5 Qs for #kidlit author Shanna Silva + a #Giveaway! = Happy Book Birthday to A DOG’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN

We’re celebrating the launch of Shanna Silva’s

A DOG’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN

(YeeHoo Press, Illus. Agnès Ernoult),

a dog’s hard-earned wisdom about living a happy life,

with an interview and a #Giveaway!

Interior art by Agnès Ernoult

A DOG’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN

written by Shanna Silva

(YeeHoo Press )

*Hand this book to all animal lovers and growing families.*

5 Questions for author Shanna Silva!  

Q 1. How would your sheepadoodle puppy, Drake describe (or review) A Dog’s Guide to Being Human. What tips or insights did he contribute to the book?

Shanna Silva: Erin, thank you so much for having me and sharing my book birthday. Drake would think A Dog’s Guide to Being Human is a good start on important lessons to impart. He’s got some other doggie habits that are brand new for me, which he might think I excluded, such as his ability to open doors, de-fuzz tennis balls in record time, take apart ball point pens, and herd my family like sheep.

Drake actually came into my life after I wrote this book. I always had dogs growing up and as an adult. This book is a collective of my lifetime with them; however, a lot of Drake’s behavior also tracks.

So many dog behaviors are universal, such as their sensitivity to their human’s emotions and energy. Drake’s intuition is astounding and he truly loves all people. He’s very popular in the neighborhood, and has the unique gift of making people happy. That more than compensates for the furniture he’s gnawed through.

From Broadway to #Kidlit

Q 2. Congrats on your two Tony® awards for Once on This Island and The Inheritance.  What prompted you to take your own leap from Broadway Producer to children’s author? How are the two paths alike / different?

Shanna Silva: I started working in Broadway about twelve years ago with my husband, Steven. We formed a theatrical production company, Silva Theatrical Group, to produce Broadway and off-Broadway shows that mean something to us. We love nurturing a show from first draft, through development, to out of town runs, and then to Broadway. This truly is one of the biggest joys of our lives.

Before my children, my careers were in other industries such as legal, real estate, finance, and health care. But they were all just jobs for me. I excelled but never emotionally connected to what I was doing. It took a long time to find what I loved, and summon the bravery and initiative to jump in.

Passion

Theater and writing for me are about passion. In both genres, I get to do one of my favorite things, which is, to surround myself with talented people. I learn so much from my peers and sometimes pinch myself that I’m in the room. Both theater and KidLit are fundamentally about storytelling, making the audience/reader feel something, finding a connection, and leaving with more than you came with.

My writing is a solitary pursuit. I enjoy being in my head, and getting lost in my writing world. Sometimes, it’s hard to snap out of that world and focus on other things, but I generally function best with a very full plate.

In our Broadway work, I am not the creative. Theater is a collaborative medium. While we have input artistically, the prevue is much broader and includes the business, marketing, and promotional aspects. In addition to having the opportunity to work with my husband (we complement each other’s skillsets), we also get to work with many amazing artists, actors, producers, musicians, and theater folk. It’s invigorating and exciting.

There is definitely overlap between my two careers, and I feel fortunate to be able to do both.

ED note: Another overlap: Teflon skin — see Q 5. below.

Q 3. This seems like a new direction for you in picture books. What discoveries did you make while writing this fun story?

Shanna Silva: My two previous children’s books, Hannah’s Hanukkah Hiccups and Passover Scavenger Hunt, are Jewish holiday books. They both follow the typical KidLit story arc of inciting event-kid has problem-kid finds a solution. A Dog’s Guide to Being Human is a high concept book that’s not plot driven. It’s only about 150 words. There is such an economy of text, which left the illustrator, Agnès Ernoult, with a lot of room for interpretation.

Interior art by Agnès Ernoult

A DOG’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN

written by Shanna Silva

(YeeHoo Press )

Shanna Silva: When I think about my writing objectively, I know I tend to overcomplicate things both in my thought process and writing. Too many layers. I make it much harder than it has to be. A Dog’s Guide to Being Human is my first manuscript that didn’t do that. It went from idea to completion in a very short time. I really like the writing style and hope I can continue.

Surprises

Q 4. What surprises did your illustrator Agnès Ernoult bring to your story?

Shanna Silva: So many surprises! I had a picture in my head of what Smudge looked like (Drake), but she created this sweet long eared, pointy nosed hound. He’s expressive, funny and has a bit of a naughty streak (which I love). Overall, I find him quite endearing.

