Posted in Behind the Scenes, Meet the authors

Lorena Alvarez

Website: lorenaalvarez.com
1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

Yes, I loved to read when I was your age! My favorite books were those about nature, I was really interested in understanding how our planet and the universe works. I think I still am. I did like the books teacher assigned us at school, but I used to browse into my parents’ bookshelf too.

2. What is a book that made an impact on you?

I should mention that the first book that got fixated in my memory was Gnomes written by Wil Huygen and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet. I still remember how fascinated I was looking at the illustrations of the gnomes living and working in trees and taking care of the forest. It was really clever how the stories combined fantasy and actual facts about plants and animals from those places. I still look at that book from time to time, it reminds me why I love to draw.

3. Is it hard to come up with book and illustration ideas?

I think that you need a lot of patience, because when you’re writing something you are opening yourself to a new experience and it takes time and discipline to make sense of it. When I started to write my own stories I would get upset because I couldn’t came up with a complete idea right away, I had to understand that it was possible to start from small things, an image, a memory and build my storytelling from there. It also takes patience to understand that sometimes your stories won’t be as good or interesting you want them to be, I still learning to deal with that!

4. What author or book have read recently that impacted you?

I have two authors in mind. One is Molly Mendoza with Skip, a beautiful comic book that is not only a feast for the eyes but also has a fabulous story, I really admire her work. Another author is Emil Ferris, her debut comic My Favorite Thing is Monsters really made me think about how much you can experiment with drawing and writing in comic books.

5. Is there a new or lesser known author or illustrator you think kids should be aware of?

There’s a lot of Colombian authors and illustrators I’d love to be known everywhere! I admire a lot the work of Paula Ortiz, Henry González, Paola Escobar and Catalina Vasquez, they are all remarkable illustrators and story tellers.

6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an illustrator?

These are things that I’ve learned so far:

Trust your gut and be disciplined.

Be open to try new things.

Share your ideas with people who also likes to draw.

Even if you choose another profession, don’t stop drawing.

7. How do you make your illustrations- by hand, on the computer or ??

I always start with a pencil sketch, I really like to draw with blue and red pencils. Then I scan them and color them on Procreate or Photoshop. Sometimes when I’m working for an exhibition I use acrylics or watercolors. Most of my work is digitial, but I really enjoy working with traditional media.

8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

that’s a good question! I would choose Mommy? by Maurice Sendak, is not only one of the funniest books I’ve ever seen and I love how horror movie icons are portrayed in such a warm way, besides it is a pop up book, so you feel like you have a lot to explore in each page.

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Meet the authors

Debbie Gonzales

Author Website: www.debbiegonzales.com

Business Website: www.guidesbydeb.com

Podcast: The Debcast

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debbie.gonzales1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebGonzales5

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/guidesbydeb/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/debbadee5/

When you were my age (10), did you like to read?

I loved reading non-fiction. Articles about bugs and bobcats fascinated me. Stories about people who had done extraordinary things inspired me. Science stories confounded me. I would lose myself in stacks of National Geographic magazines. It’s no wonder I’ve written a non-fiction picture book about gutsy women who impacted sports history, right?

What book has had an impact on you?

Wow. It’s hard to pick just one, but I’ll try. If I stick with the topic of sports novels, I have to say that Bruce Brook’s THE MOVES THAT MAKE THE MAN has made a lasting impression on me. Though the novel was written in 1984, it’s still one of the best expressions of how sports can become part of a person’s inner being. Not only is it an amazing story about an unlikely friendship between a black boy and white boy in a racially charged time in history, it addresses the topic of mental illness in a tender way. But the best part about the book is way that basketball is intrinsic to the protagonist’s character. The kid is so connected with the sport, he can juke and jive like the best of them in the dark without a ball. It’s a great book.

Is it hard to come up with book ideas? Why write a book about women’s sports?

GIRLS WITH GUTS was inspired by an assignment for school! While working on my master’s degree in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts, the topic of my thesis was the history of the female athletic protagonist. I studied how and when our heroine showed up in books throughout history. There were times when she was represented as kind of silly and not serious about her sport. Later, she became a warrior, focused on winning at whatever the cost! It’s cool that the research became a book about the history of females in sports, and how overtime, she’s become a force to reckon with!

