Join me in welcoming fellow rhymer and picture book author, Gayle Krause, whose brand new picture book, DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON (Clear Fork Publishing), debuts this month! Gayle is the author of several books and a talented poet. She and I met as critique partners years ago in the critique group, The Poets’ Garage. Today, I am honored to have her as my guest sharing the inspiration behind her newest book. Thank you, Gayle!
The Inspiration behind DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON by Gayle Krause
Some people say children inspire them, some say it’s a feeling, or a dream. For this special picture book, I can’t explain how it came to be. My stories are usually filled with fantastic creatures, magic, or some silly, humorous happening. But not this one! This picture book is serious, and for me that’s a complete 180.
As former Early Childhood Educator, I taught Children’s Literature to prospective teachers as part of their training program for over thirty years. I also directed a Laboratory Pre-K, affiliated with my teaching course. It was there, as I sat on the floor of the nursery school, reading countless picture books to the preschoolers, or acting out fairytales as creative dramatic presentations that I became uniquely attuned to the young child’s mind.
DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON? was a combination of the memory of one little boy that was having a difficult time accepting the time frame of his dad’s separation from the family (preschoolers do not understand the concept of time) and the military family reunions shown on the news each night when soldiers come home to surprise their children at school, baseball games, or parades.
I will say this. The idea for Daddy, Can You See The Moon? came all at once— the story, the rhyme, and the emotion. Good stories always come fast. Straight from the heart, with no pre-judging or revising before you choose the words. And this story is timeless…
Soldiers will always be deployed and children will always be waiting patiently, counting the days when their Mom or Dad returns from war. But sometimes they don’t come home the same way they left. In Daddy, Can You See the Moon? a young boy and his soldier dad share special moments by looking at the moon each night. But when Dad comes home wounded, his son discovers it’s the power of love that kept them connected all along, and he plays a major part in his father’s recovery.
We chose April 9, 2019 as the release date to celebrate The Month of The Military Child. So if you know a soldier, who was deployed and came back wounded, this book may help the family heal. And for those of you who aren’t in the military, it’s a universal story about the love of family.
Thank you, Gayle! I wish you the very best as you launch this very special book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gayle C. Krause is a member of SCBWI, and a past member of the Historical Novel Society and the Poet’s Garage. She’s served on the Rhyming Revolution Selection Committee, choosing the “best” rhyming picture book for 2015-2018. A Master educator, she’s taught Children’s Literature to prospective teachers at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Ms. Krause writes fantasy, contemporary, and historical fiction for Young Adult, Middle Grade, and young children. She’s been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Scholastic Book Clubs, and in various Young Adult Anthologies. Her previous work, RATGIRL: Song of the Viper was a 2013 nominee for the Boston Globe/Horn Book and International Reading Awards. Follow Gayle’s writing journey at http://www.gayleckrause.comhttp://www.gayleckrause.com on Facebook and Twitter @GeeCeeK. New books coming in 2019. Daddy, Can You See the Moon? – April, 9, 2019 – #PB #woundedwarriors #military. Once Upon a Twisted Tale, a MG Fractured Fairytale Poetry Collection, Quest of the Ungnome. Clearfork/Spork Publishing.
There’s a new NATURE-LOVING picture book on the trail, just in time for spring hikes and summer explorations with your child. It’s called FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (Pomegranate Kids, March 15, 2019) and it’s written by Vivian Kirkfield with illustrations by Mirka Hokkanen. It’s a beautiful read and perfect for sparking thoughtful conversations with your little ones about nature – and especially about endangered species.
Here’s the description from the inside flap:
“Water wakes. Wildlife greets the day and finds shelter, safety, and fun on the river in this lyrical, ecologically oriented counting book. One willow flycatcher, two dragonflies, three kit foxes, and more thrive in their habitat. As kids count, the day turns from dawn to dusk, and the character of the water changes as quickly as a child’s moods. Animals sing, leap, tiptoe, toboggan, hoot, hunt, flit, flutter, and hover. They ride out a storm, bask in waning rays, and tuck in under the silver moon.
Filled with modern wood engravings, Four Otters Toboggan celebrates wild beauty, encouraging readers of all ages to preserve and cherish our planet. After the story is finished, children can read more about each species in the back of the book, conservation efforts, what causes animals to become endangered, and what people can do to protect wild habitats.”
Now, in celebration of the book’s release, and in the hope of sparking some good conversations with your children, here are SIX extension activities for FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN!
1. Take a counting hike. After reading FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN, take your child on their own nature walk through your neighborhood or at a local preserve. Bring along a notebook so they can keep a counting list of what animals, insects etc. they see. With each creature they spot, stop an marvel at what a wondrous gift it is to able to see these animals in the wild.
