Hello everyone and thank you for reading my Fall Frenzy story! My story is called Halloween friends and it was based on this picture.
Halloween Friends is about a lonely old woman and a little girl named Lilly who visits her every Halloween.
Miss Figglebun placed her pointy hat on top of the naturally silver hair that flowed around her wrinkled face.
She turned on her light and waited.
“Hello, Lilly, I love your dinosaur costume.”
“You’re a beautiful witch, Miss Figglebun,” Lilly replied.
Miss. Figglebun handed Lilly an apple fritter as they chatted that Halloween night.
Lilly talked about her friends and her kindergarten teacher. Miss Figglebun talked about the blanket she was knitting. When they were done, the friends said good bye. And Miss Figglebun turned off the light.
Years passed, and each Halloween, Miss. Figglebun would put on her witch’s hat and wait for her little friend Lilly to visit.
They talked about new teachers, new friends, and new life experiences as they munched on tasty apple-filled treats.
One Halloween, Miss Figglebun was too tired and ill to talk.
So, Lilly talked instead.
She talked about her job, her pets, and her brand new baby boy.
When she was done, Lilly said, “Don’t forget your witch’s hat,” and she smiled and placed it on her friend’s head.
And even though Lilly was all grown, Miss Figglebun saw a five-year-old Lilly in a dinosaur costume smiling down at her.
Welcome to #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉 Today’s interview is with the wonderful Stacy Burch. We talked about her book A WAY WITH WORDS. Illustrated by Lucy McLoughlin.
📚What were you like as a child?
I was (and still am!) an extroverted introvert, but I didn’t know that at the time. I loved to be around other people, but would fret about social experiences before, during, and after they occurred. I was a joyous overthinker who was oddly happy yet nervous most of the time. It was exhausting, so I channeled a lot of my energy into sports! As an adult, I practice meditation and mindfulness, which has helped tremendously. I also now teach these practices to groups of children in the northeast USA.
📚 What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
Hmmmmm. I think the best compliment I’ve ever received was when a total stranger told me I was one of the kindest people she’s ever met. I had been helping someone else at the time, unaware that a sweet elderly woman was watching our exchange. Kindness is one of the qualities I value most, so this meant the world to me.
📚 How do you relax after a hard day?
Get outside! No matter the weather, I like to spend time in nature, preferably with my husband and children. We like to walk, hike, ride bikes, kayak, sled ride, etc. There’s nothing like fresh air to clear your head!
📚 Do you like mint chocolate?
Yes! But I prefer it to be light on the mint and heavy on the chocolate. Haha.
📚 Let’s talk about A WAY WITH WORDS. The premise of this story is so beautiful. Can you tell us about it?
It’s about a young girl’s attempts to communicate nonverbally and her determination to share her thoughts even when no one is truly listening.
📚I love this line “But that doesn’t mean she can’t say a great many things.” Can you tell us one way Sam communicates without words?
Sam uses artistic means of communication: painting, dancing, building, playing music, etc. But there are countless ways to communicate with others, including mathematics, parallel play, repetition or mimicry, etc. Communication is happening always; we just need to pay attention!
📚 Do you have any advice for writers who would like to write character driven books like this one?
Start with whatever style you like best. If you’re a poetic writer, like I am, write the story as a poem first. Don’t worry about the character arc until you finish the first draft and dive back in for revisions. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Play into those strengths and lean on your critique partners for help!
📚 Is there anything you’d like to say to all the “quiet” children out there?
Even though this world is awfully loud sometimes, we see you and we hear you. Your thoughts and opinions matter, so please don’t be afraid to share them in whatever manner feels most comfortable to you. Communication, like all aspects of human nature, is meant to be diverse, and diversity is beautiful
Today I’m chatting with Sarah Aronson about her fun family story BRAND NEW BUBBE. Illustrated by Ariel Landy.
📚 What’s the last movie you saw?
The Downton Abbey movie. I love anything with period costume and a little bit of sister drama!
📚 What’s your go to guilty pleasure?
Definitely riding my bike or walking along Lake Michigan. I always find an idea when I’m looking at the water, walking or riding without my phone, enjoying the outdoors. I live on the 36th floor of a high-rise. I also love looking at the city. I’m so lucky!
