Category Archives: Book Launch

Pinch Me

My new puppy, Kiku, is joining in on the celebration!

Today, my debut chapter book series Jasmine Toguchi launches with the first two books: Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen and Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth. This is the culmination of over 15 years of writing, learning, growing, revising, querying, submitting, and collecting rejections. Having my chapter books published is a dream come true.

I’ve talked about my journey on this blog and elsewhere so I won’t rehash it except to say, for Jasmine, it’s been seven years from the spark of an idea to book release. And it’s been a little over two years since my wonderful editor, Grace Kendall, made the offer to publish Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, not as a stand-alone, but as a series. It’s been a truly wonderful experience working with my editor Grace, my awesome agent Tricia Lawrence, talented illustrator Elizabet Vukovic, and the FSG team. I feel so fortunate.

I’ve revised, copyedited, and proofread (with the help of the sharp eyes of professional copyeditors and proofreaders). I’ve reviewed and loved the art. Jasmine Toguchi is part of a Macmillan bookseller campaign called “Got Character?” that features six series. Jasmine is on a poster! The reviews (all good, thankfully) are in. Mochi Queen is a Junior Library Guild fall selection and a pick for Amazon’s Summer Book Club – New Favorite Series for Kids. I’ve been interviewed by some awesome bloggers. I’ve stumbled upon Twitter conversations and Instagram posts about Jasmine. And I’ve held the actual books in my hands. I’m giddy!

So when does it feel real? This still feels like a dream. A very wonderful dream but, still, a dream. I can’t believe that a book I wrote with characters I conceived is really going to find its way into the hands of readers. Perhaps that is when it will feel real – when a child reads my books.

Pre-launch, so much energy and focus is on getting the words and the art just right, on waiting for the reviews to come in, on planning events, on promotion and marketing. All of this is, of course, relevant and important and fun. But during all that, sometimes it’s easy to forget why I wrote the story in the first place, for whom I wrote the story – for a child. When I started my writing career over 15 years ago, I didn’t know about Kirkus or School Library Journal, or the effect of sales numbers or earning out, or how important it was to get parents and educators on board. All I thought about was the child who might pick up my book, read the story, connect to the character, and fall in love. And today, I’m remembering that. I can’t wait for readers to meet Jasmine and, I hope, fall in love with her.

Art copyright Elizabet Vukovic

Maybe that’s when it will feel real. When a child reader says, “I read and loved your book.” That is the review I’m holding my breath for.

In the meantime, I am celebrating this dream come true. I’m pinching myself to make sure this is really happening. I’m grateful to everyone who has supported me along this journey, who has believed in me, who has talked up my books, and who has helped make Jasmine and her stories come alive. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And extra special thanks to my awesome agent Tricia Lawrence, to my amazing editor Grace Kendall, and to my husband B0b and daughter Caitlin!

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Enter to win Mochi Queen and Super Sleuth! One entry per one comment per post this launch week for a maximum total of five entries. Enter by midnight EST, Sunday July 16. The winner will be drawn at random. Must have U.S. mailing address. Good luck!

 

 

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Filed under Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Celebrations, Launch, Thankfulness

Show Yourself in Your Work: An Illustrator’s Story

It’s launch week! It’s launch week! Hold onto your summer floppy hats, we have a book…well, actually two to launch into the world this week. A little bit from the publisher about our first book baby!

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen

by Debbi Michiko Florence (illus. by Elizabet Vukovic)

Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!

She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophie—something special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before.

But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?

Ages 6 – 9

Available July 11, 2017 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR)

And even better? This is the first book in a series. The second book is also available this week! At the end of this post, you can enter to wind a copy!

To kick off a week of Jasmine Toguchi celebrations, I sat down with illustrator Elizabet Vukovic. Ok, technically, she was in the Netherlands and I was in Maine… but laughing all the way through our video chat, it was as if we were sitting at the same table. Elizabet is not only talented and brilliant, but she’s bubbly, fun, spunky, and there are some big surprises in her journey.  You are going to love her as much as I do. Let’s get to it.

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Elizabet knows exactly what it’s like to have a big sister who gets everything first! Reading the pages of Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen, Elizabet related to Jasmine immediately. She laughed heartily as we talked about her own childhood and the misery of hand-me downs.

Growing up in the Netherlands, Elizabet lived around the corner from a bicycle store. Every summer, she looked through the shop window at the new bikes. So shiny! So new! And every summer, she watched her older sister pick out a new bike… while Elizabet got her sister’s old bike to ride. (Eventually Elizabet would get a new bike, but not until high school!)