Here are some creatures my kids and I have spotted over the years:
2. Make your own animal counting book. Inspired by Vivian’s delightful text and Mirka’s wondrous illustrations (and using the counting list they tallied in the hiking activity), challenge your child to create their own nature counting book.
3. Visit a local nature center. Extend the lessons of the book by visiting a nature center or museum in your area. For example, all within an hour radius of our our, I have taken my kids to a nature museum by the sea, in the woods, and along the marshes. Some of these museums are tiny, but what they all have in common is that they celebrate and teach about the local species in each of those habitats.
4. Watch the illustrator create one of the engravings from the story. One of the standout features of this delightful book are illustrator Mirka Hokkanen’s amazing modern wood engravings. With that in mind, older children might enjoy hearing and watching the illustrator herself as she describes the process using the very engravings that appear in the story! Her presentation has three parts. I’m sharing the second part because it shows her actually engraving the owls from the story!
Here it is:
5. Create your own simple engravings. After watching Mirka describe her process, you children might be inspired to try their own engravings. Here’s a link to a simple block printing project from Art Class Curator that even the youngest child can do.
6. Download the “Otterly Awesome Companion Activity Book for Four Otters: A Counting Book”. This eleven page booklet includes crafts, coloring pages, puzzles, a hands-on idea page for how to care for endangered species and more! It will provide several sessions of wonderful follow-up conversation and thought.
Today I am delighted to be doing a joint interview with picture book author Danielle Dufayet and illustrator Jennifer Zivoin. YOU ARE YOUR STRONG (Magination Press, 2019) is Danielle’s debut work. Jennifer has illustrated many books, but this is their first collaboration. Thanks so much for joining us today.
From the Front Flap: “YOU ARE YOUR STRONG is an empowering exploration of children’s emotions that will develop self-awareness, peace and calm. With diverse characters and scenes featuring a range of different family relationships…the book shows kids that they will have help along the way to being strong and in control.”
Now for the interview with my questions bolded.
Laura: Please tell us a little bit about yourselves and your journey into the world of children’s book writing/illustrating.
Danielle: I was not a reader as a child –too busy running outside and climbing trees! I wasn’t read to either – just wasn’t a tradition in our household, but before you feel sorry for me…I am now a published children’s book author!! I always loved writing, however, even as I child. I’d write poems to express my feelings and observations. When I graduated high school I told myself I wanted to be a children’s book author. I read an awesome picture book by Lilian Moore (Little Raccoon and the thing in the Pool). I was blown away by its simplicity and deep message – all executed in the sweetest, most entertaining way! I thought, I’m going to do that too!
Jennifer: I have always been attracted to visual storytelling, and originally thought that I wanted to pursue animation. However, illustration turned out to be the perfect fit for me. I love being able to conceptualize and then bring to life the entire visual world of each book, from the character designs to the settings to the lighting in each piece. I began illustrating children’s books in 2006 when I was chosen as the artist for the “Pirate School” books by Brian James. A few years later I signed with my agent Mela at MB Artists, and have been illustrating books and children’s projects ever since.
Laura: So interesting, Danielle, that you weren’t a reader, but clearly always a keen observer and participant in all the wonders of the world – climbing trees etc. That is so key to writing! And, wow, Jennifer, what a great journey into the field and I’m also particularly grateful to have had one of my magazine pieces illustrated by you!
Danielle, can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind this book?
Danielle: The inspiration behind this book was: Life (going through a difficult situation where I was feeling mad, sad, scared and worried all at once.) and Art: I saw the movie, Room, in which a 5 year old boy (played by Jacob Tremblay) tells his mom his (long) hair is his strong. Later, he cuts it off to give to his mom who’s had a nervous breakdown. It made me ask myself: what is my strong? Turns out, I am my strong –we all are our own strong! And sharing strong is good!
Laura: And such a good message it is!
Jennifer, you have illustrated over 30 picture books. What drew you to Danielle’s YOU ARE YOUR STRONG?
Jennifer: The editors at Magination Press selected me as the illustrator for “You Are Your Strong,” and when I received the manuscript, I loved the way that the text made me feel. The words were empowering and poetic. Since the text focused heavily on emotions, there was tremendous freedom for me to explore how I wanted to create characters and environments.
Laura: And you did an amazing job! One of the most striking aspects of your illustrations, in addition to your wonderfully charming and diverse depiction of children, is your sweeping use of color to capture each emotion. Tell us about this choice. How did you choose your colors?
Jennifer: First, I chose a color palette for the whole book. Then from that palette I selected only about 4 colors for each page – a main color representing the emotion, an accent color to make the character stand out, and usually two other colors that blended nicely with my other choices. For example, pages about sadness were filled with shades of blue while pages about anger were bright red. Then, I used light and the color strokes to define the atmosphere, movement and energy of each page. For pages in which the emotion is directed externally towards another person or the environment, the lighting and movement were bold and energetic. For emotions that were directed inwardly and were more contemplative, the scenes were softer.
