Tag Archives: picture book

Welcome to the Spotlight Andrea Wang and The Nian Monster!

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Happy Chinese New Year (on January 28, 2017)! Congratulations to Andrea Wang and her debut picture book! Stayed tuned below to win a signed copy.

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The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Alina Chau (Albert Whitman & Co./2016)

Xingling is preparing to celebrate the New Year in Shanghai with her family, but the Nian Monster has other ideas. He threatens to eat Xingling and destroy her beloved city! Clever Xingling comes up with ways to thwart and trick the monster, first by offering him noodles for long life and then fish for good fortune. Bit by bit, Xingling stalls the Nian Monster until she sends him away spectacularly. This fun and adventurous story is also full of great information about customs and traditions of Chinese New Year, accompanied by bright gorgeous illustrations. THE NIAN MONSTER is a fabulous story about a brave and smart girl in modern Shanghai outwitting a monster.

Spotlight on Andrea:

How did the idea for this picture book come about? What were some of the challenges and the highlights of your journey to publication?

I stumbled upon the ancient folktale of the Nian monster when I was looking for information about Chinese New Year to tell my sons. I did more digging and found several videos on YouTube with different versions of the story. I was intrigued by the representation of the old year as a ferocious beast that ate everyone until it was scared away by three simple things – fire, noise, and the color red. I thought I’d try re-telling the old folktale in a modern setting.

One of the first highlights of this book’s journey was receiving a Letter of Commendation from the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant contest. It was a wonderful validation and encouraged me to keep querying. I also think it helped the manuscript make it to acquisition meetings at two different publishing houses, although it was ultimately passed on for different reasons. The third time was the charm, though! My editor at Albert Whitman found my manuscript in the slush pile and made an offer on it (definitely a highlight)! Since then, I would say that the biggest challenge was waiting for the book to be published, and the one of the biggest highlights was seeing the artwork. Illustrator Alina Chau did such a fantastic job making the story come alive, as well as adding layers to the story that gave it a depth and richness I could never have imagined.

Xingling is clever and brave. She not only faces the Nian monster, but she comes up with ways to trick him. Without giving away the whole story, how did you come up with ways Xingling could thwart the monster? Did you know how she would trick him from the beginning, or did you have to figure things out and/or discard ideas?

I had lots of ideas from the very beginning on how Xingling was going to trick Nian, but they were all bad! J At one point, there were laser guns involved… (See? I told you they were bad!) None of them felt right until I thought hard about what I loved about Chinese New Year and the Chinese culture. My parents immigrated to the U.S. from China and always tried to make Chinese New Year special, even though we lived in rural Ohio and didn’t have access to cultural events or ingredients. This was the in the 1970’s and you couldn’t just run out and go to the Asian grocery store, because they didn’t exist. I remember my mom making tofu in the basement! Anyway, once I connected to the foods of my childhood, the ways that Xingling tricks Nian fell into place almost immediately.

Food is a big part of this book, which is another reason I love this story. I love food! What is your favorite Chinese food item and why?

I love food, too, which makes this question impossible to answer! When I was around Xingling’s age, though, my favorite Chinese food was a steamed bun filled with sweet red bean paste. I know, it sounds kind of gross (Bean paste? What is that?) but it was a huge treat at the time because it took so long to make. My mom made the filling by cooking the beans, adding sugar and a dollop of lard, and blending it into a smooth, creamy “paste.” She made the dough for the buns, too, and showed me how to roll out circles of dough, fill them with the bean paste, and twist the top to seal them. Then the buns were placed on squares of waxed paper and steamed until done. I loved spending the time cooking with her as much as I loved the final product!

Andrea Wang grew up making dumplings and taking baths with orange peels to prepare for Chinese New Year. She loves to travel and try new foods and has tasted camel in Beijing, mantis shrimp in Hanoi, and emu in Perth. A longtime resident of Massachusetts, Andrea now lives in Colorado with her family and their dog, Mochi, named for the sticky rice dessert.

For more about Andrea and her books, check out her web site, friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and/or on Instagram.

To win a signed copy of The Nian Monster for yourself, a young reader, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter in the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, January 28 by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Tuesday, January 31 (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations to Kathryn E. for winning a signed copy of THE NIAN MONSTER! Your prize will be on its way to you this week!

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the Spotlight Nancy Tupper Ling and The Story I’ll Tell

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A warm wonderful welcome to picture book author Nancy Tupper Ling and her newest book baby! Stay tuned below on how to enter for a chance to win a signed by the author copy of this sweet book.

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The Story I’ll Tell by Nancy Tupper Ling, illus. by Jessica Lanan (Lee & Low/2016)

A mother imagines the story she’ll tell her son about how he came to be a part of the family — from a branch on a tree to snagged from a dragon queen. But by the story’s end, the mother tells the true story of how he was brought home on a plane, to be loved and cared for as their son. Touching and sweet with lovely illustrations.