Elizabet wore her sister’s hand-me-down clothes and played with hand-me-down toys––until one day Elizabet had enough. It happened in the toy store. The girls had begged their father to walk into the toy store, promising only to look at the toys. Finally, their father agreed. The three of them walked into the store and that’s when Elizabet saw it: a microphone. Not just any microphone, but one that echoed. Elizabet was always singing and this microphone would be the perfect accessory. She had to have it.

She asked her dad to buy it. He said no.

So Elizabet refused to leave the store––without that microphone. That’s when her father and big sister left her there and went home.

But Elizabet did not budge.

Finally, her father returned to the store. And he bought Elizabet that microphone!

As we talked about this story, Elizabet’s eyes sparkled and her grin grew wide. Tapping into these experiences, brought Jasmine to life for Elizabet. She says the illustration on page 37 of the book put in a fine point on what both girls dealt with. (And no sneak previews. The only way to see this emotional scene is to buy the book or request it at the library or win it in our book give away! Also, it’s totally worth it.) But, it’s that illustration in particular that captured both Elizabet’s experience and Jasmine’s: complete frustration and irritation. The contrast of Jasmine’s level of anger juxtaposed to the oblivious prancing around of her older sister really nails the dynamic.

Elizabet says that level of personal connection is critical to her work. You can learn anatomy, she explains, but you have to put yourself in those characters. “Show yourself in your work,” Elizabet said.

But Elizabet’s path to accomplishing that, to creating the space where that’s even possible is interesting. She is the child of immigrants from Croatia. Her parents are hard workers and always expected that of their kids. Because they had to overcome so much and accomplish so much to establish their new lives in the Netherlands, they are also very practical and pragmatic.

Elizabet was interested in drawing as a very small child. Her kindergarten teacher used to say to her parents, “You have a real Picasso on your hands.” Even in high school, a teacher mentioned that Elizabet should go into drawing.

But as a profession? That was hard for Elizabet’s parents to accept or encourage. After all, they wanted Elizabet to have a paying job, security. .. all of the things they had immigrated to the Netherlands to build.

But as effervescent and charming as Elizabet is, she also has steely determination and an unyielding drive to prove herself.

So, what could she do in that situation? First, Elizabet got a degree in optometry. That’s right, optometry. She worked full time in the field to save money for art school. She worked during the day and studied illustration at night through online coursework until she graduated from the San Francisco Art Academy.

Then, she rode her bike 45 minutes to work every day, put in her hours, rode her bike home––which was another 45 minutes, climbed into her studio chair and began working on her illustration portfolio. Every night.

But Elizabet swears that something magical happened in those late hours. It was like her illustration time was protected. Because she had a full time job, she could really give herself permission to go for it at night. Permission to take risks, to enjoy her passion. Her artwork was not burdened with the responsibility of having to make money.

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Once her portfolio was ready, Elizabet prepared herself mentally for the process. She was ready for the rejections, the long, hard, and difficult path to an agent and publication.

She started by picking her top three agencies. Then one morning, she submitted her work by e-mail. She had an offer by that afternoon. She ran around her room screaming. Elizabet doesn’t remember much of her call with her agent Justin Rucker, just that he said he loved her work. “I was so high on emotion and he talked a lot and I kept thinking is this real? Oh my God!” she remembers.

And Elizabet brings all of that to these illustrations. You’ll see it immediately, the joy and spunk…. the struggle and conflict. They flow out of her pen onto the page. These masterful illustrations are a treasure for readers and an invitation to all of us to show ourselves in our work.

Enjoy!

Anna Crowley Redding

P.S. Elizabet and her older sister are close friends today !

P.P.S. Keep reading, there’s a book give away at the bottom of this post!

Also available this week: Book 2 in this delicious, unforgettable series:

Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth (Book 2)

by Debbi Michiko Florence (illus. by Elizabet Vukovic)

It’s a big weekend for Jasmine Toguchi! She’s excited to celebrate Girl’s Day―a Japanese holiday honoring women and girls―with her sister, mother, and best friend, Linnie. When Linnie comes over to plan for the Girl’s Day celebration, Jasmine’s neighbor lets them play dress up in her garage. But the garage is dark, which is kind of scary. And Linnie decides to go home early, which is kind of weird. And Jasmine’s big sister, Sophie, doesn’t seem to want to join in the Girl’s Day fun this year, which is kind of confusing. WHAT is going on?

As her big weekend plans start to unravel, Jasmine must use her sleuthing skills to spot the clues around her. Then maybe, just maybe, she can fix things and make sure the Girl’s Day celebration happens!

