Tag Archives: Laurie Ann Thompson

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye!

I was lucky enough to have been able to convince the good folks here at Emu’s Debuts that my first three books were different enough from each other to qualify each and every one of them as a separate debut. And I’m sorely tempted to see just how far I can continue to push it… I mean, my next book to be published will be middle-grade nonfiction/fiction hybrid, which is totally different from a YA how-to or a picture-book biography, don’t you think? No, not really? Okay, probably not.

So, although I’ve put it off for as long as I could possibly justify (and then some), I guess the time has finally come for me to say farewell.

I published my introduction post in October of 2012, which means I’ve been here almost three years, and in that time I’ve seen quite a few Emus come and go. Despite the constant turnover due to the nature of this blog, however, one thing has remained wonderfully constant: the enthusiasm and supportiveness of the group for its members. I’m so lucky to have been a part of this blog for any time at all, let alone for such a long time and through three book releases. I think we’ve all done things we never dreamed we would (singing opera in Viking horns?) to cheer on one another’s book launches, and we had each other’s backs behind the scenes, too, for all of those burning newbie author questions like “What’s the best pen for signing?” and “Where did you get your bookmarks?” and “How do I throw a launch party?” I’ve read some truly amazing books because of my participation in this blog, I’ve learned an incredible amount about how to be a professional author, and I’ve made some great friends.

I was a software engineer before turning (back) to writing. Although I was never even remotely in competition with my colleagues in the technology industry (we were all working on the same product, after all), there was very little support to be found there. In fact, at times, it felt like quite the opposite. The programming culture seemed to be more about tearing each other down whenever possible. You’d think authors would be even more competitive given that we’re all trying to sell the same thing—books. But children’s book publishing is not that way at all.

From the international professional organization of SCBWI to its regional chapters, from our literary agency siblings to our critique groups, from our publishing houses to our marketing collectives, children’s book publishing is built on supportive, nurturing communities, and I’m fortunate enough to be a part of many of them. I value them all, but the Emu’s Debuts community will forever hold a very dear place in my heart. Thank you to all of those who worked to make it a reality before my arrival, thank you to everyone who shared their journey along with me, and thank you to those who will keep the blog going in the months and years ahead. It’s a special place, celebrating a special time, with special people contributing their time, energy, and love.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye…

goodbye.

 


Laurie Ann Thompson head shotLaurie Ann Thompson’s debut young-adult nonfiction, BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS, was published by Beyond Words/Simon Pulse in September, 2014. Her debut nonfiction picture book, EMMANUEL’S DREAM, was published by Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House in January 2015. MY DOG IS THE BEST, her debut fiction picture book, was released June 9, 2015, from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Macmillan. She has said she doesn’t write novels, but she may have to just so she can rejoin Emu’s Debuts someday.

Please visit Laurie at her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.

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Filed under Colleagues, Farewell, Thankfulness, Writing and Life

WHOSE Dog is the best??

 

covermydogIn Laurie Ann Thompson’s wonderful new release, My Dog is the Best, illustrated by Paul Schmid, a boy gives his reasons for why his dog is absolutely the best, in his world and in his heart. No doubt, the dog depicted in this delightful picture book is outstanding–and it got us all thinking about the pets who bless our lives, and why they, too, are the best!

 

JanetFoxDog
Janet Fox, author of several titles for young readers, wanted you to know that HER dog is the best–because he loves his toys to pieces.

 

“This is my dog, Sable,” says author Rebecca VanSlyke. “Sable is the best because she is such a smart dog! She can dorebeccavsdog many tricks, from the regular sit, down, stay tricks to things like ‘High Five,’ ‘Shake,’ ‘Roll over,’ ‘Be cute,’ and ‘Sit up.’ When she needs to go outside, she rings a bell that we keep by the back door.  She also plays the piano (a little Fisher-Price toy piano), says her prayers (putting her nose on her paws and waiting for her treat until I say, ‘Amen!’ and when I point my finger at her and say, ‘BANG!’ she falls over on her side and lies still. Plus she’s just so doggone cute!”

