Two Debut Interview – Lori Richmond

 

In today’s Picture the Books Two Debut Interview, debut author Camille Andros discusses PAX AND BLUE with debut author/illustrator Lori Richmond.

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PAX AND BLUE is illustrator Lori Richmond’s authorial debut (Simon and Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, Fall 2017). Pax is the littlest everywhere he goes. In school. At playtime. On the train. Then Pax meets a pigeon at the park—he names him Blue and makes a friend who knows what it’s like to be small. And understanding each other can lead to the best friendships. You can purchase Pax and Blue now, or ask for it at your favorite bookseller.

 

CAMILLE: Hi, Lori!  I thought we could take a page out of Cece Bell and Lauren Castillo’s pro book and have a conversation like they did on Phil and Erin Stead’s Number Five Bus blog.

Which brings up several of my favorite things…Cece Bell, Lauren, and the Stead’s. It doesn’t get much better than those four, does it? You are lucky enough to know Lauren right? When did you guys meet?

 

LORI: Yes! Lauren was a former student of my husband’s at School of Visual Arts MFA program. But the first time she and I personally connected was at her reading of CITY CAT at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. 

CAMILLE: Ahhh…the Brooklyn connection. Nice! CITY CAT is adorable. It reminds me a bit of YOUR darling new book PAX AND BLUE!

Do you have favorite authors and/or illustrators that inspire you and your work or PAX AND BLUE specifically?

LORI:  I know, Brooklyn is everywhere, especially in kid lit. I absolutely love Bernard Waber’s LYLE, LYLE CROCODILE. Lyle is this big green thing on every page that stands out against all the neutral backgrounds. I wanted PAX AND BLUE to be a modern version of this. Since the story is about the emotional connection between two friends, I wanted them to really stand out on every page and have their surroundings recede. The background people and environments all visually blend together in the same shade of purple-y gray to allow the eye to go right to Pax and Blue. Was that answer too long?

 

CAMILLE: Not at all. I love it! I love to hear the process/reasoning behind the story and the art. I’m not an illustrator but the art has always been my favorite part of picture books. I love LYLE, LYLE CROCODILE and I love how you incorporated the elements you loved from it into PAX AND BLUE.

Do you remember CRICTOR by Tommi Ungerer? I remember staring at those pictures for what seemed like hours. I was fascinated by the idea of a friendly helpful snake.

How does your process work? Do you come up with the story first and then art or does an image come to you that you create a story around?

LORI:  The story always comes first. Even if the full narrative isn’t there, there is some idea or basic outline in place before I begin drawing. I admire those artists who live with characters for years in their sketchbook and have a lightning strike. That never, ever happens to me. It’s usually not even raining. Writing is hard.

CAMILLE:  I think so too. The only time I’ve ever had a lightning strike was when I was a senior in high school and I hadn’t finished an AP English assignment to write a Thanksgiving poem. My subconscious must have worked on it all night because I woke up early the next morning and wrote the weirdest, wackiest, poem in about one minute flat about decapitating a Thanksgiving Turkey. My teacher read it to every class, and I was so proud. I wish I knew what happened to that poem.

Someone asked me this question once and I thought it was interesting. If you could take credit for writing/illustrating one picture book already out there, which one would it be and why?

LORI:  Fun question! I really love THE CARROT SEED by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson. It is deceptively simple with spare text and simple drawings of figures without environments. But the message of never giving up on what you believe in is so universal and timeless.

CAMILLE:  Yes! It’s the deceptively simple books that are some of the best. I could go back and forth picking your brilliant brain like this every day, but I should let you get back to creating beautiful books.

I’ll leave you with this one last question. If you could tell anything to your six-year old self what would you say?

LORI: “Lori, when you are in 5th grade, you will win the school spelling bee on the word ‘bivouac.’ This will happen after a several-round final battle against a kid named Billy. It will be an incredible triumph that you will continue to share with people when you’re 40.”

CAMILLE:  I can’t think of a better note to end on. Thanks Lori!