Ages 6 – 9

Available July 11, 2017 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR)

Enter to win MOCHI QUEEN and SUPER SLEUTH! One entry per one comment per post this launch week for a maximum total of five entries. The winner will be drawn at random. Must have U.S. mailing address. Enter by midnight EST Sunday July 16th. Good luck!

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Filed under Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Character Development, Dreams Come True, Families, Illustrating, Illustrators, Inspiration, Interviews, process, Uncategorized

Going Out with a Bang (of Fireworks)!

It’s the last day of our celebration of the release of Sarvinder Naberhaus’s BLUE SKY WHITE STARS, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Sarvinder’s book celebrates the beauty of America, so to wrap up the launch of Sarvinder’s debut, we thought we’d go out with a bang and talk about our favorite Fourth of July memories!

Debbi Michiko Florence: When we lived in Upstate NY and my daughter was younger, Bob, Caitlin and I would go to Bob’s brother’s house and then both families would go to the park in downtown Saratoga. We’d set up blankets, check out the booths and play cards and board games until it got dark. Then the fireworks show would start – and it was spectacular, but the best part was spending it with family. I miss those days! Our kids are all grown up and while we sometimes still get together with Bob’s brother and sister-in-law, I miss having the kids around.

Hayley Barrett: I love a parade and my neighboring town, Wakefield, has the best 4th of July parade in Massachusetts. A few years ago, I had the joy of seeing Rex Trailer — a local television personality from my childhood — ride by on a SPECTACULAR and high-spirited palomino horse. He would have been about 82 years old at the time and rode like the true-blue cowboy he was. Boom, Boom, Boomtown Forever!

Katie Slivensky: Growing up in my neighborhood, we would all decorate our bikes in red, white, and blue and have a giant bike parade to our local pond. There, we would swim and bbq and celebrate with bomb pops and all our neighbors! It was one of my favorite days of the year.

Jason Gallaher: There is absolutely nothing like going out to Coeur d’Alene Lake in Northern Idaho on the Fourth of July. I have so many memories of hopping in a boat, water skiing all day, then bobbing along just after sunset and watching fireworks blast over the lake. It’s beautiful, and I’m positive it’s the inspiration behind Katy Perry’s “Firework.”

Sarvinder Naberhaus: My favorite 4th of July memories happened AFTER it was all over. The fair used to come to town, and set up at the park just down the hill. I could see it from the tops of my climbing tree. They had a Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, swings (my favorite because I was flying). My neighbor girl and I would go down after it was all over. What a mess! But as the hazy lazy days of summer dragged on, it was hard to find an adventure. So we’d go down and sift through the plethora for “treasure.”

You can see fireworks and so much more of America’s landscape and history in Sarvinder’s BLUE SKY WHITE STARS, out now! Grab a copy for yourself from IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your favorite bookseller!

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Bike photo from Bike Provo; Ferris wheel photo from Northforker/Katharine Schroeder

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Filed under Book Launch, Book Promotion, Celebrations

Our Favorite America!!

The launch for Sarvinder Naberhaus’s BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS continues! To keep the celebration going, we talk about our favorite cities, states and national landmarks in the USA!

Terry Pierce: City – It’s a tie between Boston, MA, and Portland, OR. I love the “intimacy” of both these large cities and their “walkability” (a word I just made up to mean “ease of walking.”). Portland is the essence of the Pacific Northwest with its small coffee houses, frequent bookstores and gorgeous distant mountain scenery. Boston’s incredibly rich history, amazing food (Hello, North End!) and sight-seeing points of interest make it a favorite big city to visit (yes, I visited Robert McCloskey’s mother duck and ducklings statue—what children’s writer wouldn’t?).

Natural landmarks – No doubt, Yosemite National Park. There is nothing like it with its massive granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, abundant wildlife and the lazy Merced River meandering down the middle of the valley floor. When I drive through the Wawona tunnel and see the full view of the valley, it still takes my breath away. It’s truly spectacular and makes me appreciate the amazing natural forces of our planet. I mean, to think that a glacier carved away the solid granite and sculptured the valley is mind-blowing.

Debbi Michiko Florence: Oh it’s hard to pick just one place, so can I pick a few? While there are many landmarks, states, and cities in the U.S. that I love and enjoy returning to, because I’ve moved so often in my adult life, my favorite places are those that take me to be with family.

San Francisco – City of my birth – I love the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, the foggy mornings, and all my precious memories created there.