What author or book have read recently that impacted you?

Check out Stephanie Parsley Ledyard’s HOME IS A WINDOW and get set to be wowed. It’s a sweet story of a family who is moving across country. I absolutely love the text! The poetry is perfection. And, the subtle way that Pixar illustrator Chris Saski interpreted the message of the story is incredible. Moving isn’t about the stuff that is shipped across the nation, its about the love the family shares, no matter where they live.

Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?

In keeping with the strong women in sports theme, I encourage you readers to consider debut author Kim Chaffee’s HER FEARLESS RUN: KATHRINE SWITZER’S HISTORIC BOSTON MARATHON. It’s an amazing non-fiction picture book about a woman who dared to run the Boston Marathon at a time, not so long ago, and was openly threatened when she did. Kathrine Switzer is alive and well today, committed to empowering females through her 261 Fearless, a global network for women to connect and take control of their lives through the freedom gained by running.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read. Read. Read. Be interested in anything and everything. Pay attention to what your teachers are telling you. Do your very on your assignments. You never know when an assignment might become a published book!

As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

I am having SO much fun with this book! I generally hear from my readers via social media. I love it when they post an image of their copy of the book and how much they’ve enjoyed reading it. This makes me so very happy.

If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

I’d like to portal into the book that I am currently writing right now. It’s a ghost story about a girl named Tobi, who is the only female on a Little League team. It’s set in 1974, just after the time that Title IX was passed. I wish I could travel back in time to attend baseball practice with her, sit next to her in class, and encourage her as she struggles to live every day with a broken heart, one that only a ghost can heal.

Posted in Meet the authors

Carrie Pearson

Author website/social media:

Website: http://www.carriepearsonbooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/carrieapearson
New Instagram author account: https://www.instagram.com/carrieapearson.author/
Instagram personal account: https://www.instagram.com/carrieapear/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/carrieapearson/

Carrie at a recent book signing

 

 

 

 

 

And school visit

1.     When you were my age (10), did you like to read?

I LOVED to read at your age, and still do. When I was ten, I spent as much time reading as I possibly could. I read on my living room couch, at the table during meals (when my mom allowed it), up in a maple tree in the front yard, soaking in the tub, and in bed before lights out. Don’t tell my mom, but I also read after lights out. 

2.     What is a book that made an impact on you?

If I have to select one, it would be Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, original cover by Wesley Dennis shown here. My heart raced when the Spanish ship carrying beautiful horses is caught in a terrible storm and the horses have to swim for their lives. My heart dropped when Misty and her mother were sold to a different owner than Maureen and Paul. And my heart soared when Misty and the Beebe children built a trusting relationship. This book completely captured me and influenced the name I chose for my first horse which was Daughter of the Wind. Very dramatic, right? J

 

3.     Is it hard to come up with book ideas? You write both fiction and non-fiction – is that hard? 

I usually don’t have trouble with ideas. My family and friends often hear me say, “Hey, what if there was a book about X?” and we debate that idea. The hard part is finding the right way to tell the story that chooses me. I want all my books – fiction and nonfiction – to be memorable and leave a lasting impact on readers. That goal makes me work hard to tell a story in a way that grabs readers, changes them somehow, and makes them want to share the book with others. 

 

4.     What author or book have you read recently that impacted you?
A brand new book called GIRLS WITH GUTS! THE ROAD TO BREAKING BARRIERS AND BASHING RECORDS by DebbieGonzalez rocked my world. This nonfiction picture book introduces brave women throughout history who were instrumental in changing the world of athletics for women and girls. It’s compelling reading, the art is fun, and I learned a lot about the challenges women who came before me faced when all they wanted to do is play sports! Crazy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.    Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? 