📚 Would you rather live underwater or on a cloud?
Definitely a cloud. (I sort of do!) The first movie to ever give me nightmares was The Poseidon Adventure.
📚 What does your favorite coffee mug look like?
It’s an oversized white mug that says BOOKISH.
📚 Let’s talk about your book BRAND NEW BUBBE. Please tell us about the inspiration behind this wonderful book.
I LOVE writing about family! Multi generational characters always turn up in my stories. Bubbe was inspired when my stepson and his wife announced that they were having a baby! I realized that this grandchild and I would not “technically” be related. That made me think about blended families and how blood isn’t the most important ingredient. NO! That is love! So, I started thinking about Jillian and what it would be like to have new family thrust upon her. Loyalty came up. And when it came to Bubbe, so did cooking! And soup! (I love making soup.) The recipes in the back are mine!
📚 I love picture books that feature food. To me they have such a comforting feel. Would you describe your own book as comforting?
Oh, I hope it is. I also hope people find it funny. And maybe even a little bit charming. I hope kids cheer for Jillian and her grandmas. I also hope that this book helps kids think about families and what it takes to be a family. I’m putting together a downloadable activity for the book called The Family Constellation. It’s a new kind of family tree! It asks: who shows you the way? Or brings light to your life?
📚 Do you have a favorite character? One that was particularly fun to write?
Well, I LOVE how Ariel Landy illustrated the pets. All these characters were fun to write!
📚 How will children relate and identify with your book?
I hope kids will relate to Jillian’s realization that family is made of love and that there IS always room for more of that. I hope they cheer for her to accept Bubbe into her heart. And I hope they smile when they see that Jillian’s family isn’t done growing!
📚 Lastly, tell us about the yummy recipes that are included in your book.
So, I am a soup girl. I love making soup–it makes everyone feel happy and loved. Not in this story is my 100 page party soup, which you can find here: https://saraharonson.com/100-page-party-soup/ (I make it every time I hit page 100 in a new draft!) The recipes in the back are recipes I have made and fed to family with rave reviews! Matzo balls are always tricky! (Pro tip: if you are nervous, use the Manichevitz mix!) I actually rarely measure my ingredients, so jotting down the recipes was not easy!
I hope everyone loves Brand New Bubbe as much as I enjoyed writing it. I love Ariel’s illustrations, and I am so grateful to Yolanda Scott at Charlesbridge for saying yes and giving me such great guidance. This book makes me smile. Nothing is more important than family!
If you love math inspired picture books, check out my interview with Ann Marie Stephens. We talked about her latest bookk ARITHMECHICKS PLAY FAIR. Illustrated by Jia Liu.
📚 As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Like most kids, I wanted to be a lot of things. A pediatrician, a lawyer, an explorer. But most of the time I wanted to teach. I asked my teachers for their unwanted supplies and teacher editions. My parents bought me an easel, and the rest came naturally. I had imaginary students, my younger sister joined in, and even the neighborhood kids came to my classroom.
📚 Would you rather visit Hawaii or Alaska?
Well, I’ve been to Hawaii where I went scuba diving, hiked a volcano, picked lemons in the backyard, and visited locales where musicians played slack-key guitar. I’d do it all over again, but I love visiting new places, so I’d choose Alaska. I want to see polar bears while they are still around.
📚 What’s your least favorite household chore?
I don’t like dusting. There’s too much stuff to move and I get distracted. Especially when it comes to bookshelves! Also, the dust makes my hands itch. For the record, I have zero favorite household chores.
📚 If you could relive any childhood age, which would you choose.
I enjoyed being 8. There were chapter books to read and more freedom to be independent. I remember learning to speak Pig Latin and making a Pig Latin dictionary. I had a lot of sleepovers and spent time outside skating, solving mysteries, and riding my bike.
📚 Let’s talk about your latest book ARITHMECHICKS PLAY FAIR. Please tell us all about this fun and math filled book.
ARITHMECHICKS PLAY FAIR is a book about fractions. The chicks and their friend Mouse, go to the fair to ride rides, eat snacks, and play games. They happen to be using fractions while having these real-life experiences. I wanted to find a way to make math feel natural and applicable to young readers. When kids find out they’ve made a fraction while sharing a snack with a friend, their minds are blown. I hope kids will be motivated to explore fractions.
