Interview with Debut Picture Book Author, Julia Richardson

Julia Richardson, author of Dandelion Seeds the World

In late January, I reviewed a picture book by debut author, Julia Richardson. Her beautiful book, Dandelion Seeds The World, is enjoying its birthday today, which makes today the best day for her interview! Please welcome Julia.

Me: Who were your favorite authors when you were a child and why did you love their books?

Julia: Gene Stratton Porter, L.M. Montgomery, Frances Hodgson Burnett…and many more. Anything with a focus on nature appealed to me.

Me: Was there a book you never tired of hearing or reading when you were a child, and what was it about the story that you loved so much?

Julia: To this day, I love visiting dear Anne from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I’ve read it so many times I have it memorized, yet it never fails to lift my spirits. Anne’s vivid imagination and appreciation of beauty are pure enchantment.

Me: Can you describe the moment you knew you wanted to write for children? 

Julia: I began writing for children when I was just a child myself through my hobby marionette theater. My sisters and I wrote plays and performed for tolerant relatives on a wobbly stage made of couch cushions. This hobby continued into adulthood. Though I wrote into the wee hours of the night, it never occurred to me to attempt publication until the day I received a letter from a mother, who brought her son to a marionette show that I gave at the local library. Unbeknownst to me, the little boy passed away shortly after the show from cancer. She told me he laughed and laughed during the marionette show and thanked me for making his last hours memorable. Then she encouraged me to pursue a career with children. Five years later I had my first offer of publication.

Me: What inspired the idea for your debut picture book, Little Dandelion Seeds the World?

Julia: The idea sprang from my sons’ interests when they were young. One of them adored animals and the other was fascinated with different parts of the world. I wanted to write a book that combined these two topics, a book that both of my boys would have loved. But how?

For months, I wracked my brain for an original way to weave the two topics together. I was at a complete loss until the day my yard bloomed in drifts of dandelions. (For those of you opposed to dandelions, I find them delightful.) The golden blooms seemed to be everywhere. 

Everywhere? 

That thought spurred me into action. I raced to my computer and quickly discovered that dandelions bloom all over the world. Since they are spread by animals and loved by children, dandelions morphed into the nugget of my story. Even better, the addition of seed travel added a STEM component. 

Me: Were there any surprises along your path to publication?

Julia: The biggest surprise was that the path led to publication at all. I know plenty of unpublished writers with talent far superior to mine. 

Me: Describe the moment when your agent told you Sleeping Bear Press wanted to acquire your manuscript. 

Julia: Actually, my first manuscript sold pre-agent. An online platform called KidLit College offered an opportunity to Facetime and discuss a manuscript with an editor. Sarah Rockett from Sleeping Bear Press made a few suggestions for revision and asked me to resubmit. I remember thinking she wasn’t interested or she would have made more suggestions. By that time, the manuscript had been rejected so many times I assumed it needed a complete overhaul. It took me about 20 minutes to complete her suggestions. I stared at it for a few days and then resubmitted. A few weeks later these lovely words arrived in my inbox: 

Me with my family a few weeks before my facetime with Sarah Rockett.

We had an acquisition meeting last week and have decided to move forward with Little Dandelion! Everyone LOVED this story. It topped all of our lists at discussion. We’re so thrilled to add it to our publishing program!

I leaped out of my chair and raced through the house shouting, “I did it! I did it! I’m a children’s book author!”

Me: If you could go back to the day you began your writing journey, knowing what you know today, is there anything you would do differently?

Julia: Since my writing journey began when I was a child, I would follow my passions rather than do the expected. It took a lot of years to realize my creativity was a gift.

Me: Where do you love to write, and what makes this place special to you?  

Julia: My favorite place to write is a hammock hooked to a massive maple tree. It’s a secluded spot next to a big white barn that overlooks a field full of wildflowers. High in the branches, orioles pour out passionate melodies. In the spring, the air is scented with lavender lilacs.

Me: Can you share something interesting most people don’t know about you?  

Julia: When no one is looking, I climb trees.

This is me, pre-published, at a writing conference costume party. I was Eeyore under a black cloud of rejection.

Learn more about Julia HERE.
Link to Julia’s book on Amazon HERE.

Many thanks for visiting today.

Until next Friday.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Takes a New Approach to Valentine’s Day.

Sure, I could share a picture book with you that boasts a Valentine’s Day theme, but I decided to veer off in a fresh direction. Instead of one book, I’m sharing three that have absolutely nothing to do with Valentine’s Day except for one thing.

All three books have perfectly pink covers, making them perfect to share this holiday!

Title – Pinkalicious

Written and illustrated by- Victoria Kann & Elizabeth Kann

Published by- Harper Collins Children’s Books – 2006

Topics – Pink, cupcakes, picky eaters.

Opening – It was a rainy day, too wet to go outside.
Mommy said, “Let’s make cupcakes! What color do you want?”
“Pink!” I said. “Pink, pink, pink!”

Synopsis from Amazon HERE Pinkalicious loves all things pink. From fairy dresses to cotton candy to bubblegum. Most importantly she loves eating pink cupcakes. Mommy and Daddy warn her not to eat too many, but Pinkalicious can’t help herself. They’re just too good! But when Pinkalicious eats one too many, she turns pink herself! What will she do?

