If you’ve been in children’s publishing for any length of time, then you know Margery Cuyler. Margery served as an executive editor for decades, at Holiday House, Marshall Cavendish and finally Two Lions before recently retiring. But she’s also a very accomplished author in her own right. Margery has published over 50 books for children, including the popular THAT’S GOOD! THAT’S BAD! series and one of my favorites, THE BIGGEST, BEST SNOWMAN, with frequent collaborator, illustrator Will Hillenbrand.

She also seems to be quite fond of skeletons. Perhaps you’ve heard of this Halloween classic?

A couple of years ago, Margery came on the blog with her newest skeleton character, Bonaparte, illustrated by Will Terry.

Bonaparte is a skeleton whose loose bones occasionally fly off. In the first book, BONAPARTE FALLS APART, Bonaparte is reluctant to start school because he worries that the other “kids” (different monsters) will make fun of him. His friends try to help ease Bonaparte’s worries, but none of their suggestions work. Bonaparte finally adopts a dog named Mandible who retrieves his bones and accompanies him to school. They both turn out to be popular!

And now…Bonaparte is back in a second spine-tingling adventure.

Margery, why did you decide the follow-up Bonaparte book should be about baseball?

Before writing  the second book, I thought of different situations that would be challenging for Bonaparte, even with Mandible’s help. At the same time, I was hearing from bookstores that there weren’t enough sports stories for the picture-book set. Bingo! Why not put Bonaparte in the middle of a baseball story? Surely he’d be stressed if he had to bat and run.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing a baseball story?

Learning about baseball! There are a lot of rules that I had to bone up on. Also, baseball has its own language. For example, “moon shot,” “bouncer,” “slider,” “shutout,” “pop-up,” “dinger,” and “swing for the fences.” I worked them into the text whenever possible. In addition, I tried to include puns if they made sense. For example, the Mighty Aliens “orbit” the bases. All in all, it was quite a challenge to hold it all together, but my editor, Emily Easton at Crown/Random House, was very helpful.

What do you think makes Bonaparte a better baseball player than soccer star or basketball champ?

Well, truthfully, Bonaparte would have been anxious playing any sport. I picked baseball because I thought it would be cool to have a game in the World Series which became the Weird Series in my new book.

The Weird Series! My kind of championship! Which teams are playing?

The Little Monsters (Bonaparte’s team) vs. The Mighty Aliens.

OK, I’m rooting for The Little Monsters!

Is Bonaparte nervous for the big game? What does he do to calm his bones? 

You bet Bonaparte is nervous! He’s a “jittery jumble of bones.” And so he practices the drills assigned by the coach to get prepared, but that isn’t enough to calm his nerves. Maybe if I were to rewrite the book, I’d have him do some mindfulness exercises! Or yoga. Or drink some herb tea (which would go right through him). In any case, most of the book is about what happens during the game.

As you know, a lot of kids can’t play baseball with their teammates right now. What words of wisdom do you have for them?

There’s no substitute for being outdoors and playing baseball! My heart goes out to all baseball players, no matter what age, who have to self-isolate and/or postpone games till the virus calms down. My advice would be to continue with drills, just like the ones Bonaparte does, to stay fit. There are also plenty of videos on game strategy that would be helpful to watch. Or, players can have vicarious pleasure reading BONAPARTE PLAYS BALL!

What else will Bonaparte be doing to keep busy?

Bonaparte is considering starring in a third book in which he discovers that his house is haunted. Is it being haunted by a ghost who wants to be accepted into his group of friends? Or does the spirit have something else in mind? Whatever the case, the ghost’s presence makes Bonaparte rattle and shake, losing bones along the way until he discovers that his bones can be useful.

OK, finally I have to ask about your interest in skeletons!

