Summary: Patience and kindness are important when you want to make new friends, but it’s hard not to consider what it would be like to have a gangly giraffe or chilled-out polar bear as a pal. A friendship mission prompts two boys to regard would-be companions of many shapes and sizes, and their imaginative adventures hatch brand new, unexpected buddies.
Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.
Kids across the globe love bikes. Kids also love stories. So what could be better than books about bicycles? Here today to share “Five Amazing Picture Books About Bicycles That Your Kids Will Love” is author Maria Monte, just in time for World Bicycle Day on June 3.
Learning to ride a bicycle is a rite of passage for many kids—we all remember the wobbly starts and stops, the falls, bumps, and collisions, and those wonky training wheels that always seemed to get stuck in every little crevice along your path. Then, one day, it all changes – the wheels come off, your riding skills sharpen – and you’re off enjoying all kinds of adventures with your two-wheeled companion. Even after we grow up, bicycles remain a constant in our lives: we use them for recreation, commuting, and exercise, and we watch sporting events that include them. Let’s face it, bikes are everywhere – as of the early 21st century, more than 1 billion bicycles have been manufactured worldwide. In 2018, the United Nations officially designated June 3 as World Bicycle Day, following a three-year campaign by Leszek Sibilski, a sociology professor and cycling and physical education activist, to recognise the significance of bicycles in our lives. Given our collective love affair with bicycles, it’s no surprise that many gorgeous picture books pay homage to the bicycle. To mark World Bicycle Day, I’ll share my top five amazing picture books about bikes that your kids will love.
The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella
This picture book is a moving tribute to the life of Big Red, a bike cherished by a young boy in America. When the boy outgrows the bicycle, he donates it to a charity that ships bicycles to Africa. Big Red then becomes an indispensable part of two women’s lives. The first uses it to take her goods to market. Later, the second uses it to deliver medicine and bring the sick and injured to a medical clinic from neighbouring villages. Big Red’s journey will inspire kids ages 8–12 to be better global citizens; the story gently encourages important values like altruism, gratitude, and cultural awareness. Simone Shin’s rustic illustrations underscore Jude Isabella’s realistic depiction of life in Africa. The author also includes a note on how to donate bicycles to charity – given that 15 million bikes are discarded each year, this is a worthwhile cause. This book would make an excellent resource for cultural studies, social responsibility classes, or parents who want to instill a broader worldview in their children.
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson & Sean Qualls
Emmanuel’s true story is about triumph over adversity. Born into poverty in Ghana with a deformed leg, Emmanuel’s kind and wise mother, Comfort, teaches him to be independent and never give up. Emmanuel refuses to become a beggar, often the fate of disabled people, and instead earns a living to feed his family. Ultimately, he becomes a national hero by riding nearly four hundred miles in just ten days whilst championing the rights of the disabled. This feat’s powerful message is echoed in this book: being disabled does not mean being unable. Emmanuel used the humble bicycle to make a meaningful difference in many lives; his story also reminds young readers ages 4–8 that they can draw on their strength, ingenuity, and courage to overcome challenges and make a difference. Laurie Ann Thompson’s emotionally eloquent narrative is beautifully complemented by Sean Qualls’ bold and distinctive illustrations. Educators, librarians, and parents can use this book along with the documentary Emmanuel’s Gift (2005), narrated by Oprah Winfrey, as tools to explore resilience and inclusivity.
Duck On a Bike by David Shannon
This popular picture book tells the light-hearted, humorous tale of a curious duck who takes a ride on a bike that he has found on the farm. The duck greets each animal as he passes by, and as he continues his journey, the duck grows bolder and shows off his newfound riding skills. Each animal responds to the duck’s greeting with their unique animal noise – moo, baa, squeak etc. But what the duck doesn’t know is that each animal harbours a different opinion of the duck’s antics, including seeing him as silly, brave, lucky, clever, or even showy. Suddenly, a group of kids ride into the barnyard and leave their bikes outside; the story ends with each animal enjoying a ride on a bike just like the duck. The plucky duck is a wonderfully likeable creature, and his moxie will endear him to young readers ages 2–5. Kids will find this story laugh-out-loud funny and get a buzz from the gorgeous illustrations by David Shannon, who is an acclaimed creator of more than 30 children’s books. This one is a teacher’s favourite because its entertaining prose encourages kids to take an interest in reading.