A DOG’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN by Shanna Silva, Illus. Agnès Ernoult


(YeeHoo Press )

Shanna Silva: Agnès put so much thought into every detail. There’s a lot to look at in each spread, and her palette choice and characterizations set a feeling of warmth and good vibes.

Upcoming Projects

Q 5. What projects are you working on now?  Will there be A Cat’s Guide… or A Gold fish’s Guide… in the future?

Shanna Silva: Ha! I think Smudge has more dog wisdom to impart, so I’m hoping there will be sequal(s). I am also working on a high/low YA dystopian book for an educational publisher, and have 3-4 manuscripts in various stages of revision and submission (and rejection). My fellow writers all know about developing that Teflon skin and finding the path forward when things aren’t working. Hopefully, I will have some good news to share soon.

Interior art by Agnès Ernoult, A DOG’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN written by Shanna Silva (YeeHoo Press )

Share, share, share!

Did we mention there’s a #Giveaway?

Shanna is offering EITHER a signed copy of her new book

OR a picture book critique (1,000 words or LESS).
To enter: 1. Follow Shanna Silva on Facebook, Insta and Twitter (see below).
2. Share this blog post on Facebook, or RT it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag 
#ADogsGuideToBeingHumanGiveaway
Deadline:  August 31st midnight / EST

Spread the word about this fabulous book!

To learn more about Shanna Silva and her books,

check out her web site: www.shannasilva.com and follow her on

Facebook: ShannaSilva

Twitter: ShannaLSilva

Insta: @shannasilva

Happy Book Birthday to FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARD + 10 Qs with author Alma Fullerton = Perfect 10!

It’s the Book Birthday of FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARD

by Alma Fullerton / illus. Sarah Mensinga / Peachtree.

A novel in verse starring a fifth grader who is almost as devoted to competitive gymnastics as she is to hiding her poor reading skills. What happens when Claire’s secret starts unraveling?

I am so excited to celebrate this wonderful–and important book!

But don’t take my word for it.

Starred Review:

Fullerton (No More Plastic) authentically and compassionately portrays cued-white fifth grader Claire’s experience with dyslexia in this easily digestible verse novel. . . . Printed in a typeface formatted for those with reading challenges, Fullerton’s flowing verse adeptly captures what dyslexia is like for Claire alongside her frustration around convincing her mother that she’s trying hard but needs assistance. This insightful story carries a strong message for teachers, caregivers, and children alike, and Mensinga’s emotive illustrations provide depth throughout.”—★ Publishers Weekly

“An authentic portrayal of children with learning disabilities. Readers will empathize with Claire as she struggles with feeling ‘stupid’ and will support her journey. The quick-moving plot comes with a satisfying ending, and the free-verse narrative provides plenty of helpful white space for reluctant readers.”

—School Library Journal
Photo credit: Chantale Viens

10 Questions for Alma Fullerton:

Q 1. What was the inspiration for FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARD?

Alma Fullerton: The story of FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARD is very close to my heart because like my character Claire I am also dyslexic. A lot of the feelings Claire went through before her diagnosis were similar to what I felt growing up. I didn’t realize that I saw things differently than other children and thought I must be stupid. 

Q 2.     Did you compete in gymnastics as a kid? 

Alma Fullerton: I did compete in gymnastics as a kid but I was nowhere near as good as Claire. Mostly I did it for fun. My older sister Susan was so much better than I was. She was partly the inspiration for Bethany along with my other sisters Cheryl and Betty.  

Interior Illus. by Sarah Mensinga from FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARDS written by Alma Fullerton / Peachtree

Q 3.     Was your writing process for FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARD more like competing on (choose one):

a. Vault b. Uneven Bars c. Balance Beam d. Floor Exercise.    

Alma Fullerton: Competing on the uneven bars because there were a lot of ups and downs and moving backward and forward but when it was finished I knew I stuck the landing.   

We agree. –You DID stick the landing!

 Q 4.     It is so very inspiring to learn that you couldn’t read until you were in fourth grade, and now you teach students with learning disabilities, and have a successful career as a children’s book author. Can you tell us about this journey?

Alma Fullerton: When I started school there wasn’t a lot know about learning differences and teachers didn’t know about how to help children. So for the first few years I was often singled out by teachers.