Spotlight on Nancy Tupper Ling:

Please tell us the story of how THE STORY I’LL TELL came to be.

The idea for The Story I’ll Tell was one of those rare gifts that come out of the thin air. The inspiration happened as I was driving home from a trip to Connecticut (plug for my home state). As I was day dreaming, this image popped into my head—a baby arriving on a couple’s doorstep. Then I envisioned the father telling his toddler all these fantastical stories about how she came to be in their lives. (I’m always on the lookout for “good father” stories). The one line that kept repeating in my head was “Still, there are times when I think I will tell you the truth, for the truth is a beautiful story too.” In 2013 my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, sent my manuscript out into the world, and we waited. Ironically I was in the middle of a writers’ conference when I received the “Happy Dance” phone call. The Story I’ll Tell had been accepted by my dream publisher, Lee & Low. Of course, there are always more stories to tell.

What was the biggest challenge to writing this story? Did it change much from your original draft?

I wrote The Story I’ll Tell as a poem first. I often start my stories that way. Surprisingly I didn’t have to revise too much along the way (miracles happen) but plot is always my weakness. Making sure the various stories flowed smoothly from one to another and that there was a momentum was what took the most finagling. Still, it was definitely the manuscript that required the least amount of revisions (so far, shh). My book Double Happiness took ten years and those revisions fill a 3-inch binder. The biggest change suggested by Lee and Low was to make the main characters a mother and son, which isn’t typical when it comes to Chinese adoptions. I think it works nicely in The Story I’ll Tell, though. To think that my wee daydream become a reality in between the covers of book still seems pretty unreal.

The illustrations are so lovely, such a perfect compliment to this sweet story. What surprised you most about the illustrations? Do you have a favorite?

It’s always such a surprise when an author sees the final illustrations. Jessica Lanan’s work blew me away. The spreads are dreamy, like my original inspiration. My favorite page is the one where the parents are walking on the beach at night and the child floats in on a wave. Knowing this, my parents surprised me with the original piece for my 50th birthday this year. How cool is that?

About Nancy: Nancy Tupper Ling is the winner of the prestigious Writer’s Digest Grand Prize and the Pat Parnell Poetry Award.  She draws her inspiration from the multicultural background of her family and the interwoven fabric of familial culture which is, on the surface, seemingly everyday.  She is the author of My Sister, Alicia May (Pleasant Street Press), Double Happiness (Chronicle Books), The Story I’ll Tell (Lee & Low Books) and the founder of Fine Line Poets (www.finelinepoets.com), Currently she resides in Walpole, Massachusetts with her husband, Vincent, and their two girls.

For more about Nancy and her books, check out her web site, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

The author has generously offered to send a signed copy to a lucky winner. To win a copy of The Story I’ll Tell for yourself, a child, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter in the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, July 30th by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Tuesday, August 2nd (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations to Rachael who is the winner of this drawing! Please contact me at just kid ink at yahoo (no spaces) with your signing instructions and US mailing address.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

 

 

Welcome to the Spotlight Maria Gianferrari and COYOTE MOON

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I’m over the moon (get it?) happy to shine the spotlight (or maybe the moonlight) on children’s author Maria Gianferrari and her nonfiction picture book:

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Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Begram Ibatoulline (Roaring Brook Press/2016)

Coyote hunts at night – stalking mice, rabbit, geese, but not until the night is almost over does she successfully capture prey, food for her hungry pups, waiting for her in the den. Gorgeous illustrations capture this sleek predator on the prowl in a suburban town.

Those of you who know me know I am very fond of all animals. I have a degree in zoology and was an educator at a zoo, and volunteered as a raptor rehabilitator when I was in college. So, it is no surprise that I absolutely love this book! Stay tuned below for a chance to enter to win a copy of this book from the publisher!

Spotlight on Maria:

What was the spark that inspired you to write about a coyote?

I had a close encounter with a coywolf (also known as an eastern coyote) when I lived in Massachusetts in January 2007, and the seed of a story was born. It was such a majestic and beautiful creature. I became obsessed with learning more about them. At the time, I didn’t even know I had seen a coywolf until I had begun my research.

You do a lovely job – showing the natural balance of predator-prey relationships – how hard it can be for a predator to capture food, and how necessary it is in order for it to feed its young and survive. What were the challenges you faced in telling the story of a coyote hunting? What were some of the highlights of researching/writing this book?

I’d have to say the biggest challenge was trying to find balance between telling the story of a predator to young readers while remaining authentic about the coyote’s ferocity. By making the main character a mother coyote, hunting for her pups, kids can see that she’s hunting to feed her family, so her ferocity has meaning. It’s all part of maintaining balance in an ecosystem.

I loved doing hands-on research, walking in the woods with purpose, searching for signs of the elusive coyote—for scat, bedding sites, kill sites (I once found a bunch of turkey feathers, hence the turkey in the story).