When I was five years old, I had several ribs removed during an operation. I remember becoming fascinated by the fact there was this invisible, bony frame under my skin and I started drawing skeletons. It’s actually quite amazing I didn’t grow up to be an orthopedic surgeon! Then as an adult, I wrote a children’s book called SKELETON HICCUPS which generated and continues to generate mail from children. Often I received requests to write another skeleton book and that led to SKELETON FOR DINNER. (The paperback edition will be released in August 2020). The BONAPARTE books came about because I made a life-sized skeleton as a Halloween decoration and it fell apart. Rattle-clatter! (I’m really not very good at crafts!) That’s when the name “Bonaparte” popped into my head, a character begging for a story.

Margery, that’s an awesome story-behind-the-story! I love that your five-year-old self is still fascinated and I’m thankful that curiosity brought us such a winning character.

Blog readers, you can win a copy of BONAPARTE PLAYS BALL!

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected in two weeks.

Good luck!

Let’s play ball!


Margery Cuyler’s career has been devoted to children’s books. She has written more than 50 books, served at the executive level in the children’s divisions of several publishers, and continues to enjoy interacting with children, teachers, and librarians on school visits. She and her husband, the parents of two grown sons, live in Lawrenceville, NJ. Visit her at margerycuyler.com and on Twitter @cuylermargery.

I pressed pause on the blog but realized–hey, now is the perfect time to be talking about books! We all need them, and thanks to much of the country being shut down, people need to learn about wonderful new ones.

Last week, Lori Mortensen released her newest book and it’s a wondrous NONSENSE! romp. No, the book isn’t filled with language you can’t understand! It’s about the quirky genius, author-illustrator Edward Gorey.

Lori, why did you want to write about Edward Gorey?

I was reminded of Edward Gorey one day while I was out on my morning walk and happened to catch a podcast about him on “Stuff You Missed in History Class”. As I listened, his name and dark style reminded me of a book from my childhood. When I arrived home, I found the book I’d been thinking of—THE MAN WHO SANG THE SILLIES. It was a collection of odd poems written by John Ciardi and illustrated by Edward Gorey.

One of the most memorable poems, “The Happy Family” began:

Before the children say goodnight,
Mother, Father, stop and think:
Have you screwed their heads on tight?
Have you washed their ears with ink?

The poem was accompanied by Gorey’s memorable illustration of children trying to catch their floating heads.

As I delved into the research, I couldn’t wait to write an equally memorable picture book biography about this curious, whimsical, one-of-a-kind artist.

Why do you think we don’t see more books with children’s heads floating away? I mean, it’s dark, but it’s equally zany and humorous!

Bring on the floating heads! Actually, while THE MAN WHO SANG THE SILLIES was a bit of silly unexpected fun in 1961, I’m delighted children’s literature has continued to grow, expand and evolve in so many wonderful directions. The best part has been, and is, being part of this wonderful industry as well. Some of my favorite picture books include I JUST ATE MY FRIEND by Heidi McKinnon, SAM AND DAVE DIG A HOLE by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, and RUDE CAKES by Rowboat Watkins. Zany. Silly. Clever. Sign me up! It doesn’t get better than that.

Telling a life story in the compact space of a picture book is a difficult task! How did you find your focus for this biography?

People’s lives are always vastly more complex than what can be included in a picture book. As you noted, the key is to find that thread or focus that ties certain events in a subject’s life together in a meaningful way. Interestingly, as I researched Edward Gorey’s life, a particular thread stood out right away—how a brilliant child turned into the curious, mysterious, eccentric and whimsical creator we know today and influenced so many others along the way.

After writing about this creator of silly and zany, do you have any plans for those kind of fiction PBs yourself?

Humorous, zany picture books are some of my favorites and I’m always excited to write (and read!) new ones. One of my most popular silly and zany titles is COWPOKE CLYDE AND DIRTY DAWG, where Cowpoke Clyde spots his ol’ dirty dawg, but when Clyde tries to give him a bath—the chase is on! It was great fun to figure how it would all turn out. Does Dawg get his bath? That’s the question, isn’t it? Next year, Abrams will release my new silly and zany picture book, ARLO DRAWS AN OCTOPUS, illustrated by wonderful Rob Sayegh.

Do you have any surprising “making of” stories?

