Kathleen Doherty – Author Interview and Book Giveaway of Don’t Feed the Bear

As I found an open seat on the last day of the three-day, Marvelous Midwest SCBWI Conference last month, I had the joy of sharing a table with picture book author, Kathleen Doherty. As children’s writers, we fell easily into conversation and talked about the stories we love to write, what we’re currently working on, and she shared some of her “behind-the-scenes” journey for writing Don’t Feed The Bears (like receiving her publisher’s acceptance for her manuscript while enjoying an Alaskan vacation!) Then, I asked if I could interview her and follow up the next week with a review of her book.

She said, YES!  

When I came back home, one of the first things I did was purchase a copy of Kathleen’s book, read it (of course), laughed like crazy at the zany antics between the bear and park ranger in the story while I wondered how a picture book could be written in such few words and tell such a thoroughly entertaining story.  I LOVE IT!!!

From Kathleen’s website –

Kathleen Doherty is a Reading Specialist and an Educational Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s written standardized test items for Pearson, Inc. in alignment with the Common Core Standards. She’s also won the Highlights Pewter Plate Award, the Highlights Celebrate National Poetry Contest, and received a letter of merit from SCBWI’s Magazine Merit Competition.

Kathleen donates 100% of her author earnings to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

THE INTERVIEW

Me: Some writers have always known they wanted to write picture books while others stepped onto this path after having children. Can you take us back to the moment when you knew you wanted to write for children? 

Kathleen: The idea to write a picture book sparked years ago while I was working on my master’s degree in reading and taking a children’s literature class. My professor’s love for children’s books was palpable. I remember wondering why he never wrote a book . . . and I told myself someday I would.

Me: What were the first steps you took to begin your writing journey?

Kathleen: I was first published in TIME Magazine with a letter to the editor. It was so much fun seeing myself in print, I started to pursue writing. I took classes from the Institute of Children’s Literature, Highlights Foundation workshops, and joined SCBWI.

Me: What is the most challenging aspect of writing a picture book? 

Kathleen: It’s difficult to write a tight story using creative language  . . . to make sure there are 14 different page spreads . . . and to include a twist at the end.

Me: For each manuscript I’ve written, I remember the Ah Ha moment that sent me running to type up my ideas. Can you tell us what inspired you to write your picture book, Don’t feed The Bear? 

Kathleen: While visiting Alaska, I saw signs that said Don’t Feed the Bears. I began to play “what if.” What if campers were feeding a bear. What if the bear could read and got angry seeing the ranger pound a Don’t Feed the Bear sign into the ground. What if the bear retaliated….?

Me: What surprised you most on your writing path from the book idea to its publication? 

Kathleen: I had an agent at the time who turned down my manuscript. She said Don’t Feed the Bear was a cute story, but she didn’t think it would sell. So I was free to submit it myself. It sold to the first editor I sent it to.

Me: If you could go back to the first months on your writing journey, what important advice would you love to give yourself?

Kathleen: Play with words, experiment, and take risks. Confidence, skill, and voice will develop with practice.

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

Kathleen: I have a comfy leather chair with an ottoman and a tray for my computer. It’s a special place because it’s my favorite room. Can you tell I love clocks?

Kathleen Doherty-sm

Me: Some authors take one year to write and polish a picture book manuscript while others write and edit over many years. What was the time frame for writing Don’t Feed The Bear? 

Kathleen: It took about six months to write and revise Don’t Feed the Bear.

Me: In your story, Bear’s favorite grub campers leave him are mac and cheese, carrot cake and meatball stew? What are your favorite foods to snack on while you’re writing? 

Kathleen: Ha! No crunchy Cheetos. No chocolate covered peanuts. No chewy caramels. Just fruit. Boring.

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Me: What was the best comment/reaction you have received from a child about your picture book? 

Kathleen: At one school visit, a little girl was waiting in line to get her book signed, and she was jumping up and down saying, “I just love my mother! I just LOVE my mother! She bought me a book by a real live author!” [as opposed to a dead one]

Me: I’ve often imagined sipping coffee in a small café when an author I admire breezes in and happens to sit at my table. Which author would you love to chat with over coffee? 

Kathleen: Kevin Henkes. . . Kevin, if you’re reading this, I’d even buy lunch.

(On a side note, Kevin Henkes is the picture book author and illustrator of Chrysanthemum, Lily’s Big Day, A Weekend With Wendell, Owen, and many more. And frankly, I’d love to chat with him over a cup of coffee, too.)

