A Book Birthday Cafe Chat with Abbey Lee Nash, by Lindsay Bandy

IDA

Today is a busy day for Abbey Nash, but she’s taken a few minutes out of her BOOK BIRTHDAY (!) to chat with US at the Cafe! LIFELINE is Abbey’s first novel, and it’s been creating lots of buzz….it received a stellar review from Kirkus and was just listed as one of B&N’s most anticipated YA books for May! Check out the trailer right here. And mark your calendars for November 3, because Abbey will also be joining us as a faculty member for an upcoming event in Lancaster PA. More to come on that…the door is jingling and Abbey is here!

Abbey

Hi there, Abbey, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our comfy booth, what would you like to drink?

Hi, Lindsay! Thanks so much for having me! My latest fav is peach citrus white tea—iced, please.

And a munchie?

Anything with peanut butter.

lifelineFirst of all, Happy Book Birthday! How does it feel to have LIFELINE hitting shelves today?

I’m giddy with excitement–completely over the moon! My journey to publication has been a long road, beginning in 2008, when I decided to go back to school to earn my Masters in English at Arcadia University. The last ten years have been an emotional roller coaster, full of incredible highs and the kind of lows all writers can relate to—rejection, disappointment, and self-doubt. To finally have a novel reach fruition in this way is an absolute dream come true.

Can you tell us a little bit about what drew you in to writing Eli’s story?

pill-3184911_1920Like many families, my family has been touched by opioid addiction. My younger brother has struggled with addiction for a very long time. Similar to Eli, my brother and I grew up in middle-class suburban areas; both of our parents are educators with master’s degrees. But addiction doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. In writing Eli’s story, it felt important to create a character who seemingly had everything going for him—athletic prowess, popularity, and a loving, supportive family—and yet still suffered from the disease of addiction. It’s my hope that LIFELINE can help to reduce the stigma that often surrounds addiction by starting conversations that will hopefully lead to increased awareness and prevention.

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Equally important to me, however, was the idea that the novel would offer a sense of hope for the possibility of recovery. When I started writing LIFELINE, I knew that while the subject matter was dark and intense, the central message of the book would be about the light that comes through the broken places and the things that we hold onto when we think there’s nothing left: faith, love, and hope.

Ultimately, the novel became a prayer for my brother and the millions of other people for whom sobriety is a daily struggle.

It’s clear that you’re passionate about the issues of addiction and recovery, and you frequently post about them on your blog. The link between art and healing comes up in the book, as well as through the stories you feature on the blog. Did a particular real-life story or example stand out to you while you were doing your research?

writing-923882_1920.jpgOver the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing several artists who have found healing through their artistic practices: painters, writers, actors, and musicians who are creating a sense of hope and possibility within their broader communities. For me, the process of writing and the steady reliability of the rituals surrounding it (the lit candle, the hot coffee, the cozy blanket), has always been something I can hold onto during challenging times. Writing LIFELINE pulled me through the worst parts of my brother’s addiction. Specifically, it allowed me to draft an ending I could find peace in, regardless of my brother’s outcome. While he is currently in the early stages of recovery, writing continues to be a “lifeline” for me as I navigate other challenges that arise in my day-to-day life.

How did you get connected with Tiny Fox Press?

When I decided to pursue an independent publisher for LIFELINE, I began searching in the usual places—Publishers Marketplace, Manuscript Wish List, Twitter, etc… When I found Tiny Fox Press online, I was impressed by their commitment to author comfort and satisfaction throughout the contract negotiation and publishing process. Since then, I’ve developed such gratitude for my editor’s consistent availability, invaluable editorial insights, and willingness to put time and money into marketing. Working with Tiny Fox Press has been an absolute blessing.

How have you been prepping for your book release?

lifeline swagI’ve been fortunate enough to work with a publicist at JKS Communications, who has done an incredible job of coordinating interviews, book reviews, and events. I’ve also run a few pre-order promotions to give readers an opportunity to pick up some LIFELINE “swag” as a thank you for their purchase. The official book trailer for the novel has been running on Facebook and Twitter over the last month. Finally, we’ll be celebrating the launch at Doylestown Bookshop on Friday, May 18th at 6:30. All are welcome, so come on by!

Now that LIFELINE is released, do you plan to do school visits, and/or connect with young people dealing with addiction?

