AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: A CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY Interview with Debut Author Tara Knudson!

Today, in celebration of the release of her debut board book CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY  (Zonderkidz, 2018) I am delighted to be interviewing author Tara Knudson.  This adorable cookie-themed book will have you in the spirit of the holidays in no time! Thank you so much for joining us, Tara. Let’s get started.

First off, congratulations! CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY has been out for just over six weeks. How has the launch been?

Thank, you Laura. I’m so happy to be featured on your blog! I can’t believe that CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY has been out for six weeks already. The launch has been exciting! I have loved reading my first book to young children and seeing their joy when I turn the pages. What a special experience!

As the countdown to Christmas begins, I am busy scheduling readings of CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY at schools, libraries, bookstores, and holiday events. It’s such a festive and magical time, and I’m so happy my book can be part of it all.

I have to agree that there is something extra special about having holiday-themed book during this festive season. It sounds like you are enjoying every moment of it.

Have you always been a writer/rhymer? Tell us a little bit about your writerly journey.

It has been a long journey! My Creative Writing folder from second grade is one of my prized possessions. Reading my first stories makes me laugh. Growing up, they were always special to me, but I did not know yet that I wanted to be a writer. 

I started writing poetry when I was in high school. As I dealt with the problems and frustrations that adolescence can bring, I often wrote poems to express my feelings. 

After college, I became a Spanish teacher and I often used children’s picture books in the classroom. I would spend hours at bookstores searching for favorite ones. It was during that time that I fell in love with picture books and decided that I wanted to write them.

In pursuit of my goal, I won a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship that allowed me to take a break from teaching and live in Barcelona, Spain for a year and experiment with writing for children. I wrote many poems and rhyming stories for children. I continued to write after my return to the U.S. As years passed, I sold articles and poems to children’s magazines and continued to work on my picture book manuscripts as I took care of my two sons. Then, I signed with an agent who helped me sell my first book.

Such a long journey, but your passion for writing and persistence shine through.

 What inspired you to write CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY?

When my youngest son was in preschool, one of the kids in his class had an egg allergy. I baked egg-free sugar cookies that all the children could enjoy and used cookie cutters to make festive shapes to celebrate different holidays throughout the year. One day, when I was on a walk, the story came out in my head. I rushed home and typed the first draft on the computer. I had a good feeling about it!

While the recipe that is included with the book is not egg-free, I hope people with allergies can tailor the recipe to meet their needs.

That’s how ideas come to me too.  That’s why I always try to have my phone or a small notebook handy. I’m glad you rushed home and wrote it down!

The illustrations really add to the cozy cookie baking feel of your rhyming text. Tell us a little bit about the artist.  Do you have a favorite spread? What makes it your favorite?

The illustrations really are cozy! Pauline Siewert created them. She lives in England and she has illustrated many children’s books. She does beautiful work! 

My favorite spread is the one where the bears are mixing the dough and using the cookie cutters. They are sweet scenes of a mother baking with her child. I love the flour on the bear’s face and also the mouse on the cookie cutter. I did not notice the mouse until after I read the book a couple of times. When I read to children, I tell them to look and see what the mouse is doing in the story. He tells a story of his own and he is very funny. Everyone enjoys him!

Finally, what’s next? Are there more picture books and projects in the pipeline?  Also, where can interested readers find your books? 

My next children’s book, EASTER EGG DAY, will be published by Zonderkidz in February, 2020. I’m very excited! Once the holidays are over, I plan to finish other writing projects that I have started.

Interested readers can buy CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY at independent booksellers as well as online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, Zondervan, and others. Whether they read the book in a library or purchase a copy of their own, I hope CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY inspires readers to make cookies or bake together this season and build beautiful family traditions.

How exciting that you have another book in the pipeline… and I hope many more beyond that!   Thanks so much for stopping by today. And now, just for fun, please comment with the name of your favorite holiday cookie.  =)

Tara Knudson is a former teacher who has been writing poetry and stories since she was a young girl growing up in Chicago. Her published work can be found in children’s magazines, greeting cards, calendars, and a poetry anthology for teens. Christmas Cookie Day is Tara’s first picture book.