Interestingly, before the coronavirus hit, I would have shared where-I-got-the-idea stories about some of my favorite stories, such as CINDY MOO (I saw a cow-jumping-over-the-moon figurine at the thrift store) or COWPOKE CLYDE AND DIRTY DAWG (my neighbor’s dogs used to regularly escape from their backyard and race down the street, hence the chase to catch the dog for a bath), but these days, I’ve entered a whole new realm of surprising “making of” stories when I began tackling author videos for some of my publishers who encouraged them.

Yes, it’s a whole new world for book videos! Not something authors are used to doing!

For my first project, decided to do an author reading of my picture book biography, AWAY WITH WORDS, THE DARING STORY OF ISABELLA BIRD. You’d think it would pretty straight forward—sit down and read the book, for goodness sake! Over the course of a week, I filmed in my office, then in the backyard, then to a local park, but every location had its problems from neighbors bouncing their basketball, to chatty people wandering by in the park. Then, my husband said, “Hey, why don’t we drive up to the mountain top where I go paragliding?”

Suddenly, the only location that made sense was the mountain top. So off we went. An hour later, there I was. By now, I’d read the book about a zillion times, and after recording a read aloud for the third time for good measure on the mountain, we went back home. Surely, we’d done everything we could do. However, when I looked at the video more closely at home, (I’ve since learned how to see results on location—duh!) I realized the shot was pulled in too close. Shouldn’t you be able to see the book in my hands while I’m holding it? And wasn’t the top of the video too close to the top of my head? Ack! I tried to convince myself that it didn’t matter. And, after all, if I wanted to redo it, I didn’t have to go back to the mountain. Now that we knew what to do, we could go to the nice woodsy park.

But somehow by morning, only the mountain would do. So we went back and videoed again. The good news is tomorrow, April 7, Peachtree will be sharing my reading of AWAY WITH WORDS on Instagram. Although I’m not riding a horse up a volcano, or hiking across the numbing, windswept desert at the roof of the world like Isabella, I think she would be pleased. (I am, anyway!) Since then, I’ve made several other author videos. Check them out here!

Lori, thank you so much for this quirky look at a visionary creator. And I also have to thank you for nudging me to blog again! We all need the hope that new books provide! 

Blog readers, leave one comment below and you can win a copy of NONSENSE! THE CURIOUS STORY OF EDWARD GOREY.

Of course, it will be shipped when publishers get back to their offices. Good luck!


Lori Mortensen is an award-winning children’s book author of more than 100 books and over 500 stories and articles. Recent releases include her picture book biography, AWAY WITH WORDS, THE DARING STORY OF ISABELLA BIRD (Peachtree), about the first woman inducted into the Royal Geographical Society, IF WENDELL HAD A WALRUS (Henry Holt), CHICKEN LILY, (Henry Holt), Mousequerade Ball (Bloomsbury) illustrated by New York Times bestselling illustrator Betsy Lewin, and COWPOKE CLYDE RIDES THE RANGE (Clarion, 2016). When she’s not letting her cat in, or out, or in, she’s tapping away at her computer, conjuring, coaxing, and prodding her latest stories to life. For more information about her books, events, critique service, and upcoming releases, visit her website at lorimortensen.com.

When I was a kid, creative writing was a way for me to finally be in charge.

Kids are always being told what to do—by their parents, their teachers and other adults. But when they’re writing a story, they can make anything happen!

Creativity is not only good for story writing, it’s good for the brain.

I’ll let Susan tell you more…

Our family homeschooled for a decade, ten pretty magical years, and when our now-adult daughter reached out to me for suggestions for her friends who suddenly found themselves homeschooling, I realized that the important things to learn were not subjects, but skills. And the single most important skill is to think creatively, to generate questions and ideas. Tara Lazar’s Storystorm has been, by far, the best source I know for teaching the brain that skill. You know that feeling at the end of a class, when the lecturer asks “Are there any questions?”—and your brain suddenly goes blank? Storystorm changes that. It sounds impossible, that reading a blog post and writing down an idea a day can change the brain, but it works. Enjoy, and wonder on.

Susan Wroble
susanwroble.com

Thank you, Susan.