 

Donna Bowman Bratton tells us, “Here’s a picture of Sparky Malarky, our lovable shelter dog with super powers. BesidesSparky incessant begging, which is both adorable and annoying, he can pierce the human soul by morphing his eyes from doggy-joy to pathetic tale of woe. He’s a master manipulator. And it works for him every time.”

 

Tam's Pets“The cat is Bantam,” Tamara Ellis Smith explains. “The dog is Fundy.  Fundy is our 15 year old chocolate lab.  She is deaf and blind and, as you can see from the picture, her back legs are barely working anymore so we need this harness to help her get up to go outside.  Fundy is also easily agitated these days…she seems to go in and out of senility.  She gets confused and seems to not know where she is at times. Bantam, our six year old cat, is her best friend. Every time he comes in from being outside, he goes straight to Fundy to say hello.  He weaves his body in and around hers, rubs her face with his nose, purrs so that that she can feel the rumble.  He takes care of her, plain and simple.  It truly seems like that.  And he has gotten more vigilant about it, the older she has gotten.”

 

 

christinehayesdogChristine Hayes wants you to meet her dog, too. “Here’s our funny Wheaten Terrier, Chewie (short for Chewbacca). We chose him because he doesn’t shed (allergies) and because he’s like a big teddy bear. He also looks a lot like the family dog, Cotton, that I adored growing up. Plus he keeps me company during the day. I may have been known to carry on conversations with him from time to time, and he never argues or talks back!”

 

Megan Morrison offers up this entry into the world’s best dog. “This is Jake, my brother’s dog, and the best loved dog I’ve everJakeDog known. My brother took the Jake dog to work every day. They were never apart for long. Jake was a big bullmastiff and the sweetest, gentlest animal. He loved children. He loved everybody – and everybody loved him. He listened to everything my brother said; they were like their own pack of two. Jake passed away last year, and it was rough for the whole family. He really was the best.” How could anyone resist THIS FACE?

 

pennyparkerklostermanndogPenny Parker Klostermann admits that she defected to cats in her adult years–but she’s no stranger to beloved pups. She sent a picture of a dog she had in childhood that she’s never forgotten. “Tippy had the privilege of being the first puppy to live with the Parker girls and they all agreed that he was the BEST dog ever. He was named for the white tip on his tail. As you can see, there were four girls to love on him, so Tippy never lacked for petting or playmates.”

 

Maria Gianferrari makes no excuses for believing her dog is the most awesome ever. “Becca is the best! She’s a Dixie Chick,mariasdog a rescue dog from Chattanooga, Tennessee. We’re so lucky and grateful that kind-hearted souls rescued her after she was dumped on the side of a highway! She was meant to be in our family. We had a friend who was about to have a baby girl, and I was discussing some possible names with my daughter who was then four. And the name “Rebecca” popped into my head. The next day, I went on Petfinder and found our Rebecca. I just fell in love with her sweet face in this photo, and knew she’d be the perfect dog for us. She was transported on a rescue truck to NH, where we picked her up. That was in August 2006, and she’s been the best family member, writing companion, and dog sister to Anya, who’s an only child. She’s playful, yet mellow, and so very tolerant. And she’s doesn’t bark often, only when alerting us to someone at the door. She’s definitely the best dog in the universe!!”

 

 lukeandfrodoAs for me, I have THREE dogs, and couldn’t begin to pick which one is the best. Instead, I’ll just volunteer them as adorable, and much-loved. Here are two of them, the tiniest (Frodo) and the hugest (Luke) making the best of a warm spring afternoon on our front porch.

 

Finally, you may be wondering what Laurie’s dog thinks of her mother’s new masterpiece. Laurie says, “My dog, Prim, loves the title, but wonders why the dog in the book looks nothing like her.”

