Come Right In! May I Come In? Blog Tour Guest Post by Marsha Diane Arnold

“Come Right In!”

It’s always a pleasure to share book news with Dylan Teut. Maybe it’s because he himself is one of the most sharing people I know and a champion of children’s literature. Maybe it’s because Dylan feels a bit like a neighbor, I growing up in Kansas and he living in Nebraska. Whatever the reason, I’m delighted to be here to share about my newest book May I Come In? Thank you, Dylan!

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May I Come In? actually launches from Sleeping Bear Press tomorrow, on February 15, but I’ve already shared it with students from California to Connecticut to India via Skype. It feels a bit like I’m sharing a secret with them and they are more than happy to be in on it!

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Sharing May I Come In? with first graders at the Aga Khan Academy in India. 

I’ve spoken with classes at this school several times. It’s always a pleasure.

 It’s the simplest of stories, really, Raccoon searching for an open door, a friend to spend a scary night with. It’s a story about inclusion, sharing, and empathy. Jennie Poh’s delightful illustrations are also simple, perfect for the youngest readers and filled with a brightness that keeps the story light, rather than scary.

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What children find interesting and somewhat surprising is that although Raccoon is afraid of the thunderstorm, he goes outside anyway to search for emotional support, a friend to spend this frightening time with. Sadly, when he knocks on the doors of Possum, Quail, and Woodchuck, he’s turned away! Then he sees a light in the darkness, “glimmering and shimmering.” That light represents hope to Raccoon. But when he approaches the door he becomes doubtful and when the door is opened to a house full of rabbits, he’s more doubtful still. Mother Rabbit is used to a crowded home though and she invites Raccoon right in, for there is always room for another friend. Our dear Raccoon moves from fear and discomfort to joy and serenity.

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The little twist in the book is when Possum, Quail, and Woodchuck, who each turned Raccoon away, are seen first as shadows approaching Rabbit’s home and then sheepishly standing at the door because they too have realized, “Being alone on a night like tonight is scary.”

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Many of my stories take scores of drafts and lots of tweaking, but my May I Come In? folder shows only three drafts. My stories are often called character-driven and I often start my stories with a character. This particular story is an example of my following my character, who leads me through his story and shows me which way to go. Interestingly, my main character was originally Badger. The main reason I transformed Badger into Raccoon was because I had other stories with badgers as the main character and wanted to spread the spotlight around a bit. And I do like raccoons. When I lived in the country in California, they often visited our back door, and here in Florida, they appreciate our pond very much.

 Publisher Weekly recently announced news of another Sleeping Bear Press book which is planned for spring of 2019 and I couldn’t be happier. The staff at Sleeping Bear Press is a delight to work with and they do so much to help readers find their authors’ books. The name of the 2019 book is Badger’s Seeds. Yes, one of those badger stories.

It’s Valentine’s Day today, a perfect day to open our hearts, which is what my book is about. I hope you read a copy of May I Come In? with someone and do just that.

 More information about my books and author visits may be found atwww.marshadianearnold.com and more information on following your characters through your story at my course, Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books athttp://www.childrensbookacademy.com/writing-character-driven-stories.html

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