📚 This book shows children how much fun math can be. Can you tell us what you love about math? Do you have any words of encouragement for children who might struggle with it?
Truth be told, I don’t love much about math which makes being the author of two math series kind of funny, right? I can say I like it when it’s relevant to life. Math can be difficult for some kids. Often answers must be exact, or they are wrong. Not having that wiggle room can lead to feelings of failure and frustration. I think finding different ways to approach mathematical concepts can be really helpful. Sketch noting or drawing, and the use of manipulatives can help visual and tactile learners. Songs work magic for auditory learners. Tying food into math can help everyone! Order a pizza or open a chocolate bar and watch how fast a kid can learn fractions.
📚 This book is part of a series. Can you tell us about the other books that are in the series?
There will be six books in the series. So far, there is ARITHMECHICKS ADD UP, ARITHMECHICKS TAKE AWAY, ARITHMECHICKS TAKE A CALCULATION VACATION, and ARITHMECHICKS PLAY FAIR, out 8/9. Each book places the chicks and their sweet friend Mouse, in real-world settings using math in organic ways. Just like the chicks, kids could go on their own playground and add, or visit the beach and subtract. Math is everywhere.
📚 You’ve been an elementary school teacher for many years. How has your teaching experience helped you write picture books?
Being a teacher-author has been a mix of many things. I’ve been surrounded by kids the same age as my book audience. I’ve read thousands of picture books because that’s what elementary teachers do, plus I’m obsessed with them. This has allowed me the opportunity to see what kinds of books kids enjoy and don’t enjoy. In contrast, being in teacher mode all the time has been a bit stifling for my writing. My mind is always full of curriculum, standards, and the limitations of the education system. There is an overwhelming amount of paperwork that follows me home, stealing hours of writing time. I had a plan to retire from teaching at 30 years to pursue writing full-time. Then COVID hit, and year thirty was teaching online which was too heart-breaking a way to end. So I stayed one more year to teach in-person. I needed those special moments and projects I could only celebrate within my classroom surrounded by six-year-olds. As of this past May, I officially retired with 31 unforgettable years. I’m still getting my head around leaving one passion to fully pursue another. It’s been sad, exciting, and unfamiliar navigating a freedom I’ve never had in my adult life. I’m looking forward to growing as a writer knowing my mind and time will be all mine.
If you think nature is wonderful and magical, you’ll want to check out my latest #ChatWithThePBLady. 🥳🎉 Read on to see my interview with Francine Rockey. We chatted about her amazing book TO FIND TREASURE IN THE MOUNTAINS . Illustrated by Kendra Binney.
📚 What is your favorite holiday memory?
It was Valentine’s Day in Phoenix, AZ, my hometown. I was about six years old, and we went to Jack in the Box for dinner. We were at a booth by the window, and I was sitting with my head against the glass looking at a nearby streetlight, when thick white glitter began to float down from the sky. I couldn’t believe it. I’d never seen anything like it. It was beyond beautiful. “Look! Look!” I pointed nearly shouting. I’d never seen snow before, and my excitement was contagious. Everyone rushed to the windows. Then ran outside. Arms outstretched, chins up, we let snowflakes cling to our eyelashes and shirtsleeves. It was magic, real sky-magic!
📚 Do you have a favorite podcast?
I don’t listen to podcasts often, but I do enjoy Smartless on a road trip. Especially when they get into weedy discussions of craft and the art of storytelling. There is a Smartless episode with Jerry Seinfeld, where he talks in-depth about what it means to be a writer, and I found myself absolutely riveted. I just wanted to jump in and be a part of the conversation. To me, it is absolutely thrilling to hear artists delve into the minutia of craft and creation.
📚 If you had 30 minutes to yourself, what would you do?
Walk along the Deschutes River Trail. Listen as the river rushes, roars, then smooths. Hop to a boulder in the center of the river. Dip my toes in the water. Let 30 minutes stretch into an hour, then two.