Laura: This is so interesting and I’m delighted that the publisher has permitted us to share one of your interiors so readers can get an idea of what we are talking about. In this illustration you use red to depict anger.
Laura: Danielle, teachers and parents are always looking for ways to tie picture books into the curriculum or extend the enjoyment with post-reading activities. Do you have any extension activities your readers might enjoy?
Danielle: I have a handout that kids can fill in as to what their strong is. It asks: what are the things that bring out the happy, calm, brave and gentle already in you? The key word is already. I want kids to know they already have everything they need inside of them!
Laura: Sounds great! And I would also add that your book also includes wonderful “Note to Parents and Caregivers” by Julia Martin Burch, PhD which includes thoughtful tips and suggestions for helping children handle strong emotions.
Finally, for both of you, what’s next? Are there more picture books and projects in the pipeline? Also, where can interested readers find your books?
Danielle: I have a couple of manuscripts out on submission and I’m working on a funnier picture book right now about impulse control, friendship and the love of picture books!
Jennifer: I am currently creating the artwork another of Danielle’s titles through Magination Press, which readers can look forward to in the next year! In addition to this forthcoming publication, I am keeping busy illustrating several other book projects. I am also excited to have finished a dummy for my first authored/illustrated picture book, which I hope to see on bookstore shelves someday.
Thank you BOTH so much for stopping by today and I wish you the greatest success with this new book.Learn more about Danielle and Jennifer below.
Danielle Dufayet, born in Yonkers, New York, now lives in sunny San Jose, California, where she writes children’s books and paints. She also teaches English and Public Speaking (Self-Empowerment) to grades K-12. Danielle read her first picture book (Little Raccoon and the Thing in the Pool) when she was 18 whereupon she was blown away by its simplicity, timelessness and transformative power. That’s when she knew it was her calling. Thirty-five years and a Master’s Degree later, she finally made her dream come true and she’ll have TWO books out in 2019 – one about inner strength and managing big emotions, called You Are Your Strong and the other, Fantastic You!, about self-love/compassion.
Jennifer Zivoin has always loved art and storytelling, so becoming an illustrator was a natural career path. She has been trained in media ranging from figure drawing to virtual reality, and earned her bachelor of arts degree with highest distinction from the honors division of Indiana University. During her professional career, Jennifer worked as a graphic designer and then as a creative director before finding her artistic niche illustrating children’s books. When she is not creating art in her studio, her favorite hobbies include drinking cocoa while reading a good book, swimming on hot summer days, and spending time outside with her family.
I’m delighted to announce that the winner of this week’s special giveaway, a brand new SIGNED copy of Glenys Nellist’s new Easter-themed board book GOOD NEWS! IT’S EASTER!, published by Discovery House, and illustrated by Lizzie Walkley is…
Congratulations! I will be in touch with you so we can get the book to you.
Thanks again, Glenys, for sharing your five tips to engage little ones when reading this charming board book and for providing the signed winning copy. Happy Weekend, all!
I wanted to share a special link with you today to a church service I participated in earlier this month. I know it will be a blessing!
On March 3rd, I was invited by Central Presbyterian Church in Summit to read LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) for the children’s message at their Sunday evening contemporary Wave Service. I was asked because my dear friend, Pastor Noelle Kirchner, was preaching a special sermon where she shared her moving testimony of her grandmother’s miraculous healing from cancer and the beautiful role that played in Noelle’s faith journey.
As a prelude to her sermon, she asked me if I’d share LOVE IS KIND with the children, and by extension with all the adults, too, who were seated coffee house style on sofas and at cafe tables all around the room. She asked me because in addition to being a story about spreading love and kindness, LOVE IS KIND also celebrates the special bond between grandparent and child. Indeed, just as Noelle’s relationship with her grandmother shaped her faith journey, Little Owl’s special relationship with his grammy helped him to see his day through new eyes.
If you have time, or just want to be blessed by a good message, I hope you’ll grab a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy Noelle’s message. (You’ll get to hear me read LOVE IS KIND too!)
P.S. Noelle also has an amazing blog where she reflects on faith and family. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: http://www.noellekirchner.com
Today I am delighted to be hosting children’s author Julie Abery as we celebrate the release of her darling debut board books LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA published by amicus ink. Congratulations, Julie! Now, without further fuss, here are FIVE FUN FACTS about the books from the author herself. Take it away, Julie!
Five Fun facts about Little Tiger and Little Panda
by Julie Abery
1. Little Tiger won a contest.
Little Tiger started out as an idea for a book about a paper tiger. I had enrolled in Susanna Hill’s Making Picture BooksHappen course and had just finished writing a story about an origami owl entitled Paper Owl. Paper Tiger was my next idea. I had spent time at the library researching tigers and wrote a list of tiger-ish words in my notebook, and soon after I spotted Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest in March 2016. I flicked through my notebook looking for inspiration…and Little Tiger was born. I was overjoyed, astonished and very humbled to be awarded first prize!