The highlight was interviewing Dr. Jon Way, a noted eastern coyote/coywolf researcher, for what initially began as an article and evolved into a book. I read his book, Suburban Howls, and his scientific papers, and first learned about eastern coyotes/coywolves. I also visited the Stone Zoo where the orphaned coywolves that he rescued then lived. This is a photo of one of them named Lupe, who looked very much like the coywolf of my encounter.

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Do you have a favorite animal? What is it and why?

I LOVE dogs. They’re so affectionate and expressive and full of unconditional love. My dog, Becca, is the best writing companion 🙂

Maria Gianferrari was inspired to write Coyote Moon after her first coywolf sighting on a moonlit night in her own Massachusetts backyard. Maria now lives in Northern Virginia with her scientist husband, artist daughter, and rescue dog, Becca. This is her first book for Roaring Brook Press. Visit her at mariagianferrari.com, on Facebook or Instagram.

Roaring Brook has generously offered to send a copy to a lucky winner. To win a copy of Coyote Moon for yourself, a child, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter in the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, July 23rd by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Tuesday, July 26th (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations to Katz who won a copy of COYOTE MOON! I’ve sent you an email – please respond with your mailing address. Thank you to everyone for stopping by and entering! Stay tuned for more spotlights, reading buzz, and giveaways!

 

 

Buzz Review: The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

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The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller (illustrated by Frank Morrison)

Chronicle Books/2016

It’s the day before the big parade to honor three-time gold medalist Olympic runner Wilma Rudolph. Alta can’t wait and imagines herself being as fast, as quick as Wilma. But then along come Charmaine with her brand new shoes and challenges Alta, whose shoes are worn out, to a race. Alta wins, but then Charmaine does in a second race, upsetting Alta. The day of the parade, Alta tries to hurry with her banner but it’s awkward and hard to run with it. Charmaine offers to help, and the two girls along with Alta’s sisters take turns relay style until they all make it to the parade in time. The girls sit together as friends rather than competitors to cheer for Wilma Rudolph. In 1960, in segregated Clarksville Tennessee, Wilma agreed to a parade only if it was integrated – and the organizers agreed.

Fabulous story and fabulous illustrations!

The author’s web site

The illustrator’s web site

Welcome to the Spotlight Mylisa Larsen and How To Put Your Parents To Bed!

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I’m super happy to be shining the spotlight on debut picture book author Mylisa Larsen and her book

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How to Put Your Parents to Bed by Mylisa Larsen (Illustrated by Babette Cole) Katherine Tegan Books/2016

A step-by-step guide to help youngsters put their reluctant, too-busy, tired, distracted parents to bed. The story and illustrations made me laugh out loud. What a cute switch-a-roo take on bedtime!

What to do when your parents are looking a bit….exhausted? Put them to bed! But putting parents to bed is no easy task when there’s laundry to do and emails to check. From brushing their teeth to getting them into bed, oh, and they want their bedtime stories, it’s quite a challenge. Readers follow a determined little girl through her evening routine in trying to get her parents to bed, with accompanying hilarious illustrations (love the dog and cat).

Spotlight on Mylisa Larsen:

What was the inspiration for this story?

I think it was just that the distance between those lovely articles in the parenting magazines titled Five Easy Steps to A Stressfree Bedtime and the reality at my house when my kids were young was sometimes so great that all you could do is laugh or cry and laughing seemed slightly more resilient. My kids were always way more inventive in their stall tactics than whatever kids the chick who wrote the article was dealing with. I also remember thinking, “This would work way better if it was not at the end of the day! I am so tired. I am way more tired than these kids are and it’s entirely possible they will win.”

I’m also endlessly amused by The Authoritative Voice—that voice that you used to hear in filmstrips between the beeps and in public service announcements and in some magazines and how to books. It’s not supposed to be funny and I think it’s funny. So one day I was fiddling around with an ironic turn to that kind of voice and I combined it with bedtime and got the first draft of what became How To Put Your Parents to Bed. It was a truly awful book in its first drafts but there was that little spark there that you get in a book that could go somewhere so I took it through revisions.

For more about Mylisa and her book, check out her web site! Read an interview with her editor, Jill Davis. To join in on the celebratory book launch, cruise on over to Pajama Party, But I Don’t Want to Go to Bed…, The Bedtime Zone, and A Field Guide to Sleepy People!

Best of all, you can win a copy AND a pair of PJs by tweeting or sharing on FB about this book with the hashtag #PutParents2Bed! Contest runs till April 1st! Official rules.

Happy Reading!

And The Winner Is….

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Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read the Spotlight on Dianne Ochiltree and her newest picture book, Molly, By Golly!

I’m currently traveling so Trixe couldn’t draw the winning name this time – sorry! But I did use the random number generator and the lucky winner was entrant number one!!!! Who is that? Why, it’s the lovely Jama of Alphabet Soup! Jama – be sure to email me your mailing address and I’ll pass along the info to Dianne so she can send you your prize! Hooray! Congratulations!
Happy reading!