I was called a liar in front of the class when my teacher told me to take my time and write the words the way I see them and I said this is how I see them. I was also told I wouldn’t graduate if I didn’t take my time to write properly. I wasn’t thinking about graduating in primary school. I was thinking about recess.

“I stopped raising my hand…”

By singling me out the way they did I thought I was stupid, and so did the other children. So by the time I was in third grade I stopped raising my hand to answer their questions in class even when I knew the answers. I always knew the answers, I just couldn’t read them. I had friends help me write and learned more tricks to hide the fact I couldn’t read. 

Becoming a Reader…

Thank you Mrs. Monds

In fourth grade, my teacher Mrs. Monds held a mirror to the board and had some children come up and try to read from the mirror. Without pointing me out, she told the class about dyslexia. After class I went up to her and said this is how I see (There really is more to it than reversed letters.) and she said I know and I’m going to help you. That was my first step toward becoming a reader. My second step was in ninth grade when the librarian handed me a book she thought I would enjoy -and then a second and then a third. Once I found books I wanted to read and characters I wanted to know more about I was hooked. 

Becoming a Writer…

In high school I decided I wanted to write those stories. I had people tell me I’d never be able to write a book because I could barely read a book but by that time I had decided it was my life and if I wanted to be something I was going to do it. Even if it meant I had to work harder than other people. 

I tell my students and children I do workshops with to never allow anyone else to determine what you can achieve in life. That’s important for everyone not just children  to learn. I see so many adults give up too because of what someone else has said to them. 

Doesn’t this first page hook you?
From FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARDS, written by Alma Fullerton, Illus. Sarah Mensinga / Peachtree.

Q 5.     How much does Claire’s experience mirror your own, or your students’ experiences?

Alma Fullerton: I went through a lot of what Claire did though I didn’t have a parent not allow me to take tests because that wasn’t a thing back then. I do see a lot of parents not let their children take tests now though. They’re afraid of their children being labeled and bullied in school.

These days though there are so many children with individual education plans that the labels aren’t there as much. At least that’s been my experience in the schools I’ve worked in. By not allowing the children to be tested you’re doing more harm than good. 

Q 6. I know it was important to you to make sure FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARD was printed in an easily-decoded typeface. Can you explain more about this and how the typeface helps people with reading challenges?  

Alma Fullerton: There are several different typefaces that make words easier to read. Some are weighted at the bottom or spaced out a little more so the letters seem to stay where they’re supposed to be and not jump around so much. There are some fonts that are easier on the eyes for people without learning differences. 

Writing Tips

Q 7.     Many of your novels, WALKING ON GLASS, BURN, LIBERTAD, IN THE GARAGE and FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARD are in verse. Any tips for those of us who aspire to write a verse novel?

Alma Fullerton: Make sure the story comes first. Sometimes with verse people work too hard to make it complicated or poetic. Think about how the words flow in each poem and every word you use but a reader should never have to pull themselves out of the story to try to figure what they’ve just read. 

Q 8. Without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us if, during the writing process, you always knew how the book would end?

Alma Fullerton: Through every draft the ending has always been the same. There was no other way to end it. 
Q 9.     What do you hope readers will take away from this novel?

Alma Fullerton: I’m hoping readers enjoy Claire’s journey as much as I do. 

What’s Next?

Q 10.  Can you tell us about any projects you’re working on currently?

Alma Fullerton: I’m working on the illustrations for a couple of my picture books as well as a second novel for Peachtree Press. This book will also be a middle grade in verse. 

Read an excerpt of

FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARD here.

Huge thanks to Alma Fullerton for joining us on the blog today and

Happy Book Birthday!

Find out more about Alma and her books at almafullerton.com

and follow her on Twitter: @AlmaFullerton

and Instagram: almajfullerton

Want more? Getting Children with Learning Differences to Love Books, a guest post by Alma Fullerton (teenlibrariantoolbox.com)

MOVING TO MARS + 7 Questions and a DARE with author Stef Wade = Happy MARS Book LAUNCH!

It’s Book Birthday celebration time for MOVING TO MARS,

written by Stef Wade / Illus. Erin Taylor / Capstone

which LAUNCHED (see what we did there?) recently.

Welcome, Stef!