 

lauriethompsondog
PrimII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, is your dog actually the best? Tell us all about that special pup in a comment, and get a chance to win a giveaway! To purchase this outstanding book, check out these links:

University Books (for “authographed” copies!)

Indiebound

Macmillan Kids

Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

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Susan Vaught

Susan Vaught is the author of many books for young adults, such as TRIGGER, BIG FAT MANIFESTO, and FREAKS LIKE US. Her debut novel for middle-grade readers, FOOTER DAVIS PROBABLY IS CRAZY, published by Simon & Schuster, hit the shelves in March, 2015. Please visit Susan at her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.

 

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Laurie Thompson is the BEST.

Sometimes we pick up a book because it simply looks excellent, and sometimes we pick up a book because we want to support an author who happens to be an excellent human being.

Laurie Ann Thompson head shot

She is also extra pretty.

Today, we can do both.

Laurie Ann Thompson is wonderful. Her debut picture book, MY DOG IS THE BEST, is wonderful too. She and illustrator Paul Schmid have created a gem that’s full of charm, heart, and huggable warmth – much like Laurie herself. Today, we celebrate not only MY DOG IS THE BEST, but also the bestness of its author, whose kindness and guidance has helped every single one of us Emus to become more sure-footed on this publishing journey. Everyone lucky enough to know Laurie is ready and willing to sing her praises. Here’s why.

Lindsey Lane

Laurie is community. She believes in it. She fosters it. She creates it. Whether I have a bumbling tech question or a crisis of confidence or a query about the politics of social media, she is ALWAYS there to help and advise. Her generosity of spirit is beyond compare. Laurie Thompson is the best. Really. I feel lucky to know her.

 Ammi-Joan Paquette

Laurie is an incredible multi-tasker: fiction PBs? Non-fiction PBs? Non-fiction for teens? You name it, she can do it. She’s organized and creative and her research skills—and attention to detail—never cease to amaze me. What’s more, she does it all with a smile and warm glow about her that just can’t be faked. Laurie Thompson is the real deal!

Tamara Ellis Smith

I’m not sure I can do brief when it comes to describing supportive and Laurie Thompson in the same breath. Laurie has been such a wonderful support to me personally, both emotionally (with such kind words about my book deal and my first EMU blog post and and and… the list goes on) and logistically (giving me technical pointers and book launch ideas and and and…THAT list goes on too!)  And the thing is…I know she is this way for so many people.  Laurie is just simply kind hearted and articulate.  At her core. Which is a very lovely, very unique combination!  🙂  She is a gentle, smart leader and a creative, intuitive soul.  I am grateful to know her.  (And I will never forget FINALLY meeting her in Vermont at the 2014 EMLA retreat.  it was a little like coming home.)

Christine Hayes

When I was nervous about joining EMU’s Debuts, Laurie welcomed me in and answered my many questions with kindness and patience. Throughout my time here she has been a steady presence: calm, smart, down-to-earth, supportive, super talented…I could go on and on! My favorite memory, though, is going horseback riding with Laurie and her family during the EMLA retreat in Montana. Although my back was mad at me for a few days afterward, I will never forget the spectacular scenery and the unique opportunity to chat with Laurie and learn first-hand what a fantastic human being she is.

Penny Parker Klostermann

Laurie Thompson is the BEST because she’s an expert at spreading EMU love. She’s a HUGE supporter of EMUs, as well as children’s authors in general. Luckily, she’s always there to answer technical WordPress questions. Laurie’s an EMU guru and we’re going to miss her terribly when she moves on to the EMU Emeriti Lounge. Love you, Laurie!

Maria Gianferrari

Laurie Thompson is the BEST—period .  I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Laurie in person, and yet, through all of our online exchanges, I feel very connected to her. I think it’s a combination of things: we have a lot in common, but she also just generally exudes warmth and kindness, and that’s not an easy thing to do in the cyber world, let alone in the real one. Laurie’s books, especially Be a Changemaker and Emmanuel’s Dream, are so inspirational and moving. They make me want to be a better person. And My Dog is the Best is sweet and funny. I really look forward to the day when we’ll finally meet in person!

