In The Classroom with THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK (plus a Giveaway!)

It may not be normal but THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK is a hilarious read-aloud that can also be used in fun lessons about language arts, science, and social-emotional discussions about collaboration and compromise.

THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK begins as a stroll through the common, every day, normal animals – mammal, bird, amphibian, insect, reptile, and fish. The story quickly evolves, however, into a meta-fiction disagreement between the author and illustrator over how to draw the animals. The author wants simple, normal animal drawings. The illustrator, however, is confused and makes a bit of a mess. The conflict reaches its peak when the illustrator refuses to draw the author’s choice of fish. Granted, the blobfish is an unusual choice of fish.

With the below activities, kids will laugh while learning! Here are a few fun ways to use the book in your classrooms:

The Magic of Voice

THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK is a book in two voices – the author and the illustrator. Before reading the book aloud, ask the kids to create the book characters so they can act out the story. They can draw pictures of an author and an illustrator and glue them onto craft sticks, or make puppets out of socks or paper lunch bags, or bring in stuffed animals to represent the two different characters. Anything works! Have fun as the kids join in on the storytelling with their “characters!” For older readers, you can take the dramatic read-aloud to the next level by discussing the personality traits of each character as reflected in their dialog.

What Kind of Animal is That?

Different animal classes have different characteristics. Use the back matter in THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK to brainstorm animals in each category and then play animal charades! The kids can play individually or in teams and act out different animals while others guess the animal and its classification!

Collaboration and Compromise

In THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK, the author and illustrator don’t agree on how the animals should be presented. In the classroom, you can reenact this author-illustrator dynamic by having the kids write a short story with the plan that it will be illustrated. Then, ask them to illustrate someone else’s story! Discuss the challenges and benefits of relinquishing control over the art. Reflect on any conflicts or compromises that were encountered along the way, and how they were resolved. Some qualities that make for good collaboration include: Listen to the other person; when you disagree with someone’s opinion, disagree with the idea, not the person (respect one another); and, allow for compromise if there is a disagreement.

For complete standards-aligned lesson plans for grades PreK-6, visit http://juliesegalwalters.com/index.php/2017/10/31/teachers-guides-are-available/!

 Julie Segal-Walters is the author of THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, son, and pesky cat. Before becoming a writer, Julie was the president and founder of Civic Action Strategies, a grassroots organizing and democracy development consulting firm. She worked in Kosovo, where she directed citizen engagement programs for U.S. and European organizations.

You can find more information about Julie on her website or on Twitter.

GIVEAWAY TIME! Click HERE to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway of a FREE classroom Skype visit (+book swag for the students)!

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BEAR AND CHICKEN with a bowl of warm soup

BearAndChickenBEAR AND CHICKEN is celebrating its book birthday this month! It is about a bear who finds a chicken frozen in the snow, and brings it home to try to defrost it. As Chicken wakes up, she fears that Bear is actually prepping to eat him. It is a friendship tale that teaches kids things are not always as they seem, while learning a thing or two about making soup with a friend.

The simple compositions will show well in a group setting for storytime.  The character designs are simple enough to empower kids to draw their very own Bear. Through a free downloadable how-to draw Bear worksheet, kids can get step by step instructions on how to create Bear through simple shapes. 

Follow it up with a bear mask craft, where readers can draw in their own funny ingredients for Bear’s soup. The free activity kit can be found at http://www.chickengirldesign.com/bearandchicken

RecipeCards

Enjoy a bowl of warm soup after reading BEAR AND CHICKEN. Bear’s vegetable soup recipe is included in the book and easy to make. A big pot of Bear’s soup can warm the tummies of the whole classroom or at home.

BEAR AND CHICKEN Giveaway!

