At 3:56 pm EST, Perseverance successfully touched down on the surface of Mars. At 10:00 pm EST, Katherine Roy and I successfully wrapped up our virtual event celebrating all things rover. . . including our book, Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars! Many thanks to Grass Roots Books & Music for hosting our conversation. We had a blast!
If you're curious to hear what we discussed, and also love beautiful artwork rendered in real-time, watch the recording of the event here!
Curiosity is about to get some company!
On Thursday, February 18, NASA's Perseverance rover is scheduled to land on Mars. To celebrate this historic achievement, Grass Roots Books & Music in Oregon will host a virtual book event with RED ROVER: CURIOSITY ON MARS illustrator Katherine Roy and me. The fun starts at 6:00 pm PST (9:00 pm EST) with a read-aloud, audience Q&A, and a drawing demo from Katherine! As a special bonus, books purchased through Grass Roots will be signed by Katherine and include a free 5x7" print. Even more exciting: all buyers will be entered for a chance to win a 16x24" limited edition giclee print!
You can register for the event here, and purchase a book here. Hope you can join us!
Like rocks, books are born in many different ways. This one began as the seed of an idea from Emily Feinberg, my editor on Red Rover. While trekking through some mountainous terrain on vacation, Emily started to think about rocks—how we take them for granted and fail to realize that they’ve been around for millions of years, and how one rock in one location might have witnessed dinosaurs and ice ages and the rise of human civilization, and will witness whatever the world has in store for the future. She asked if I would be interested in turning this seed of an idea into a book. Intrigued—and honored!—I leapt at the chance. And that’s how A Rock is Born was . . . well, born!
I’m thrilled to work with the team at Roaring Brook again, grateful to Emily for entrusting me with her idea, and so excited to work with superstar Lily Williams (author/illustrator of the awesome If Animals Disappeared picture book series) on this ode to the rock cycle. The journey across millennia is just beginning!
It's a second starred review for The Lost Package, this one from Publishers Weekly! They call it a "moving story" and gush about Jessica Lanan's illustrations:
"The richness of the tale lies in subtly textured watercolor illustrations by Lanan, which poignantly portray a broad range of settings, from gritty urban streets shimmering with rain to snow-swept terrains to a desolate gas station."
I'm so honored that the book continues to receive so much love as we get closer and closer to March 2. Details about exciting launch events to come!
Who says there are no deliveries on December 25? The Lost Package received a special delivery indeed: a starred review from Kirkus! The thoughtful review praises Jessica Lanan's beautiful illustrations and describes the story thusly:
"This sweetly simple, understated story is emotionally rich, a warm paean to the power of connections . . . Quietly, beautifully told and deeply satisfying."
Extremely grateful, and very much looking forward to seeing this book delivered onto bookshelves in March!
The cat's out of the bag! I'm overjoyed to finally be able to shout this announcement from the mountaintops. Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, will publish Year of the Cat in fall 2022 (with a second picture book also in development). Illustrated by the talented Jocelyn Li Langrand, the story is a subversive take on the origin of the Chinese zodiac, as Rat convinces the other animals to join him on a quest to apologize to Cat. Many thanks to super-editor Martha Mihalick for believing in this story, and as always to my agent Emily Mitchell for making the match!
The Lost Package received a prestigious honor: Junior Library Guild named it a Gold Standard Selection! Every year, JLG reads upcoming books ahead of publication and chooses a select few to promote to libraries as the cream of the crop. It's a highly-coveted distinction, and I'm so proud the book I worked on with illustrator Jessica Lanan and editor Emily Feinberg has been recognized. Thank you JLG, and I can't wait for more readers to check out our book!
March 2, 2021 is still months away. But today, we get to take another step on the journey to the publication of The Lost Package by revealing the cover! Illustrator Jessica Lanan has brought this story to life in such beautiful ways, and I can't wait for you to see the rest of the book. In the meantime, bask in the warmth of this charming cover . . . and pre-order if you're so inclined!
Thankfully, the kidlit community has stepped up in this time of self-isolation and remote learning for children. There is no shortage of amazing book-related activities and teaching materials from authors and illustrators. To this ever-growing collection, I'm proud to add this STEM-friendly teacher's guide for Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars, which the fine folks at Macmillan's School and Library team were kind enough to design. Please feel free to download, use, and enjoy!
Tis the season for gifts. I know this, because I received quite the gift from Books of Wonder: the gift of being included in their 2019 Holiday Catalog! I'm so excited to share shelf space (both in-store and virtual) with so many incredible titles. If you're looking for gifts for book-loving kids (and kids-at-heart) in your life, please consider doing your holiday shopping here. Happy Gifting Season to all!
Doing a reading and signing for my debut book at my local Barnes and Noble? That's an author achievement I was privileged to unlock this afternoon, as family and friends came out to celebrate the release of Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars. A fitting finale to launch week, indeed. Pictures below!
That's the only way to describe last night, as we celebrated the publication of Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars with a launch event at the venerable Books of Wonder in Manhattan. Family and friends from every corner of my life braved a steady drizzle to join us, and their presence sent me soaring beyond Earth orbit. Infinite thanks to them, and to the amazing staff for hosting us.
Here are some pics from the event!
Today's the day! Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars has officially launched and is out in the world. Publication day is a whirlwind, and I'm sure i'll have more thoughts to share later. But for now, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me on this two-and-a-half-year odyssey. The best part? The journey is really just beginning!
One thing most people don't realize about picture books is that the author and illustrator rarely ever meet before a book is published. In fact, most publishers maintain a strict "no direct contact whatsoever" policy for the duration of the book's creation. So when Katherine Roy and I video-called each other to record our official "unboxing" video (wherein we open up our boxes of author or illustrator copies), it was actually our first time speaking to each other! See what we said by clicking below!
"Kids, don't try this at home" is a pretty accurate summary of my writing process, if you read it not as a warning (i.e. "this writing process is dangerous!") but as the reason why I do most of my writing outside the house (i.e. "because kids are a delightful distraction!"). Allow me to explain further in my Notable 19s post!
New Jersey, this one's for you! A few days after Red Rover blasts off from Books of Wonder in Manhattan, the party continues with a second launch event on Sunday, November 3 at Barnes and Noble in Clifton, NJ. Friends and family from the Garden State, come out and help me celebrate!
Kidlit411 is an amazing resource for all children's book creators. So it was a thrill and an honor to be featured in the site's Author Spotlight! Read the interview here, and be sure to check out the huge collection of resources they have to offer!
Publication day for Red Rover is October 29. What better day to host a launch event? I'm so excited that Books of Wonder will be the venue for my very first book launch. I can't wait to celebrate with New York-area friends and family! Details at this link. I hope to see you there!
Today, I received the first copy of my debut book.
I am in awe. Speechless. Overwhelmed.
As I hold this actual, hardbound, jacketed, beautiful book in my hands, I think about all the dreaming and planning, hoping and doubting, working and writing that preceded this moment.
I think about all the people who were instrumental in bringing this book to life: agent, illustrator, editor, entire publishing team, and loving family and friends.
I think about how I get to share this book with the world in just three short months.
I think about how blessed I am.
And I think about how I want to thank each and every one of you in person.
October 29 can't come fast enough. But until then . . .
Talk about an honor! Macmillan's School and Library team released their staff picks for fave fall picture books, and Red Rover made the list! It's one thing for a publisher to like your book enough to make it; it's even sweeter when the publisher shows it some extra love. Truly grateful to be chosen for this spotlight, especially alongside other incredible books on my must-read list! Read the awesome write-up here.
On Friday, I had the privilege of attending KidLitCon 2019 in Providence, RI. It was my first time attending a writing conference of any kind, as well as my first appearance on an author panel. I'm happy to report that the whole experience was absolutely fantastic! The conference had a cozy, intimate vibe as authors, illustrators, librarians and educators packed Hotel Providence, a beautiful boutique hotel downtown. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, and it was exciting to meet so many passionate kidlit champions and makers. It was also great to meet (in real life!) many of the authors I've connected with through social media over the past two years. And I had a blast talking science and writing process and books with fellow authors Anita Sanchez, Sara Levine, Heidi Fiedler, and Jason Viola (with moderator Paula Willey!) at the STEM panel. All in all, a truly memorable experience. Thank you to conference co-organizers Charlotte Taylor and Mia Wenjen for inviting me to participate. I look forward to finding out where the next KidLitCon will be!
Tonight, I had the pleasure of joining my fellow Notable 19 authors for our first group Twitter chat. The host? Kidlit luminary Matthew Winner! The hour-long chat was frenetic and exhilarating, a non-stop outpouring of inspiration that taught me so much. I feel very thankful to be sharing this debut-year journey with such incredible talents! Check out what we all said by searching for the #Notable19s hashtag.
With great diversity comes great responsibility. Or does it? What exactly is that responsibility? And am I fulfilling it? I tackle these questions of existential author dread in a blog post for the Notable 19s. You can read my potentially coherent ramblings here!
It’s here: the official cover reveal for Red Rover! I’m overjoyed to finally be able to show off some of illustrator Katherine Roy’s gorgeous art for this book. And believe me, this cover is just the tip of the Martian iceberg of what’s inside. The first pre-order link is now live, so click here to get a copy delivered to your door on October 29. And please continue following us on the journey to Red Rover’s launch!
Book announcements are great fun. But as an author, I'm essentially limited to a palette of plain text. Illustrators, on the other hand...
To wit, I wandered over to Lost illustrator Jessica Lanan's website to admire her incredible art, and was delighted to find her announcement of our book... along with a sketch. And yeah, I'm pretty sure I just fell in love with a cardboard box.
Check out the announcement and the rest of her website here, and be sure to pre-order her upcoming book, Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet. A picture book about exoplanets? Sign me up!