Gracie Goat’s Big Bike Race by Erin Mirabella
Gracie Goat’s journey from being unable to ride a bike to participating in a bike race makes this story relatable and inspiring. A professional cyclist wrote this book – author Erin Mirabella represented the United States at two Summer Olympics and won six national championships. This story is the author’s love letter to cycling, and kids ages 4–8 will root for Gracie as she gains confidence. Lisa Horstman’s illustrations are charming, sweetly depicting the animals as they ride and interact. The story also reinforces a few vital life lessons: setbacks can occur when trying to learn something new and that practice is needed to learn a new skill. The story also tells of the touching relationship between Gracie and her grandmother as they encourage each other to face their fears – this book would make a nice gift for grandmothers and granddaughters to share. At the end, the author offers some facts about cycling, which parents and educators can draw upon to foster an interest in cycling as a hobby or sport.
Ellery’s Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte
Inspired by my childhood adventures, this heartfelt tale will take readers on a whimsical journey through Ellery’s childhood with her magical bicycle in tow. Ellery and her bicycle share many wonderful new experiences; Ellery finds adventure, love, friendship, and also weathers sorrow and loss. The bike is Ellery’s teacher, protector, friend, and solace. When Ellery grows up, she forgets her special bond with the bicycle, but she rediscovers their bond years later. A story of redemption, Ellery’s struggles, hopes, and triumph serve as an uplifting reminder to parents of their childhood bonds – some may even find this story an emotional experience. Young readers ages 4–7 will grow to love Ellery’s strong and kind spirit and see their cherished bicycle in a new light. Zoe Saunder’s delightful, captivating, and vibrant illustrations subtly draw readers into the story’s magical realism. Educators and librarians can draw on Ellery’s journey to explore important personal qualities like kindness, courage, and compassion.
The theme of World Bicycle Day is to appreciate the bicycle’s uniqueness, longevity, and diversity – this appreciation has been beautifully woven into each book’s story. I hope you enjoy these books – and cycling – as much as I do.
About Maria Monte
Maria Monte lives in Melbourne with her young son. Her time is divided between family, a fulfilling role in communications, and publishing her children’s books. She enjoys mochas, watching comedies, and losing herself in wiki rabbit holes. Maria’s latest heartwarming picture bookEllery’s Magic Bicycle, illustrated by Zoe Saunders, was released in May 2022 through Bonny Books. Her debut picture book, Eve’s Ducklings, illustrated by Emelie Wiklund, was released in July 2021. Connect with Maria on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or you can enjoy her musings on parenthood on her blog.
Summary: This rollicking showcase of daddies celebrates the incredible diversity of modern fathers. The inclusive cast of characters–including a two-dad family, a single dad, and a stay-at-home dad–highlights the bond between daddy and child as they play, learn, comfort, and laugh their way through everyday life. This open-hearted ode to fatherhood will give readers new appreciation for how their own fathers and father-figures shine in their own unique ways.
Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.
Happy Earth Day everyone! I’m excited to welcome children’s book author/illustrator Brian Russo to Frog on a Blog! Brian’s book A Friend for Yoga Bunny was published on February 22, and is a follow-up to Yoga Bunny, a book that features an adorable little bunny in yoga poses, and encourages kids to wind down and relax. Brian is passionate about helping animals and the environment through his art, which I think is fantastic and something I can really get behind. Let’s hear from Brian!
Hi! My name is Brian Russo. I run a little shop on Threadless.com where I sell t-shirts featuring Yoga Bunny, a character I created back in 2010 during my Yoga Teacher Training. Yoga Bunny now has two children’s books available from HarperCollins. Making these books has been such a joy, because it’s given me the chance to work with a small creative team. At the same time, I love running my own online shop because I have the opportunity to come up with designs on my own and then put them online as soon as they’re ready. Each t-shirt design feels like a little story that I get to tell all on my own.
In addition to bringing in a little extra income, the Threadless Shop gives me a chance to build a personal brand, based on my beliefs. As a Children’s Book Artist, I believe I must have some responsibility to the animals I represent in my stories. Based on this, I had the idea that a portion of my earnings from the Threadless could go to support Rabbit Rescue Houses. Although this wasn’t an option on the Threadless list of charities, the ASPCA was. So, for now, I’m donating 5% of my earnings from five of my first designs to that organization.
Then, with Earth Day coming up, I wanted to create a design that reflected my beliefs about the environment and contributed a small amount of my earnings to an environmental cause. One of the options on Threadless was the Eden Reforestation Project, which combats deforestation. I only learned about the organization through Threadless, but as you can see on their website and by searching their charity score, it seems that they do good work.
I don’t consider the way I live to be especially green, and I’m not an activist by any means. Yet, I do believe that the Earth is alive, and full of actual magic that I’ve witnessed firsthand. I’m very interested in, and believe in the existence of, animal spirits. I was recently reading about the Rabbit’s symbolism and mythology, and learned that in many cultures, the Rabbit is heavily associated with the moon. So, I recreated another version of my Earth Day design where Yoga Bunny represents the moon, as contrasted with the sun, behind him. I’ll also be giving 5% of my earnings from this design to the Eden Reforestation Project in honor of Earth Day. I read somewhere that the rabbit symbolizes humans’ connection to the Earth, and I believe that to be true. I’m grateful to both the Rabbit Spirit, and to Mother Earth on this day.
Happy Earth Day to everyone, and thank you for reading!
Brian Russo has been drawing since he can remember. He grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, then moved to New York, where he earned a degree from NYU. Afterwards, he discovered something he loves just as much as drawing: doing yoga. He earned a teaching certificate from Yoga to the People in 2010, during which time he developed the Yoga Bunny illustrations. He now lives in Lehi, Utah (the setting of the film Footloose) with his beautiful wife, Emily, adorable son, Quill, and loyal dog, Spike. His favorite film is Spirited Away, and the celebrity he’d most like to meet is ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.
I am elated and incredibly honored to share that my story, JINPA AND THE DUST CLOUD DOG, has been chosen as the 2022 winner of the Kate Dopirak Craft and Community Award!
In late January, with no expectations, I entered a story in the Kate Dopirak Craft & Community Award contest. The award is offered in celebration of Kate Dopirak, an amazing picture book author.Two days ago, I received an email from the Kate Dopirak Award Committee congratulating me. I had won the award for my picture book manuscript JINPA AND THE DUST CLOUD DOG, a story that is truly dear to me!From the bottom of my heart, thank you judges. I also want to express my sincere gratitude to the family of Kate Dopirak for seeing value in my story. Kate’s books are so lovely, and I encourage everyone to look for them.
Please welcome children’s book author/illustrator Gabe Jensen to Frog on a Blog! Gabe stopped by to talk a bit about the art process he used when he created his book Neverwoof, which was just published this past September by Familius. This rollicking read-aloud has already garnered several positive reviews.I don’t know about you, but I love hearing about how artists create their art and why they choose the style that they do. Let’s hear from Gabe!
For NEVERWOOF, I wanted to return to a simpler time in kids’ books when you could only print in two colors. And often those colors were clashing. I don’t remember as a kid ever thinking, “Great story, but the color theory was off” 🙂 . It also gave me a ready activity to do with classes: kids color with their two favorite crayons. I love the resulting images.
Normal 4-color printing has limits on certain colors — especially orange. So we printed this book with spot color where they can mix up any Pantone. It’s more expensive, but it means the book has an orange you won’t see in most titles. I don’t know if people pick up on that, but maybe subconsciously.
When I was writing the book, my dad — the science fiction writer Terry Bisson — helped me with the text. My mom is a quilter with a wonderful sense of color, and we sat together to choose the exact orange and green.
Working with the people at Familius was really great. They gave me a lot of creative latitude, and my editor/book designer Brooke Jorden contributed the debossing of the cover, which gives it that great tactile feel.
Thank you, Gabe! That was truly fascinating.
Gabe has generously offered-to one lucky winner-a picture book manuscript critique! Just leave a comment on this blog post by April 15th for your chance to win. I’ll choose a winner at random and contact you with information on how to connect with Gabe. Share this blog post on any social media site and earn one extra entry per site, just let me know where you shared.Good luck!
Gabe first tried to publish a kids book at age 19 (Nightbringers is still looking for a home — anyone? 🙂 ). Since then, he’s worked on kid’s digital projects, like Jeff Kinney’s (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) site Poptropica, as a puzzle designer (Castlemouse, Lumosity), and an ad creative for clients like Coca-Cola. He has three kids, and lives in Berkeley, CA with a two-eyed Cyclops (false) and a one-eyed cat (true).
He’s currently working on his second book NOCTURNAL NICO, about a kid who tries to convince his parents he’s nocturnal so he can stay up late. Hmmm, how about purple and yellow?
Gabe says, “I love pics of pups reading Neverwoof! Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post on social media.”
Summary: Sally is usually the happiest kid. She wakes up every morning with a bright sun shining over her bed, and she knows it’s going to be a good day. One day she wakes up feeling different and with a gloomy cloud hanging over her instead. She doesn’t know why it’s there, but she doesn’t want anyone to see it—not her parents, not her teacher, and not her friends—so she hides it away. But as the day goes on, the cloud grows too big and heavy for her to carry, and Sally must find the courage to let it out. With gentle reassurance, this book reminds us that everyone feels sad sometimes, and that’s okay.
Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.
Hello, all you lovely people out there. It’s the holiday season, and to help me–and you–get into the spirit, I’m giving away a signed copy of my book The Peddler’s Bed to one blog follower who comments on this post. Just say hi, hello, how’s it going, or any other greeting that strikes your fancy.
The Peddler’s Bed is all about giving, caring, generosity, and kindness, and is perfect for the holidays or any day.Can’t we all use a bit more kindness in our lives?