Win a copy of BEAR AND CHICKEN with a special limited edition cover plus a class set of recipe cards featuring Bear’s Vegetable Soup! Click here for the Rafflecopter giveaway
JannieHo_photoJannie Ho is a children’s book illustrator and writer who loves to create stories in anthropomorphic animal worlds. She worked as a graphic designer and art director at many fun places such as Nickelodeon and Scholastic before illustrating full time. Her artwork appears in books, magazines, toys, crafts and digital media. Jannie’s debut picture book as author/illustrator, BEAR AND CHICKEN, is out this month from Running Press Kids/Perseus Books. www.JannieHo.com

Daddy Depot: The One Stop Storytime Shop!

daddydepotShopping for some storytime activities? We’ve got you covered! In DADDY DEPOT, Lizzie loves her dad, but he gets distracted by football, tells embarrassing jokes, and snores during snuggle time! So…Lizzie returns him to the Daddy Depot, a megastore filled to the rafters with dads up for grabs! Will Lizzie find the perfect dad? Join this shopping adventure, which shines the spotlight on imperfect parents and unconditional love. Enjoy these fun activities for a real bargain deal (plus a giveaway)!

ACT IT OUT!

Ask three volunteers to dress up as Rocker Dad, Chef Dad, and Astro Dad. For suggested props, use a toy guitar, a chef’s hat and an astronaut helmet (or a motorcycle helmet covered in tin foil). While you read DADDY DEPOT, invite the actors to join you in saying their character’s lines. Rocker Dad can sing: “You can’t always get what you want!” I always get lots of giggles with Chef Dad’s, “Try zis! It’s pate pescorino bleu!” Bring it home with everyone doing a “funky chicken touchdown dance.”

JOB SWAP

ties_spreadAs DADDY DEPOT advertises: “From Acrobats to Zookeepers, we have the perfect dad for you!” Show the kids the “dad party” spread. Ask them to choose their favorite dad. For older kids, have them name all the jobs they see from A to Z. List them in ABC order.

COMMUNITY HELPERS

On the dad party spread, ask kids to name the community helpers that they see: policeman, firefighter, doctor, soldier, etc. Ask if they know anyone who has these jobs and how they help people. Write thank you notes or decorate cupcakes and deliver them to the helpers in your community. Be sure to thank your own dads, granddads, or other great guys for the jobs they do!

TIE IT UP

pinthetiePrint out the tie template below. Cut out a tie for each child. Ask kids to draw a picture describing one or more features of their dad or other dad they know (e.g., a fisherman gets a tie covered in colorful fish). Use the ties to make bookmarks. As an extension, make a poster-size drawing of Lizzie’s dad and have the children play “Pin the Goofy Tie on Dad!”

Tie Template

GIVEAWAY

Chana is giving away a signed copy of DADDY DEPOT and a classroom set of bookmarks and “Lifetime Guarantee” tattoos. Click here for the Rafflecopter link.

AUTHOR BIO

stiefelchanaframeChana Stiefel is the author of more than 20 nonfiction books for kids about exploding volcanoes, stinky castles, and other fun stuff. DADDY DEPOT is her debut picture book. While she would never return her father—or her husband—to the daddy store (she likes their corny jokes too much), she worries that her kids will return her to the Mommy Market. Visit

Chana at www.chanastiefel.com and her authors’ blog http://www.kidlittakeaways.com.

Making Connections with A BOOK OF BRIDGES: HERE TO THERE AND ME TO YOU

Here To There Cover PublicitiyA BOOK OF BRIDGES: HERE TO THERE AND ME TO YOU explores more than just the bridge as a structure connecting one place to another. It explores how we connect as human beings.  

In A BOOK OF BRIDGES, one layer of text gives simple descriptions of bridges for the youngest listeners while another layer provides facts on the bridges for the older reader. Combining the layers provides a bridge between reading and listening together in a story time setting.

Here are a few other ways to help kids learn more about bridges and making connections.

Connecting to Bridges

Make a bridge from popsicle sticks, paper plates, or marshmallows. Find a picture of a local bridge as a model.  Here are a few examples:

http://www.ehow.com/how_8532586_build-marshmallow-bridge.html

https://www.danyabanya.com/sydney-harbour-bridge-craft/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/564146290793837409/

Connecting to Geography

Use a map or globe to locate the book’s bridges.

Go exploring. Take a drive with your family around your neighborhood and see how many bridges you can spot.  Turn it into a game.  Whoever spots the most bridges wins!