Me: Can you share something interesting or unexpected most people don’t know about you? (A hobby? Something on your bucket list that you did or hope to do? An unusual pet you had or have?)

Kathleen: Years ago, I ate fried mealworms and a chocolate covered cricket at Purdue Lafayette’s Bug Fest. I wrote a story about the experience and sent it to Highlights Magazine. But the story never sold. Blech.

If you’re interested in reading other interviews with Kathleen or reading reviews of her book, click on the links below. 

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kathleen-doherty/dont-feed-the-bear/

https://picturebookbuilders.com/2018/04/dont-feed-the-bear-a-giveaway/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHRjxfThM4k

https://redreadinghub.blog/2018/06/19/dont-feed-the-bear/

http://literallylynnemarie.blogspot.com/2019/01/ppbf-dont-feed-bear-by-kathleen-doherty.html

https://www.nightbuddiesadventures.com/childrens-literature/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-world-of-bookstagram/

https://readitdaddy.blogspot.com/2018/06/dont-feed-bear-by-kathleen-doherty-and.html

You can connect with Kathleen on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

And now for the Giveaway!

One lucky person who leaves a comment will receive a copy of Kathleen’s picture book, Dont’ Feed The Bear. I’ll announce the winner on next Friday’s Perfect Picture Book review of this very book!

See you then!

Something Terrific For Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I finally replaced my blog banner of the scenic, lake photograph. The change was long overdue. I wasn’t sure what kid-friendly banner I should replace it with, though. I came up with a bookshelf inhabited by a fluffy cat, but my daughter thought I needed to go in a different direction. “I think you should paint a school bus filled with happy kids,” she said. So, I did.  Now, onto my picture book review.

I pulled out one of my favorite books to share with you today. Along with my love of nature books, I also have a love for seriously unique characters. Once you read the book, Terrific, by Jon Agee, you’ll agree that the main character, with his pessimistic nature, is quite unique. Just look at his face on the cover. With one illustration, you know laughs will be plentiful.

Terrific 

Written by- Jon Agee

Illustrated by – Jon Agee

Published by- Dial Books for Young Readers – 2005

Topics – Unlikely friendships, pessimism, change of heart.

Opening – Much to his surprise, Eugene was the lucky winner of an all-expense-paid cruise to Bermuda.

“Terrific,” he said. “I’ll probably get a really nasty sunburn.”

But on the way there, the ship ran into a terrible storm. Everyone was rescued, except for Eugene.

“Terrific,” he said. “I’ll probably get devoured by sharks.”

Synopsis from Amazon – “Terrific,” says Eugene, after winning an all-expenses-paid vacation in Bermuda. “I’ll probably get a really nasty sunburn.” Unfortunately, Eugene’s luck is a lot worse than that. First, his cruise ship sinks, then he ends up stranded on a tiny island. But Eugene isn’t alone. There’s another castaway, a parrot with a busted wing, who tells him what there is to eat and drink and how to build a sailboat. Cranky Eugene pays attention, and his luck begins to change.

Why do I like this book? I can’t resist snarky humor. Now sprinkle snarky humor over a pessimist and you’ve got, (in my opinion) a winning combination for a memorable character which makes for an unforgettable, must-have picture book.  And the illustrations you might be asking about. “Are they pretty good?”  They’re better than pretty good. Jon Agee has a talent for illustrating emotion that not only fits the mood of his characters but ups the humor straight through the ceiling. Check out this book, and you’ll see what I mean.

Hop over to Joh Agee’s web site HERE.

Publishers Weekly Q and A with Jon Agee HERE.

Until next Friday!

You’ll be shocked when you learn who authored this picture book!

Read through this list of facts to see if you can guess the mystery author’s name.

Born on October 23, 1959, this American singer, songwriter, parodist, record producer, satirist, actor, voice actor, music video director, film producer, and author is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts.

Since 1976, when his first comedy song aired, he has sold more than 12 million albums!

Between 1976 and 2017, he has recorded more than 150 parody and original songs.

He has performed more than 1000 live shows.

His works have earned him four Grammy Awards and a further 11 nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States.

Any guesses?

About two weeks ago, friends of mine sent me a lovely message on Facebook telling me they are enjoying my book reviews and have checked out some of the books from their library. Then, with one question, they sent me falling off the side of my chair.

“We wondered if you ever reviewed a picture book by Weird Al Yankovic.”