7 Questions –and a DARE!

Q 1. The space theme continues with MOVING TO MARS– (from the same team that brought us A PLACE FOR PLUTO/ 2018). Did you set out to write a companion book? What was the inspiration?

A PLACE FOR PLUTO written by Stef Wade / Illus. Erin Taylor / Capstone

Stef Wade: From the first story time I hosted for A PLACE FOR PLUTO, I knew just how much I loved talking to kids about space! I wanted to pull a character from A PLACE FOR PLUTO for my next book.

This Mars character came easily to me for two reasons:

1) Mars’ “OPEN HOUSE” sign from the original book

2) The press Mars has received over the years for the incredible ongoing exploration. At school visits, I love talking to students about the idea of living on Mars, so the idea came naturally. 

Interior Illus. Erin Taylor from MOVING TO MARS
written by Stef Wade / Capstone

Q 2. They say each of our books is a tiny bit autobiographical. Would you say you prefer peace and quiet like Mars does at first, or are you a “people planet”?   

Stef Wade: I am DEFINITELY a “people planet.” While a little alone time is good, I would never consider myself a loner. Give me the people!

Q 3. Were you interested in space and the planets when you were a kid? 

Stef Wade: While I never got my chance as a kid to be on Double Dare and win my trip to Space Camp, I’ve always been interested and awed by space.

That being said, I didn’t (and still don’t) know half the interesting facts I learn from readers and students! I’m constantly amazed at the in-depth and detailed knowledge kids have about space. It’s very inspiring!

Interior Illus. Erin Taylor from MOVING TO MARS
written by Stef Wade / Capstone

Surprises

Q 4. What surprises did illustrator Erin Taylor bring to your book? 

Stef Wade: One of my favorite parts of being an author is seeing how an illustrator makes the book their own. Erin did an incredible job transforming Mars into a grumpy, old man, to a genial friend. I love the sidekick moons, the rovers, the space suit with the bow tie, and all of expressive faces of Mars. I fell in love with Mars and think readers will too!

Interior Illus. Erin Taylor from MOVING TO MARS
written by Stef Wade / Capston

Inspiration and Fun

Q 5. Who are your kidlit heroes—and how have they inspired you?  

Stef Wade: My love for “sneaky learning” stems from reading books like The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole. I lived for those stories where they’d dive inside the human body, or turn into a bee to learn all about the world around us. I love to learn, but also believe learning should be fun. That’s what Joanna Cole inspired me to do!

Joanna Cole’s MAGIC SCHOOL BUS / Scholastic

Q 6. What do you hope readers will take away from reading your book?

Stef Wade: When I write a picture book, I typically aim for three things. A little bit of learning, a little bit of social emotional connection, and a lot of fun. I hope MOVING TO MARS inspires readers to discover more about the infinite possibilities of space and life on another planet. I hope it teaches kids to learn to be adaptable and open to change. I also hope to get a lot of giggles.

No this is not the dare…

What’s next?

Q 7. What projects are you working on now? Will there be more planet books?

Stef Wade: I just completed a middle grade eco-mystery novel that’ll be going on submission soon! And I’m always writing more picture books – from historical fiction to ghost stories and more. While I don’t have another planet book in the works quite yet, I’m always formulating ideas for which planet should get its own story next!

The DARE : )

Q 8. If given the chance, would you take that one-way ticket to Mars?

Stef Wade: While I’m very intrigued by the idea of space travel, I fear my motion sickness would get the better of me on even a rocket to the edge of space. A 7-9 month journey would be out of the question. If you go, please send me a postcard!

Interior Illus. Erin Taylor from MOVING TO MARS
written by Stef Wade / Capstone

Happy MOVING TO MARS launch, Stef Wade!

To learn more about Stef and her books,

check out StefWade.com

and follow her on Twitter: @Stef_Wade and Instagram: stef.wade

10 Qs with #kidlit author Megan Hoyt + THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL: How Isaac Stern United the World to Save Carnegie Hall = Happy (almost) Book Birthday!

I’m thrilled to have my friend Megan Hoyt on the blog today to celebrate the (almost) Book Birthday of her latest nonfiction picture book,

THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL:

How Isaac Stern United the World to Save Carnegie Hall

(Preorder here from Park road Books.)

By Megan Hoyt / Illus. Katie Hickey / Quill Tree Books / July 5, 2022

“Hoyt pays tribute not just to the renowned violinist but to a unique cultural institution that has hosted many luminaries. Young readers will doubtless be left duly appreciative of both. Compelling.”

