I’ve been lucky to meet some amazing people in the world of publishing and while interviewing over 50 authors and illustrators in the past year and a half, my readers have been the lucky recipients of some very generous giveaways. Today brings one that is special for many reasons and includes 4 previously interviewed authors with new back-to-school themed picture books! Please help me welcome: Michal Babay, Julie Danneberg, Carrie Finison, and Becky Schornhorst! One lucky winner will have 4 picture books to add to their collection. Please comment on the post and share on your social media to help spread the word!
Help me welcome Michal Babay, author of THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING LUNCHROOM, illustrated by the Paula Cohen, Julie Danneberg, author of PICTURE DAY JITTERS, illustrated by Judy Love, Carrie Finison, author of HURRY LITTLE TORTISE, TIME FOR SCHOOL, illustrated by Erin Kraan, and Becky Schornhorst, author of THIS FIELD TRIP STINKS! illustrated by Julia Patton.
Did knowing how much readers loved your last book(s) impact the writing of your new book?
Michal: No, because I actually wrote THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING LUNCHROOM two years before writing I’M A GLUTEN-SNIFFING SERVICE DOG! I wrote and revised LUNCHROOM while I was still teaching. Then our lives flipped upside down and my oldest needed me around for her mental and physical health, so I wrote about Chewie, our gluten-sniffing service dog, in a completely different frame of mind. Both stories are near and dear to my heart, but neither influenced the writing of the other.
Julie: PICTURE DAY JITTERS is the seventh book in the Jitters series that began with FIRST DAY JITTERS and introduced Mrs. Sara Jane Hartwell and her students. I think what drives or inspires each of the books in the series in my own experience as a teacher. I try to be true to those experiences and feelings. As a teacher, I had noble aspirations to provide the perfect party (Valentine’s Day JITTERS) or keep my students perfectly coiffed for school pictures as in PICTURE DAY JITTERS, but often, reality interfered and as all teachers know, kids don’t expect perfection. I guess what impacts the writing of each book in the series is trying to stay true to the everyday reality of a classroom.
Carrie: Nothing is certain in publishing, especially not your next book contract! But as it happened, the manuscript HURRY, LITTLE TORTOISE, TIME FOR SCHOOL was under contract before DON’T HUG DOUG was released. One thing that has made a difference, for me as a writer, through the release of my earlier books and sharing them aloud with readers, is realizing the importance of reading aloud and how FUN a good read-aloud can be. This is something I have always tried to keep in mind, but it’s dramatically reinforced when I get to read my own work to a child audience. I’m always noticing places where I could have changed the phrasing a little, added a refrain, or onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme, and all the little elements of language and structure that make for a great read-aloud.
Becky: Both of these books were written before the first one came out, so I didn’t know how readers would respond to this wild bunch of characters. However, since last year, I’ve been thrilled to hear from readers who can relate to Stuart’s nervous jitters and the uncertainty he feels in new situations. Both books also feature lots of silly antics from Stuart’s animal pals which kids seem to enjoy.
What do you hope readers will take away from your new book?
Michal hope that THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING LUNCHROOM inspires laughter, letter writing, and some interesting discussions about the importance of a positive perspective in life. This modern twist on a classic Yiddish folktale is all about humor and remembering to appreciate what you already have, rolled together into a chaotic ball of sports teams and snakes. After all, as the original folktale reminds us, things could always be worse!
Julie: I hope that readers will enjoy a funny story. I hope that they will recognize some of the student antics that they see in their own classroom, and most of all, get a little bit of insight into their own teachers, who try hard for perfection but rarely actually make it.
Carrie: I hope that readers will connect with Little Tortoise — because who hasn’t been late once in a while, or at least worried about being late? And I hope they will see that even adults sometimes struggle with this kind of anxiety. The important thing is trying your best, accepting a little help when needed, and ultimately being ready to learn once you get there.
Becky: First and foremost, I hope the book makes readers laugh. My goal for anything I write is to bring a little more joy and laughter into the world. For this particular book, I hope it also encourages readers to try new things and embrace new experiences. Stuart is nervous about his nature field trip, but he braves the wilderness with friends by his side and a giant pack of supplies on his back. Not everything goes as planned, but in the end, he learns to appreciate his natural surroundings. I hope kids feel brave enough to try something new after reading about Stuart’s adventure.