Lindsey McDivitt is an author and editor whose latest book is a picture book biography called NATURE’S FRIEND: THE GWEN FROSTIC STORY. I know children will like Lindsey’s writing because it conjures images in our heads. For example, here is the opening line of NATURE’S FRIEND: “Gwen followed her brothers and sisters everywhere, like a small fawn follows its herd.” I’m particularly drawn to this biography of nature artist Gwen Frostic because like Gwen, I feel the natural world is so important and we should respect and care for it. I’ve recently been honored with the Michigan Reading Association’s Gwen Frostic Award which brings me great joy. But back to Lindsey! I hope you’ll check out her new book and here is her website to learn more: https://www.lindseymcdivitt.com/about/

 

6.     What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read, write, explore, and repeat. It’s really that simple. Read things you know you’ll like. Read things you don’t think you’ll like. Write easy things. Write harder things. Explore places you love. Explore places you think you won’t love. Do these things over and over. Keep trying and reaching and sharing what you learn and write with others. If you do these things, you’ll realize you are an author already. 

 

7.     As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

Because my readers are younger, I mostly hear from them during my school visits or after the visit when they send thank you notes. I love hearing what they learned from my talks and my books. I love knowing that their world has shifted a bit with new information. And I love just hearing their perspectives. One of my favorites is this one from a very young student. J Spoiler alert: the answer is yes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.     If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

WOW. This is a HARD question! Any story told well makes me want to enter that world. But, okay, today I’ll portal from my home in upper Michigan into the world of my most recent nonfiction picture book, STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM A TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH. The ecosystem in Redwood National Park in northern California, where my main character lives, is so special. It’s cool, and quiet, and yet completely full of life. It smells green and piney. The coast redwoods found there are astoundingly tall and so grand, they are hard to comprehend. Here is a picture of me taken on my research trip for the book. This isn’t a particularly big tree by coast redwood standards but it had a river of water running from the top to the bottom of the tree which I’d never seen before. 

And another from that trip showing how small a car looks compared to some coast redwoods. Did I mention they are big trees? 
Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Joey Weiser

1. When you were my age, did you like to read? I’ve always loved comics and comic strips. When I was your age I liked to read fantasy and sci-fi novels, especially if they had humor in them, but around that time I was also discovering superhero comics like X-Men.

2. What is a book that impacted you? Jeff Smith’s Bone had a huge impact. Like I said, I liked reading superhero comics and following their adventures, but the kinds of comics that I drew as a kid always looked more like the comic strips I enjoyed, like Calvin & Hobbes or Bloom County. Bone showed me that I could blend the two styles of comics together into one thing, and from then on that’s exactly what I wanted to create.
3.  Is it hard to come up with book ideas? It can be hard to come up with ideas. The good thing about making graphic novels is that it takes so long that you have time to let ideas come to you for what you want to work on next! Ideas can come from all sorts of different places, for instance thinking about your life, or reflecting on the books and movies you like, or just letting your imagination wander.
4. What author or illustrator have you read lately that impacted you? Lately I’ve been very interested in the work of Shigeru Mizuki, like his awesome Kitaro series. Kitaro’s fun but spooky mood was a big influence on Ghost Hog.
5. Is there a newer or less known author/illustrator that people should know about? Mathew New has just announced that his mini-comic series Billy Johnson And His Duck Are Explorers has been planned for publication as a graphic novel in 2020! Those comics are so fun, I highly recommend checking them out!
6. What advice do you have for kids who want to be an author/illustrator? Write and draw as much as you can! Think about why you like the things you like and try to use some of those same qualities in your work. But if you write and draw as much as you can, every day if possible, you almost can’t help but get better!
7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about it?I hear from readers a little bit. It’s always very encouraging to know that people are reading my work, because that’s why I create it! I really see my comics being read as the final step in the process. That’s why conventions and school / library visits are nice. I get a chance to see my readers and hear about what they think of my work.
8. If you could portal into any book, which would it be? There are some really cool islands in Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece. I’d love to visit the island made of candy, or the floating island in the sky… except they are always way more dangerous than you’d want in those stories!! I’d want to visit a peaceful version, I guess.
9. Why do you think graphic readers are important for children? Comics are great because they have a hand-made quality that shows that not only can you read the kinds of books you want, you can also create them yourself! This isn’t like a movie that takes dozens or hundreds of people to make. All you need is a some drawing materials and you can tell the story in your head.
Posted in Behind the Scenes, Meet the authors

Howard Wong

Author website/social media: howard-wong.blogspot.com

1.     When you were my age (10), did you like to read?

I loved reading at a young age. The library was my favorite place to visit and still is. 