Elaine Braithwaite Vickers

Laurie Thompson is the best! I met Laurie about two years ago and was immediately impressed by how kind she is. There are people who preach kindness (which is good!), and then there are people like Laurie, who embody it in a hundred ways each day. And that’s the best.

Mylisa Larsen

Laurie Thompson is the best because she can write fiction and nonfiction, long form and short form, she can herd emus with grace and good humor, she can steer people through trauma-with-technology crises with endless patience, and she does all this with a smile and a sense of humor. She may just be the best of the best.

Kevan Atteberry

Laurie Thompson is the best. As a support group member she is supportive (natch) and enthusiastic and so damn smart! As a friend she is also supportive and enthusiastic and caring. Her cheer is contagious. She has the best smile, the best laugh and is always a pleasure to be around. Laurie has a heart that not only sings, but takes requests.

Megan Morrison

Laurie Thompson is the best because she is truly kind. When she finds good in the world, she happy cries. When someone is flailing, her first instinct is to help. I wrote a whole post based on her helpful spirit. Laurie was the person who took me under her wing at my first Kid Lit Drinks Night and introduced me to everyone so that I wouldn’t have to stand around feeling new and awkward. She’s a class act from the old school, who promptly sends handwritten thank-you notes when they are called for (I know this because she sent one to my mother that surprised and delighted her). She also genuinely supports kids in their endeavors. One of my students is devoted to another of Laurie’s books, BE A CHANGEMAKER, and Laurie has sent him supportive e-mails, encouraging swag, and links to grant applications throughout the school year. Truly, she is outstanding.

Laurie Ann Thompson, congratulations on this debut, and thank you for being you.

 

Laurie’s debut fiction picture book, MY DOG IS THE BEST, is available at University Book Store, Amazon, Powell’s, and Indiebound.

Laurie herself, unlike her book, unfortunately cannot be cloned and distributed nationwide. But if you ever get a chance to attend one of her author visits or to meet her at SCBWI, you should take the opportunity.

You should also comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of MY DOG IS THE BEST!

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“My Dog is the Best!” Illustrator Interview with Paul Schmid

covermydog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laurie Thompson’s book, “My Dog is the Best!” is an adorably funny and sweet picture book with equally adorable art! I was lucky enough to interview the illustrator , Paul Schmid
(illustrator/author extradonaire of our household favorite, “Petunia’s Pet” among others)  And, he sent sketches! (As an illustrator myself, I love seeing the sketches!)

Thanks so much for your great answers, Paul!

 

1. Your style changes a bit from book to book. Were there any particular things that influenced the soft & cuddly style of “My Dog is the Best!”? Did you use any new tools or processes? 

Paul: Laurie’s book is so sweet and endearing, and I wanted the design of the characters to provide clues to who they are. The dog in the book just wants to nap, so I imagined an old, tolerant, comfortable Basset Hound of established habits. The boy is much more active, but young and naive. He is also sweet and loving, so I felt the boy needed a kind, gullible, gentle look that was at the same time visually sympathetic to his dog, in order to form an emotional connection between the two for the reader. Therefore they both ended up round and gentle looking.
early dog  dog sketch   boy sketch

 

2. Did the style or look change through the creation process or did you know how you wanted it to look in the beginning?

 

Paul: I developed the look for the characters fairly quickly, but the overall design of the book took several stages. We went from simple, to busy, then back to simple again. I really wanted the art to visually be in harmony with the story, which is so full of warmth and gentle humor.

Early  design:

 

 early design early cover
Final cover sketch:
cover design

3. Laurie said you have been friends for years but that the book was offered to you without a name, did you feel more pressure or less once you found out that Laurie was the author?