I am so excited about the possibility of school and library visits—as a Writing and Literature instructor, I love hearing from young people about the ways they connect to a story. Over the next few months, I have several events scheduled at local rehab facilities and recovery celebrations, where I’ll be speaking about the book and about my experience with family addiction. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my story in this way. Anyone interested in connecting with me about a school visit or speaking engagement can do so on my website. You can also subscribe to my newsletter to find out about upcoming community events where I’ll be speaking and/or signing books.

As the mom of pre-teens, what do you hope your kids absorb from this book when they’re old enough to read it?

Wow—great question. Of course, I hope and pray that my children never struggle with addiction. However, one of the most important messages of the book is the idea that everyone has broken places; everyone experiences pain and suffering. But it’s what you do with that pain that matters. Often the light that comes through the broken places brings with it incredible beauty and unimaginable blessings. I want my kids to know that life isn’t about being perfect—it’s about owning our imperfections and showing up anyway, with a willingness to choose love and hope in all things.

Okay, Abbey, get ready for Flash Favorites! Deep breath. Focus. Tell us your favorite…..

Song (as of right now, today!) Gah—the pressure! If I had to choose one it’d be “Good Old Days” by Macklemore, but it changes (sometimes daily!)

elementsBook on writing The Elements of Style is an absolute must-have for aspiring writers.

Holiday Christmas! I still get so excited on Christmas morning that I wake up when it’s dark (sometimes even before my kids)!

Type of shoe At the moment, I’m pretty partial to ankle boots, but my running shoes are also a necessity.

peanut-butter-3216263_1920.jpgMidnight snack Banana with peanut butter and ice-cold milk—seriously, peanut butter is my LIFE.

Place to write On my couch, underneath a quilt my grandmother made, in the early morning when everybody else (even my dog) is sound asleep

One-liner of writing advice Don’t write for the “current market”—write YOUR story, the story you need to tell, because chances are it’s exactly what someone else needs to read.

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Abbey! We wish you all the best with LIFELINE, and we look forward to celebrating even more with you in the future!

Visit Abbey’s web site and blog

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter @nash_abbey

 

 

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What’s the FORCE Behind Your Work? Part 3, by Team EPA SCBWI

kim-20-1
One with the Force
by Kim Briggs
Co-Regional Advisor

“I’m one with the Force. The Force is with me,” Chirrut Imwe chants repeatedly while he and Baze Malbus protect Jin and Cassian from enemy forces at the remains of the Temple of the Kyber located in the Holy City of Jedha. During the initial battle scene, Chirrut Imwe is grossly outnumbered, but that doesn’t stop him from kicking some serious Dark Side ass. Now add to the equation the fact that he’s blind. BLIND.

As creatives, we struggle with Imposter Syndrome. We doubt our work. We regularly participate in bouts of self-loathing especially in our ability to put words on the page or paint on the paper. We procrastinate with binge watching sessions of Star Wars, Gilmore Girls, and Stranger Things. We fail to put our creative work ahead of laundry piles and dirty dishes. We neglect to use the Force around us for the advancement of our creative pursuits.

Chirrut Imwe’s firm belief in himself and the Force ensures that his blindness is not a weakness, and it is not an obstacle. His blindness allows him to open his senses to the world around him and use the Force and his belief in it to thrive in any circumstance. Obstacles are opportunities. Imposter Syndrome is an obstacle we must overcome. So my friends, I ask you, “Are you one with the Force, and is the Force with you?”

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What’s the FORCE Behind Your Work? Part 2, by Team EPA SCBWI

It’s May, it’s Tuesday, the Pocono Retreat is only 3 days away! So let’s keep the ball rolling with our opening night previews. We can’t wait to hear about the FORCE that drives your work on Friday night!


Three FORCES at WORK
2016 headshot
by Alison Green Myers
Co-Regional Advisor

 

FORCE of HABIT

Force of Habit. Duh, right?
Get my butt in a chair… 
Sit there until words bleed out and onto the page. 

Seems simple enough.
The butt, the bleeding.
The time ticking.
Maybe it is just me, but creating this habit is anything but simple. I had to call on some pretty powerful forces to help create this habit. First would be my writing partner Kim (Kim Force?) Without our daily appointments to write, without her texting “GO”, I would let other parts of my life take over my writing time. But Kim won’t let that happen. Not on her watch! We make appointments and stick to them,
even in the face of sick kids,
work deadlines,
or even Project Runway finales, we write.

Along with the powerful motivator of appointments and “GO”, Kim and I also talk about books… A LOT. We are both compulsive readers. It helps to talk out plots, share new authors, and celebrate story with Kim Force. Reading keeps me going, keeps the fire lit inside me to create. Talk about Force.