Huntington Beach, CA, and Portland, OR – My parents live in Huntington Beach and visiting them means down time, relaxation, walks to the beach and on the pier, sunshine and ocean. My sister and her family, and my stepson, live in Portland and there’s nothing like hanging out with family while visiting a vibrant city with great food and sights.

Christina Uss: I will narrow down my list of eight million to two.

Philadelphia. I went to college here and spent four amazing years soaking in the history and culture of Philly. I’d finish classes for the day and then have to decide – did I want to go for a run up the steps of the Art Museum with the theme song to Rocky playing in my head, or go visit the Liberty Bell, or peruse an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, or stroll down Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in the U.S.? Or just go eat a cheesesteak or a butter-soaked Amish pretzel? Or do ALL of them? I adored how day-to-day life of people of so many diverse backgrounds was swirling around these historic sites every day, all hours of the day. Philly feels to me like a place where every layer of American history from colonial times to an hour ago is alive.

My heart swells with patriotic pride when I visit any part of our National Parks system, often called America’s Best Idea. I particularly love the ones out west with historic, epic National Parks lodges built in the early 1900s, like Many Glacier in Montana’s Glacier Park, Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone Park, El Tovar at the Grand Canyon. I was so grateful in my former life as a bicycling adventure tour guide to get to stay in these lodges; they struck me as the most brilliant combination of human architectural vision and craftsmanship with spectacular natural settings.

Katie Slivensky: Tough one! I love Glacier Bay National Park. It’s just so gorgeous and eerie and serene and wild. Also, Mackinac Island. Lots of horses. No cars. Beautiful sights. And FUDGE.

Anna Crowley Redding: Acadia, specifically Night Sky Fest, a week in the park with astronomers looking at planets, galaxies, and constellations!

Carole GerberCharleston, SC. Gorgeous city with wonderful restaurants, and mannerly, friendly people with beautiful southern accents. Did I mention there are lots of beaches nearby?

Hayley Barrett: I’m a true-blue Boston girl. I love that dirty water!

Jason Gallaher: Hands down, without a doubt, my favorite place in America and the whole wide world is Malibu, CA. I love strolling down the pier, I love having deep conversations with local dolphins by cackling back at them, I love recreating scenes from The Craft at Leo Carrillo Beach, and it definitely doesn’t hurt that Miley Cyrus just came out with  a song named after the city.

Sarvinder Naberhaus: I love the Grand Canyon and national parks!

You can see even more beautiful pictures and descriptions of America in Sarvinder Naberhaus’s BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS! You can find out more about the book here, and you can order a copy from IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your favorite bookseller!

 

 

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Happy Book Launch, Sarvinder!!!

This week we’re celebrating the birth of a nation. Well, not exactly, but close. Sarvinder Naberhaus’s stunning picture book, BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, is a beautiful tribute to America and its diversity. What perfect timing for the release of this tribute to America and her flag, folded between two of our country’s most celebrated patriotic holidays, Memorial Day and Independence Day!

We all know that a great party (launch or otherwise) must have music! So, what better way to begin our celebration than with songs—specifically, patriotic songs—songs we learned in elementary school that still sing in our hearts and lift our spirits when we lend our voices to our country and her flag. So, to kick off the release of BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS, I asked the EMUs here in our nest to talk a little about their favorite patriotic song.

Christina Uss: My favorite patriotic song is “America the Beautiful.” When I rode my bike across our great country, I was inspired to spontaneously burst out singing it over and over and over again. There are many things to love about the U.S. of A., but this song is what bubbles up for me when I am knocked silly by the scenic beauty that is EVERYWHERE around us. I feel lucky as all get-out to be able to live and travel freely here whenever I see the fruited plain of Illinois, the amber waves of grain of Kansas, the spacious skies of Montana, the purple mountains majesty of Colorado, the alien’s play-doh playground of Utah, the sweep of the Pacific Coast in California, the bike paths of Virginia, the swimming holes of Missouri…I’ve gotta stop now or I’ll never get any other writing done, there’s JUST SO MUCH!

Jason Gallaher: It might not be considered your traditional patriotic song, but I really love Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America.” I think that song is timeless and expertly captures the anxiety teens/early-twenty-somethings feel about becoming a suburban stereotype. The kids just want to get lost in the music-go-round, dang it, and not get stuck in that suburbia sprawling everywhere!