Connecting to Pictures

Look closer at the pictures in the book. What people, places, and things are the bridges in the book connecting? Make up your own story. Where do you think they are going? What do think they are doing? Who do they want to connect to?

Dragonflies flutter about on many of the pages.  How many can you spot?

Author Cheryl Keely and illustrator Celia Krampien love dogs. How many dogs can you spot in the pictures?

Connecting to People

Playing games is fun.  Play the Drawbridge Game with your friends or classmates.  Find the instructions here: https://www.cherylkeely.com/learning-playing

What other types of bridges can you make by working together?

A BOOK OF BRIDGES Giveaway!

cropped 805.2Use this Rafflecopter link to be entered to win a copy of A BOOK OF BRIDGES: HERE TO THERE AND ME TO YOU and up to 50 bookmarks for your classroom.

Cheryl Keely is a children’s book writer who loves to create picture books because they combine her love of learning and love of playing. When not writing, Cheryl volunteers with her dog Dagaz as a pet ambassador team with a local pet therapy organization in her home of Louisville, Ky. One of our favorite visits is to a local elementary school where the children take turns reading to the dogs. Her debut picture book, A BOOK OF BRIDGES: HERE TO THERE AND ME TO YOU, is out now from Sleeping Bear Press

Finding It a Mystery How to Teach Mysteries in the Classroom? WHOBERT Can Help!

Whobert1

WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE has been flying out in the world for about three months now, and one thing I have heard from booksellers and teachers is that they want texts to introduce the mystery genre to young readers. Terms like clue, evidence, eyewitness and culprit can be difficult to explain, especially considering that the genre can seem a little dark. Here’s where Whobert can swoop in and help!

WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE features classic mystery terms but with a fun and light-hearted twist: Whobert is a bit of a dunce detective, so kids are picking up on the real clues while Whobert misinterprets them in his quest to determine what happened to Perry the Possum. This makes young readers themselves the detectives, allowing the meaning behind mystery terminology to hit home as they correctly identify the evidence through textual and visual cues. Plus, kids get to laugh along the way as Whobert’s misinterpretations get more and more dramatic and their own sleuthing skills get sharpened!

Whobert2Thanks to the help of Kirsten Cappy and Curious City, Whobert can help kids take their newfound detective intelligence outside of the book and into the classroom. Through a free downloadable and printable Story Hour Kit at WhobertWhover.com, readers can put together their own detective notebook and start solving mysteries teachers and librarians create using character cards in the kit. In no time your classroom can be full of future Sherlocks!

WHOBERT Giveaway!

Enter to win a copy of WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE! using this Rafflecopter giveaway

JasonG


Jason Gallaher is a children’s book writer who loves to create stories that mix the flamboyant and wacky with the slightly dark. When not writing, Jason zips about Austin, Texas. He loves dinosaurs, unicorns, merpeople and Anjelica Huston. His debut picture book, WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, is out now from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster.

Fresh-Picked Poetry: Bite-Sized Activities for Busy Schedules

fresh picked
Looking for ways to squeeze read-aloud time into a busy schedule?  Want to promote healthy eating along with healthy reading? Pick up a copy of Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market, a collection of eighteen poems that follow two friends and their canine companions as they explore the wonders of a farmers’ market.  You’ll savor this succinct but scrumptious ways to promote literacy.

Just as fruits and veggies are rich in nutrients, Fresh-Picked Poetry is loaded with nourishing content and brain-boosting vocabulary.  The poems in this collection can be read in bite-sized bits, making it perfect for packed days or easily distracted audiences.  Children are drawn to the natural rhythm of poetry, and the lively poems in Fresh-Picked are sure to please a crowd.

Share the Bounty as Models for Writing and Healthy Eating: 

FPPdelightful bites

In celebrating the plethora of produce at farmers’ markets, Fresh-Picked Poetry offers a bountiful variety of poems. These forms provide great models for writing. After reading “Delightful Bites”, where words take the shape of steam rising off warm-from-the-oven breads, children can write their own shape poems. After enjoying the banter between a green zebra tomato and dinosaur kale in “Wild Dreams in Two Voices,” young writers can try their hand at a two-voice poem. Not only will Fresh-Picked whet children’s appetite for poetry, with its focus on farm-fresh produce, it will reinforce healthy eating as well.