2.     What is a book that made an impact on you?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I borrowed a well-read copy from the library with a cover that had seen better days during a summer when I was ten. I read the whole thing in one afternoon while visiting my grandparents. I just couldn’t put it down. The whimsical adventure that Charlie took me as a reader inspired my imagination. 

3.     Is it hard to come up with book ideas? 

Sometimes it is. Inspiration for ideas can come from anywhere at any time. I tend to collect some ideas that come to me that aren’t ready to be a full story yet. I like to revisit these unfinished ideas to see if I can mold them into a story. 

4.     What author or book have read recently that impacted you?

Rick Remender’s Black Science series, which isn’t a book. It’s a comic book series which has been one of my favorite stories I’ve read in a while. It has all kinds of adventures set in a world where we travel through multiple dimensions with different versions of the world we know, interesting character development and many twist and turns. It’s not fit for young readers though. 

Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? 

Oliver Jeffers is one that I point out to friends when we talk about picture books we love. Lost and Found is one of my favorites of his. His stories and beautiful art compliment each other perfectly to tell funny stories with heart. 

Why do you think graphic readers like yours are important for kids?

I think all kinds of books are important for kids. Having grown up as a reader, books for me then and now are the magical gateway to incredible worlds, adventures, mysteries, and self-discovery! I wrote The Unhappy Little Pig from the inspiration of how we try to be like other people we feel are better than us, but it’s really not the way to find happiness. By the end of the story, we discover what makes the unhappy little pig truly happy. This is something that I hope kids will find true for themselves too. 

7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read different genre of books. Even ones that you think you don’t like just to try them out. Like trying new types of food, you never know if you like it until you give it a go. 

Write every day, but don’t worry about it being perfect the first time. When we write we make mistakes, come up with better ideas, and more. We go through many drafts before we get to the version we like most, which is the one you’ll see in a book. So don’t worry about changing things in your story. We do it all the time. 

Share your stories with your family and friends. Ask them what they like and don’t like about your stories. This will let you see what works well and what parts of your story you’ll need to work on a bit more. 

8. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

I have readers who’ve commented on my work on social media and in person like at TCAF. I like readers sharing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions of my stories with me. I get to know what that like about my writing, but I also get to share stories of how I came up with certain things like using an old photo of our first dog as one of the characters. 

9.If you could portal into any book (yours or another person ’s), what book would it be?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The whimsical world alone would be fun to experience, but of course there’s also all that chocolate and candy too!

Posted in Meet the authors

Jay Cooper

Well, first I want to say thank you for the interview! I think it’s seriously cool that you are reaching out to writers. I have no doubt you’ll be a great writer yourself, if you aren’t one already! But on to the questions: 

1. when you were my age, did you like to read? What a fun reading age that was! 9 was the year that I read the Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia… Book 3, The Voyage of the Dawntreader, was always my absolute favorite of the series. Of course, you have to add to these about a bajillion comic books and Mad Magazine books (I LOVED Spy Vs. Spy and the Don Martin books!)