Terry Pierce:   My favorite song about America is “This Land is Your Land” (composed by Woody Guthrie in 1940—betcha didn’t know that?). As a child, my family moved quite a bit and always explored the areas where we had traveled and lived. When I learned this song in the third grade, I loved it because I connected to many of the places in the lyrics: California, New York, forests, the Gulf, deserts and valleys. It gives tribute to the many and varied places in our country, with the message that this extraordinary place we live belongs to all of us. This is something I strongly believe, that it’s our duty as citizens to protect and cherish our land.

Hayley Barrett: I’ve always loved “My Country,’Tis of Thee.” As a child, I didn’t realize that the song was likely related to a landmark in my town. Author Samuel Francis Smith is said to have been inspired by the bell and steeple of Old South Church to write these lyrics, “I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills, my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.”

Sarvinder Naberhaus: I have so many songs that I love. When teaching 4th grade social studies, my kids learned “50 Nifty United States.”  I love that one! “This Land is Your Land” is also another favorite as well as “America the Beautiful.”

Thank you, Sarvinder and Kadir, for bringing this stunning new book into our lives. For a closer look at BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS, please visit its website HERE.

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, SARVINDER!!!

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About Terry Pierce…

Terry writes board books, picture books, easy readers and middle-grade adventure novels. She lives in the California desert but avoids the summer heat by retreating to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to hike, bike, write and dip her head in high mountain sky. She’s a Vermont College of Fine Arts graduate and teaches online children’s writing courses for UCLA Extension. Her latest books include My Busy Green Garden (Tilbury House) and Mama Loves You So (Little Simon).

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Let Nature Nurture You, and Wash Your Spirit Clean

Readers of Terry Pierce’s cozy MAMA LOVES YOU SO will encounter many poetic images of nature nurturing the young, reminding us that nature has room to nurture us at any age.  mama-loves-you-so-coverTerry will be giving away a signed copy of MAMA LOVES YOU SO as part of her book launch week. Enter by leaving a comment below, and she will enter your name into the giveaway (up to one comment per day.) Read on to see how nature nurtures Terry and some of her fellow kidlit writers.

Terry has always found solace in nature, going back to her childhood. “For hours, I could sit cradled in the branches of a tree, or perched on a rock watching the woods. Anytime I’m feeling restless, worried, or at a breaking point, if I can get out in nature I’m instantly calmed and can put things in perspective. And I love writing in the woods! I carry a waterproof journal and pencil in my backpack because my muse often appears in nature. In fact, I wrote MAMA LOVES YOU SO outside, inspired by the grandeur of the mountains.

 

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The place in nature that nurtures me the most are the Sierra Nevada mountains. Whether I’m sunning on a boulder, climbing, hiking, listening to a stream, or watching wildlife (hopefully with a camera in hand), I’m at peace in the mountains. I once spent five weeks hiking from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney, one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

John Muir, one of my favorite writers, once wrote, ‘Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. So true! My hope is that MAMA LOVES YOU SO will inspire parents to take their little ones outdoors so they can learn to love nature and feel its benefits, too.”

 

Author Debbi Michiko Florence finds, “Whenever my mind gets too busy or I feel overwhelmed by my Things To Do list, all I need to do is step outside. I have two ducks (Darcy and Lizzy) and at least twice a day I have ‘duck time.’

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I let them out of their coop to wander the yard and I sit there, watching them, listening to bird song (and duck quacks), breathe the fresh air and watch the clouds roll by. My mind settles and I get present with what is. Duck time is meditative for me and nurtures me like nothing else.”

 

 

Author Hayely Barrett appreciates animals too. “As much as I love people, I’m deeply thankful that humans aren’t the only creatures on this planet. Life on Earth is spectacularly varied, and whether I watch a video of a jaguar slinking through the rainforest or spot a fisher slinking through my yard, I am cheered.

Me and Munchkin

Hayley and Munchkin, fully themselves

I enjoy the company of non-humans, horses and dogs especially. They are fully themselves—unchanging and at peace—and spending time with them helps me to remember who I am too.”

 

 

 

 

Author Katie Slivensky shares,

bluejoyNature calms me by giving me something to focus on that is external. I was stuck on some summary work during a snow day in February, and then a paused and spent an hour taking pictures of blue jays outside. That took my mind away from my book troubles, and when I came back around to work on those summaries later, I had a much easier time.”

 

Author Megan Lloyd’s debut picture book celebrates kids in nature, and she finds support there herself. “When I find myself getting anxious, with my heart racing and my thoughts swirling, going outside for a walk, or just taking a minute to sit in the sunshine, centers me. It helps me let go of my problems and instead feel absorbed in the beauty around me. And then I’m ready to take a deep breath…and return to my challenges (writing and otherwise), with a renewed sense of perspective and focus.”