— Booklist

Isaac Stern’s amazing story of music, activism, and unity

is so important right now.

And we have 10 Qs for Megan Hoyt!

*Music*

Q 1. To put a new spin on the old joke, how and when did you first get to Carnegie Hall? Did your parents play there? Did you? (I see from your blog you were, “raised by symphony musicians on a steady diet of classical music,” and you wrote: A Touch of the Infinite—Studies in Music Appreciation with Charlotte Mason.)

Megan Hoyt: Believe it or not, I went to Carnegie Hall for the first time while researching for this book! But my parents met performing in the pit orchestra at Radio City Music Hall, around the corner and down the street. When my dad got a job with the Dallas Symphony, they got married and moved to the Lone Star state.

I grew up backstage at Fair Park Music Hall in Dallas, where I was friends with all the orchestra members, conductors, and stage hands (one even won a stuffed poodle for me at the Texas State Fair). I used to watch from a stool backstage as opera singers warmed up and ballet dancers stepped into small square boxes of sand to make sure their shoes did not slip before heading onstage.

Even Megan’s grandparents were musical!

Megan Hoyt: It’s no surprise that symphonic music is stitched into my soul. I am so glad my parents brought me to work with them!  

Q 2.  How did your musical background influence or inform the way you wrote THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL?

Megan Hoyt: I tried to make the sentences lilting and lyrical, especially on the first page where the audience is gathered, anticipating the first concert at Carnegie Hall. I wanted the words and sentences to swish and flow across the heart like music, as it’s read aloud.

Interior art by Katie Hickey from THE GREATEST SONG written by Megan Hoyt / Quill Tree Books

Inspiration

Q 3. Where did the inspiration for Isaac Stern’s story come from?

Megan Hoyt: I came across a photo of Valerie Harper leaping across Broadway at a protest against the demolition of Carnegie Hall and thought there must be a story here. I’ve never seen ballet dancers picketing or dancing in the street before!

Repost from Twitter / @BoweryBoys

Megan Hoyt: When I found out that Isaac Stern came to the United States from Ukraine, just like my grandparents did, I was even more intrigued. My parents had met Mr. Stern before—they knew most of the major concert violinists of their day because my dad was the symphony librarian for the Dallas Symphony and was always the contact person for guest conductors and performers.

Hildegard’s Gift by Megan Hoyt / Illus. David Hill / Paraclete Press

Unsung Heroes

Q 4. THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL is your 3rd picture book biography. (along with Hildegard’s Gift, the award-winning Bartali’s Bicycle—and is William J. Wilgus and His Grand Idea still in the works?) Have you always been drawn to stories of history’s unsung heroes?  

Megan Hoyt: Yes, A Grand Idea is coming out soon! And after that book launches, I have a biography of Dr. Katelin Kariko coming out: Kati’s Tiny Messengers. She’s the one who mastered mRNA technology to develop the Covid-19 vaccine.

I think how each individual person chooses to live their lives can be so inspiring to the rest of us—even if the person was not a hero but just someone who brightened their little corner of the world. It is what knits the fabric of a society together. I am especially drawn to telling children about people whose accomplishments are close to being forgotten as time marches forward. I have a few more biographies in the works that I hope will inspire, educate, and entertain children growing up in these times of uncertainty.

By Megan Hoyt / Illus. Iacopo Bruno /
Quill Tree Books

Q 5.  What discoveries did you make while researching or writing THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL?

Megan Hoyt: When I began this journey I had no idea how instrumental Carnegie Hall was in the battle for civil rights. For example, from early on, this building hosted meeting of the NAACP. In 1896, Booker T. Washington spoke there. In 1906, women’s suffrage speakers held a rally.

*Activism*

Carnegie Hall hosted performers of every culture, race, and belief system without exception. I knew I wanted to write about activism in action, but I had no idea the actual building was part of the activism of the time. I was thrilled to discover this. Also, opera singer Marian Anderson was on the Carnegie Hall board and part of the committee to save it. This may not seem unusual to us today (thankfully), but in 1960 it would have been surprising to find a woman of color in such a position of leadership.

