As a preschool educator, I would like to suggest two new developmental stages.

  1. The Stage of Why.
  2. The Stage of “Actually”

1. The Stage of Why. My 3-year-old grandson is solidly in this stage, as evidenced by lengthy ‘why’ infested conversations during our daily commutes. Today, after being unable to even count HOW MANY whys were tossed willy-nilly towards me from the back seat, I turned the tables and rephrased his questions into ‘whys’ for him. To which he replied with the actual answers to some of my lobs.

Why? Why? Why? I love answering questions and explaining things we see and do (teacher!), but sometimes, I may be close to my limit of whys. Gage is on the verge of being out of this stage, but since we are taking a pit stop in the WHY questioning period, my game of counting whys and popping the questions back to him might just keep me sane.

2. The Stage of Actually. This word, used correctly in context by the younger preschool crowd, cracks me up. It usually shows up when preschoolers are able to grasp the abstractness of this word and how they’ve heard others use it. AND they can get out that many syllables, be understood, and make sense. Actually has been visiting this 3-year-old and his conversations. Waiting for the 2-year-old to pick up on it.

Preschoolers. They ROCK. Life is enriched with their preschool-ness.

What other new developmental stages would you like to add?

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Visual Learner? That’s Me

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It has recently come to my attention that I have strong tendencies towards being a visual learner. I think visually and that impacts the things I do and how I do them.

Take for instance, my desire to learn French. This is what initially made me consider my bent towards visual learning. I love the French language. I adore seeing text – signs, words, symbols, and books in French. But hearing is a part of language learning, and I realized I can’t really hear what is being said and understand the different words. I kept thinking to myself If only I could SEE the words, I’d be able to comprehend what was being said.

Visual learner, yes I am.

Another example that points towards my tendency to acquire knowledge through visual means or to impart something visually is the way I plan for teaching. In my classroom, my displays – bulletin boards, posters, learning centers, student work, general decor – are of the utmost importance. I can’t rest until the room is visually arranged and attractive.

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Some other habits I’ve noticed:

~ In the teaching plans I write, I nearly always include suggestions for visual impact – displays, table decor, posters, signs, and room arrangement. Rarely do I include hearing-only activities. Good thing to notice right? Now I can make sure to suggest activities that lean towards the hearing and doing types of learning.

~ Photographs. I love taking photos of everything thing I do and every place I go. These photos become a visual diary of my pursuits.

~ Instagram. I love this app! Pictures and text inform and delight my visual brain.

~Pinterest. Same reason. Pictures and visual clues. I don’t often read the original post or seek out the origins of the image. I glean by reading the pictures, and my imagination goes from there.

~ Reading. I LOVE reading, and reading requires visual skills. I’d be happy if I could live in front of a fireplace sipping hot cocoa and reading a great book while snow piled up against the eaves.

The visual learning list goes on.

Do you think you are a visual learner? Check out this post I found that lists 10 Characteristics of Visual Learners here. I’d say I nailed it!

Of the learning styles, which are you? Visual, auditory, kinesthetic? I’d love to hear. I mean, see your name and comment in print. Wink, wink.

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Hoping for spring flowers. But first, the snow must melt.