FORCE of NATURE

I had this friend in college, Gale. She was one of the smartest, most tenacious people that I had ever met. And, as we do in college, she had a nickname: Gale Force. It was so fitting, much like Hairy Mike or Tall Mark. The name stuck because Gale was a force of nature.

She was powerful in a way that energized those around her and I was lucky enough to get swept up in her winds. Forces of nature are like that, aren’t they? Bold. Quick. Sweeping. In my work I have to be bold and get swept up in story. I channel Gale’s force when I sit at my computer or journal. I want to be fearless and write without doubt. It isn’t easy to hush that voice inside, but when the FORCE is mighty enough, I silence my inner critic and keep going… keep going… keep going.

FORCE of WILL

There’s a great line in THE FORCE AWAKENS: “As long as there’s light, we’ve got a chance.” This quote encompasses the WILL of my work.

A few years back at Pocono we were asked to write down our belief statements as writers or illustrators. In bold letters at the top of my journal I wrote:
I believe there is good in the world. 
I believe in strong women. 
I believe in finding the light.
I believe our bodies are vessels, what we do with them matters more than their sizes. These vessels are meant to create change and face fears. 

Fast forward to this year, I could just as easily say the FORCE of WILL in my work is to create strong female characters and find light in the dark side. This is THE FORCE at work.

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What’s the FORCE Behind Your Work? Part 1, by Team EPA SCBWI

yoda

As we started planning this year’s Pocono Mountain Retreat, the opening date– May 4th resonated with us. For those who don’t know Yoda or Luke or Leia or Obi-Wan, the date may not appear as serendipitous. For those who do know STAR WARS, you know May 4th has a special meaning.

STAR WARS fans chose to celebrate “May the Force be with you” as “May the Fourth be with you.” (And who here doesn’t love a clever play-on-words?)

Now we are just a few days away from our own May the Fourth Be With You celebration. We will gather in the woods May 4th, 5th, and 6th to talk about craft and the effort, strength, and yes the FORCE it takes to write and illustrate.

So, the “fourth” didn’t seem like the best fit for our gathering, but FORCE sure did. Isn’t FORCE what energizes us? Isn’t FORCE the powerful current that pushes us forward and pulls us to gather as writers and illustrators?

We want the FORCE to be with you at the 2018 Pocono Retreat and always.
We know the FORCE is mighty in each of you.
We hope you’ll share with us the FORCE that brings you to writing or illustration, or even to this year’s event.

By way of an introduction on Friday, May 4th, please tell us briefly (500 words or less) about your FORCE. Over the next few days, you will read examples from our Regional Team. Go forth and read. Then summon the FORCE to draft your own statements. We can’t wait to hear them at our 2018 Pocono Retreat!


31369500_10155904492825379_7723295938739264232_n(2)Getting to That True Place

by Lindsay Bandy, ARA and Regional Blog-master

So, full disclosure, I’m not much of a Star Wars girl (your puns will go over my head next weekend, but I’ll smile and nod!). However, I definitely feel an invisible, powerful FORCE behind my writing! Not writing has never been an option for me, ever since my angsty tween years, filling a diary with musings on how to make Jonathan Taylor Thomas fall madly in love with me. My writing has (hopefully) improved and (definitely) changed since then, but the force is the same – a deep need to express my emotions, bare my secrets, and untangle my struggles and inner conflicts. It takes a whole lot of writing to get to a point of honesty with yourself (okay, okay, JTT is out of my league), and then a whole lot of courageous re-writing to put that honesty out there for the world to see. It takes FORCE!

Though I’m not a collector of Star Wars memorabilia, I am a collector of quotes. So I’ll be a pioneer and put Hemingway and Obe-Wan Kenobi in the same paragraph! Hemingway first, because, obviously: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” I imagine Hemingway, gruff and half-drunk, leaning over my shoulder and telling me to hit backspace and try again. So I do. And then, a very sober and wise Obe-Wan is on my other shoulder, and this is what he tells me: “You’ll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” So I hit backspace and try again. And again. And again. Because I need to get to that true place. Into my own head and then out of it, into my own heart and then into someone else’s.