Fresh-Picked Giveaway:  Win a signed copy of Fresh-Picked Poetry accompanied by a class set of signed bookmarks.
FPPveggie tights 2

Michelle Schaub is a children’s author, poet, and teacher. Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market (Charlesbridge 2017) is her debut picture book.  Her poems have also appeared in several anthologies and children’s magazines. Michelle teaches middle school language arts, 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.

For complete standards-aligned lesson plans, story hour kits, and printable activities to accompany Fresh-Picked Poetry, visit http://www.michelleschaub.com/fresh-picked/  

Follow Michelle at @Schaubwrites

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

10 Days of Lessons, Activities, and Giveaways for Teachers and Librarians

NOV_promo

Get ready! Starting November 6th, we are proud to present 10 days of blog posts. Each post will share ways that teachers and librarians can engage their students. Each day will also offer a giveaway. Stay tuned!

Dedicated to Dedications III

Have you ever wondered about the stories behind the dedications in your favorite books?

In this latest addition to our posts about dedications, a few more Picture the Books authors share stories about their dedications. In this rare glimpse behind the scenes, the authors give us insight about who they honored and why.

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Julie Segal-Water’s debut book, THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK, illustrated by Brian Biggs, will be released on October 31, 2017 by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books.

Julie dedicated her book to two very, very supportive people in her life.

normal dedication

I dedicated the book to my husband and son because they are my everything. They both also made considerable contributions to the book — from the inspiration arising from reading to my son, to my husband’s push to attend the conference where I met my editor, to cheering for me ceaselessly, and even to suggesting lines that appear in the book. Further, the word “uncompromising,” has double meaning. It refers to my unyielding love for my family, and signals the book’s central meta-fiction conflict — an author who does not want to compromise with the illustrator on how to draw the animals in the book.

Balloon cover

 

I HAVE A BALLOON is Ariel Bernstein’s debut picture book. Illustrated by Scott Magoon, and published by Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster. It’s in stores now!

Ariel’s dedication is about the two people who inspired the book. Hint: They happen to be very close to her.

balloon dedication

I dedicated my book to my two children because they inspired the story of two characters, an owl and a monkey, who both want a shiny red balloon. My daughter thinks she’s more like Owl and her brother is more like Monkey, which is probably true.

love tri

 

Marcie Colleen’s debut, LOVE, TRIANGLE, illustrated by Bob Shea, was just released on October 3rd from Balzer + Bray.

Marcie’s dedication is to a few of her besties who offered support though the crazy world of children’s publishing.

love triangle dedication

My three bestest girlfriends are fellow writers Kat Yeh, Joyce Wan, and Amber Alvarez. To say that they complete me would be an understatement. We all met through writing conferences and quickly became a foursome, supporting each other with giggles and tears every step of the way. 

When LOVE, TRIANGLE went to auction, Kat and Joyce, with Amber on speaker phone, held vigil with mimosas and much needed “auction watching.” We started to call our group the Love Quadrangle shortly after. 

It was a no-brainer, come dedication time that this book would be for these very special women in my life. The best part was that I kept it a secret until Kat saw the book at Book Expo America and read the dedication. Sometimes making your BFFs cry is a good thing. 🙂

marti cover

Emma Otheguy’s first picture book, MARTI’S SONG FOR FREEDOM, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal is available now.

Her dedication story is both inspiring and in Spanish! 

marti dedicationI dedicated this book to my parents, in Spanish, because they were the people who first shared José Martí and Cuban culture with me. In the dedication, I reference our trips down I-95 to visit family in Miami, and how my parents would always point out the royal palms (palmas reales) that reminded them of Cuba. A hundred years earlier, palmas reales had also been a symbol of longing and love for Cuba to José Martí. 

pick a pine tree cover

Patricia Toht’s latest picture book, PICK A PINE TREE, is illustrated by Jarvis and published by Candlewick.

