SOPHIE’S SQUASH Launch Week and Giveaway Harvest!

Hooray, it’s finally here! SOPHIE’S SQUASH!


With its 4 starred reviews and being one of Amazon’s picks for August, we know you’ve been dying for it to be released! (Us, too!)

Sophie's Squash

You know who else has been dying for it to be released? Our own Pat Zietlow Miller, of course!

Did you know Pat was un-agented when she submitted SOPHIE’S SQUASH? It’s a slush pile success story! I asked VP and Publisher Anne Schwartz about the manuscript’s journey.

AS: SOPHIE’S SQUASH was pulled from the slush pile by our assistant, Stephanie Pitts, who was spanking new at the time. She’d been on the job less than a month, I think, which is a testament to both Stephanie and the manuscript itself. Stephanie passed it on to me, and I immediately loved it; I passed it on to Lee Wade, who immediately loved it. And that was the beginning.

Anne, SOPHIE has amassed a collection of starred reviews. What about the story resonates so strongly with readers?

AS: For me, and I assume for readers, there is something so genuine and yet hilarious about this story. The connection between Sophie and her squash is at once completely unexpected and totally relatable. It’s not easy to achieve simultaneously this off-the-wall absurdity and absolute believability, but I think Pat and Anne Wilsdorf, the illustrator, have done so to perfection. We laugh because Bernice is a squash, but we connect because Sophie’s love for her is 100% real.

Speaking of 100% real love, were you ever attached to or fascinated by an unusual toy as a child?

AS: I’m afraid I wasn’t as creative in my love object as Sophie. I had a pink blanket that I was very attached to. In fact, I still miss it…or should I say, her?

I think in this case,  you should say “her”. Too bad her name wasn’t Bernice. That would be quite a story!

We also asked Pat about her side of the slush pile story…

Pat Zietlow MillerPZM: Even though Schwartz & Wade had always been one of my absolute favorite picture book publishers, I had not sent SOPHIE to them earlier because I didn’t think they accepted unagented work. But then, I saw a website that said they did, and I thought I’d give them a try. I submitted it to them in January, and I was, frankly, close to thinking that maybe this particular manuscript wasn’t meant to be. It had had several close calls before and I was running out of spots to send it to.

After I sent it off, I didn’t think too much about it. I’m generally pretty good at that. I had other stuff to work on and I knew the odds were against it being published anyway.

So when Anne Schwartz called me in September, I was stunned. It was a classic, out-of-the-blue, we’d-like-to-buy-your-book phone call. She said they had just hired a new staff person, and asked her to look at some slush. The staff person had pulled my manuscript on a Wednesday, and Anne had called me on Friday. And Lee Wade called later that same day, which also was great.

It was amazing. And surreal. Amazingly surreal.

So after that, a friend of mine who also writes, Jessica Vitalis, said, “Well, you’re going to try to get an agent now, right?” And I actually wasn’t. I didn’t think an agent would be interested in someone who mostly wrote picture books and didn’t illustrate. And Jessica really pushed me to try. So I remembered an agent I’d seen speak at the Iowa SCBWI conference—Ammi-Joan Paquette. I had been impressed by her, but I hadn’t spoken to her because, again, I didn’t see the point. I sent Joan an email with the story and the offer and she got back to me immediately and asked to see more of my work. I sent her several other stories and then we talked on the phone.

And it all worked out and I am now ecstatically part of EMU’s Debuts. So I owe hitting the agent jackpot to my friend, Jessica, without whom, I wouldn’t even have contacted Joan.

What an inspiring story, Pat!

We’ve got a lot more inspiration coming your way this week, including an interview with illustrator Anne Wilsdorf and a top-sekrit Tuesday post with multiple EMUs participating…visually. You’ll have to see it to believe it!

Giveaway alert: comment this week to enter to win a signed copy of SOPHIE’S SQUASH plus some lovable temporary tattoos of Sophie and Bernice!


And if you happen to be near Madison, WI, Pat invites you to attend the in-person launch party on Saturday, August 17 at 1 p.m. at Barnes and Noble West (7433 Mineral Point Road). Plus there’s giveaways on Pat’s blog at

So curl up with your favorite squash and remember to join us all week long!


Filed under Celebrations, Publishers and Editors

29 responses to “SOPHIE’S SQUASH Launch Week and Giveaway Harvest!

  1. Joann C

    Surprises like a phone call and best friends helping with agents are a great combination! Much success with your book. Look forward to getting my copy.


  2. Congratulations, Pat!!! What a great story.


  3. I am SO looking forward to reading Sophie’s Squash! While at first glance it appears that the stars were aligned, it was certainly preceded by persistence, patience, and hard work. Congratulations!


  4. Congratulations! That is a wonderful story. Can’t wait to read your book!


  5. Ooh! Reminds me a bit (but only a bit) of “I’m Bored” I love the cover! And the idea! I want to read it! 😀


  6. Jessica Vitalis

    Fantastic! I’m so happy for you (and glad I pushed you to go for that agent!!). Can’t wait for your book to arrive on my front door!


  7. I have one thing to say: I WANT this book!


  8. Pat, I keep telling you how much I love this book!!! My copy has been shipped, but since EVERYONE should read this book, I would have no trouble finding it a home. (Of course, I would keep the signed copy 🙂


  9. What a wonderful publication story! Congratulations on your book launch week and enjoy all the hoopla!!! 🙂


  10. Alexa

    Can’t wait to get our hands on a copy. Congrats!


  11. I love a good slush pile success story. 🙂


  12. What a great behind-the-scenes story! Congratulations!


  13. Congratulations on your book! It’s inspiring to hear your story and gives me hope…so they do actually look through the slush pile. Yay! Enjoy your success! Hugs!


  14. Inspiring, Pat! This story is certainly a winner, and the fact that you never gave up on it reminds me of Sophie’s devotion to her squash. Some things just require a bit more time to reach their ideal home.


  15. A bit more exciting than finding a squash growing in the compost pile, but splendidly comparable! I’d love to win a copy, but I’ll be looking for this one anyway- HUGE fan of Wilsdorf’s illuustrations!


  16. I’d love to win a copy! Love the story behind Sophie.


  17. Such a great story–congratulations Pat!


  18. deborahunderwood

    I can’t wait to read this!! Congratulations, Pat!


  19. I picture the slush pile as a compost heap, and your squash climbing triumphantly to the top! I’d love to win a copy. Congratulations, Pat!


  20. Hooray for slush and squash! So very happy and excited for you Pat!


  21. Rachel

    My sister Mylisa (also a soon to be published, picture book author) is a friend and told me about your book and your give-away. I have a young daughter named Sophie who would love a namesake story in our collection. I’m an avid Goodreads reviewer and always on the hunt for the next beloved book. and though you can’t always judge a book by it’s cover, that’s initially what compels me to pull it off the shelf in the first place–I would definitely pull this one. Congratulations on your success story! I’ve seen how tough the publishing breakthrough process is from watching my brilliantly gifted sister wade through it, so I understand what an amazing story this is. Best of luck to you. I’ll be looking for your book to come out, whether we win a copy or not. =)


  22. Meg

    What a wonderful success story! I’ll be looking for your book too, sounds sweet. 🙂


  23. Pingback: Sophie’s Squash–Ripe for the Picking! | EMU's Debuts

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