Title – Glamourpuss

Written by- Sarah Weeks

Illustrated by – David Small

Published by- Scholastic Press – 2015

Topics – pampered pet, jealousy, friendship

Opening – Once upon a pillow sat a glamourous cat named Glamourpuss.
Glamourpuss lived ith Mr. and Mrrs. Highhorsen in a giant masion on the top of a hill…

Synopsis from Amazon HERE A sassy, delicious picture-book gem from award-winning author Sarah Weeks and Caldecott Medal winner David Small.Glamourpuss has it all.She has style.She has charm. And she knows how to strike a pose.Glamourpuss loves being the center of attention. So when an unwelcome guest (a dog, no less!) steals the spotlight with some tasteless bow-wowing and undignified tail-wagging, Glamourpuss worries that she’s going to fall out of fashion. Is there room for only one superstar in this mansion? When Glamourpuss makes her most majestic move to find out, the result is pure purrfection.

Title – Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin

Written by- Lloyd Moss

Illustrated by – Marjorie Priceman

Published by- Aladdin Paperbacks – 2000

Topics – music, counting, stories in rhyme

Opening – With a mournful moan and silken tone,
Itself alone comes ONE TROMBONE.
Gliding, sliding, igh notes go low;
ONE TROMBONE is playing SOLO.

Synopsis from Amazon HERE – When this book begins, the trombone is playing all by itself. But soon a trumpet makes a duet, a french horn a trio, and so on until the entire orchestra is assembled on stage. Written in elegant and rhythmic verse and illustrated with playful and flowing artwork, this unique counting book is the perfect introduction to musical groups. Readers of all ages are sure to shout “Encore!” when they reach the final page of this joyous celebration of classical music.

My appologies that Monday will come and go without my poetry post, but after my long-awaited hand surgery (today), I’ll need a little time to mend. However, knowing how impossible it is for me to go a day without writing, I’ll be back seriously soon (even if I have to peck out a poem on my computer with a pencil clamped between my teeth).

Leslie

The Monday Poems Think About Valentine’s Day

Holidays, when I was a child, were made extra special by my mother. Valentine’s Day meant a kitchen filled with the buttery, sweet smell of freshly baked, heart-shaped cookies. Once cooled, Mom sandwhiched a thin layer of raspberry jelly between two cookies and frosted the tops in white and pink. The platter with these decorative treats earned a place of honor on the dining room table where my family gathered for a festive dinner.

Mom always gave thoughtful gifts on every gift-giving holiday, but it was her Valentine’s Day cards I remember most. More than a red heart cut from paper, pasted on a white doily, her handmade Valentines declared her love through poems she wrote for each of us, penned in white ink in elaborate caligraphy.

Mom didn’t need to make cards to tell me how much I meant to her; I always knew she loved me through her countless kindnesses she showed me each day.

VALENTINE

Perhaps I’ll make a card and write the words, I love you, dear.

Perhaps I’ll send a rose to indicate my love’s sincere.

Better still, I’ll stay beside you and never let us grow apart,

For you will always be the one I cherish in my heart.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Wishing each of you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Leslie

Perfect Picture Book Friday Shares a Poetic Year of Celebrations.

Back in September, of that year many of us don’t like to speak about, I shared two picture poetry books by Raven Howell followed by her interview. Today, for Perfect Picture Book Friday, I’m pleased to share another of Raven’s poetry books that focuses on the various events and holidays celebrated throughout the year.

A CHEER FOR THE YEAR opens with a tribute to New Year’s Day with the promise of shimmering icicles and snowy hills for sledding. As you turn the pages, the poems move through the months, sharing Raven’s sweet humor, appreciation, and love for each special event. The groundhog gets questioned whether spring will arrive early or whether winter will stick around. Valentine’s Day, Arbor Day, Easter, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, and more, lead us to the next New Year’s celebration.

Title – A Cheer For The Year

Written by  –  Raven Howell

Illustrated by  – Meredith Messinger

Published – Clear Fork Publishing

Suitable for ages – up to 12

Topics – poetry, holidays, celebrations

Opening – The first poem, in celebration of New Year’s, begins…

New year’s Day, Frizzle frazzle, Shiver, shimmer, Razzle dazzle. Promises of snow that sticks…

and continues on, taking the reader for a high-paced sled ride where they greet a special snow friend.

Amazon Review HERE A Cheer for the Year offers a poetic calendar of holiday treats, the feeling you get when a friend presses a box of decadent chocolates in your hands, and you didn’t even know that’s what you were missing.

“A Cheer For the Year is an educational and fun collection of poems that weaves through seasons and holidays with a rhyme and colorful discovery on each page. Cleverly written, with illustrations that will delight children of all ages, this is a must have on any child’s bookshelf!”
– Jo Ann DiSalvo, Youth Services Programmer/Beekman Library

Why do I like this book? It’s a combination of factors, really. I love how Raven Howell always delights me with her poetry, finding unique moments to share through unexpected twists and seriously fun to say and read aloud words. Team up her poems with the playful, paper cut illustrations of Meredith Fern Messinger, that add an additional layer of surprise and delight to each page, and you’re holding a perfect picture book!

Learn more about Raven Howell HERE.

Learn more about Meredith Messinger HERE.

I invite you to visit me next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie