Interview with Kaitlyn Wells

It’s time for #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉

Today, I’m talking to Kaitlyn Wells about her delightful and heartwarming book A FAMILY LOOKS LIKE LOVE. Illustrations by Sawyer Cloud.

📚 If you had 30 minutes to yourself, what would you do?

When I have a few spare minutes to myself I like to look out the window, especially if there’s a sunrise or sunset. I don’t usually spend 30 minutes enjoying the scenery but it is wonderful to watch the world moving around me, and being still, even if only for a short time.

📚 If you wrote a book about your life, what would it be titled?

I wish I had an answer for you but I’m someone who always second-guesses myself. Truly, there’s too much anxiety here. Hey, maybe that should be the title!

📚 Do you like sprinkles on your ice cream?

Yes! Rainbow Jimmie sprinkles are my everyday jam; sugar pearls when I’m feeling fancy. But I hate tiny, multi-colored sugar balls because they’re just way too tough, bleed color everywhere, and are a pain to clean up. Yes, I’ve thought a lot about this!

📚 Who has been a positive influence on your life?

Several people have positively influenced my life. In these interviews I like to mention my mom and an acquaintance-turned friend who helped me get my start in my kidlit journey. But someone I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is my former mentor, KVH, who believed in my way back in high school and supported me throughout my college years. She gave me opportunities to experiment, fail, and succeed that I nobody else had before. She was an amazing person, and I shared a few of her lessons in this recent twitter thread.

📚 Let’s talk about A FAMILY LOOKS LIKE LOVE. Please tell us about the lovable main character. How does her character develop throughout the story?

Sutton is a playful puppy who loves everyone she meets. But she quickly realizes that the world isn’t afraid to make snap judgments about who she is supposed to be. She has to overcome her inner critic and realize that how she looks is perfect, and what truly matters is what’s in her heart. 

Fun fact: She’s actually based on my own dog, Sutton (pictured in my profile photo)!

📚 How do you think children will relate to this book?

Kids will relate to the book because they’re reminded that no matter what you look like and how “different” you are from your family that there’s always a place you belong. Children who are multriacial, multicultural, adoptees, and/or come from non-traditional family structures are sure to see themselves in Sutton’s story. 

📚 This book features a wonderful animal family. How is writing a picture book with animal characters different from writing a book with human characters?

One of the challenges of writing a book with animal characters is being mindful of your decisions to anthropomorphize them. There’s a long successful history of this tactic in children’s books but it can be difficult to pull off. I chose to maintain as much authenticity as I could with my approach, ensuring the rules of the dog family’s universe echoed the real-world, while still allowing them room for internal monologue and interaction within the animal kingdom. 

📚 This book is very heartwarming. Is there a certain line or sentence that you feel is particularly heartening?

A spread that really stands out to me can be found in Sawyer Cloud’s illustrations. There’s a scene where the main character Sutton is imagining what life would be like if she looked like her family. It’s not heartening, but rather heartbreaking to see it on the page, especially when paired with text that affirms that what everyone else is telling her is true: she doesn’t belong. But not too long after that, we see a spread of that same pup, who’s much more joyful, rolling around in a sticky sweet mess on the ground. I love the playfulness here, and it reminds me of how my own dog Sutton loves to roll around in the grass, too.


Interview with Sarah Dodd

It’s time for another #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉. Today I’m chatting with Sarah Dodd about her important and beautiful book: BEYOND THE SETTING SUN.

Illustrations by Cee Biscoe.

📚What’s something that brings you joy?

Music! Singing, playing the piano or simply listening to all kinds of music brings me great joy. Something boppy and energetic for dancing, or more reflective tunes for a thoughtful mood. Loud and fast or achingly melodic – life without music would be a very different (and sadder) place.

📚Where would you go if you wanted to relax?

Walking in nature, especially if I’m exploring a new place with only the aid of a map. I love to investigate what’s around the next corner – an amazing view, a twisted tree, a lapping lake. Being out amongst the plants and wildlife, day or night, helps me to relax and really appreciate the everyday miracles all around us. I am fortunate to live near to two National Parks and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so there are plenty of beautiful walks to choose from!

📚What’s a topic that’s important to you?

I’m a Christian, so understanding the Bible and helping others to do the same is really important to me. Other than that, I think family is probably the most important thing – most of my books end up being about family relationships, even if I didn’t set out to write about that!

📚What children’s book did you love when you were younger?

I was a voracious reader as a child and especially loved animal books (particularly horses!). But my favourite book of all time is Watership Down by Richard Adams. I bought it when I was eight years old and read it several times back-to-back– as soon as I finished it, I would start again. I’m not sure why it appealed so much – something about the challenges they rabbits faced and the evocative descriptions of the countryside. The courage of Bigwig, the ingenuity of Blackberry and the gentle wisdom of Hazel. And of course, a lot of sadness and loss. A lot of emotions to process there!

📚Let’s talk about BEYOND THE SETTING SUN. Please tell us about this beautiful and touching book.

When Lion asked me to write a picture book about bereavement, I wanted to use an animal protagonist to express the universal nature of grief in all cultures and backgrounds. The first animal that came to mind was an elephant because they do actually cry (although this isn’t a sadness response) and the female elephants in a herd all help to look after the young ones, as Aunt Jamila does in the book.  I chose the name Ekundayo because it is gender-neutral and it means ‘from sorrow to joy.’

My next step was to research the stages of grief that children may go through when experiencing the death of someone close to them, such as denial, anger, searching and crying. I made sure that Ekundayo displayed all of these (‘he tied his trunk in a terrible knot’) so that children sharing this book with an adult might see that if they are experiencing these things, other people do too. Some nurseries and schools have used the book with bereaved children and, interestingly, it has also been used with dementia sufferers who lost their parents as children but who never had the opportunity to talk about their feelings.

Talking to children about death can be difficult, especially if we are uncertain about things ourselves. One important piece of advice I read from bereavement experts was to speak clearly about the fact that the person has died, rather than using ambiguous phrases such as ‘passed on’ or ‘gone to sleep’. A child can be left confused by this, as illustrated by Aunt Jamila telling Ekundayo that Momma has gone ‘beyond the setting sun’. Ekundayo, of course, can see that Momma is right where she fell asleep the night before, so Aunt Jamila gently explains that Momma has died.

Another important aspect of the grieving process is saying goodbye. There are different rituals for this in different cultures but children are not always included in funerals. But that doesn’t mean they can’t experience some form of goodbye ceremony. In the book, the other elephants come and talk about the good things they remember about Momma, and Ekundayois invited to lay a twig from Momma’s favourite baobab tree on her body.  I have produced a resource to go alongside the book, which is freely available to anyone who wants to contact me via my website (

Beyond the Setting Sun is an intensely emotional book – it is difficult to read without feeling some sense of loss, but hopefully also the promise of joy. I think it’s important to recognise that sadness and tears are not negative things, to be avoided at all costs. They are valid emotions that serve a positive purpose in bringing to mind the love that a reader has enjoyed with someone who has gone. But I would recommend having a box of tissues handy and the adult reader may want to read it alone first, to process their own emotions.

📚How would you describe the writing style used in this story?

I would describe it as lyrical, perfect for reading aloud. Parts of it are Momma’s song lyrics (‘EkundayoEkundayo, come and lie-o here with me, in the shade of the baobab tree.’) and other parts are rhyming (‘…a wild boar GRUNTING, hyenas HUNTING, the SCREECH of an owl, a lion on the PROWL). There’s also quite a lot of dialogue between baby elephant Ekundayo, his aunt and his father. Talking honestly is so important in processing grief (‘I want Momma,’ cried Ekundayo. ‘So do I,’ said his father, ‘but…we must all take care of one another.’)

📚What makes this book so comforting?

I hope the comforting message is a double one – that grief, sadness and tears (and even tantrums) are a normal and appropriate response to the loss of a loved one, but also that there is hope and love surrounding us. Not only does Ekundayo have the comfort of his loving family around him, but the ending talks of a greater love – ‘A Love that never goes away/and, at the closing of the day/we may not see it but it’s there/ waiting for us …EVERYWHERE.’  As a Christian, I wrote this thinking about God’s love but I know that readers have interpreted it in whatever way means the most to them.

📚Can you tell us about the additional information adults will find at the end of this book?

The additional information has been provided by Lion. There are simple pointers by Debbie Duncan on how to help children through the grieving process and some websites that may be useful in providing more support and resources.

Interview with Norene Paulson

It’s time for another #ChatWithThePBLady! 🥳🎉 Today, we have an interview with the wonderful Norene Paulson. We talked about her book Nila’s Perfect Coat. Illustrations by Maria Mola.

📚What’s your favorite comfort food?

Chicken Noodle Casserole (or chicken noodle hot dish as it’s called in the upper Midwest)

📚What’s your favorite thing to do on a cold winter day?

A fire in the wood fireplace, a glass of wine, and a good book.

📚Now let’s talk about NILA’S PERFECT COAT. Can you tell us about the inspiration for the story and how it came to be?

Being a former teacher and avid thrift store shopper, the embarrassment my students experienced when I saw them shopping at the thrift store bothered me enough that I knew I had to write a story that normalized thrift stores as simply placespeople went to shop. Also, as a former teacher, I know that all too many elementary/middle schools have that one closet where extra coats, hats, mittens, and gloves are kept to be given to students whose families cannot afford the basics to keep them warm. Warmth insecurity is real. Raising awareness of boththese issues was the inspiration for NILA’S PERFECT COAT. 

📚Tell us a bit about Nila. How would you describe her personality and her character development throughout the story?

At the beginning of the story Nila is a one-dimensional character. She’s bubbly and bright and well-adjusted but, like many young kids, oblivious to real-life issues others faces. That is until Lily’s family situation surfaces. Lily’s sadness, her too-big sweatshirt, the For Sale sign, and Dad’s “hard time” comment trigger a host of emotions Nila’s not felt before. By the end of the story, Nila is no longer one-dimensional because although still bubbly, bright, and well-adjusted, she is now also empathetic, compassionate, and appreciative.

📚This book gently discusses the difference between needs and wants. Why is this such an important topic for children to understand?

In a world of overconsumption, it’s important for kids to understand the concept of enough. How many toys are enough? How many coats are enough? When is enough enough? A “need” turns into a “want” when a person has enough, and when they do, the compassionate thing to do is help others who do not. A good question for kids or anyone to ask themselves is… Do I really need this or is my “want” what someone else might desperately “need”. 

📚If children feel inspired to help others after reading this book, what are some ways they can do so?

I hope they are, and if inspired to provide warmth through coat donations, they could have an adult reach out to for additional resources for help in donating coats, organizing a fundraiser, or holding coat drives. The book’s back matter provides step-by-step guides for doing any three of those options. Similar additional ways to help could include food drives, food packages events, and clothing drive. All are excellent community service projects. 

📚What are some discussion topics that go along with the story?

NILA’S PERFECT COAT is the perfect starting point for a variety of discussions such as:

• Wants vs. needs and when is enough enough

• Social emotional learning as it applies to empathy and compassion 

• Financial or social/emotional hard times

• Warmth insecurity

• Community service/making a difference

• Friendship

Click on the following NILA’S PERFECT COAT Educator’s Guide link for more suggestions and activities.

Interview with Lisa Tolin

Are you ready for another #ChatWithThePBLady? 🥳🎉

Today, I’m chatting with Lisa Tolin about her hilarious music themed book: HOW TO BE A ROCKSTAR

Illustrations by Daniel Duncan

📚What’s your favorite mythical or magical creature?

I don’t want to alienate any gnomes or unicorns in your audience, but I’m going to say mermaids. I’m not a great swimmer, so it’s wish fulfillment.

📚If you wrote a song about your life, what would the title be? 

Maybe “The Long and Winding Road (to Publication).”

📚What’s your favorite amusement park ride? 

I promise I am an adult, but I like the little trains that go in circles. They remind me of spending time with my kids when they were toddlers.

📚What are your favorite kidlit pages/websites?

Tara Lazar never fails me, and it was an honor to be part ofStorystorm last year. Debbie Ridpath Ohi has templates for anyone who wants to storyboard or make a dummy. (Plus her art is delightful.) Mr Schu and Betsy Bird are my go-tos for discovering new books. But the site that has meant the most to me as a writer is Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge, because it introduced me to a community of picture book authors.

📚Let’s talk about HOW TO BE A ROCK STAR. This book is so much fun. Please tell us a little bit about it.

Thank you! HOW TO BE A ROCK STAR is a humorous kids’ guide to rocking out in your own living room. It’s inspired by my son, who has been obsessed with music since he was a toddler. He loved playing guitar, but he would get frustrated about his concerts not working out. We told him he couldn’t let a wrong note or a wardrobe malfunction get him down. “Whatever happens, keep playing. That’s rock ‘n’ roll!” That’s the message at the heart of HOW TO BE A ROCK STAR.

📚I love the younger brother in the book. Can you tell us about the brother sister relationship and how it plays a part in the story? 

One of the hardest parts of being a rockin’ toddler was the arrival of a little brother. Suddenly there were times when our older son had to be quiet, and his bandmates (aka parents) were distracted. But fairly quickly, the baby joined the band. At first, he’d hold a shaker. As he got older, he’d hit the drums a few times and then wander away. He wasn’t an ideal bandmate, so in the book, this is expressed as “creative differences.”

📚There are so many fun scenes in this book. Which one was your favorite to write?

The most exciting part of writing a picture book is imagining the illustrations, so I enjoyed sending the band on tour. Daniel Duncan’s illustrations for those pages were better than I could have dreamed, including a favorite reference for rock fans when they hit the backyard.

📚Since this book is about being a rock star, please tell us about someone who is a rock star in your own life. 

I am surrounded by so many rock stars who made this book possible – the illustrator Daniel Duncan, our editor Stephanie Pitts, and the whole team at Putnam. But my personal Mick Jagger has to be my husband, for endless moral support and inspiration, and for making me laugh every day. And for doing the dishes. I really hate dishes.

Interview with Eija Sumner

It’s time for #ChatWithThePBLady  🥳🎉

Today’s chat is with the talented Eija Sumner. We talked about her fun book CROCODILE HUNGRY.

Illustrations by John Martz 

📚 If you were part of a music group, what instrument would you want to play?

Oh this one is tough. I would want to play the cello because I love the way it sounds— like you can feel the sound, or I would want to play the saxophone because I think the saxophone can fit in anywhere while also being a little ridiculous at the same time. Add some sunglasses and a saxophone to any situation and it’s just next level shenanigans. George Michael and bad internet videos are responsible for how I feel about saxophones. I would write a Green Eggs and Ham ode to Saxophones.

📚 What’s made you laugh recently?

The internet has blessed us with so many funny captured and easily shared moments, people are so funny. I love how funny everyone is, and am a sucker for any and all funny animal videos.

📚 What’s something you’d like to learn more about?

I love learning new things. I’d love to learn more about script-writing and illustration. 

📚 If you could learn another language, what language would you choose?

So many! I want to learn all the languages. But I really want to learn Portuguese. 

📚 Let’s talk about your hilarious book CROCODILE HUNGRY. What was the inspiration behind such a creative book?

I was at the zoo with my family, and of course there was a crocodile, and my then toddler asked, “what do crocodiles eat?” The next exhibit at the zoo was a flamingo pond, so the answer very quickly became, crocodiles eat flamingos! And that was the beginning of a character who had no idea that he was at the top of the food chain. 

📚 Tell us more about the crocodile main character. What makes him so endearing?

I think Crocodile is so endearing because he experiences his emotions fully. On the surface, we’ve all been hungry to the point of anger and frustration, especially kids, but when Crocodile goes looking for places to find food which is a very natural thing to do when you’re hungry, the other characters misinterpret his intentions and react in fear. It’s a silly story, but it can also start conversations about being stereotyped and misunderstood. 

Crocodile experiences a wide range of emotions, and creates a solution to his food problem through his tears and emotional vulnerability. I love that and think that’s part of what makes him so endearing. 

📚 As I said earlier, this book is hilarious. How would you describe the humor in this story?

The humor in Crocodile comes from playing with expectations and surprises and leaning into those quirky moments. Crocodile’s fridge in the middle of a forest-like setting is so absurd, and one hundred percent illustrator John Martz’s own brilliant humor, but it also helps set the stage for Crocodile going to the same places that humans go to look for food rather than his natural environment. There’s also some darker humor in all the little crocodile snacks hiding on all the pages. Crocodile is a predator! But he doesn’t know it. 

📚 There are so many fun scenes in this book. Which one is your favorite?

There’s a spread towards the end of the book where Crocodile is in his self-made crocodile pond surrounded by a smorgasbord of natural snacks like turtles, fish, shrimp, and flamingos, but Crocodile is lamenting that he doesn’t have any food in his pond. “Only pink marshmallow birds on stilts.” The way John Martz drew Crocodile on this page, how defeated and sad he looks, while at the same time how concerned all the other animals look because they know they could maybe get eaten. It’s so funny and perfectly captures the juxtaposition of this story. 

Interview with Lola Schaefer

It’s time for another #ChatWithThePBLady! 🥳🎉 Today’s chat is with Lola Schaefer. We talked about her book LIFT, MIX, FLING! MACHINES CAN DO ANYTHING. Illustrations by James Yang.

📚What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Persevere was the advice that I heard repeatedly early on in my writing career. It’s true. Writing for publication can be a difficult journey, but if you study your craft and keep writing and submitting, good things happen.

📚As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Oh, I always wanted to be a teacher. And I taught elementary children for eighteen years and loved it. Never dreamt that I could ever be an author. 

📚Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

Introvert who has learned how to come out of my shell.

📚Tell me about an accomplishment that your proud of.

Proud that my husband and I raised two generous, kind, responsible sons.

📚Let’s talk about LIFT, MIX, FLING! MACHINES CAN DO ANYTHING. This book is all about the wonderful world of machines. What machines can children expect to find in this book? What’s the most unique or interesting machine children will learn about?

