Hi Lynn! Thanks for joining me here to talk about all of your 2016 titles!
Thanks for inviting me, Dylan =)!
Tell us a little bit about You’re Doing THAT in the Talent Show?!
(Did I get that title right?)
Yes, Dylan, you got THAT title right! You’re Doing THAT in the Talent Show?! has just been published by Disney-Hyperion.
It’s the second book about Penelope (the first was You’re Wearing THAT to School?!), who is one enthusiastic hippo . . .
With fun illustrations by Sue Cornelison, Penelope is sooooo excited to do an act in the school’s talent show with her best friend Tiny the mouse. Tiny is the reserved type and wants to sing in the back row of the chorus while Penelope has more extravagant ideas, such as dancing a ballet, doing a Rapunzel skit, or flying on a trapeze.
Or, maybe, she’ll do all THREE acts at the same time. When she does, it’s Tiny who comes to the rescue (as shown in a double gatefold in the book—when flaps open to show four pages at once). The back of the book includes “Tips for a Spectacular Performance” to help kids do their best whenever and wherever they perform. School Library Journal called the book “a showstopper.”
Tell us a little bit more about Bella’s Fall Coat.
Oh, Bella’s Fall Coat . . .
makes me smile. I’ve always lived in Maine and fall is my favorite season (maybe it’s because my birthday is in fall, but Maine falls are truly spectacular—like the trees are throwing leaf confetti on all of us!). In fact, one of my first picture books, Wild Child, is a celebration of fall. Bella’s Fall Coat (publishing September 6th with Disney-Hyperion) has gorgeous collage illustrations by Susan Gal . . .
It’s a story about favorites and wanting things to last forever (which we all know they don’t). It’s also an intergenerational story about a girl who lives with her grandmother. And, squeeeeeel, I dedicated this book to my first grandbaby Beckett (who doesn’t live with me, his Memsy, but with his parents—but they make sure I get plenty of Beckett time since they live two towns away). That grandboy Beckett makes me feel like my heart is bursting . . .
Tell us a little bit more about Baby Bear’s NOT Hibernating!
Baby Bear’s NOT Hibernating is still a bit of a mystery to me. It publishes on October 1st (nice birthday gift!) with Down East Books and with illustrations by Teri Weidner. I’m anxious to see more illustrations—I love Teri’s soft, kid-friendly art. It tells the universal “I don’t want to go to bed yet!” story, but this time it’s Baby Bear who doesn’t want to hibernate for the winter (actually, it’s not really hibernating, but topor which is a lighter sleeping than hibernating). Baby Bear tries to stay awake all winter with his friends: owl, moose, and hare; but, in the end, we know kids (and cubs) always finally go to bed. A fun extra in the back of the book is a list of “Black Bear Facts,” such as:
2016 is a big year for you. Not only do you have three amazing picture book coming out, but also your debut middle grade novel, Maxi’s Secrets! What’s that journey been like for you?
Oh, Dylan, my heart races and tears come to my eyes when I think of Maxi’s Secrets (or, what you can learn from a dog). I have never written a bigger “heart” book. Maxi’s Secrets is based on my beloved dog Maggie who left us three years ago. She taught me so much.
I wanted to share the magic and joy of having a dog with others. And the story is all about Maggie’s heart and silliness and loyalty, but I knew the best way to tell the story was to take a step to the side and turn it into a fictional story—turn my Irish setter-mix dog into a Great White Pyrenees (because the narrator of the story is Timminy, the smallest kid in his middle school, and so he needed a contrasting GIANT dog plus a white one, because Maxi is a deaf dog—and more white dogs are deaf). This novel, since it’s the first I’ve written, feels like being published for the first time (when my first picture book was published, 29 books ago, after 13 years of rejections)—pure JOY!
That cover by Maira Kalman is so gorgeous and looks like a real dog with real secrets staring at you! Working with editor and publisher Nancy Paulsen has been a dream come true—Nancy publishes books with heart, and she put her heart into Maxi and made it a better book. And the response to Maxi from early readers of the ARCs (advanced reader copies) make me cry. Any of your blog readers who want to peek at Maxi’s Secrets before it is published on August 23rd, may click to read an excerpt on this page.
What do you think middle grade readers will enjoy most about Maxi’s Secrets?
Gosh, I hate to predict what readers will “take away” from a book—because we all bring something different to a book. But in my writer’s heart, I hope readers will laugh and cry and realize we all “fit in”—whether we are a big, deaf dog; a tiny middle school boy; a blind, black girl; a soft-hearted “bully”—that we are all more alike, than different.
Have you always been into writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, and my teachers in school (I’m so grateful to them) always let me know I was pretty good at this writing stuff. But I never knew it could be a job, and so I was a speech therapist in schools for 21 years.
What’s the coolest part of your job?
Two parts . . . writing a new story (it feels like pulling magic out of thin air) and sharing books plus writing lessons with students during school visits (they need to know they already are authors!).
What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?
Gonna give you a THREE-FER, Dylan! I live in Maine and don’t like lobster (I know, I know—that’s a sin!). I took baton lessons as a kid and was a majorette in high school and college (and can twirl a baton a bit better than Raymie Nightingale). And I recently got hearing aids (which seems a bit ironic after writing a book about a deaf dog)—but the better to hear you all, my dears!
If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?
I loved being a speech therapist in schools so I’d likely be a teacher or a librarian—or just stay home and read books all day . . . do they pay you to do that?!
What can readers expect from you in the future?
The UN-expected! I like surprising myself which also may surprise my readers. I like new challenges—writing a biography, a graphic novel, a poetic book, and now a middle grade novel. But I soooo loved writing Maxi’s Secrets that I’ve started work on another middle grade novel—stay tuned!
Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?
Just that I have a blog with videos sharing writing advice with young authors: Make Writing Visible. And that we are ALL readers and writers, and I love a world filled with readers and writers!