Author and agent Ammi-Joan Paquette knows where writers can find an ever-present boost beyond their writing chair, saying, “Nature is nurturing because it is always accepting, always peaceful, always there. It’s like a personal magic kingdom that lies in wait for whenever you need it.”

And wherever any of us are in the writing and publishing process, there’s not one of us who couldn’t use plenty of that.

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Filed under Book Launch, Inspiration, Nature, Thankfulness, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

Border Collies and Babies—It’s Never Too Soon To Start (plus a giveaway!)

The story I’m about to tell is relevant to Terry Pierce’s MAMA LOVES YOU SO. I promise.

mama-loves-you-so-coverYears ago, my brother got a beautiful border collie puppy. I remember how excited Warren was, and I remember the solemn advice the breeder gave him. It was this: Show the dog everything he’s ever going to see within the first six months of his life. In short, it was Warren and his family’s responsibility to quickly give intelligent, impressionable Comet the information he’d need to thrive.

*presses pause on dog story*

My first professional, if unrequited, love is midwifery. Permit me to geek out for a bit.

The importance of verbally communicating with babies—and I mean from about 6 months gestation onward—cannot be overstated. Auditory function in the human fetus is complete at 7 months. Not only do they hear and respond to outside noises, research suggests babies learn intonation and can develop a basic recognition of words before birth. After birth, newborns rapidly form brain synapses that correspond with their birth language. In fact, studies have shown that young children who leave their birth language behind through immigration or adoption retain an enhanced ability to relearn it. Cool, huh?

Now let’s talk about MAMA LOVES YOU SO. This book, meant for the tiny ears of the tiniest of people, employs exquisitely rich and melodic language. It describes a world that is sparkling, stony, and ablaze. These are words an adult would be happy to use on a given day. MAMA LOVES YOU SO is crammed full of such delicious and nutritious words. It’s a brain-building buffet for babies and a boon to the brave souls who care for them. Baby and Book

Babies are exhausting. I know. I’ve had two babies, and two aren’t many at all. My in-laws had ten. My parents had five. Have I wondered if  I’m a slacker in the baby department? Yes. But that’s not my point.

Babies require mountains of back-breaking, laundry-making, sleep-taking care, and that’s just to keep them alive. We’re also supposed to educate, encourage, and entertain them. While all forms of communication nourish babies’ language readiness, including singing and everyday conversation, it’s challenging to know what to sing or say to a baby all day, every day.

I ask you, how are sleep-deprived people, wracked as they are with desperate love and stabs of anxiety, supposed to dredge up words like ablaze? They need books. They need books to give them words when they are too tired or overwhelmed to think up their own. Their children are primed to quickly learn millions of discrete, dynamic words, and optimally, they’d possess this treasure trove before starting school.  Where language acquisition is concerned, variety isn’t the spice of life, it is life. Books like MAMA LOVES YOU SO are a sure and happy route to that variety.

We must encourage caregivers, all the caregivers, to talk to babies early and often. Encourage them to talk to the belly, to sing to it, explain stuff to it, and for the love of literacy, to read to it. Encourage them to talk to the newborn. To sing. To explain. To read. We can smile at them benevolently when they do all of this in public. If we get the chance, we can give the caregiver a minute to shower and eat something while we talk, sing, explain, and read.

It might be possible to show a puppy everything it’s ever going to see in six months, but it’s impossible for a human newborn. Luckily, we have opposable thumbs, and opposable thumbs are great for making bookstores and libraries. That’s where Terry Pierce’s beautiful and important MAMA LOVES YOU SO can be found, ready and waiting to offer intelligent, impressionable young people information they need to thrive.

*presses play on dog story* 

Comet lived a long and happy life. He understood his world and how to conduct himself in it, thanks to purposeful attention to his formative experiences. May we do the same for each new child. We have longer than six months to accomplish it, but we don’t have forever. It’s never too soon to start.

 

Terry is giving away a signed copy of MAMA LOVES YOU SO as part of her book launch week. How to enter? Leave a comment below! For every comment you make this week—and please comment only once per day—she’ll enter your name into the giveaway.

Additional resources:

http://www.tipsonlifeandlove.com/book-mom

Valerie Garfield, Simon & Schuster editor of MAMA LOVES YOU SO, blogs about reading to and with children.