Paul: I fell in love with Laurie’s manuscript right away. It came in an email from my agent, who asked if I was interested in illustrating this story. Before I had even finished reading it I was sketching. By the time I did finish reading it, I had the book all laid out in my mind. Here are some excerpts from my emails with my agent:

“Initial impression: I love it. Laughed out loud even without knowing the dog was sleeping. Need time to digest tho. –PLENTY you can do visually with a sleeping dog!! Plenty. Really, it could be hilarious.”
Six minutes later I wrote again:
“Hell, there is nothing to think about. I’ll take it. I can’t wait to get started.”
When, a few days later I get an email from Laurie, informing me the manuscript was hers, I was even more delighted!

 

4. The difference between the words and the pictures is brilliant. Did you realize the joke as soon as you read the story or did that come later in the process?

Paul: It came in the editor’s notes that the author had envisioned it that way, but as inferred above, I started in on the manuscript before reading the notes. If I remember right, about halfway in I thought it could be screamingly funny to have the dog sleeping. Great minds think alike.

Pairing the active, enthusiastic boy with a sedentary dog just trying to get a nap in is rich in visual irony, and, as I’m sure Laurie knew, a juicy gift to the illustrator.
 
dog poses

 

Thanks again, Paul. You’re the best for answering my questions!

Remember, just comment on any post this week and you will have a chance to win a signed copy of Laurie’s book!

Or order your copy right now. You can find it at University Book Store  as well as:

Amazon

Powell’s

Indiebound

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Finding my balance between promotion and writing

On Thursday, Luke put up an honest, heartfelt post about the realities of being a writer (please go read it right now—all the way to the end!). There are often many years spent waiting—writing, revising, submitting, revising again, submitting again, writing something new, repeat—the quiet, largely unrecognized work behind the scenes. We long for that golden ticket, that recognition, that validation that will make all of that effort worth it.

Then, finally, success: we’re published! We think our new status will make things easier for us somehow, like we discovered the secret formula and can just apply it over and over whenever we need to produce a publishable manuscript. In some ways it does: people do take you more seriously when you’re published. But in many other ways, it actually makes things harder.

I’ve seen writers with a successful first book struggle with the second, fearful that it won’t live up to their previous work. Others want to write something completely different, but feel pigeon-holed in a single genre. An unlucky few are so stung by negative reviews that they have a hard time putting themselves out there for more. Still others spend so much time promoting the first book that they simply don’t have time to write another one!

My challenge was similar to Luke’s: It’s so exciting to check on the status of your book, so compelling to want to nudge it out into the world a bit more, so easy to pop in and do quick, light promotion. And there’s always more you can be doing pre- or post-launch to get the word out. You’re constantly wondering what else you should be doing, who else you should be talking to. It’s easy to completely lose yourself in the world of that first book.

It’s not so much that you don’t have time to write anymore. You really don’t have to do all of those things. It’s more that all of the checking, nudging, and promoting feels necessary. It seems important. In fact, it feels like a betrayal of your first book—and, heaven forbid, of that first publisher who took a chance on you and made all of your big dreams come true!—to do anything less. It’s exceedingly difficult to switch gears and go back to the waiting; back to the quiet, largely unrecognized work behind the scenes; back to the writing.

This was actually one of the scariest and hardest parts of the whole journey for me. For months after Be a Changemaker came out, I worried that I’d never be able to write again, never be able to get myself back into that mindset, back to the focus and discipline needed to dive into writing something new. It was part of the process that I wasn’t at all expecting, and it took me completely off guard. Fortunately, I had other author friends (mostly Emus!) to discuss it with. They all said things like, “Yep, the same thing happened to me. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.”

And, you know what? I did. I’m back to writing, and I’m loving it. I still do promotion, and I’m loving that, too. But, I’m finally starting to find my balance, discovering ways to foster the creative beginning of the process with one project while at the same time managing the more analytical business end of the process on another.