2. what book made an impact on you? Oh, there are so many! I have to pick just one? Geez. Okay. Well, Norman Bridwell of Clifford the Big Red Dog fame had a number of other books. One that I really loved was How To Care For Your Monster. It was a practical guide to taking care of your pet werewolf, or vampire, or Frankenstein’s Monster! I loved monsters growing up, and this book really struck home with me… The idea that even the most bloodthirsty monster needs to be cared for like a regular family pet—it was clever and original. And Norman’s illustrations were amazing. They still are!
3. How do you come up with book ideas? Sometimes it feels impossible to come up with book ideas! And other times they just fall into your head all at the same time like raindrops. I guess you could call those “idea showers”. You never can predict when it will happen. The real problem is remembering them! More than once I’ve come up with a book idea that seemed like the most amazing idea ever for a book, and I’ve thought, “I should write that down… but how could I possibly forget such a brilliantly, awesome and amazing idea anyway? Pshaw!” And then, of course, I totally forgot what the idea was. Now I carry around a little notebook everywhere I go so that no matter when or how I get good idea showers, I can record them. Lots of writers do this.
4. What author or book have you read recently that impacted you? That’s a great question. There is an illustrated children’s book that just came out two months ago that is so amazing, so simple and beautiful, that I cannot get it out of my head. I bought it and immediately gave it to another person within an hour of buying it. That’s how good it was! It’s called Cicada, and it’s written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. I think it will be my favorite book of the year.
5. Is there a new or lesser known author kids should know about? Another great question! Russell Ginns is a relatively new author with his Samantha Spinner series. He’s just about the funniest person that I’ve ever met. I highly recommend his books.
6. What advice do you have for kids who want to be an author? The best writers are readers. I work on Broadway, and have read a thousand scripts for plays and musicals at this point (okay, that’s an exaggeration: but a few hundred, certainly!). I read books all the time on top of that. It’s really helped my writing tremendously. Stories are so much a part of my life that creating them has become second nature to me. The trick is finding your own voice when you write… and that just comes with time and practice.
7. Do you hear from your readers?what do you like about it? Receiving a letter or email from a reader always brings a smile to my face. When I got into this business, I really just wanted to have an impact on another human being. Just one. Every time someone reaches out to me, I feel like all the hard work and effort I put into my books is worth it! (And I hope it never gets old).
8. If you could portal into any book, what book would it be? Oh, that’s a fun idea. If I could go into any book at all, I’d probably choose Edith Hamilton’s Mythology book. I’ve always loved mythology, and the idea of meeting Zeus, or Hermes, or Artemis is a very exciting idea! Or I would choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. I have always wanted to meet Titania and Oberon and all the fairies. Okay, I’m switching it: I’d choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream first and Edith Hamilton’s Mythology second. Can I do both? You’re in charge of this, right?

Posted in Meet the authors

Rebecca Kai Dotlich

1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read books and poems? 
When I was 9 I loved to read. I also loved to ride my bike, roller skate, and make things.  We did not have a library in walking distance (& my mother didn’t drive), but a bookmobile came to our neighborhood.  I loved reading mysteries, biographies and fairy tales.  I wasn’t introduced to much poetry when I was small.  The poetry I knew and loved came in the delicious rhymes from books like Jack and the Beanstalk: Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman ….
And The Gingerbread Man: Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread man.
Those still stay with me.  
2. What was your favorite book, poem or author?
My favorite would have been the Nancy Drew mysteries and Pippi Longstocking.
3. How did you become a poet?
I wish I had an easy answer.  Looking back, the way I saw the world was always a little different.  I was enchanted with words and sounds and song lyrics.  I began to write rhyming lines and couplets in my diaries and on notebook paper and to my friends and family.  I wrote poetry in High School, then college, and when my children were babies I tried to get published as a poet.  But I think I was a poet all along.
4. Is it hard to come up with poems?
Not the topic, not the idea.  I can’t write them all in a lifetime.  But to make them be as good as I hope, as I want, as I expect, that is the hard part.  So I work and work and revise and change and cross out and polish each one as best I can.
5. What is one of the coolest things that has happened with one of your poems – like book or famous person reading it?
Hmm.  Well sometimes you will see things on the internet that you don’t even know about.  I’ve seen a book of mine being read by a governor to a group of children but I do not remember who or what state and I’ve happened upon a few of my poems being turned into songs.  
6. Do you have a favorite children’s poetry book or poet?
Honestly, I have many.  It truly would be hard to choose just one.  I wish I had a better answer.  
7. Why do you think kids should read poetry?
I don’t know if they should, but I sure hope they end up wanting to. I think a poem is a small package of words that can surprise, delight, make you feel joy, and make you feel not as alone.  I love how you can flip through a book of poems and read whatever first line or title catches your heart.
8. How did you come up with the Cherry Tree poem that I love so much?
I actually went to Washington D.C. to see them all up close and personal and blooming all over like tiny groups of pale pink and white paper umbrellas.  I took my notebook and wrote down words & images I thought of as I stared at them.
9. Do you have any advice for a kid interested in poetry?
Read as much of it as you can.  Open a book of poetry.  If one poem doesn’t grab your curiosity or wonder or attention, move to the next.  Copy the ones you love in your own notebook.  (Remember to write the poet’s name.)  Try writing your own poems by observing what it is you want to write about (a puppy dog waking from a nap?  The moon in a night sky?) and always, always write down what is in your heart.  All the things that give you joy, all the things that make you want to cry, all the things that make you wonder and ask questions.  All the things that make you, you.