And now, here are blog posts about creativity and generating story ideas. Enjoy!

I will be adding to this list throughout the next few days, as others suggest articles I should highlight.

Also, try my lists:

Have fun and be creative!

 

UPDATE: I’m now live streaming on Instagram and putting the video in my IG Story so you can view it for up to 24 hours afterwards.

Find me here:

instagram.com/taralaser


Yesterday I had the most wonderful idea—if I can’t visit schools because everyone is at home, then everyone can visit me at my home—virtually! Wouldn’t it be great if authors collectively broadcast themselves reading books so kids everywhere could tune in?

Well, I wasn’t alone in this idea. Author Olivia Van Ledtje started a list of all the authors providing live readings, illustrators giving how-to-draw lessons, and other fun stuff from your favorite creators! See the list here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MrM7Ypu3uoEEwbyLQ6sxkx8d-sePrP2J64WQrb6dNfI

I have decided to broadcast LIVE at NOON Eastern daily on my YouTube channel…starting today.

MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL

See you online!

You can search social media with the hashtag #kidlitquarantine for other authors and illustrators who are joining in!


UPDATE March 16: today I read THREE WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN! Here are the how-to pages for building your own trap!

 by Sharon Giltrow

Seven years ago, I decided to fulfill my childhood dream and write a picture book.

Hey, that couldn’t be too hard!

Luckily the writing community is filled with many helpful writing challenges. With the help of these challenges and many, many hours of hard work, my debut picture book BEDTIME DADDY will be released May 12, 2020. A heartfelt thanks goes to these writing challenges, especially Storystorm.

Challenge Number One: Coming up with a good idea

Enter Storystorm (formerly known as PiBoIdMo). The challenge? To create 30 story ideas in 30 days. Storystorm 2017, Day 7’s post Be Big! Be Small! Be Any Size at All! by Jennifer Arena inspired Idea number 7, BEDTIME DADDY.

Challenge Number Two: Writing the first draft

Enter 12 x 12, a year-long writing challenge to write 12 complete picture book drafts. BEDTIME DADDY was my June 2017 draft which was written 5 months after Storystorm 2017.

Challenge Number Three: Revising

The two previous challenges had helped me to write BEDTIME DADDY but my next challenge was to take the first draft and revise, revise, revise. Enter ReFoReMo, which helps writers to learn how to use mentor texts. I went back in time to 2016, Day 5’s post “Tammi Sauer Models HOW TO do the structure strut”. Bingo—I had all the mentor texts I needed to transform BEDTIME DADDY from a meh first draft to a published story.

Here is how the start of Bedtime Daddy changed through revising:

How to Put a Grown-up to Sleep: Version 1

A grown-up can get grumpy.
A grown-up can get tired.
A grown-up sometimes needs to be put to bed.
And this is how you do it.
When your grown-up starts rubbing their eyes and yawning.
Announce “It’s time for bed!”
Your grown-up will start crying immediately.
HOW TO CONSOLE YOUR GROWN-UP
Give your grown-up a cuddle.
Wait for them to stop crying.
Explain that bedtime happens every night and that it isn’t a punishment.
And wait for crying to stop again and say, “still bedtime”.
Then watch your grown-up move at a snail pace to their bedroom.

Bedtime, Daddy!: Version 10

When you see your daddy rub his eyes and stifle a yawn.
Announce, “Bedtime, daddy!”
Your daddy will start crying immediately.
Give him a cuddle until he stops.
Tell your daddy, “it’s still bedtime.”
Watch as he moves as slow as a sloth to his bedroom.

Here are the final first two-page spreads of BEDTIME DADDY.

The challenges continued even after writing and revising Bedtime Daddy.

Challenge Number 4: Getting Published

Unfortunately, there are no helpful writer’s challenges for this, but there are some great Twitter pitch parties. Thirteen rejections and fourteen months after writing the first draft, I found the perfect publisher, EK Books. SUCCESS!

Challenge Number 5: The Publishing Process and Marketing

Again, there are no helpful marketing challenges. However, in 2019 I joined a group of debut picture book authors and illustrators, 2020 Debut Crew. Together, we are facing new challenges.