As I told the kids at the school visit I did last Friday: “Writers write. Period.” And, eventually, we discover that the writing itself is what makes it all worth it. We realize that we can’t NOT write. And we get back to work.

Writers write


Laurie Ann Thompson head shotLaurie Ann Thompson’s debut young-adult nonfiction, BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS, was published by Beyond Words/Simon Pulse in September, 2014. Her debut nonfiction picture book, EMMANUEL’S DREAM, was published by Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House in January 2015. MY DOG IS THE BEST, her debut fiction picture book, will be available June 9, 2015, from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Macmillan. Maybe then they’ll finally force her to retire from Emu’s Debuts, unless…

Please visit Laurie at her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.

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Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Colleagues, Creativity, Discipline

Everyone Has a Story… and We Need Them All

MLK Day panel at WSHM

Last Monday, I was honored to participate in a panel on diversity and changemaking in children’s literature as part of a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration at the Washington State History Museum (you can read an excellent summary of the full panel here). In preparing for my part of the panel, I couldn’t help thinking back to my Emu’s Debuts from exactly two years ago (have a really been here that long? Meep!). That seemed like a good place for me to start.

In that old blog post, I referenced an MLK quote that resonated with me…

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

…and I talked about how our job as authors is to facilitate that kind of communication through story, whether true or fictional, and how stories can speak to universal human truths, even when the specific life experiences and situations are very different, such as mine and Emmanuel’s, as shown in Emmanuel’s Dream.

While drafting my recent speech, I also went through my transcripts from my interview with Emmanuel in 2010 and stumbled across this gem I hadn’t noticed before for some reason. He told me,

“When you hear about so many people—their story and their lives—you can say whoa, that guy’s story sounds like my story. It’s familiar. Because you know, the rich person has a story to tell, and the poor person has a story to tell, and the person who won the race has a story to tell, and the person who is in last place has a story to tell. So people have to come together to educate ourselves with stories, so that we can be able to move forward.”

As I concluded in my speech on Monday, I believe Emmanuel is right: stories will help us move forward. I have almost nothing in common with Emmanuel, yet his story touched me, and I hope it touches young readers, too. I hope it will help them understand and value other people despite their obvious differences. I also hope it will show them that each and every one of us—including themselves—has value and can make a positive difference in the world, just like Emmanuel did, and just like Dr. King did.

Their stories matter, and so do everyone else’s. That’s why so many of us in the children’s literature community are supporting the We Need Diverse Books campaign. The more diversity we have in our stories, and in our storytellers, the more we can all communicate with one another, the less we will all fear each other, and the better we can all get along. Diversity in literature builds understanding, and understanding builds empathy. With enough mirrors and windows, maybe we can finally stop the hate.

So, please, keep sharing stories–stories like Emmanuel’s, Dr. King’s, and, most importantly, your own. The world needs them all, now more than ever.


Laurie Ann Thompson head shotLaurie Ann Thompson’s debut young-adult nonfiction, BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS, was published by Beyond Words/Simon Pulse in September, 2014. Her debut nonfiction picture book, EMMANUEL’S DREAM, was published by Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House in January 2015. MY DOG IS THE BEST, her debut fiction picture book, will be available June 2015 from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Macmillan (May 2015). Maybe then they’ll finally force her to retire from Emu’s Debuts, unless…
Please visit Laurie at her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.

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Dreams to Inspire

All week you’ve been hearing about Laurie Ann Thompson’s gorgeous and inspiring debut Emmanuel’s Dream. Laurie has captured a true story that will resonate with young readers through its message of hope and determination in the face of adversity. Today, we’re bringing you some other inspiring thoughts – books and quotes that nurture our souls and our writing in much the same way as Emmanuel’s Dream is sure to nurture readers.

Read on, and then, go become a Dreamer!