HUH? WHAT? Weird Al Yankovic writes picture books? Seriously? This I’ve GOT to see.

I hopped over to Amazon, read the glowing review, read the first pages Amazon shares, laughed like crazy at the brilliant humor, placed my order, and checked my mailbox twice every day until the package arrived.

OMG! This guy knows how to write entertaining, rhyming picture books both kids and their parents will love!

Without further ado . . .

When I Grow Up

Title – When I Grow Up

Written by – Al Yankovic  

Illustrated by – Wes Hargis

Published by – scholastic – 2011

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – rhyming text, a child’s humorous career plans.

Opening –  I waited so long for the hours to pass, but soon it was noon there in Mrs. Krupp’s class. And Thursday at noon, as I’m sure you know well, is the time of the week when we do show-and-tell.

And this week the subject–so special to me–was “When I grow up, what am I gonna be?” That’s something I’d really been thinking about, and I just couldn’t wait to let all those thoughts out.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Grammy Award-winner and pop culture icon “Weird Al” Yankovic delivers his first picture book, bringing his trademark wit, wordplay, and silliness to a story that explores the timeless question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Funny and charming, this is a celebration of creativity and possibility.

An Amazon Best Book of the Month! “The farce and parody make this a rare book with appeal to both kids and adults” (Booklist).

It’s Show-and-Tell time in Mrs. Krupp’s class, and Billy just can’t wait for his turn! Today the class is discussing what they want to be when they grow up, and our exuberant eight-year-old hero is bursting to tell everyone about his future career plans.

In dazzling wordplay and delicious rhymes, Billy regales his patient teacher and amazed classmates with tales of the variety of careers he wants to pursue—each more outlandish and wildly imaginative than the last!

Why do I like this book? Honestly, if a book makes me laugh a lot, the author has won me over. And I received a laugh out loud moment on every page. Bravo, Al Yankovic!

The imagination of Billy, the main character, goes well beyond that of a typical child. Billy is a boy with BIG dreams for his future, and he’s not about to settle for a boring career. From dreaming of becoming the greatest chef in the world who makes such tantalizing (and strange–unless you’re pregnant) dishes such as Twinkies au gratin and candied pigs’ feet topped with shrimp-flavored lollipops, he also dreams of becoming a snail trainer, giraffe milker, and a gorilla masseuse for starters. And if you aren’t laughing hard enough, Wes Hargis’s give the text an added zing with his witty and imaginative illustrations. I could go on, but best you check out his one to see why I love it so much.

Learn more about Al Yankovic HERE.

Watch a YouTube video interview with Al Yankovic on The Today Show HERE.

Watch another YouTube video from an interview on Conan HERE.

The two picture books Al Yankovic wrote are When I Grow Up and My New Teacher and Me!  

Telephone – a fun game and picture book for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday once again! And today, we’re stepping back on memory lane to the game of Telephone!

I was one of twenty-three fidgety kids lined up between the overflowing supplies cabinet and the  smelly, gerbil cage in Mrs. Larson’s third-grade class, waiting for instructions on how to play the game, Telephone.

“Think up a message,” Mrs. Larson told the first student in line, “and whisper it to the person standing next to you. Keep the message going down the line to the last person. She’ll say what she heard, and we’ll see how close it comes to the original message.”

Of course, knowing the end message was expected to be a far cry from the original, most kids tweaked more than a few words while whispering their ear-tickling messages behind cupped hands.

This fun game of Telephone is the basis for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) review.

Title – Telephone

Written by – Mac Barnett

Illustrated by – Jen Corace

Published by – Chronicle Books – 2014

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  listening skills

Opening –  Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner.     Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE.  It’s time to fly home for dinner! In this witty picture book from award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett, a mother bird gives the bird next to her a message for little Peter. But passing messages on a telephone line isn’t as simple as it sounds. Each subsequent bird understands Mama’s message according to its own very particular hobbies. Will Peter ever get home for dinner? This uproarious interpretation of a favorite children’s game will get everyone giggling and is sure to lead to countless rereads.

Why do I like this book?  What’s not to love about a book that takes the adult reader back to a fond childhood memory while introducing children to a marvelously funny game? Jen Corace’s, crisp, colorful illustrations are expressive and humorous – the perfect pairing for an ever-changing, off-the-charts, funny picture book by Mac Barnett.
Watch the book trailer HERE.

Learn about Mac Barnett HERE.

Lear about Jen Corace HERE.

Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

What childhood games are you fondly recalling? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.