📚What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
I was teaching 5th grade, and I was discussing a novel with my class. We were talking about hopes and dreams, and one of my students asked me if I had always dreamed of being a teacher. I told him, actually, I’ve always wanted to be an author, and I remember the confused look on his face when he asked, “Then why aren’t you one?” I didn’t know how to respond, but I said, “I will be.” The truth was I had no idea how to become an author. I’d studied English literature. I was (am) always writing. But I had no idea how to take the next first step. I decided to leave my job, move to a new state, go back to school, and figure it out. I decided to be an author. It was terrifying. It was the first-dip-of-a-roller-coaster-stomach-dropping scary. It was a giant triple-dog-double dare. There were never any certainties, and every step has been a test of resilience and unwavering hope.
📚 Let’s talk about TO FIND TREASURE IN THE MOUNTAINS. This book is all about children discovering the nature around them. How does this book encourage children to explore nature?
TO FIND TREASURE IN THE MOUNTAINS is an invitation to bask in everyday marvels. Most kids are already natural-born virtuosos of wonderment, TO FIND TREASURE IN THE MOUNTAINS simply reminds them how incredible they already are at discovering resplendent beauty with each step outside. When I let my kids lead our walks, I’m always amazed at what they uncover. My first grader calls dewdrops water diamonds, and he’ll stop to examine each one, and my third grader once spent an entire morning at the Hoh Rainforest guarding banana slugs from distracted hikers. Kids are exquisite naturalists, and TO FIND TREASURE IN THE MOUNTAINS rekindles the love for nature they already carry with them.
📚 How did your own love of nature influence this book?
TO FIND TREASURE IN THE MOUNTAINS is a distilled version of my love for nature. Truly the two seem indistinguishable. It’s hard to feel where one ends and the other begins.
📚 This book was published by the Yosemite Conservancy. What was it like working with them?
Dreamy! Everyone is delightful, bursting with enthusiasm to create and share TO FIND TREASURE IN THE MOUNTAINS.
📚 Your book is about all the treasures that nature has to offer. What’s the best nature related treasure you’ve ever found?
Too many to pick one, but there is something about a bald eagle that always stops me in my tracks. I never saw bald eagles until we moved to the Pacific Northwest, which I think ups their intrigue. One Mother’s Day we were hiking at Smith Rock, and we saw a bald eagle soar overhead with breakfast clutched in her talons. We watched her carry it across the canyon to a grand treetop nest where her eaglets were waiting. It was a perfect Mother’s Day treasure!
It’s time for another #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉 Today, I’m chatting with Jessica Shaw about her book THE GREAT COOKIE KERFUFFLE.
📚 What position do you usually sleep in?
I’m 100% team side-sleeper. I always start on my right side and then before I fall asleep I switch to my left. And then it’s back-and-forth, side-to-side, one knee up, one leg stretched, both knees up, etc, etc. throughout the night. Sounds peaceful, right?
📚 If you could choose one member of the kidlit community to be stuck on a desert island with, who would you choose?
Ahhhhhh, this question is too hard! I would want ALL my kidlit friends to be there. But I’m going to assume at some point I’ll get off the island and back to my friends.
So if I had to pick one person, it would be fun to pick someone I admire greatly but don’t know personally, since we’d have plenty of time to get to know each other. Sharon Creech. She’s one of my all time favorite kidlit authors. She’s a master of voice! Her books are full of heart and hope and it would be an honor to forage for berries with her.
📚 What song would you choose to sing on karaoke night?
Love Will Keep Us Alive by the Eagles
(You would *not* want to be there to hear it, but I love that song!)
📚 If you could give yourself a cool nickname, what would it be?
Hmm. I’d go with Jae. I like short, punchy nicknames.
📚 Let’s talk about THE GREAT COOKIE KERFUFFLE. Where did you get the idea for such a fun story?
I love wordplay and sometimes a fun title comes to me before the story. That was the case with THE GREAT COOKIE KERFUFFLE. The title informed the story. I knew the characters would all be vying for the cookie (because….cookies! who *doesn’t* want a cookie?) I had so much fun coming up with the characters, and the illustrator, Pauline Gregory, brought them to life in the cutest way! I wound up with a lot of different characters in the kerfuffle, and that’s when I decided to add a counting element to the story.