Susan Vaught says this quote has been on her wall for a year and inspires her every day, and is true for Emmanuel: “Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.”

after_ever_afterMylisa Larsen says, “I really love Jordan Sonnenblick’s After Ever After. It’s about an eighth grade boy who had leukemia when he was younger and still has residual effects and disabilities caused by the chemotherapy…it’s inspiring…and it’s hilarious…When a book works for both a 47-year-old mom and an 11-year-old boy, that’s a keeper.”

Donna Janell Bowman responded with her favorite: “Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy, by Bill Wise, illustrated by Adam Gustavson. A childhood illness left Hoy (1862-1961,) deaf, but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the pioneers of Major League Baseball. He is credited wiSilent Starth creating the hand signals that are still used today in baseball. I had done some research on William Hoy before this book came out, and found his story so remarkable. Imagine playing early baseball, when all calls were verbal, yet finding a way to fit in, invent a solution, and grow into a record-setting ball player. Wow!”

Maria Gianferrari says, “When I think of Laurie Thompson’s Emmanuel’s Dream, the first book that comes to mind is A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, by Jen Bryant, with illustrations by Melissa Sweet, an inspiring tale about artist Horace Pippin. Horace is a young boy who loves to draw, but aftdownloader his father leaves, he must work to help support his family, just as Emmanuel helps to support his family…Horace enlists as a soldier in WWI, and his right arm is irrevocably injured…[yet] he finds a way to paint by supporting his injured arm with his good one…Both Horace and Emmanuel have indomitable spirits, and resourceful natures…being disabled does not mean being un-able.”

Penny Parker Klosterman added this: “One of the books that really inspired me this year is Grandfather Gandhi (Arun Ghandi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk). This is a story of how Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun, wondered how he could be a Gandhi when he felt anger instead of peace. I love this line that proved a turning point for Arun. ‘Arun, we can all work to use our anger, instead of letting it use us.’ “71i8tQLQl0L

And I’ll end with one of my own favorite inspirations, Sherman Alexie’s novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Despite being bullied for his disabilities and his outsider status as Native American in an all-white school, Junior “attacks life with wit and humor and discovers a strength inside of himself.” Junior dreams big, just like Emmanuel.

Don’t forget to comment here to be included in our giveaway of a copy of Emmanuel’s Dream!

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Emmanuel’s Dream Launch Party Continues With Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette

We are having a wonderful week as we celebrate the release of Laurie Ann Thompson’s new book, Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah. Laurie has done an amazing job of telling Emmanuel’s inspiring story.cover

Remember to comment on any post this week and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Emmanuel’s Dream.

Ammi-Joan PaquetteToday we are happy to have Laurie’s agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, on the blog to answer a few questions about working with Laurie.

How did you come to represent Laurie?
AMMI-JOAN PAQUETTE: I first started corresponding with Laurie in 2010, when Erin sent her my way as someone she felt might be an excellent fit for my list and interests. She couldn’t have been  more right! Laurie and I corresponded for a good year, during which time she did some terrific revisions and sent me a number of her projects to consider. The more time that passed, and the more I read, the more I knew that I had to work with her. The combination of passion for her subjects, a strong desire to make a difference, and of course incredible writing talent had me hooked!

What was it about Emanuel’s Dream that caught your attention?
AMMI-JOAN PAQUETTE: EMMANUEL’S DREAM (then under a different title) was actually the first project that Laurie queried me with! At the time I was looking for a non-fiction author to work with, and both this character and his story really compelled me. I was also impressed that when I sent Laurie revision notes, she dug in with zest and really transformed the project.–Not only that, but during this time of revision she actually met with Emmanuel Yeboah in person (and came out of the meeting with 18 pages of notes, which she then used to inform her next draft). EMMANUEL’S DREAM has changed hugely over the course of its polishing, submission, and later still further after acquisition. But the core story is still the same as it first was, and it has only gotten more glorious in the retelling.

Laurie’s book, Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, debuted in September. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah is a changemaker and did start something that matters. Does Laurie have other books on the horizon that highlight people who have changed the world?
AMMI-JOAN PAQUETTE: I guess you’re seeing a trend here, aren’t you? I can’t get into specifics here, but Laurie definitely has other ideas in mind spotlighting people who have changed the world. I love this side of Laurie’s passion and I’m eager to see how these next projects may come together!