Now, everyone should go check out PAX AND BLUE available wherever books are sold!

richmondloriframeLori Richmond is a corporate creative director turned picture book author-illustrator. Her first solo book, Pax and Blue (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books), released February 2017. Her second solo book, Bunny’s Staycation (Scholastic), will debut in 2018. Lori is also the illustrator of A Hop is Up! (Bloomsbury) and two more books coming in 2018. As a former contributing editor and media spokesperson for pregnancy and parenting brand, The Bump, Lori has appeared as a sought-after expert on all things baby on TODAY, Good Morning America, CNN, and more. She lives and creates with her family in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more about Lori at www.LoriDraws.com and on Twitter @loririchmond

 

androscamilleframeCamille Andros is the author of Charlotte the Scientist is Squished, her picture book debut, illustrated by Brianne Farley (HMHKids/Clarion, March 2017). She loves asking questions and won first place in the school science fair when she was in Kindergarten. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband and six children who know a little something about being squished. Visit Camille online at www.camilleandros.com on Twitter @camdros, and Instagram @camilleandros.

 

Stay up-to-date with all the Picture the Books debuts, news, and interviews on Twitter at @picturethebooks, on Instagram @picturethebooks and by becoming a follower of our website/blog using the Follow button on this page!

Two Debut Interview – Michelle Schaub

In today’s Picture the Books Two Debut Interview, debut author Julie Segal Walters discusses FRESH-PICKED POETRY: A DAY AT THE FARMERS’ MARKET with debut author Michelle Schaub.

FRESH-PICKED POETRY: A DAY AT THE FARMERS’ MARKET hit the shelves just in time to join all the spring flowers, fruits, and veggies that will soon start popping up at local farmers’ markets! Michelle’s book follows the adventures of two new friends and their canine companions as they discover how much there is to love at the market. Through eighteen lively poems in a variety of formats, and gorgeous illustrations from Amy Huntington, the farmers’ market experience comes alive! The only thing missing is the crunch of a fresh, juicy apple!

 

JSW: Hi Michelle! Since today is the first day of spring, let’s start our conversation with some ice breaker questions. (Ha! See what I did there?!) If you could choose to live in the world of any picture book, which world would it be and why?

MS: I’d definitely move into Toad’s cottage in Frog and Toad are Friends.  Arnold Lobel is my all-time favorite author-illustrator. His drawings are so cozy and nostalgic. I’d cuddle up by Toad’s fireplace with a cup of tea, a plate of cookies, and a good book.

JSW: I’d happily join you there for tea! Speaking of cuddling, in your book, there are a lot of pets. Can you tell us about any pets you had growing up.

MS: I was thrilled that Amy Huntington included dogs in her drawings because I’ve always had dogs as pets. My first dog ever was a big ol’ mutt named Sam. Sam was one bad dog. He loved jailbreaking whenever possible and helping himself to T-bone steaks defrosting on the counter.  Sam drove my mom crazy, but we loved that naughty pup.

JSW: Ah! They’re the illustrator’s creative vision! Cool! The first line of your book places us immediately in your story’s market. What’s your favorite first line of a book? (Any genre.)

MS: “Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.”  Can’t you just picture poor Winnie-the-Pooh contentedly taking his licks, happy to be in the hands of his boy? The quintessential example of loyalty and love. 

JSW: Beautiful. For our last ice breaker question, if you could have written any other published picture book, which one would you choose?

MS: The Lorax.  Not just because Dr. Seuss was brilliant. The Lorax was one of the first picture books to bring eco-consciousness to children and empower them to “speak for the trees.”  It strikes the perfect balance between entertainment and environmental awareness, something I strive to do in my own books.

JSW: Thanks for letting us get to know you a little better, Michelle! Now I’d like to ask you some questions about your book. Can you tell us a bit about how you began writing poetry?

MS: Growing up, my brother and I would play for hours on the swings in our yard. As we swung back and forth, back and forth, we’d make up silly songs to the rhythm of our motion. I think this is where I developed my sense of cadence.  In high school and college, my poetry turned serious and angst-filled, as I thought “legitimate” poetry should.  When I had my own children, I returned to the world of nursery rhymes and lullabies and rediscovered the playful heart of poetry. I’ve been having fun playing ever since!

JSW: Your book reminds me a lot of one of our family’s favorites, FIRST FOOD FIGHT THIS FALL by Marilyn Singer. In both books, your poetry tells the story and includes a full story arc — both in the individual poems, as well as the compilation of poems that forms the book. That seems so hard to me! Can you talk about how you tackled that challenge?

MS: I’m beaming because you included me and Marilyn Singer in the same sentence. She is one of my poetry heroes! Her word acrobatics leave me breathless.  Let me catch my breath and try to answer your question.