 

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A Cafe Chat with Sourcebooks Editor Kate Prosswimmer, by Lindsay Bandy

IDA

I’m so happy to introduce Kate Prosswimmer, our faculty editor for this year’s Pocono Retreat at the Highlights Foundation, May 4-6! Even though the manuscript critique deadline has passed, there is still room for you at the retreat. So sip some tea with me and Kate (sorry, we’re keeping the chocolate to ourselves), then hop on over to our registration page to take part in her breakout session (see below for details)!


kate p.jpg
Lindsay: Hi there, Kate, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our comfy booth, what can we get you to drink?

Kate: Hi Lindsay! Thanks for the warm welcome! I’ll take an earl gray tea with milk and sugar, please 🙂

Lindsay: And a munchie?

Kate: I’ll never say no to a chocolate croissant!

Lindsay: Sure! And ooo, have you ever tried chocolating up the plain ones with a nice, thick layer of Nutella? So. Yum. While we wait for our tea and croissants, let’s talk books! Book lover to book lover, tell me the last book that made you….switched

Laugh out loud: Switched by Jen Calonita

Cry: After Zero by Christina Collins (I’m cheating with this one because it’s a book I edited that isn’t coming out until September, but it’s SO GOOD that I couldn’t resist including!)

the astonishing color

Stay up waaaay past your bedtime: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Change: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Go all warm and fuzzy: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Lindsay: As an editor, you work with quite a variety of books, from baby board books to daring YA novels. Can you tell us what consistently catches your attention in…..

lady-pancake-and-sir-french-toast-cover-image.jpg

 

Picture books: funny, quirky characters and stories (like Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and Not Quite Narwhal)orphan island

 

Middle grade novels: contemporary, voice-driven stories (like The Thing About Jellyfish) and stories that give you an incredible sense of place (like Orphan Island and Beyond the Bright Sea)

the female.jpg

 

YA fiction: Stories that feature neurodiversity, have deeply sweet romances that don’t feel cliché, and tackle tough topics in a way that feels nuanced (The Female of the Species is one of my favorite examples of this).

 

Lindsay: Any consistent turn-offs or pet peeves in….

Picture books: I’m not really into saccharine stories or stories that feel overly familiar. I also don’t like when there’s too much story in a picture book. It’s important to let the text breathe and to let the art do a lot of the talking.

Middle grade novels: I’m going to be a rebel and answer MG and YA together. It’s an immediate turnoff when a story relies too heavily on common tropes. Individuality is very important when it comes to competing for attention in a crowded marketplace. This one really goes without saying, but it’s an immediate turnoff when a story enforces negative stereotypes. It’s also very difficult to get the voice right for both MG and YA (but especially for MG), so an inauthentic-sounding voice is pretty  much the kiss of death for me when I’m reading a manuscript or a published book.

clock-1516967_1920.pngLindsay: If you could single-handedly create a trend in KidLit, what would it be?

Kate: Oooh that’s a tough one. I will selfishly say steampunk because I’m personally a huge fan 🙂

Lindsay: Do you work with illustrators as well as authors?

Kate: The answer to that isn’t a clear-cut yes or no, as we have a fantastic art team here at Sourcebooks that typically works directly with the illustrators. However, we’re constantly in conversation about art direction during all stages of the bookmaking process (especially when it comes to picture books) so in a sense I do get to work with illustrators, just not directly!

Lindsay: Sourcebooks is an indie press that has really grown over the last 30 years, from an upstairs bedroom in Illinois into a highly successful, award-winning publisher. Can you tell us what makes Sourcebooks so special?

sourcebooks logo.jpgKate: It’s a pretty amazing story, isn’t it? We consider ourselves to be scrappy at Sourcebooks – even young, scrappy, and hungry, if I can quote a certain national treasure who goes by the name of Lin Manuel Miranda. But I think there are three key elements that contribute to Sourcebooks’ success. The first is that we truly believe that books change lives. We believe deeply that what we publish matters, and we bring that passion to every part of the publishing process. Secondly, we believe in publishing authors, not books. We strongly prefer to focus on building long-lasting careers for our authors rather than one-off successes. Lastly, we have a “no book left behind” policy. Every book we publish gets attention and care from the marketing and publicity departments, which isn’t always the case at other houses. If we go after a book, it’s because we believe in it and we want to get it into the hands of the consumers whose lives it has the potential to change. We do what we can to make that happen!

Lindsay: Can you give us a little sneak peek into what you’ll be sharing with us in the Poconos?

Kate: Absolutely! *rubs hands together* I’m pretty thrilled to be talking about using the intersection between plot development and character development to really make your story sing! The only other thing I will say is that there will be charts. Many charts.