We’re eager to see them too, Joan. Thanks for joining us for launch week and sharing about your work with Laurie.

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 Remember to comment on any post this week and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Emmanuel’s Dream. Pick up a signed copy at  Secret Garden Bookshop (if you add your personalization request in the comments section, Laurie will sign it for you!) or check out IndieBound for a local bookstore near you. Of course, you can also find it on Amazon.com or BN.com.

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Filed under Agents, Book Giveaway, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Launch

Introducing EMMANUEL’S DREAM (plus a book giveaway)

Every week,  I come out of the library lugging an armful of picture books. I’m looking for one thing–a good story, well told, with beautiful art. It’s a rare find. So it is a pure pleasure to introduce you to just such a book today–Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls is out in the world. It’s a great story, told in a storyteller’s voice with art that beautifully complements the telling.

coverWe’ll be celebrating that book all week here. We have a book giveaway. Interviews with the illustrator, Sean Qualls, and Laurie’s agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette. A roundup of  places where you can find out more about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah. And the Emus recommendations for other inspiring books. It’s going to be a great week.

And it’s all in support of a great book.

Here’s what some other people have been saying about it: “Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah’s inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel’s Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable.

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.

Thompson’s lyrical prose and Qualls’s bold collage illustrations offer a powerful celebration of triumphing over adversity.” (Schwartz and Wade, publisher’s web page.)

and

“Emmanuel is a young boy born in Ghana who overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to prove that disabled does not mean unable. In Ghana, individuals who are differently abled are often seen as useless or cursed, but Emmanuel never let that stand in his way. Despite having only one leg, he attended school, hopping two miles each way, earned money to support his family without having to beg, and bicycled 400 miles in just 10 days in an attempt to change the conversation about disabilities. Emmanuel’s Dream is an inspirational story about a young man who recognized injustice, set out to fix it, and refused to take no for an answer.” —Sara Grochowski, Brilliant Books, Traverse City, MI (Winter 2014-2015 Kids’ Indie Next List)
 soccer
Comment on any post this week and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Emmanuel’s Dream. Pick up a signed copy at  Secret Garden Bookshop (if you add your personalization request in the comments section, Laurie will sign it for you!) or check out IndieBound for a local bookstore near you. Of course, you can also find it on Amazon.com or BN.com.

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Filed under Book Giveaway, Celebrations

Shiny Packages

115061459_c3f31c4ae2_zNo, not those kinds of packages.

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Over there.

Have you noticed? All those new book covers along the left? In the past several weeks, a bunch of us have gotten cover art. We now know what our books are going to look like on a bookstore or library shelf. Take a minute to scroll down the left side and see the different styles.

Aren’t they glorious?

Cover art is a big deal. That cover has to get the right reader to pick up the right book. Like visual matchmaking. The cover has to say, “You should open this book. You are going to love this story.” All this has to happen in the one or two seconds that it takes for a casual glance.

So, how well do these covers do? Try something. Imagine all of them without the titles, without the names of the creators. Just the art. Even without being able to see the trim sizes, can you still tell which are YA, which are middle grade, which are picture books? Can you still tell which ones are funny? Which are mysteries? Pretty nice, huh? (I think this even works with Susan’s book where the title is the art. If you preserved that cover just as splashes of color with those quirky drawings, I think it would still say contemporary middle grade, funny.)

It makes me want to pick up a stack of these books and spend a few days curled up on the couch.

BUNNIES cover9780449817445All of us at Emu’s Debuts will be taking a short break over the holidays. But in January, you actually will be able to curl up with Kevan Atteberry’s BUNNNIES!!! and Laurie Thompson’s EMMANUEL’S DREAM. Stay tuned for the wild rejoicings.

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Filed under cover art