Challenge Number 6: BEDTIME DADDY a best-seller

I’ll need reviews for this and I know the perfect challenge enter the Debut Review Challenge.

Success comes from challenging yourself. If I hadn’t participated and embraced these writing challenges, my dream of becoming a published picture book author would never have come true.


Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, WA with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. When not participating in writing challenges and writing, Sharon teaches with children with Developmental Language Disorder. Sharon was awarded the Paper Bird Fellowship in 2019. Her debut PB Bedtime Daddy is due to be released May 12th 2020 through EK books. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @sharon_giltrow.

 

And with this post, we officially conclude Storystorm 2020!

I hope you are continuing to practice daily idea generation. Has the Storystorm practice become a habit? It has for me, even though I notoriously don’t participate in my own challenge! But I continue to collect and record my ideas in a single file, and I return to that file on a regular basis to flesh some out. It’s great exercise for my creative mind, which is always itching to be creative. Is that you, too? I feel positively out-of-sorts if I haven’t been creative in a while, and then it will finally dawn on me—I haven’t done my creative work! And I sit down and get to it. (But first, there is always Earl Grey tea. I’m a bit obsessed.)

Ah, if only it were that easy. And caffeinated.

I have to once again thank Urania Smith of KitLit Nation for helping to randomly select the winners. KidLit Nation is the place for authors and illustrators of color to get their publishing info. Check it out if that describes you!

And without further ado…here are the winners! I will be contacting you shortly via email to arrange delivery of the prizes.

Day 1. Heather Bell (heatherbell37)
Day 2. Shannon Hall
Day 3. Kariail2013
Day 4. Cindy C
Day 5: Jolene Ballard Gutiérrez
Day 6: Bruce Benson
Day 7. Beth Charles
Day 8. Dea Braydon
Day 9. Shirley301
Day 10. Betlw
Day 11. Jim Chaize
Day 12. Maria Marshall
Day 13. Heather Rowley
Day 14. Judith Snyder
Day 15. Thelia Hutchinson
Day 16. Lisa Riddiough
Day 17. Laurel Ranveig Abell
Day 18. Jennifer Weisse
Day 19. Dea Lenihan
Day 20. Elizabeth Brown
Day 21. Leeann Rizzuti
Day 22. Sheri Radford (Sheriradford)
Day 23. Colleen Kosinski
Day 24. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman
Day 25. Susan Schade
Day 26. Eileen Mayo
Day 27. Dina Ticas
Day 28. Darlene Koppel
Day 29. Chelle Martin
Day 30. Wendi Silvano

Thank you, all! I can’t wait until Storystorm 2021, can you?

 

by Sue Fliess

Now, I know what you’re thinking. The last time I blogged about picture book ideas here, I talked about how I got the idea for my new book Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World through a conversation I had with my handyman…this is different. Sort of.

I was in Laguna Beach on a ladies weekend years ago. Sigh. It was a gorgeous spot. Perfect weather for drinking wine on the beach with good gal pals and taking in the views. Sitting on our hotel deck watching the sun set on the ocean, my sister Christine asked me about my book stuff. I told her that I’d just finished a mermaid book to go with my fairy book (A Fairy Friend), but I was trying to think of another mythical, fantastical creature to write about, so that I’d have 3. She almost immediately suggested unicorns. My eyes lit up, but then my logical brain kicked in. “But I have to write it in rhyme,” I said. “And unicorn is going to be a tough one.”

But I went home after a soul-enriching weekend and decided to at least try to write it. I mean, who doesn’t love a unicorn? And to write about the chance to meet one was too tempting. So I wrote it—and it was good and sweet and magical. My agent sent both the mermaid and unicorn stories to my editor. She loved them. Then she held on to both for a long, long, long time. Did I mention it was a long time? As you know, or soon will know, there’s no such thing as a sure thing in publishing. She eventually turned them down and released them back to me. Huge bummer. Now what? Had the window for mermaids and unicorns passed? My agent and I were beginning to think so.