📚 There are so many great animals in this book. Do you have a favorite?
It’s tough to choose, but I love the turkeys. Turkeys are just funny! I can’t picture a turkey saying, “gobble, gobble” without smiling:)
📚 This book is a laugh out loud counting story. What advice do you have for writers who want to write a story that’s fun and educational?
I would say focus on the FUN, even if you have an educational concept in mind. Story comes first. An educational angle can be worked in or fine tuned after you’ve come up with an engaging plot.
📚 Without giving it away, what can children expect from the ending of the story?
Well, I will say this: there is only ONE cookie, and as the tension builds, the number of cookie-craving critters grows. Until…
Today’s #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉 is with the author and illustrator of the wonderful book POLLY PLUM BRAVE ADVENTURER.
📚Jonathan: What movie can you quote the most lines from?
📚Jonathan: Who do you look up to?
📚Giulia: What would you do on a nice sunny day?
I would take a long walk in one of London’s beautiful parks or gardens, always carrying a trusty sketchbook with me.
📚Giulia: What do you do to feel relaxed?
Drawing, listening to some good music, while having a warm cup of tea.
📚Let’s talk about POLLY PLUM: BRAVE ADVENTURER. Jonathan, please tell us all about Polly Plum and how her character came to be.
Just from walking around the National Maritime Museum. Britain’s seafaring history is very male-dominated and I wanted to create a character that gave girls, like my daughter, a chance to see a place for themselves within it.
📚Giulia, what was it like to Illustrate this book? How did you capture Polly’s personality in your illustrations?
Bringing Polly Plum to life was an incredible experience. She is a brave and strong young woman, who is not afraid of challenges, even though they tempt to lead her into troubles. Polly has such a positive and energetic soul, which I tried to transmit not only through her actions, but also while drawing her clothes. Her outfit is bright and colourful, like her personality.
📚Jonathan, what do you think readers will love about your book?
They’ll love the different ways that Polly outsmarts the various characters she meets, nothing is going to stop her from being a brave adventurer! Plus, everyone enjoys Mr Smellbad-Frown.
📚Giulia, do you have a favourite scene from the book that you illustrated? What did you like about it?
My favourite scene from the book is when Polly Plum and the crew have the “pleasure” to meet the ghost for the first time. I loved drawing the captain expression (clearly a tribute to the painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch) and using that specific colour palette, which gave to the entire scene a very spooky vibe.
It’s time for #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉 This chat is is with the wonderful Janet Sumner Johnson. We chatted about her fantastic new book BRAVER THAN BRAVE. Illustrated by Eunji Jung.
📚 What’s your favorite ice cream topping?
Crumbled Oreo. Yum!
📚 What songs would be included on the soundtrack of your life?
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. It speaks to me in a big way about both my writing life, and about what we can do with our lives.
Audition (The Fools Who Dream) sung by Emma Stone from the soundtrack of La La Land. It reminds me that art inspires, and that it’s important to dream.
Human by Christina Perri because boy am I Human.
I could go on forever, but one last one . . . Warrior by Avril Lavigne. Sometimes you have to be your own advocate and stand up with all your strength. This song reminds me that I AM a warrior, and I can conquer!
📚 What’s your favorite sleeping position?
Haha! Love this question. I prefer to sleep on my side, but I’m old and have an achy body, so I sleep on my back. Sigh.
📚 If you could repeat any age, what age would it be?
Oh wow, this is a hard question!
Because I’m a time travel geek and tend to get caught up in all the questions and conundrums that presents, I’ll assume I simply get to relive that age in a separate existence, without influencing who I became in the present.
In THOSE circumstances, I would relive the age of 14. I made cheerleader just after turning 14, and our group was wacky and fun and we got to make up SNL style skits for so many assemblies. We even had a food fight in front of the whole school (administration approved!). That year was a blast! (Plus, I could spy on all the middle graders with my author’s mind for ideas for future books!)
📚 Let’s talk about your fabulous book BRAVER THAN BRAVE. Please tell us all about this book and the wonderful main character.
Aww, thanks for the kind words! In Braver than Brave, Wanda looks up to her older brother, Zane. He is the bravest kid in the world, and Wanda wants to be just like him.