Lindsay: Alright, Kate, take one last bite and prepare yourself for Flash Favorites! This is all you. Ready? Set? Tell us your favorite….queereye.jpg

Netflix binge (as of right now, last night!): Queer Eye!!! If you haven’t seen it, watch it now.

Book in middle school: The Golden Compass

Place to walk your dog: The boardwalk at the Jersey Shorejimandpam.jpg

Fictional love interest or couple: I’m sticking with the TV theme and choosing Jim and Pam from The Office because obviously.

Season: Fall

Font: I’m not a big font person so I’m not sure I have a favorite! Maybe Baskerville because it gives me Sherlock Holmes vibes?

Type of shoe: ankle boots – they’re the perfect combination of comfy and fashionable!

Lindsay: Thank you so much for joining us today, Kate! We’re looking forward to meeting you in May!

Kate: Thank YOU! It’s been a true pleasure. Can’t wait to meet everyone!

 

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An Interview With Author/Illustrator Angela Dominguez, by Virginia Law Manning

angela.jpg

Welcome, Angela! I’m so excited for our members to meet you at the Pocono Retreat. I can’t believe it’s less than a month away. I thought it would be fun to introduce you to our members on EasternPennPoints first.

Tell me, have you been to the Highlights Foundation before?

I haven’t! I’ve seen such wonderful pictures from other events. I’m psyched to finally be going.

I love your enthusiasm! I think our conference is special. What are you most excited about?

The opportunity to geek out a bit with people who are passionate about children’s books.  In addition, listening to my fellow faculty present. I always learn something at an SCBWI event.

I know you’re a member and fan of SCBWI, what do you love about this organization?

maria-had-a-little-llama.jpgSCBWI is great about connecting people. I’ve made friendships and more importantly connections with people working in the industry. My book Maria Had A Little Llama is a result of an SCBWI conference.

I was so happy you agreed to be on our faculty because I think you can help so many of our members. You’re an author and illustrator. Plus, you create books for two age groups. Which comes easier for you writing or illustrating?

Great question. Each are challenging in their own way. With illustration, I’m constantly pushing myself to make stronger work. With writing, it’s about finding the idea, but once I have it, I do find it easier in a way.

I know several of your stories were inspired by family and are very personal to you. What else inspires you creatively?

I’ve always been curious about the world around us. It’s in my nature to want to learn and explore. Let’s just say growing up, I related to Lisa Simpson. I make a conscious effort to watch documentaries, go to museums, hike outdoors, and, of course, read great books. To be a good illustrator, I believe you must fill your head with images and concepts, so you have ideas to refer to later as you work.

On a last note, I’m really looking forward to the conference. I love attending the retreat and seeing the familiar faces and making new friends, but there’s always some anxiety going into the event. Now that you’re published, can you still relate? 

I can understand the anxiety. I’ve been there. I was terribly shy as a kid and I can still be on the quieter side at times. However, it’s important to fake confidence. Believe in yourself and your potential. We’re lucky, people working in publishing are awesome!

What have you found to be the most difficult aspect of being a children’s book author-illustrator?

The waiting. Waiting for either a submission on a story or waiting for feedback from an editor or art director. I like being busy, so waiting is not fun for me. But, it has gotten easier over time.

On the flip side, what’s your favorite thing about being a children’s book author-illustrator?

First, I love meeting and connecting with people at SCBWI events, book festivals or school events. Seeing people react to the books and being with my tribe fills me with joy. Second, creating the work. There are few things that compare to really being in the zone.

stella.jpgWow! I love those answers and am so excited for you to meet our members. I know I’m biased but I think we have a great chapter.  Before we go, tell me what you’re most looking forward to in your career.

Writing my first middle grade novel, Stella Díaz Has Something to Say, was a dream come true for me. I look forward to writing more books for this age group!

 Thank you, Angela! I’m so glad we had this chance to talk. I know our members are in for a real treat in the Poconos. Until then, keep exploring, creating and connecting!


Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City, grew up in the great state of Texas, and now resides on the east coast.

She is the author and illustrator of several books for children including Maria Had a Little Llama, which received the American Library Association Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. in 2016, she received her second Pura Belpré Honor for her illustrations in Mango, Abuela, and Me (written by Meg Medina). Her debut middle grade novel, Stella Díaz Has Something to Say, was published January 2018. When Angela is not in her studio, she teaches at the Academy of Art University, which honored her with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.

Angela is a proud member of SCBWI, PEN America, and represented by Wernick and Pratt Literary Agency. As a child, she loved reading books and making a mess creating pictures. She’s delighted to still be doing both.