Interior art by Katie Hickey from THE GREATEST SONG written by Megan Hoyt / Quill Tree Books

Q 5.  Carnegie Hall is considered a “timeless symbol of equality,” and yet it was in danger of being torn down. What do you hope young readers will take away from Isaac Stern’s quest to preserve it?

Megan Hoyt: I hope young readers will let this story really seep into their hearts as they face a world where injustice still happens every day—and I hope they will see that persistence is the key to change! Don’t give up when you know the cause is just, even if it looks like you are far from your goal.

Click here to view the trailer.

Behind the Scenes…

Q 7.  We picture book authors know that every word counts, and in a pb biography, it’s often difficult to focus on only certain areas of your subject’s journey. Is there a scene or spread in earlier drafts of THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL that was hard to cut?

Megan Hoyt: I initially wrote the book in parallel text. The left-hand page of each spread told the story of Carnegie Hall, and the right-hand page told Isaac’s story. I got about halfway through it and realized that once their stories intersected (after Isaac’s debut) the parallel structure no longer worked! Isaac at Carnegie Hall WAS the story.

After that, I had to cut a lot of Isaac’s back story for word count, which was so hard!

I wanted to talk about the village in Ukraine where he was born, about how his mother was a singer in Ukraine and in the United States had to give up her career and become a music teacher to help put food on the table. I wanted to say more about the sacrifices immigrants make to move halfway across the world and about the suffering of Jewish people in the nineteenth century, enduring pogroms and anti-semitism and facing death and uncertainty. I hope some of that still came through, but to tell the whole story would have made it way too long.

*Unity*

Q 8.   What surprises did illustrator Katie Hickey bring to the project?

Megan Hoyt: I was so impressed with how Katie brought the story to life with such vivid colors and lush drawings of all types of people coming together in unity—and I love the details on each spread. Even the book titles on the stack of books in the corner relate back to the story.

Study Guide Topics

Q 9.  How does your experience as an onset tutor for young actors seep into your writing life? Do you keep them separate? Or, for example, do you have extensions or suggested activities (or a link?) that educators might use after reading THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL?

Megan Hoyt: I’m putting a study guide together now. Here are some topics that I would love to see teachers dig into with their students:

Perseverance

persistence

integrity

community

architecture

city planning

orchestral music

practice

right/left brain activities

immigration

pogroms/anti-Semitism

geography tie-ins:

*Why did the Stern family settle in San Francisco?

*How far is it from San Francisco to New York City by plane?

*How long does it take?

Megan Hoyt: The kids I tutor on set are very focused. They have to get at least three hours of school work done in between scenes and be ready to focus in at a moment’s notice. I am so proud of their maturity and ability to switch from school to work in an instant! Whenever they are too tired to do high concentration work, they ask to read my books, which is great. I try to limit shenanigans in a small trailer, but their antics do definitely figure into my stories occasionally!

What’s Next?

Q 10.  Can you share what projects you’re working on currently?

Megan Hoyt: Right now, I’m working on a biography of beloved author Marguerite Henry, whose books I adored as a child. I’m even going to Pony Penning Day in Chincoteague in a few weeks!

Thank you so much for joining the blog today, Megan.

For more about Megan Hoyt and her books, check out her website: meganhoyt.net

and follow her on Twitter: @meganhoytwrites

and Instagram: meganhoytwrites

Happy summer reading, everyone–

and Happy July 5th Book Birthday to

THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL!

5 Qs with author Lynne Marie + Fractured Fairy Tales + STEM = THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE ROCKET PROJECT

You know how I love fractured fairy tales, right?

I may have actually written a few myself…including GOLDIE LOCKS HAS CHICKEN POX <–(pair it with these Goldie titles.) and LITTLE BO PEEP CAN’T GET TO SLEEP <–(read aloud fun)!

So it was cool to stumble onto this #STEM version of the Three Little Pigs, THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE ROCKET PROJECT, by Lynne Marie, Illus. Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press).

That made me want to find out more about it! (How about you?)

5 Qs for Lynne Marie

Q 1. What was the inspiration for THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE ROCKET PROJECT?

Lynne Marie: Since my father had a passion for pigs (and a collection), I grew up very familiar with this tale. I love fractured fairy tales and for years, wanted to find a way to retell this one. I had seeds of inspiration for years in that my father always teased my siblings and I by calling us his three little pigs.