1000 Books Before Kindergarten

https://1000booksbeforekindergarten.org/about-us/mission-statement/


Enjoy the day,

Hayley
Hayley's Author PhotoI write for young people and live to make kids laugh. BABYMOON, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press, spring 2019. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, narrative nonfiction illustrated by Diana Sudyka, is also coming spring 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

 

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Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Celebrations, Inspiration, Picture books, reading, Uncategorized

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY! Interview with MAMA LOVES YOU SO illustrator, Simone Shin

I am tickled pink as a newborn babe to have my first board book, MAMA LOVES YOU SO, be released into the book world today! And how fun to have my fellow EMU’s right there with me (a bit like having a Mission Control flock at my side!).

Today’s post brings me an extra helping of book release fun! Not only do I get to bask in the warm light of having a new book come out but I also get to interview the illustrator who so perfectly captured the spirit of my book, the talented Simone Shin.

Thank you for answering a few questions today, Simone, and happy book birthday! I can’t express how much I love the illustrations in this book. I appreciate your taking the time to share a bit about yourself with us.

How long have you been illustrating children’s books?

I’ve been illustrating children’s books since about 2011.

 

How did you get started in children’s literature?

I studied illustration in college, and went directly into editorial illustration work. From there I made a segue into children’s books by joining SCBWI and meeting my agent eventually.

 

What made you decide to illustrate this book?

I saw the text and knew it was for newborns/infants, and thought that was unique and fantastic! From my own experience having a baby, I would have loved to have more newborn baby books available. I also was really into hiking and nature myself, pre-baby, and would have loved to have a book about a mom hiking with a newborn baby when my child was born, so I loved the idea.

 

When my agent (Tricia Lawrence) showed me the cover, we were both giddy! When I saw the interiors, three things stood out to me:  First, the color palette (gorgeous!). Second, your ability to illustrate nature/landscapes in a kid-friendly style. And third, how you went from a “wide-angle” view down to a “close-up” of the mother and baby.  Can you describe your process and the medium you used in creating the illustrations? How much collaboration was there with the team at Little Simon?

I use textures from painted material that are scanned and manipulated through photoshop when illustrating. Everything begins by sketching by hand on paper, then gets put into photoshop for more illustrating.  There were already some notes on what type of scenes they had in mind for each page, but the decisions to be up-close or far away were up to me (as well as most of the animals). I based my decisions on the way the text was supposed to be read and the dynamics that were already a part of the story.  Some of the ideas flowed very naturally, like the page that the notes called for all the animals to be on one spread (in which case I noticed the only option was to make a far away “map” of the entire landscape-which I loved!).  I had a lot of fun with colors in this book, I typically don’t go so bold and bright, and that is something Little Simon helped encourage me to do which I’m very happy about.

 

I just about cried when I saw the illustration with the bears (I’m “big on bears”). The only named animals in the text are the eagles and deer. How did you decide on what other animals to include?

I believe in general there was a suggestion to make animals in pairs (representing Mama and child). I decided on birds, butterflies, foxes, opossums, rabbits, etc. based on the scenes. There was a lot of collaboration in this book that way, there would be a suggested landscape, and I would create the landscape and make up the animals based on where the landscape took place. I wanted to go big (bear) and small (cricket), to include everyone–since almost everyone has a mama!

 

How does nature inspire you?

Natures inspires me a lot! Like I had mentioned before, I already love hiking and things like camping and beaches. I have always wanted to do more landscapes since I have a lot of childhood memories of road trips in cars going across the mid-west… I was so happy to have a change where I could illustrate something like this!

Thank you, Simone!

I will be giving away a signed copy of MAMA LOVES YOU SO as part of my book launch week. How to enter? Leave a comment below! For every comment you make, I will enter your name into the giveaway (Up to one comment per day.).

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About Terry Pierce…

When Terry’s son was little, she and her husband would hike with him in a “Gerrypack” to expose him to the beauty of nature. She got the idea for this story when he was a baby (he’s now 32).

Terry writes picture books, easy readers and board books and is whittling away at a middle-grade adventure novel. She lives in the California desert but avoids the summer heat by retreating to Mammoth Lakes every summer to hike, bike, write and dip her head in high mountain sky. She’s a Vermont College of Fine Arts graduate and teaches online children’s writing courses for UCLA Extension (go Bruins!).

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Filed under Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Illustrators, Interviews

Oh, Baby! Happy Launch Week Terry Pierce!

This week we are celebrating the launch of a book for newborns by Terry Pierce:

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Mama Loves You So by Terry Pierce, illustrated by Simone Shin (Little Simon/March 14, 2017)

This sweet book in rhyme celebrates nature and a mother’s love with gorgeous illustrations of animals and their young. A perfect bedtime (and really anytime) book to read to a little one.