The problem is that she just isn’t Brave like he is. So on a trip to the amusement park, when her friends follow Zane to the exciting new roller coaster, she has to figure out a way to find her Brave as everyone watches.
📚 How can children relate to this book?
In Braver than Brave, kids will relate to the pressure Wanda feels do things throughout the book. She feels pressure from her mom. She feels pressure from her friends, she feels pressure from her brother, and she even feels pressure from herself! Kids know what all of that feels like!
Hopefully they can see how Wanda deals with that and find their own coping strategies.
📚 This book is set over the course of a year. What was it like to write a picture book in this kind of format?
Interesting question! It’s rare to see so much time pass over the course of a picture book. But when I wrote the first draft, I honestly didn’t think about the format. It was simply what the story needed. What I especially love about the passage of time, is that it shows Wanda consistently working hard on a goal that is important to her. I hope that’s something kids will take away from the story.
But if I were giving a tip to writers about format, I’d say: Playing with format can be a lot of fun, but it should always be about showcasing the story, and not vice versa.
📚 BRAVER THAN BRAVE has a great message that there are different kinds of brave. Can you talk a little bit more about this?
When we hear the word “Brave,” we tend to think of specific actions that go along with that.
– Jumping of the Diving Board.
– Riding the Roller Coaster.
– Facing down the Scary Thing.
But no two kids are the same, so why would we assume that bravery would look the same for all of them?
For some kids, it’s hard to express how they feel, so it’s brave when they do.
For some kids, it’s scary to taste a new food, so it’s brave when they do.
For some kids, it’s hard to even go outside of their house, so it’s brave when they do.
Bravery is going to look different for everyone, and I hope this book 1) helps kids recognize how Brave they are, and 2) reminds them not to be too quick to judge someone else’s Brave.
Today, I’m chatting with Jen Arena about her fun book ACORN WAS A LITTLE WILD. Illustrated by Jessica Gibson.
📚If you were a milkshake, what flavor would you be?
Mint chocolate chip, the kind where all the chips fall to the bottom. You have to dig deep to get to the really good stuff.
📚Do you have a favorite family recipe?
I’m a big fan of Pfannekuchen, which my stepfather used to make for the family. They’re fluffy German pancakes that you spread with jam, apples, peanut butter, or Nutella then roll up, slice, and eat. And then the next day, you cut the leftover pancakes into thin strips and make a soup with them. Kind of odd, but delicious!
📚If you had the whole day to spend outdoors, what would you do?
I’d pack a lunch and a book, leash up my dog, and go for long wander. I’m definitely more of a forest person than a beach person. In the woods, it’s cool and shady, and I love looking for moss and mushrooms and wildflowers and interesting trees.
📚What’s your favorite animal? Hedgehogs! I once saw a hedgehog crossing a hotel parking lot in New Zealand and couldn’t believe how adorable it was. I wanted to slip it in my pocket and take it home!
📚Let’s talk about ACORN WAS A LITTLE WILD. Where did you get the idea to write a book from an acorn’s point of view?
When people hear I live in Florida, most of them immediately picture palm trees. But mypart of the state is full of huge, twisty old oak trees with hanging Spanish moss. I walk my dog every day in the park near my house and she’s obsessed with squirrels, so I’ve spent a lot of time watching them, too. One day, we were watching a squirrel with an acorn in its paws and the sentence “Acorn was a nut” jumped into my head. I wrote it down and for about half a year didn’t know what came next. Later I wrote about six more lines and put it away for another six months. The next time I opened that file, the whole story popped out. Sometimes stories just take their time. I’m so happy with the way the book turned out and have to give a shout-out to Jessica Gibson’s amazing art. Her rendition of Acorn is so endearing—he’s just so expressive. It seems that everyone who sees the cover falls in love with Acorn just like I did.
📚Tell us about Acorn. What makes him wild?
Acorn is wild at heart in all the best ways, 100% open to the world and everything in it. He’s not satisfied with hanging around doing nothing or letting others take the lead. He wants to explore and have adventures. Acorn embraces whatever life sends his way, both good andbad, and when he grows up and settles down, he doesn’t lose his wild side or his positive attitude. He still laughs, throws parties for his friends, and has a roaring good time.