In the meantime, I’d published some books in my Magical Creatures and Crafts series with Sky Pony Press: How to Trap a Leprechaun, How to Track an Easter Bunny and had How to Trick a Christmas Elf queued up. And I got the idea that maybe this publisher would like my mermaid and unicorn stories from long ago…but when I pulled them out, I knew I was in for big rewrites. But the stories themselves were still compelling. I added a craft element to both (not easy when you have to work it in in rhyme!), and before too long I had How to Meet a Mermaid and How to Find a Unicorn. We sent them to my Sky Pony editor and hit a home run. This was where these stories were meant to land, I just didn’t see it at the time. (maybe it was the wine?)

I think my point is, that often I will have an idea, or have it gifted to me when I’m not even looking for it. When I least expect it. A handyman, a perfect setting with great people, a couple three glasses of vino… Also, aren’t sisters grand? She is my unicorn in the mist.

And now…the trailer premiere for HOW TO FIND A UNICORN!

Sue is giving away TWO copies of HOW TO FIND A UNICORN, illustrated by Simona Sanfilippo, upon its release (March 3, 2020).

Leave one comment below to enter.

A winner will be randomly selected in March!


Sue Fliess is the author of dozens of children’s books, including How to Trap a Leprechaun, How to Track an Easter Bunny, How to Trick a Christmas Elf (all Sky Pony Press titles), Mary Had a Little Lab, Flash and Gleam, Ninja Camp, and more. She’s also written for Walt Disney. Sue lives with her family and two dogs in Northern Virginia. Visit her at suefliess.com.

 

For years I’ve dreamed of hosting a Storystorm Workshop. Back when the event was still PiBoIdMo, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and I researched what we needed to make it happen—venue, faculty, meals…and found we couldn’t make it work unless we had a hundred attendees or more.

No. I wanted an intimate group in a cozy setting, where everyone could have access to the faculty and truly feel supported in every way. It would be special, small, and elevate every attendee’s career.

Then I discovered the Highlights Foundation! The location! The private cabins! The Barn! The FOOD!!! (I’m a huge fan of Chef Amanda!)

With the help of the Foundation staff—Alison Green Myers, George Brown, Jo Lloyd—we pulled it all together for March 5-8. I reached out to the best picture book author-teachers I know and we had our faculty:

  • Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
  • Heidi E.Y. Stemple
  • Courtney Pippin-Mathur
  • Josh Funk

Now all that’s missing IS YOU!

We have just a few spots left!

Here’s a sneak peek at our schedule:

Storystorm 2020 Picture Book Retreat & Workshop

Thursday, March 5, 2020
3:00pm Arrival
4:00pm Orientation—learn about the Highlights campus
5:30pm Appetizers (Barn)
6:00pm Dinner (Barn)
7:00pm Tara Lazar Welcome and “Stuff No One Tells You!” Presentation

Friday, March 6, 2020
6:30am Yoga in the Loft (Optional)
7:45 – 8:45am Breakfast (Barn)
9:00 – 11:00 Tara Lazar “Elevate Your Picture Book Game” + Q&A
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch (Barn)
1:30 – 2:30pm Josh Funk “What Rhymes with Storystorm?”
2:45 – 3:45pm Optional Walk with Heidi Stemple: Gathering Ideas for Texture in Stories
4:00 – 5:30pm Story Ideas Roundtable Discussion: Four Groups w/Faculty Leader
5:30 Appetizers (Barn)
6:00 Dinner (Barn)
7:30 Evening Creative Activity with Tara & Courtney (Optional)

Saturday, March 7, 2020
7:45 – 8:45am Breakfast (Barn)
9:00 – 10:30am Courtney Pippin-Mathur “How to Write by Drawing First”
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch (Barn)
1:30 – 3:00pm Sudipta Bardan-Quallen “7 Revision Tips to Take Your PB from WAH to WOW”
3:30 – 5:00pm Heidi Stemple “Finding Your Non-Fiction Voice”
5:30 Appetizers (Barn)
6:00 Dinner (Barn)
7:30 Open Mic with Josh, Sudipta & S’Mores (Optionally Mandatory)

Sunday, March 8, 2020
7:45 – 8:45am Breakfast (Barn)
9:00 – 10:00am Tara Lazar “Humor Trends in Picture Books”
10:30 – 12:00pm Q&A with Faculty (Barn)
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch (Barn)
1:00 Closing Remarks
1:30 Check-out

You can sign up at Highlights Foundation and room with a friend for a discount.