#STEM inspiration

One of his little pigs, my brother, actually set off a rocket in the living room as a child. But that, while funny, didn’t have the takeaway value I wanted. Still, the thought stayed, and I finally connected it with my daughter’s second grade school science project. Having read any and all variations of the tale that I could get my hands on, I realized no one had written a STEM version of the story. From that point, everything started coming together and the story took shape in my head. 

Interior, THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE ROCKET PROJECT, by Lynne Marie, Illus. Wendy Fedan

(Mac and Cheese Press)

Q 2. What made you change up the characters to include a girl pig and a girl wolf?

Lynne Marie: While I am aware the pigs were historically three boys, I decided to flip the script a little bit and feature a strong and clever girl character. Enter Eloise who, despite losing in the house building challenge featured in the original story, persists, and uses what she learns, as well as the resources she has, to change an outcome. I wanted to inspire girls and underdogs not to give up. 

I also wanted to switch up the stereotype of the wolf being a male. In an effort to continue to inspire strong girls, I also gave Eloise a bit more agency (as a fellow girl who was bested by her brothers) in solving the secondary problem of the bully wolf. As girls, we’re all in this together and should help each other be the best we can be.

Interior, THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE ROCKET PROJECT, by Lynne Marie, Illus. Wendy Fedan

(Mac and Cheese Press)

Q 3. What surprises did illustrator Wendy Fedan bring to the project?

Lynne Marie: Wendy did a great job of capturing my vision for the story. I wanted the characters to be engaging and animated in their expressions. I think she did a great job of conveying that. In the scene where Bibi Wolf makes other plans, she has her spying on the pigs, which I thought was brilliant. It was not in any art note. 

Interior, THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE ROCKET PROJECT, by Lynne Marie, Illus. Wendy Fedan

(Mac and Cheese Press)

THE MEMORY TRAP by Linda Joy Singleton (Clear Fork Media Group)–released on June 14th!

#Kidlit Tips

Q 5. As the owner of Rate Your Story, what tips do you have for aspiring, pre-published  picture book authors?

Lynne Marie: I am a big supporter of Mentor Texts! I credit reading and studying them with my own success and run the newly initiated March On with Mentor Texts (www.rateyourstory.org/blog), which takes over where ReFoReMo left off (with the blessing of Co-Founders Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call). Typing out picture book skeletons with page turns to learn and understand picture book pacing is extremely helpful too. Reading craft books is imperative – on characters on plot, on theme, on scene and sequel, on structure, etc. Knowledge in these areas will inform revision choices and create a strong foundation for success. 

I also recommend being objective about feedback and letting it percolate. And not submitting until a story is ready. It is not a fast process and stories need time to germinate and grow while a writer continues to learn and grow in their craft. It’s important to be committed to the business of writing for children and to treat it as a business. It takes inspiration, education, motivation, hard work, re-evaluation, dedication, perspiration, evolution and perseverance to achieve your goals. Stay on the path – it’s worth it! 

Q 5. Are there other books in the queue? Can you share anything about them?

Lynne Marie: Yes! One is due to be announced very soon! I am particularly excited about this one. It’s a longtime favorite project of mine and is one that I wrote early on in my journey – during a trip to France in 1998! I truly believe that everything has its time and needs that time to ferment, like fine wine. Of course, I went on to focus on other projects, but when I circled back to this one, I had stocked my writer’s tool box with everything I needed to make this work. 

Also –a shout out to THE MEMORY TRAP by Linda Joy Singleton (cover by Dea Lenihan)

which released June 14th

and AMERICAN PIE (Clear Fork Media Group). I had a wonderful time creating these projects with them.

Interior AMERICAN PIE, Illustration by Dea Lenihan, written by Lynne Marie.

More about Lynne Marie

Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares, (Sterling / Scholastic 2019), Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World (Beaming Books 2019), The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project (Mac and Cheese Press 2022), The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project Coloring Book (Mac and Cheese Press 2022),  and more, forthcoming. She’s also the Owner and Administrator of RateYourStory.org and a Travel Agent. She lives close to the magic in Central Florida with her family and a Schipperke named Anakin. Visit her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com.

Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland of www.theseymouragency.com

Follow her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Up next:

It’s the (almost / July 5th) Book Birthday of Megan Hoyt‘s new PB bio, The Greatest Song of All– How Isaac Stern United the World to Save Carnegie Hallillus. Katie Hickey, (Quill Tree Books).