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The “WOW! Factor, by Anthony D. Fredericks

Navigating clip_image002[2] (1) Nonfiction

A monthly column by Anthony D. Fredericks


clip_image004[2]I absolutely love traveling to schools around the country to share the joys of authorship with kids. Like many visiting writers, I am well prepared to answer the four most frequently asked questions of children’s authors: 1) “Where do you get your ideas?” 2) “How much money do you make?” 3) “How old are you?” and 4) “Is your wife really an enchanted princess?”

But, the question that got me thinking about the craft of writing nonfiction literature was the one posed by a young girl in San Diego a few years ago. She asked, “What feature do you try to include in all your children’s books?” After some thought I responded that one of the most important features for any nonfiction book is the inclusion of the “WOW! Factor.”

I define the “WOW! Factor” as those elements of a book that cause readers to exclaim, “Wow, I didn’t know that!” or “Wow, that’s really cool!” However, the “WOW! Factor” is much more than the simple reporting of amazing information or incredible facts. There is a host of books that abound with isolated tidbits of information. However, a well-crafted book also embeds those facts within the context of a story. Stories put science (for example) into a meaningful context – one that engages the reader through personal connections. So, too, must the passion and excitement of the writer be evident to readers or a book becomes nothing more than a compendium of random data.

clip_image006[2]The idea for my book – Under One Rock (https://amzn.to/2GR6X4T) – came about quite unexpectedly. During a visit to a school in southern Illinois, one student told me about how he loved to go into his backyard and look under rocks. I’m not sure if it was the enthusiasm in his voice or the way he told his story, but I found myself saying “Wow, that’s really neat!” I immediately wrote “under one rock” in my pocket notebook.

It wasn’t long before I was walking around my own neighborhood upending rocks to see what I could discover (apologies to all my neighbors for my strange behavior). I would carefully turn over a rock and stare at the various creatures that emerged or disappeared into the soil. I was transfixed by the wonderful array of discoveries that any child could find there as well (“Wow, look at that!”). I took pages of field notes and spent hours in library research. I knew that some of the best children’s books are those that tap into the background knowledge of youngsters. So, I decided to create a story about one boy (perhaps me at a younger age) and his personal discoveries.

clip_image008[2]The book tells of the community of critters discovered beneath a rock – millipedes, ants, beetles, crickets, earthworms and a spider (“This is the spider with her eight-eyed face/Who builds a home in this cool dark place….”). The story concludes with an explanation of how different creatures often live together in harmony. My primary intent was to help youngsters appreciate the wonder and excitement of nature right in their own back yard. Wrapping those potential discoveries around one boy’s adventures allowed me to share information in an informative and personal way.

The “WOW! Factor” also played a prominent role in my latest endeavor: Tall Tall Tree (https://amzn.to/2JELNVo). This book describes various creatures found in the canopy of iconic redwood trees. Chattering squirrels, roosting bats, busy bumblebees, and dancing ladybugs all inhabit this elevated ecosystem (“A single soaring eagle/Against a sky of blue/Searches for his dinner/And now comes number…”). clip_image010[2]Again, I wanted readers to experience the discoveries that could be made in a small ecological niche – in short, the never-ending story about a collection of creatures and how they live together more than 200 feet above the forest floor. In this instance, the “wow-ness” of nature was presented via a counting book that invites reader engagement and participation.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: On April 6, Tall Tall Tree was awarded the 2018 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal in the Children’s Picture Book (4-7 years) category.]

When children read “WOW! Factor” books they gain a true appreciation for science in their everyday lives. When combined with the elements of good storytelling those facts become personal and intensely meaningful. Children begin to sense that learning about the world in which they live is a passionate affair – one that puts all the senses on full alert – and one shared by the author as well as the reader. To offer less is to deny children the joy of discovery and the thrill of adventure that waits under one rock or up in a tall tall tree!

So, the next time I visit a school and am asked about the most important element I try to include in all my children’s books, I’ll know how to respond. Now, if I can just figure out how to answer the third grader in South Carolina who asked me, “Hey, Mr. Author, have you ever written anything good?”


clip_image012[2].jpgAnthony D. Fredericks (www.anthonydfredericks.com) is a former professor of education at York College (now retired) and an award-winning children’s author of more than 50 titles. His latest writing instruction book – Writing Children’s Books: Everything You Need to Know from Story Creation to Getting Published (https://amzn.to/2GOr0AF) – will be released shortly.

 

 

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