This book is appropriately dedicated to her favorite holiday helpers.

 

pine tree dedication

This book is dedicated to my four children. Our family is crazy about Christmas celebrations and decorating the tree is always a fun, noisy event. Every year I buy the kids new ornaments, usually signifying a special moment from that year. I put little white tags on the ornaments to specify whose is whose (and avoid arguments), and now our tree looks like it is a salesman’s sampler of ornaments!

9780807509388_Bunnybear

Andrea J. Loney had two picture books published this year. BUNNY BEAR, illustrated by Carmen Saldana (Albert Whitman and Company, January 2017), and TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VANDERZEE, (Lee & Low Books, July 2017), illustrated by Keith Mallett.

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 9.46.49 AM

 

Both are dedicated to special people in her family.

This was my first book dedication and I wasn’t sure who to include — my initial list filled up a whole sheet of paper! But even though my friends and family are scattered across the country, across the world, and even on the other side of the veil, I carry them all in my heart. This dedication was my way of including everyone.

bunnybear dedication

 

vanderzee dedication

 

My maternal grandpa was a classical pianist who toured the music halls of Europe during World War 2, and I grew up in awe of his life-long devotion to elegance and artistry. My paternal granddaddy was a joyful Panamanian party guy with an infectious laugh. He connected with the world through his passion for amateur photography, and everywhere he went in the world people were delighted to befriend him. I am so thrilled that this book blends the sensibilities of both of my beloved grandfathers.

bear and chicken

Jannie Ho wrote and illustrated the upcoming picture book, BEAR AND CHICKEN. It will be published by Running press on November 14, 2017.

Her dedication may not be fully appreciated right now, but it certainly will be later!

bear and chicken dedication

It is for my daughter, who is a picky eater but always loved soup. She is at a picture book reading age and I thought she would appreciate having her name in a printed book. 

found

Erica Sirotich’s debut as author/illustrator is FOUND DOGS, published by Dial Books this past summer.

Erica proves that no one says you’re required to dedicate your books to a human. Erica’s dedication is to the inspiration behind the book!

 

found dogs dedication

 

russell redfurFOUND DOGS is dedicated to my best friend Russell. He’s my thirteen year old terrier. Found Dogs is a counting book about adopting dogs 

from the city shelter and was inspired by his story. Russ was one of those dogs who ended up at an overcrowded animal services facility and had very little time to make it out. On his last day there, he w

as given a second chance by a rescue group. I found Russell a couple weeks later and knew he was the one. Ten years later, he is still the best buddy and studio-mate a girl could ask for. In Found 

Dogs, all the dogs are as lucky as Russ; each one meets his perfect person and goes home. 

 

Two Debut Interview – Ariel Bernstein and Hannah Barnaby

ihaveaballoonIn today’s Picture the Books Two Debut interview, debut author Hannah Barnaby interviews debut author Ariel Bernstein about I HAVE A BALLOON, illustrated by Scott Magoon (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2017)!

 

Hannah Barnaby: Congratulations on your debut, Ariel! What was the initial inspiration for I HAVE A BALLOON and the characters of Monkey and Owl?

Ariel Bernstein: I was at my first SCBWI conference, listening to Laura Vaccaro Seeger talk about her book, GREEN. I started to think of colors and the image of a red balloon popped into my head with the idea of two characters who both wanted it, which was based on a lot of interactions my kids have had when one has a tempting object! When I got home, I went into their rooms and found stuffed animals of an owl and a Curious George doll. I figured an owl and monkey would go together pretty well.

owl and monkey

HB: They certainly do! And I think most kids (and parents!) can relate to that sudden burning desire for something you never knew you wanted. As Monkey says, “The only thing I’ve ever wanted, since right now, is a shiny big red balloon!” Was there something you desperately wanted as a child? (And did you get it?)

AB: For a long time, we didn’t have a television in my house. Luckily my best friend lived across the street and not only did she have a television, but she also had cable. So I was at her house quite a lot! My parents eventually got a television when they realized the value of renting movies.