TAILS ON THE ARK: An Edible Extension Activity for GOODNIGHT, ARK

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It’s always fun when you discover that someone you’ve never even met has seen your book and thought enough of it to create a special activity based on the book. That’s exactly what happened last spring when I discovered that on her blog, Easy Elegant Entertaining™, Addie Gundry, trained chef and cookbook author, used the concept of tails in GOODNIGHT, ARK to create an adorable book-themed treat. Click here for her wonderful edible activity.  And thank you, Addie, for letting me share the adorable picture above.

Now to springboard off of her creativity, I’d like to add some suggestions for thoughtful questions you might ask as you are making these delightful tails inspired by GOODNIGHT, ARK!  

GOODNIGHT, ARK Tail-Themed Questions

Do all of the creatures in  GOODNIGHT, ARK have tails? Which do not?

Which is your favorite tail? Why?

How many tails can you count? (On any given page.)

Why do you think animals have tails?

If you had a tail, what would it look like?  (Draw it , or make one using Addie’s ingredients!)

Happy reading, conversing about, creating, and then eating these adorable tails! And thank you, Addie, for creating this delightful (and tasty) extension activity!

P.S. Addie Gundry has also created adorable (and I mean ADORABLE) treats to go with GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU.  Press here for her adorable Bunny Tails.

LOVE IS KIND: Activity Guide and Printables (Bookmark this post!)

LoveisKind_emailheader_650x254_B.jpgTEACHERS AND PARENTS: This post is a treasure that should be book-marked. It contains a wonderful activity kit offered by Zonderkidz and created by my illustrator Lison Chaperon. The not-to-be-missed kit has an assortment of LOVE IS KIND-themed printables – including coloring pages, an adorable Little Owl mask craft and a post card activity!

41257812_1845944638825854_3088792384515866624_nYou can download the kit here.

IMG_7709And for your convenience, I’m also including the downloadable baking activity with  character muffin toppers seen above – perfect for birthday parties, class celebrations etc. Press here for that.

Happy reading and creating!

 

LOVE IS KIND Blog Tour: Stop SEVEN

5A32405B-843A-4B7A-A32F-0CEE2DE567CEToday Susanna Leonard Hill is featuring LOVE IS KIND as part of her Perfect Picture Book Friday series!  Head on over there to find out her review.  And, inspired by Lison Chaperon’s delicious LOVE IS KIND muffin baking activity, I’m also sharing my thoughts on the benefits of pairing picture books with a tasty treat with FIVE TIPS for doing that! (Oh, and there’s also a giveaway!) So grab that cup of tea and one of those delicious virtual muffins picture above head on over.  HAPPY FRIDAY, all!

LITTLE OWL’S TEA PARTY: A Baking Activity for LOVE IS KIND

happy fall

HAPPY FALL from LITTLE OWL and his friends! And a special thank you to illustrator, Lison Chaperon, for creating this adorable picture of Little Owl, Beaver, Rabbit, and Mrs. Mouse’s little mice ALL enjoying an autumn tea party!

And now, I’m delighted to share that you and your little ones can join in the fun by baking your own special LOVE IS KIND muffins and having your own tea party, complete with book-themed muffin toppers.

IMG_7709The recipe for Little Owl’s Chestnut Applesauce Chocolate Muffins was a collaborative effort between author and illustrator. I followed her recipe, but had to adapt for American ingredients and American measuring units.  I baked six batches before I got it just right!  The recipe calls for chestnut flour, which is delicious, but may be difficult to find. I got mine (and it was top-notch) at Nuts.com.  But, if you have nut allergies or just prefer to bake without it, the recipe is equally delicious if you simply omit the chestnut flour and increase the whole wheat flour to one cup.

Click here to download high quality at scale version for better printing. (Thank you, Lison, for providing!)

ENJOY!  And if you want to share snapshots on social media of you and your littles enjoying the book and this treat, we’d love that! Simply use the hashtag #littleowlsteaparty. Happy baking!

Little Owl Tea Party 1

Little Owl Tea Party 2