We hope to see you there soon!

Thank you to Melissa Sheperd for the photos of the Highlights Foundation Campus.

Hello Storystormers! Here is the news you’ve been awaiting!

These are the Grand Prize Winners and the agents with whom they’ve been paired! They’ll receive feedback on their best 5 story ideas…

Michele Meleen → Erin Murphy

Natasha Garnett → Joan Paquette

Amy Cory → Holly McGhee

Kristen Rashid → Lori Kilkelly

Amy Harding → Liza Royce Agency

Brinton Culp → John Cusick

Linda Mitchell → Alyssa Eisner Henkin

Juliana Lee → Stephen Fraser

Melissa Mwai → Kat Rushall

Michelle Kashinsky → Jennifer March Soloway

Congratulations! I will be contacting you via email shortly.

Many thanks to Urania Smith of KidLitNation who helped pull the winner’s names. 

If you’re a writer of color, please check out KidLitNation for support and resources!

More daily prize winners to come soon!

Today we’re revealing the cover for ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME, illustrated in bright, bold colors and soft edges by Andrés F. Landazábal. It immediately takes me back to another time in picture books! The tale, co-written by Charles Ghigna (a.k.a. Father Goose) and Matt Forrest Esenwine, came to be via a blog post and a subsequent comment. Let’s have the authors share the story behind the story…

CHARLES: The genesis for this book began when I posted the first 9 pages of the manuscript on my Father Goose blog, along with a summary of the entire picture book. Here’s a link to my original blog post. Matt responded with 4 stanzas and some great ideas for the narrative. I was surprised how compatible our styles were and how easily our ideas fit together. I began submitting the finished manuscript about the same time Matt did. I submitted it to Beaming Books via Submittable and he submitted it via #PBPitch, a Twitter event that connects picture book authors with editors and agents. And it worked! Beaming Books picked it up! Matt and I were thrilled with our editor’s choice of illustrator, Andrés F. Landazábal, whose colorful style perfectly captures the lyricism of the text.

MATT: Bouncing manuscripts back and forth was actually very educational for both of us, seeing what each other thought of the other’s writing, as well as discovering new perspectives and ways of describing things. And by the way, tenacity was the name of the game with this book: the manuscript went through nearly 15 revisions and more than 25 different publishing houses before our editor at Beaming Books told us she loved it and wanted to buy it! Even with Father Goose’s name attached to the project, it took an awful lot of persistence and positive energy to get our book to this point! I’m not only thrilled about the illustrations, I’m also thrilled that I got to write a book with my friend, Father Goose himself, the inimitable Charles Ghigna! Seeing our names together on the cover is a real treat.

The illustrations are a real treat, too! Thanks, Charles, Matt and Andrés!

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME will be released by Beaming Books on August 18, 2020.


Charles Ghigna – Father Goose® lives in a tree house in the middle of Alabama. He is the author of more than 100 award-winning books from Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Abrams, Charlesbridge, Capstone and Orca. His poems appear in magazines from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Cricket and Highlights for Children. For more information, please visit: FatherGoose.com.

Matt Forrest Esenwine has published nearly 30 children’s poems in anthologies like The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (N.G. Children’s Books, 2015) and Construction People (Wordsong, 2020), as well as Highlights for Children magazine. His nationally-acclaimed picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017) was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the Best Picture Books of 2017. More information is at MattForrest.com.

Andrés F. Landazábal is an illustrator and art director based in Colombia. His work has appeared in animation films, tv shows and print companies. Andrés’ love for drawing and painting was instilled at a young age reading classic illustrated children’s books. He is represented by The Bright Agency.

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As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
2021

BLOOP!
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2021

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