📚How does Acorn face the challenges that come his way?
Acorn goes ALL IN on everything. He’s the first acorn to jump off the tree even though Oak warns him not to. When a squirrel grabs him, he’s not afraid. He loves the rush of Squirreljumping from tree to tree. Even while his world is at its darkest, Acorn appreciates the coolthings going on around him. To him, any challenge can also be an opportunity.
📚This book has nature and stem themes. Can you talk about this a little bit?
I love that teachers are coming away from this book with STEM and nature lessons in mind! I didn’t plan that when I was writing Acorn Was a Little Wild, but since the character is a tree nut, STEM themes are definitely embedded in the story. Reading this book can be a great way to teach kids about the life cycle of a tree. It’s also a fun jumping off point for talking about how trees contribute to our communities, by providing shade, food, shelter for animals, and oxygen. I’ve even had friends point out that it might help kids who worry about growing up or who are going through difficult times.
Today’s #ChatwithThePBLady is with Pauline David-Sax 🥳🎉 We talked about her book EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE. Illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow.
📚 If you could relive any age, what age would you choose?
I’m very happy at the age I am! But if I were going to revisit a prior age, I’d choose second grade. I had a really wonderful teacher named Mrs. Dinan. I remember several times when she’d let a few of us stay indoors during recess and play dress-up with costume pieces she had in her classroom closet. I remember that time very fondly.
📚 Tell me about one of your hero’s.
My great-aunt Gizella Salomon, who passed away in 1998, received a law degree in 1958 and helped blaze the trail for other women attorneys in Houston, TX at that time. She was a devoted friend and family member and at the same time, she had strong opinions and stood up for what she believed in.
📚What song have you been playing on repeat recently?
I recently saw the musical Hadestown, which I loved, and that entire soundtrack has been a recent favorite.
📚 Do you prefer coffee or tea?
Tough question! I am a huge fan of both. Earl Grey tea in the morning, with some iced coffee in the afternoon if I’m feeling sleepy.
📚 Let’s talk about your book EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE. This book features a lovely and unique combination of books and motorcyclists. Can you tell us more about the book and the inspiration behind it?
This book was inspired by the members of Sirens MC, NYC’s oldest all-women’s motorcycle club. I first learned about the club because my friend’s sister and sister-in-law are members. I thought it was so cool that my friend’s kids were growing up with two motorcycling aunts as role models and I decided I wanted to write a picture book that brought these amazing women into the lives of more kids.
I interviewed several members of the Sirens as I prepared to write this book. One of the things that struck me was how diverse the group is (in terms of race, gender expression, body size, background, etc.). There’s a saying in the group: You don’t know someone’s a Siren until you see the patch on their back. The members of the group call themselves sisters, yet if you saw them walking down the street you might not guess they had anything in common with one another. That’s what gave me the idea for the story I tell in this book. Nicky’s a shy kid who thinks Maggie, the motorcyclist she knows from her mom’s cafe, is a loner just like her. But when Nicky meets Maggie’s “motorcycle sisters” she realizes that it’s possible to find community, it might just not look like you first expect.
📚 How would you describe the character development of the main character? What challenges does she face and over come?
At the beginning of the story Nicky identifies as a loner and assumes she doesn’t have anything in common with any of the other kids at school. That’s why she spends recess helping out in the school library. But by the end she learns (thanks to Maggie and her motorcycle sisters) to be more open to finding community.
📚 Can you tell us in your own words why this book is so inspiring?
There are two things I hope will be inspiring about this book. The first is the representation of the women motorcyclists. Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, the illustrator, did such a phenomenal job drawing a beautiful and diverse group of women, and I hope kids will feel inspired seeing all of them within these pages. The other thing I hope will be inspiring is the idea that there’s a community out there for everyone—you just have to find it.
📚 What advice would you give to a child who feels like they don’t belong? How can your book help and comfort them?
It’s such a hard feeling—and one I’ve definitely had myself. So first and foremost I’d just offer to sit and listen. And then I’d hope that my book and stories like it can show them the value of being open to connection, even with people who might seem at first like they’re totally different. Nicky doesn’t have to change to find a friend at the end—she just has to be open to looking past the surface.