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Today we have a gorgeous cover reveal from Rajani LaRocca and Chaaya Prabhat. (Yes, all cover reveals are beautiful, but this one struck me!)

Wow, the cover is so bright and colorful! It reminds me of Indian holidays and celebrations I’ve attended. Can you explain why color is so important in Indian culture?

In India, colors have spiritual and political significance. For example, the color saffron—the bright orange found on the Indian flag, the color that comes from the most expensive spice in the world—stands for fire and purity. Speaking as someone who has grown up in the U.S. but who has visited India every few years since I was a kid, I can say that the exuberance of colors in India, especially in clothing, is just incredible. Clothes tend to feature vibrant combinations that aren’t common here in the U.S., and as a kid and now, I’ve always felt very special wearing bright, celebratory colors. Chaaya captured this energy in her illustrations for BRACELETS FOR BINA’S BROTHERS: every single page is filled with glorious colors that combine to make the characters and home in the story feel exciting and cozy, all at the same time.

There’s more Indian culture in the book, like the holiday for which Bina is making bracelets. What is Raksha Bandhan?

Raksha Bhandhan, also known as Rakhi, is a South Asian holiday that celebrates the love between sisters and brothers. Sisters tie bracelets or amulets on their brothers’ wrists as a symbol of protection, and brothers give their sisters small gifts in return. I love this holiday, as it commemorates sibling bonds that last through time and distance. I don’t have any brothers, but I was inspired by the wonderful relationship between my daughter and son, and between other sisters and brothers in my family. In BRACELETS FOR BINA’S BROTHERS, the first lines sum up the relationship: “Bina had three big brothers: Vijay, Siddharth, and Arjun. They sometimes annoyed her, but she loved them anyway.”

That’s exactly how I felt about my brother when we were kids.

I love that there’s a holiday for siblings! 

Indian children will enjoy seeing themselves and their family traditions in this book. What do you want children from other races and cultures to take away?

I hope they enjoy learning about a different tradition and holiday! I also hope they see themselves in Bina and her brothers, who sometimes bother each other, but whose love shines through, especially when they spend time together and make gifts for each other.

I think it’s a beautiful holiday and one that we all should celebrate. (Maybe I would have appreciated my brother more instead of sitting on him.)

I noticed “storytelling math” on the cover. How did you incorporate math concepts into this picture book?

I’ve always loved math—I love its logic and precision, and I love the satisfaction of getting a “right” answer. When I attended a workshop on early childhood math hosted by Charlesbridge and TERC, the STEM education nonprofit, I’d never thought about pattern making as a math concept. But that experience opened my eyes to the ways that even very little kids learn and use math, and I’m grateful to be able to write a story that reflects my culture and family and explores an early mathematical concept for children.

Last but not least, I want to thank you for putting me in the book. I am honored.

Umm, “Tara” is the family DOG in the story. In Sanskrit the beginning is pronounced like the word “tar” so it’s TAR-a and it means “star.”

Yes, I am a star, thanks. And so is this book! 

Thank you for sharing it with us!

BRACELETS FOR BINA’S BROTHERS will release from Charlesbridge on April 20, 2021!

 

Here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for…

santaslamdunk

SANTA SLAM DUNK!

OK, maybe not what you were expecting. A little holiday humor. Let’s move on…

Those of you who participate in Picture Book Idea Month already know I moved the annual writing challenge to January instead of November. And you also know I changed the name. The new, much-easier-to-pronounce moniker is…

storystorm

Did that just blow your mind?

amypoehlerhead

I hope so!

The new logo was designed by talented illustrator S.britt (of NORMAL NORMAN fame).

Now, I hear you asking some questions.

WHY THE NAME CHANGE?

The original challenge—to create 30 picture book concepts in 30 days—was named “Picture Book Idea Month” or “PiBoIdMo” for short. Everyone pronounced the awkward acronym a different way. And if you managed to say it, it didn’t make sense to others.

“STORYSTORM” is a portmanteau of story and brainstorm that is more immediately understood.

The new name signals a broader scope—any type of writer interested in being inspired in January can now join the challenge. Novelists, short story writers, non-fiction authors and even teachers and their students are welcomed. Any writer, anyone who wants to brainstorm for a month. 

The goal is for STORYSTORM participants to jot down 30 story ideas in January. Then everyone will have thirty new shiny ideas to ponder, flesh out and write in 2017.

WHY THE MONTH CHANGE?

PiBoIdMo was originally held in November because it was modeled after NaNoWriMo, which runs at that time. But November is so busy with the start of the holiday season. Starting fresh in January—a new year, new goals—will hopefully prove to be both inspiring and motivating.

IS IT STILL FREE TO PARTICIPATE?

ABSOLUTELY.

WHEN CAN I REGISTER?

After the slam-dunking of presents down the chimney is over. In other words, Boxing Day. In other, other words, December 26th.

Registration will remain open for the entire first week of January. You do not have to register, but doing so makes you eligible to win prizes—agent consultations, books, critiques, and a whole lotta fabulous stuff that even Santa can’t make possible.

So THANK YOU for being patient while I pondered these changes. More announcements soon—like the guest-blogger line-up!

But in the meantime, join our STORYSTORM Facebook group which is active year-round for friendly support and discussion.

staytuned

 

 

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:

BLOOP
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

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