I tend to approach every poem I write as a micro-story, each with its own introduction, exposition, and (hopefully) surprise twist at the end. Even something as simple as haiku naturally falls into these three beats in my mind.  So, to me, finding the arc within a poem is easy.

Finding the story arc across a poetry collection?  Now that’s more of a challenge.  When I started writing Fresh-Picked Poetry, I envisioned a collection that celebrated an entire year at a farmers’ market.  I wrote haiku about spring asparagus, list poems about early summer strawberries, free verse about colorful Autumn flowers, dialogue poems about winter squash. Besides moving through the year seasonally, the collection didn’t have much of an arc. My brilliant editor at Charlesbridge, Karen Boss, suggested I narrow the focus to one summer day at the market. She challenged me to tell the story of a child visiting a summer market and discovering its wonders.  This meant cutting almost half of the poems I’d written and coming up with new ones. I’ll admit it was hard parting with my asparagus and strawberries, but in the end, the collection tells a much better story.

JSW: Wow! That’s incredible. Now I need to catch MY breath!

For our last question, will you share what you hope kids experience, feel, or learn from reading your book?

MS: I hope Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Market envelops kids in a full sensory experience, engaging them in the wonderful sights, sounds, smells, and especially tastes of a farmers’ market.  Along with a taste for fresh, local produce, I hope the collection whets readers’ appetites for poetry.  After all, words are delicious!

JSW: As you have just shown, indeed they are!

Thank you and congratulations again on your debut picture book, Michelle! It’s a delight!

Michelle Schaub is a children’s author, poet, and teacher.  Her work appears in the anthologies And The Crowd Grows Wild:  A Global Gathering of Sports Poetry and The Poetry Anthology for Celebrations.  Her first picture book, Fresh-Picked Poetry:  A Day at the Farmers’ Market (Charlesbridge) debuts in March 2017. Michelle teaches middle school language arts at The Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, Illinois, where she shares her love of poetry with her students.  When she’s not teaching and writing, Michelle loves hiking, biking, and exploring farmers’ markets. Learn more about Michelle at www.michelleschaub.com or on Facebook.

You can buy Fresh-Picked Poetry:  A Day at the Farmers’ Market on Amazon here!

Julie Segal Walters is a children’s book author who lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, son, and pesky cat. Before writing for children, Julie was a lawyer and advocate for civil rights and civil liberties, and an international democracy and civil society development specialist. These days, Julie can be found advocating for her many favorite children’s books to anyone who will listen. Julie is fluent in Spanish, and loves to cook, but not bake. She thinks baking has too many rules. THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK is her first picture book (illustrated by Brian Biggs) (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, Oct. 17, 2017). Visit Julie online at www.juliesegalwalters.com or on Facebook, Twitter @j_s_dub, or Instagram @juliesegalwalters.

You can buy signed copies of THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK here, or on Amazon here!

 

Stay up-to-date with all the Picture the Books debuts, news, and interviews on Twitter at @picturethebooks, on Instagram @picturethebooks and by becoming a follower of our website/blog using the Follow button on this page!

A Two Debut Interview – Camille Andros

One of biggest perks of membership in Picture the Books has been getting to know one another. Bonding with fellow picture book authors and illustrators has been so much fun – and may be one of the few things keeping us all sane as our debut book release dates approach!

We want to share the fun with all of you, so we’re starting a series of Two Debut Interviews in which team members interview one another. For our first in the series, Anna Forrester chats with Camille Andros.

Camille Andros’s debut, CHARLOTTE THE SCIENTIST IS Charlotte the ScientistSQUISHED, releases next week on March 14 (illustrated by Brianne Farley; HMHKids/Clarion). Charlotte is a serious scientist who solves important problems using the scientific method. In CHARLOTTE THE SCIENTIST IS SQUISHED she tries to solve the problem of not having enough space to conduct her experiments and being squished by her many brothers and sisters (she is a rabbit, after all). This funny, satisfying story is a playful introduction to the scientific method and perfect for sparking an interest in STEM subjects.

AF: I can’t wait to talk about CHARLOTTE THE SCIENTIST IS SQUISHED — but for starters, how about some quick ice breaker questions… If you could choose to live in the world of any picture book, which world would it be – and why?

CA: THE LITTLE HOUSE by Virginia Lee Burton. I love the idea of living simply out in the country where it is peaceful and quiet….but I think I’d like to keep a penthouse in NYC too;)

AF: You get to pick a pen name – what is it?