2. Little Tiger sold 15 months after it was first written.
In April 2017, my agent, the fabulous Essie White of Storm Literary Agency, received an email from the acquiring editor at amicus ink in the U.S., expressing interest in Little Tiger and Little Panda to publish as board books. Essie asked my thoughts…I don’t think I waited many minutes before responding YES!
3. Where did the idea for Little Panda come from?
Little Panda was written following an editor’s feedback on Little Tiger. She thought that it might be possible to write other ‘little’ books. Plus, of course, Little Tiger didn’t want to be an only book, he wanted to be part of a series!
4. There are two active verbs in every stanza.
Just like human little ones, Little Tiger and Little Panda are all about action. The rhyming stanzas follow the young animals as they venture out on their own and get into a little trouble, but luckily mama is never too far behind.
5. Little Tiger and Little Panda will soon be joined by others in the LITTLE ANIMAL FRIENDS series.
Who will they be? Little Tiger and Little Panda cannot wait to introduce you. Coming Spring, 2020 from amicus ink.
Thanks for having me, Laura!
Thank YOU, Julie! I’m excited that there will be more little animal friends in this charming series. I wish you the very best and enjoy the journey!
Julie Abery is a children’s author and Pre-K teacher. Originally from England, she has spent half her life living in Europe, bringing up her three (now grown up) children and experiencing new languages and cultures. She now calls Switzerland home.
Julie taught Pre-K for many years at international schools. Through those years, picture books were her friends and allies bringing rhyme, rhythm and repetition to the ears of her young students. It is the magic that picture books create for children that inspires her to write.
Spring is in the air! And just as the last little piles of snow on my front lawn are melting, look what has arrived on my porch! It’s Glenys Nellist’s newest board book. Published by Discovery House and illustrated by Lizzie Walkley, Good News! IT’S EASTER is an upbeat rhyming introduction to the real meaning of Easter. And today, the author herself, has agreed to share five lovely ways to engage little ones as you read Good News! IT’S EASTER with them. (And in the EXTRA exciting department, Glenys has also offered to give one SIGNED copy of her new board book to one lucky reader! Find out how to enter at the end of the post.) Now, without further ado, here’s Glenys. Enjoy!
FIVE WAYS TO ENGAGE LITTLE ONES WITH GOOD NEWS! IT’S EASTER! by Glenys Nellist
1. Before reading the story, look at the cover together and let your child find and trace the path (featured on every page.)
2. As you begin reading, notice that every page of this book has a picture clue that you can use to invite your child to guess who, or what, will be found when they turn the page over.
3. When you reach the last two pages of the book ask your child to look at the end of the path and ask them what’s changed from the picture on the cover.
4. After reading the story, go on a “good news” hunt in your neighborhood looking for tulips, bunnies, buds, and other signs of spring and new life.
5. Bring the message of the book to life by planting seeds together, enjoy your own Butterfly Kit or take a trip to a butterfly sanctuary or nature reserve where you can observe tadpoles and baby animals.
Thank you, Glenys, for sharing these ideas for sparking conversation using your lovely new book. To learn more about Glenys and her books visit her website or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
NOW for the GIVEAWAY!!! (Thank you, Glenys!)
If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy of GOOD NEWS! IT’S EASTER written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Lizzie Walkley, let me know in a comment below. (NOTE: Must have U.S. address and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway ends Friday 3/22/19 at 12:01 am EST. The winner will be announced that day! THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER. Winner announced HERE.
Thank you to Best In Rhyme Award committee member, Linda S. Mai, for taking the time to interview me as part of Angie Karcher’s 2019 Best In Rhyme Author Interview Series. I am thrilled that DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling Publishing) won First Honor Book and DELIGHTED to see rhyming picture books CELEBRATED in this lovely way!
Here’s the link if you want to pop over for a quick (and hopefully inspiring) read. Happy rhyming!
Yesterday I participated in my first Facebook LIVE Interview. Hosted by the delightful Maria Dismondy of Cardinal Rule Press, our 10 minute chat was part of their Winter Author Interview Series. Here’s their pitch for the series:
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a children’s author? Or maybe you are interested in hearing how award-winning authors got their start?
CEO of the publishing company, Cardinal Rule Press, Maria Dismondy,is hosting an interview series this winter with children’s book authors. Find out the inside scoop on how their journey began and hear about a day in the life of an author! We hope aspiring writers, classrooms and other fans nationwide will enjoy this exciting series!
I LOVE the mission of this series and thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed. You can check out their list of upcoming interviews here. Maria also hosted a Fall series and those interviews can be the Cardinal Rule Press blog.