HB: I bet a lot of kids will be shocked to hear that you survived life in a household with no TV! Now, let’s talk about collaboration. When I talk to people about writing picture books, they’re often surprised to hear that I had very little direct interaction with the illustrators before the book was published. Was that your experience, too? What about afterwards?

AB: I have the good fortune of being paired with Scott Magoon on this book. He’s had an incredible career so far as both an author and illustrator, and I never imagined talking to him about the illustrations while he was working on them because it’s completely in his hands and the editor’s. I’ve gotten to know Scott a bit from touching base during publication and he’s as nice as you’d expect! And it’s been fun to tag each other in our promotion of the book on social media as the pub date gets closer J

My experience with Mike Malbrough, the illustrator for our chapter books, WARREN & DRAGON, has been a little different. I know Mike personally from a local writers group that we’re in, as well as Picture The Books. Because we meet up in person, sometimes I’ve gotten to see some sneak peeks of sketches which is very cool! And I get to hear about the behind the scenes work of what he does. As an author-only it’s really interesting because usually it’s such a mystery.

HB: So you’ve experienced varying degrees of collaboration between your first two books. Writing picture book texts when you aren’t the illustrator comes with some challenges, but it also comes with a lot of fun surprises. When you saw Scott Magoon’s illustrations for BALLOON, were there things you didn’t expect? Was it difficult at all to shift from your vision of the story to his?

AB: The biggest surprise was the lemur character at the very end! It’s such a perfect way to end the story, as it leaves the reader guessing what could happen next. I love all the details that Scott brought to the story from his imagination and how he interpreted the text.

The only adjustment I made was that I imagined reading the story a certain way based on how page turns might go. The layout of the book ended up being a bit different, so the beats in how I read the text out loud has changed. But I get a great reaction from kids so I’m very happy with it!

HB: I know there’s another Owl and Monkey adventure coming our way (yay!). Can you give us any inside scoop about WHERE IS MY BALLOON?

AB: WHERE IS MY BALLOON? is about what happens when Monkey loses Owl’s balloon, and is desperate to act as though everything is fine. It’s scheduled for September 2018 and I’m hoping it will elicit many giggles from readers!

HB: Your first chapter book is coming out next year: WARREN & DRAGON’S 100 FRIENDS. Congratulations! How is your writing process different for picture books and longer stories? Is one easier for you than the other?

AB: Thank you! Writing the first draft of picture books is much easier than writing the first draft of a chapter book, no doubt because it’s so much shorter. But when revising it’s the opposite. I could write thirty or more versions of a picture book before I’m happy with it, but only need to revise a few times for a chapter book. I think the revising is harder with a picture book because every word has to be perfect. There’s a bit more leeway in chapter books in getting from the beginning to the end.

HB: Well, here’s hoping we get LOTS more books of all kinds from you, Ariel!

 

bernstienarielframe

Ariel Bernstein is a picture book, chapter book, and short story writer. Her debut picture book is I Have a Balloon, illustrated by Scott Magoon (Simon and Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, Fall 2017.) Monkey desperately wants Owl’s balloon and tries everything to get what he wants—this is not a book about sharing. Ariel’s debut chapter book, Warren & Dragon’s 100 Friends (Viking Children’s, Spring 2018) is a modern-day CALVIN AND HOBBES-esque tale involving a dreamy boy, his smarty-pants twin sister, and his vain dragon companion. You can find Ariel online, or on Twitter @ArielBBooks.

 

barnabyhannahframeHannah Barnaby is a former children’s book editor and independent bookseller, and served as the first Children’s Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library. The author of two acclaimed young adult novels, Hannah makes her picture book debut with Bad Guy, illustrated by Mike Yamada (Simon & Schuster, May 2017), the story of a little boy who learns that being a bad guy is awesome…but it can come with consequences. In June 2017 comes Garcia & Colette Go Exploring, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (G.P. Putnam’s Sons), in which two friends journey to outer space and the deep sea and find that the best place of all is somewhere in between. Hannah lives with her family in Charlottesville, VA, where she teaches creative writing to students of all ages. You can find her online at http://www.hannahbarnaby.com, or on Twitter@hannahrbarnaby.