CA: Hmmm, maybe some cool ambiguous initials with a famous scientific sounding last name…

AF: If you could take credit for ANY other published PB out there, which one would you choose? 

CA: This is hard. There are so many wonderful picture books. THE LITTLE HOUSE would be at the top of the list. It’s the book that made me want to write my own.

AF: How many siblings do you have and where do you fall in the birth order – and did it matter?

CA: I am the oldest of seven kids. I think Charlotte is a bit of an autobiography in that sense 😉

AF: Tell me about the pet/s you had growing up.

CA: No pets, but when I was eight years old I did catch and keep a tarantula in a big mason jar from the vacant lot next door to my house, but when my dad had to go out of town on business, my mom made me get rid of it.

AF: And… what’s the funnest or funniest job you’ve had, besides author/illustrator?

CA: I once scrubbed cheese vats at a dairy when I was in college.

AF: You had a brush with arachnology in the form of that tarantula, and with microbiology in the form of cheese cultures. But that happened a long time ago! How did you get the idea for a book about the scientific method?

CA: The idea evolved over time and many revisions, but I always loved the idea of showing a kid (or bunny 😉 who loves science and makes it look fun and interesting. I want the kids who read CHARLOTTE to be able to see themselves as scientists and know that being a scientist can look like a lot of different things.

AF: On your website you mention that you were one of seven kids and now have six of your own! You probably don’t have a re-purposed, carrot-like rocket ship writing studio in YOUR back yard — how DO you find the space and time to write?

CA: I sneak it in when I can. For a long time it meant lots of early mornings and late nights and that still happens too, but now almost all the kids are in school and my youngest is in preschool for half days now, so I try and be as productive as I can during those short preschool hours.

AF: Brianne Farley’s illustrations for CHARLOTTE do such a great job of keeping Charlotte’s scientific work warm and homey. What grabbed you most when you first saw the illustrations? 

CA: Brianne did an incredible job bringing Charlotte and her huge bunny family to life. I love all the little details she adds like the portraits of famous scientists on the walls. The end papers are amazing and filled with such fun details  – I can stare at those for a LONG time -and I love how each bunny in the family has a distinct personality that plays out through the book.

AF: It’s a delightful book, Camille – and is sure to inspire budding scientists of both the human and bunny variety. Congratulations!

Stay up-to-date with all the Picture the Books debuts, news, and interviews on Twitter @picturethebooks, on Instagram @picturethebooks and by becoming a follower of our website/blog using the Follow button on this page! 

Camille Andros HeadshotCamille Andros loves asking questions and won first place in the school science fair when she was in Kindergarten. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband and six children who know a little something about being squished. Visit Camille online at www.camilleandros.com on Twitter @camdros, and Instagram @camilleandros.

Pre-order CHARLOTTE here! 

Anna Forrester’s debut, BAT COUNT, illustrated by Susan Detwiler (Arbordale) released in February 2017. BAT COUNT features bats, citizen science and Jojo — another STEM-savvy girl.

Dedicated to Dedications

by Peter McCleery

For an author, choosing your dedication is one of the most satisfying milestones of being published. It’s the moment when you get to thank that special someone who helped make it all possible. And for a first time author it’s even more special. You’ll never have a first dedication ever again.

Have you ever wondered about the stories behind the dedications in your favorite books? In today’s post, a few Picture the Books authors share their stories about who they chose and why.

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Annie Silvestro’s book BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, illustrated by Tatiana Mai-Wyss, will be released by Doubleday Books for Young Readers on February 7th.

Annie dedicated her book to three people!

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Bunny loves books, so I dedicated the story to my husband, Joe, who collects art books and built a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf to contain them. 

Also, to our son Sam, who sets new records for books checked out each time we go to the library, and who is never, ever, without one.

And finally, to our son Charlie, another avid book-lover who especially adores being read to while cuddling (which I also adore).

I love these three bookworms most in the world! They help, encourage, and inspire me in countless ways every day. I will be forever grateful!
pax-and-blue-cover

PAX AND BLUE is Lori Richmond’s debut as both author and illustrator. It releases on February 7th from Paulpax-and-blue-dedicationa Wiseman Books/S&S.

Her dedication story involves some serious crying in public.