In this book, I mention and James Yang illustrates examples of all the simple machines. Quite a few compound machines are added, as well. I tried to focus mostly on those machines that children see every day and perhaps don’t even recognize as machines, plus a few that are BIG and have the WOW factor. The most unique machine for some readers might be the hay baler featured on a double spread.

📚What was it like combining stem and rhyme for this book?

As with any rhyming book, it takes twice as long to write. I wanted to keep the text bouncy and fun with a catchy rhythm. But, as we all know, the meaning is most important. It’s a balancing act to fuse all the information you hope to share with brief, entertaining rhyme. I guess you could say there are many starts and stops, ah-has and oops. Once I hit on a rhythm that works for me, it’s a matter of fitting the facts into that form. Never easy. Always satisfying when it works.

📚Can you tell me about your research process for this book?

Usually, I work with experts in the field for all nonfiction books that I write. But this was a topic I knew quite thoroughly from teaching it several times over the years. So, of course, I did some fact-checking, but other than that, I watched a lot of educational videos on machines and checked a few physics sites to verify that what I knew was accurate. Plus, all nonfiction books go through a rigorous copy-editing/fact-checking process at the publishing house.

📚Can you tell us how educators could use this book in their classrooms?

Every teacher will have his or her own uses for Lift, Mix, Fling! Machines Can Do Anything. Some language arts teachers might use it as a mentor text when teaching rhyme or rhythm. Or they could use it as one model when introducing different ways to write creative nonfiction. 

It’s a great introduction to a study of machines, especially simple machines in the primary grades. I can see that after a reading, teachers would provide an assortment of simple machines for the students to categorize as screws, inclined planes, wheels and axels, etc. Some teachers may have a work center where students could make their own compound machines by combining 2-3 simple machines to do a job.  If students discussed the backmatter, they could act out the use of a simple machine and call out the key terms of work, energy and force during their demonstrations. The great thing about teachers is that they know their students and their needs. They find books that engage their students and help them explore a STEM/STEAM topic even further

Interview with Sarah Prager

#ChatWithThePBLady is back! And I’m so excited to have my first interview be with the wonderfully talented Sarah Prager. We talked about her important book KIND LIKE MARSHA: LEARNING FROM LGBTQ+ LEADERS.
Illustrated by Cheryl “Ras” Thuesday.

📚 If you had to eat the same thing for a week, what would it be? 

Pasta with basil pesto and feta cheese! It’s been my favorite food since high school and it’s still my go-to once every week.

📚Would you rather roller skate or ride a bike? 

I’d have to say ride a bike because I just don’t think I have the physical capacity to roller skate even though it sounds fun. I’d be able to go farther and see more with a bike, too.

📚What’s one of your favorite memories? 

My older daughter meeting my younger daughter for the first time the day after the birth. I can’t imagine my heart ever being more full.

📚What makes you feel proud? 

I’m proud of my body of work. I’ve written over 300 articles, four books, several essays, and a page-a-day calendar so far and I get a lot of satisfaction from my work. Being a full-time writer is an absolute dream come true.


KIND LIKE MARSHA is a picture book that shares 14 LGBTQ+ historical figures with readers ages 4-8. Each spread has a colorful illustration of the figure along with a positive attribute about them encouraging the child to take that characteristic on — “you can be kind like Marsha P. Johnson,” “you can be creative like Leonardo da Vinci,” “you can be inclusive like Harvey Milk,” — along with a short, kid-friendly biography.

📚 You have an impressive background in LGBTQ+ history education. Please tell us a little bit about that background? 

It’s actually all self-taught. I have been studying LGBTQ+ history as an independent scholar for 10 years and loving every minute of reading, visiting archives, watching documentaries, attending conferences, traveling to historic sites, taking professional development courses… and reading some more. 

📚 This book features a group of amazing people from the LGBTQ+ community. Can you give us a sneak peek into one of these incredible people?

The 14 people lived from between BCE to today. One of them is the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo who expressed herself especially through self-portraits. Her page says “You can be artistic like Frida Kahlo” and mentions that she sometimes included cute animals in her paintings. 

📚 What was the research process like for this book? 

I already knew so much about the people included from research for previous books that it was actually quite light. Each person’s biography is just two sentences long and then there is also a quotation from them as well.

📚 What message do you have for children who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community?

Be proud of yourself, always.

Halloween Friends 🧙‍♀️🍁🍂

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.

Interview with Stacy Burch

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

Interview with Sarah Aronson

Time for #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉

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: (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!