 

Two Debut Interview – Joy Keller and Alison Goldberg

In today’s Picture the Books Two Debut Interview, debut author Alison Goldberg interviews debut author Joy Keller about MONSTER TRUCKS illustrated by Misa Saburi (Godwin Books/Henry Holt, 2017).

 

Alison: Congratulations on your debut! Before we discuss MONSTER TRUCKS, I see in your bio that you have experience driving trucks on a blueberry farm. What was that like?

 

Joy: I drove a pickup truck that was converted into a surrey. I’d pick up customers and drop them off to pick blueberries. The farm was forty acres. Sometimes the surrey also doubled as a rescue truck, so I’d have to drive really fast over the bumps in the field. It was a fun job, and a chance to learn to drive a stick shift.

Alison: And great research for writing a truck book! If you could visit the world of any picture book, which would it be?

Joy: If I had to pick a character that I would want to hang out with, it would be Otter from the OTTER books by Sam Garton. Otter is so funny and gets into so much trouble. She reminds me of my own kids. If I was just looking at pictures, I would choose the very old-school fairy tale worlds created by Trina Schart Hyman. LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD and SAINT GEORGE AND THE DRAGON books from when I was a kid have amazing illustrations. I’d like to walk through those worlds.

Alison: Where did the idea for MONSTER TRUCKS come from?

Joy: When my kids were little, my daughter only liked Halloween books and my son only liked truck books. We would check the same books out of the library all the time. I wondered why there wasn’t a book combining the two. It could be called MONSTER TRUCKS! Once I had the title, the story followed.

Alison: MONSTER TRUCKS is such a perfect blend of these two themes. Do you have a favorite Halloween costume from childhood?

Joy: My parents did a really good job making elaborate homemade costumes for me. One year, I was the Queen of Hearts. My mom copied every little detail of a playing card onto the front and back of my poster board costume. I didn’t want to take it off at school, but I couldn’t sit in it, so I stood for much of the day.

Alison: What’s your favorite truck?

Joy: When I was a kid I loved the street cleaner with a vacuum tube used to suck up debris. I called it the elephant truck.

Alison: That sounds like the start of another truck book. As a teacher, do you ever share your picture book manuscripts with your students?

Joy: I do. I also share my revisions. Kids often think that when you are a writer you only need to write something once, and I like to show them that even published writers need to rewrite stories many times. I share my rejection letters, too, so they can see that part of the process.

Alison: How will you celebrate the release of MONSTER TRUCKS?

Joy: My release party is taking place in an ice cream shop called Moonlight Creamery. They’re going to rename all of their ice cream flavors to match the book, including a flavor called “Tire Tracks.”

 

Alison: How fun! You have a few other picture books coming out after your debut. Can you tell me about them?

 

Joy: I’m so excited about MISS TURIE’S MAGIC CREATURES (Innovation Press, 2018), a book about a pet store that sells mythical beasts.

I also have a nonfiction book about fungus coming out in 2019 called THE FUNGUS AMONG US (Innovation Press, 2019). My son developed a fascination with mushrooms when he was little, so we go on hikes and get pictures of different varieties. They’re cool to look at and learn about, but I don’t especially like to eat mushrooms!

Alison: I look forward to reading these books. Thanks, Joy! Congratulations!

 

Joy Keller isn’t a monster, but she does have experience driving trucks on a blueberry farm. Her debut picture book, MONSTER TRUCKS (Henry Holt, 2017), is all about monsters and the vehicles that match their personalities, from the skeleton crew that fixes roads to the werewolf who digs, digs, digs. Joy currently teaches elementary students of all ages and lives in Fairport, NY with her husband, two children, and four cats. You can visit her at www.joykellerauthor.com or find her on Twitter @jrkeller80.

 

Alison Goldberg is a writer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES, illustrated by Mike Yamada (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, December 2017) is her debut picture book. Before becoming a children’s book author, Alison worked for economic justice organizations and wrote a resource guide about social change philanthropy. These days, she blogs about activism in children’s literature and loves researching everything from marine life to contemporary art for her books. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Learn more at www.alisongoldberg.com or on Twitter @alisongoldberg.