We asked authors about a favorite baby book, either one read to them as infants or read to their own babies. Check out these baby pictures! And we’d love to hear about your favorite books from your childhood!

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Christina Uss: My twins’ favorite book as babies was Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance. Their eyes would get wide when I did this little dip-and-shuffle-thing and began “Stomp your feet…clap your hands…Everybody ready for the BARNYARD DANCE!”  Then their faces would crumble and tears began when I hit the last page – “The dance is done, but we’ll be back!”, so I’d just turn to the first page and start all over again. Literally for hours. I think they knew all the dancing and rhyme-reading must have meant their mama loved them so.

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Carole Gerber: My daughter’s favorite baby book was Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood. We read it to her at least a thousand times. She and her husband welcomed their first child four months ago. Joanna Mae (JoJo to her Mimi – that’s me!). JoJo isn’t yet old enough to let us know her favorite book. I am hoping it will be Tuck-In Time by Carole Gerber (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014).

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Hayley Barrett: My earliest memory of story doesn’t involve a book. My mom spent my babyhood singing songs and teaching me nursery rhymes. I knew them all, but my favorite was The Three Little Kittens. I recall reciting it with great dignity to the checkout ladies in Woolworth to much applause and laughter. I would have been about three years old then, similar to toddler Hayley in this picture. The earliest book Mom and I both recall was a Golden Book, The Little Red Hen. She created different voices for each character. I loved it then and still do.

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Jason Gallaher: The book that was a staple for my mom’s reading to me was Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.

 And finally, the lovely author of the lovely book —

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Terry Pierce: Neither my mom nor I can recall a specific book I loved as a baby, but she reassures me that I did have many books. My earliest recollection of a favorite story was Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I’m not sure if it was because I identified with Goldilocks (notice my hair color in the photo) or the fact that there was something so satisfying about things eventually being “just right” but I loved hearing that story over and over again. In fact, the more I think on it, the more I realize that the classic fairy tales were amongst my favorite stories—The Gingerbread Man, The Little Red Hen,…Wait! Porridge, gingerbread, baking bread, a photo of me with my birthday cake—I think I’m seeing a theme here!

GIVE-AWAY ALERT!  Terry will be giving away a signed copy of MAMA LOVES YOU SO as part of her book launch week. How to enter? Leave a comment below! For every comment you make, she will enter your name into the giveaway (up to one comment per day).


fullsizerender-2When Debbi Michiko Florence was young, she loved having her dad read Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss. Her dad got quite good at reading those tongue twisters!

Today, Debbi writes full time in her cozy studio, The Word Nest. Her favorite writing companions are her rabbit, Aki, and her two ducks, Darcy and Lizzy.

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen and Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth, the first two books of her debut chapter book series will be coming out from Farrar Straus Giroux on July 11, 2017, with two more books to follow. She is also the author of an early reader series, Dorothy & Toto (Picture Window Books/2016).

You can visit her online on her web site and her reading blog. She’s also on Twitter.

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Filed under Book Launch, Celebrations, Launch, Picture books

Countdown to Launch

jugglerIt’s 169 days until LOST BOYS is let loose to find it’s way in the world and into children’s hands. I recently got to meet my team at Henry Holt and confirmed what I’d been feeling over the last approximately 380 days we’ve been working together – I am lucky to be in their hands. Let me tell you people – there is nothing like walking through hall after hall of shiny bookcases filled with pretty children’s books and knowing yours is going to be there soon.

It’s been approximately 660 days since that champagne cloud of a day when the book sold, so you can imagine Launch Day brings equal parts elation and abject dread. I’m a juggler struggling to keep a large bowling pin, an apple and a chain saw in the air. Are we all done with edits? How will the book be viewed in this political climate? When shall I start the ARC tour? Is the website done? Have I thanked my new followers on Twitter? Am I getting new followers on Twitter? Have I booked my launch? And OMG – is the laundry done?

And in among that avalanche of questions is maybe the most crucial one. How is that work in progress – the next book? On this bright Monday morning I’m feeling good. I’ve finally jettisoned all those characters and scenes that weren’t serving my story and the path forward is clear. But Oh Lordy! Finding the headspace to give it the attention it deserves is not easy. That pure writing time is precious and dear and so different from the twirling tornado that is my everyday. So my friends, thank you for listening as I pledge to carve out time in the eye of my storm and hold in my sights an empty space on that shiny bookcase.

Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry darceyhighresHolt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and daughter, some fish, and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and dances.

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Filed under Book Launch, Uncategorized, Updates on our Books!