When I received the email from my editor that she needed my dedication for PAX AND BLUE, I was spending the hour before a parent-teacher conference working in the café at Whole Foods, a supermarket near my sons’ school. I thought about how I could possibly express what I wanted to say to my boys in just a line or two of text, and how incredibly special it was that my first book would be for them. Soon, I had full-on tears rolling down my cheeks, I was blowing my nose, my eyes wepax-and-blue-picre turning all red and puffy… total mess. I got some serious side-eye from the woman sitting next to me, who was just trying to enjoy her morning coffee and muffin in peace.

 

 

 

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Michelle Schaub’s debut, FRESH-PICKED POETRY: A DAY AT THE FARMERS’ MARKET, illustrated by Amy Huntington, is being published on March 14th by Charlesbridge.

Her dedication story sounds delicious.

fresh-picked-dedicationI have been exploring farmers’ markets with my three children since I was pushing them from vendor to vendor in strollers. (My youngest is now 14!) Many of the poems in Fresh-Picked were inspired by adventures I’ve had with my children at various markets around the country, so dedicating the book to them was a natural choice.

 

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Peter McCleery’s first book, BOB AND JOSS GET LOST!, illustrated by Vin Vogel, releases February 28th  from HarperCollins.

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His dedication is, um, well, we’ll let him explain.

I dedicated this book to my wife Stephanie. No, she is not a marmot. “Nice marmot” is a line from the movie The Big Lebowski which we watched on our first date. My wife is the reason I am able to write at all. She supports me in countless ways, but mostly by never mentioning how annoying it is to be married to someone who writes children’s books. She doesn’t complain about the lack of income, the hours spent away from family, or how I relentlessly talk about children’s books. She just lets me do it. How awesome is that?

cowbell-cover

Heather Preusser’s debut picture book, A SYMPHONY OF COWBELLS, illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen, releases on March 15th by Sleeping Bear Press.

Heather’s dedication is a behind-the-scenes look at how she was inspired.

I’m dedicating this book to my husband, Jan, and my sister-in-law, Wiebke. Wiebke’s adventures on a Swiss dairy farm inspired my story. She too encountered a stubborn cow who, similar to Elfi, refused to parade to the high meadows when her big, booming bell was traded for a tiny one that merely tinkled.

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Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan’s first picture book, MRS. MCBEE LEAVES ROOM 3, illustrated by Grace Zong, is being by published by Peachtree on April 1.

Gretchen’s dedication is what dedications are all about. A touching tribute to someone special.

“To Susan Champion, who left us all too soon”

The impact of teachers leaving a class or school can shake a child’s world. I wrote my debut picture book MRS. MCBEE LEAVES ROOM 3 when my school district was experiencing growing pains with the impending opening of a new school, and children and teachers alike were uncertain where they would end up in the fall. At the same time, a dear friend and fellow teacher had already said good-bye to her class. She was losing her final battle with breast cancer. Telling Susan that I was dedicating my first book to her was the last gift I gave her. 

We hope you enjoyed getting to know the very special stories behind these dedications. Check out our BOOKS and CREATORS pages for even more insider information on 2017 debut picture books. And don’t forget to follow us here and on Twitter and IG @picturethebooks! We’ll be sharing lots of excitement all year long.

Picture the Books Launch Week Giveaway

 

THE RAFFLECOPTER IS NOW CLOSED! THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!

Prize winners will be announced soon. 

We are so thrilled to be launching Picture the Books site, and we want to spread the excitement and anticipation we feel when we think about our upcoming picture books. It’s a special time for all of us, and we’ve got some special gifts for all of you!

Please, take a few minutes to explore the Picture the Books site, to follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and to get to know our amazing members and their books. If you’re a teacher, librarian, or bookseller, we’d love your thoughts on the resources you are most likely to use, so we can support your work with the people who matter most – the readers!

And to thank you for taking the time to get to know us, we’ve got some amazing prizes.

Please complete the Rafflecopter  to enter. You could win a Skype visit with one of our fabulous authors or illustrators, signed art from an upcoming picture book, or the grand prize: a year of signed debut picture books!*

Prizes include:

30 min Skype visits with: Chana Stiefel, Emma Otheguy, Carter Higgins, Julie Segal-Walters, Katey Howes, Anna Forrester, Lori Richmond, Patricia Toht, Joy Keller

Signed art from Erica Sirotich’s Found Dogs

A year* of signed debut picture books from Picture the Books members.

*Due to the unpredictability of the publishing industry, books may not arrive one per calendar month, but winner is guaranteed a minimum of twelve signed books between February 2017 and February 2018.