Just leave your comment by Sunday, December 5. A winner will be chosen at random. I’ll contact the winner for a U.S. mailing address and to whom they’d like the book signed.
Henry Herz’s latest picture book I Am Smoke is already receiving a lot of praise, including a starred review from Kirkus! Travis Jonker, an elementary school librarian and book reviewer for School Library Journal, included I Am Smoke on his 2021 list ofThe Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Books. And Matthew Cordell, author/illustrator of the Caldecott Medal-winning book Wolf in the Snow, said, “I’ll never look at smoke the same way again!” With so much buzz about I Am Smoke floating around, I’m super thrilled that Henry stopped by to tell us a little about how the idea for his creative nonfiction picture book was formed.Take it away, Henry!
I find the employment of fictional elements to convey facts a great way to engage with young readers and teach them without them realizing it. Fiction can be the melted cheese we pour on top of the broccoli of nonfiction. Now, there are some picture books with anthropomorphic characters, but I’d never seen smoke treated as a character. And who better to explain the various ways in which people have employed smoke than smoke itself? But I needed an overarching structure. I considered the chemistry of smoke. It turns out that wood smoke is primarily carbon dioxide, ash, and water vapor. Water vapor got me thinking about the water cycle—water evaporates from rivers, lakes, and oceans to form clouds. Eventually, the water precipitates as rain or snow. Rinse and repeat.
Then I considered the carbon dioxide given off by wood smoke. Two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom. Carbon… Inspiration struck like lightning splitting a tree. Plants are the lungs of the Earth. They breathe in carbon dioxide through their stomata. They drink up water through their roots. Sunlight provides energy to split those molecules. The plant forms cellulose from carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, sequestering more and more carbon as they grow. Conversely, burning tree branches releases the stored carbon. Eureka! Smoke has a “cycle” too.
Wow! That’s pretty fascinating! Thanks, Henry. I have a feeling that you’re not just blowing smoke. 😉
Readers, go out and find this book ASAP!
Henry Herzauthored 11 traditionally published children’s titles: MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican, 2015), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican, 2016), MABEL & THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016), CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW (Sterling, 2017), HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS (Pelican, 2018), ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN (Familius, 2018), GOOD EGG AND BAD APPLE (Schiffer, 2018), 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT (Kane Miller, 2019), I AM SMOKE (Tilbury House, 2021), and THE MAGIC SPATULA (Month9 Books, 2022).
Henry is an editor at Running Wild Press. He’s an SCBWI member and moderates author panels yearly at San Diego Comic-Con. He earned a BS in Engineering from Cornell U., an MS in Engineering from George Washington U., and an MA in Political Science from Georgetown U.
Please welcome author and artist Amanda Leemis to Frog on a Blog. Amanda and I share a passion for literacy and picture books! Amanda stopped by with an awesome list of her top ten picture book picks for the preschool classroom. With schools all over the U.S. opening up again, her post couldn’t be more timely. Let’s take a look!
The Top 10 Picture Books You Need for Your Preschool Classroom includes wonderful indie authors and illustrators you absolutely must discover along with some classic picture book favorites! Each book on this list has amazing illustrations that will captivate early readers and bring them into an exciting story. It can be difficult for our earliest readers to sit through a long book, so each pick on this list has about 2-3 sentences per page. Now, let’s get reading!
Written and illustrated by Cat Min
Can a tiny bunny make a big difference? Come along with Willow as she ventures outside of her mailbox home for the first time! It’s a very scary big world out there and she faces many obstacles. She goes on a journey to deliver a very important note to the moon. Willow uses her creative mind and brave heart to conquer her fears and deliver a very important message. The water color illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and you will be instantly transported into a beautiful story. It will be a hard time picking your favorite illustration.
Going to school for the first time can be a lot of things: scary, confusing, exciting, adventurous. This is what the Moose learns as he heads to school! Follow along with this amazing character as he paints a picture with his hooves, blows stuff up in science class, and plays the drums. The end of the book has a great message too! If you accidentally take the wrong bus after school, it’s ok! The bus driver is there to help you and make sure you get home safely. Never be afraid to ask for help. If you like this book, then get excited, there are 19 more! See the review for “The Moose Goes to a Farm”.
Written by M. Drew and illustrated by Margherita Grasso
This book is packed full of whimsy, captivating illustrations, and furry best friends! Have you ever seen cats and dogs literally raining from the sky? No? Well then, you must check out this amazing picture book. If you’ve ever had a kid who has had a bad day and they just need to escape into a world that’s packed full of goodness, this book is a must! Follow along a little girl’s rainy day as she catches puppies and kitties falling from the sky. Don’t these animals need homes? I guess she’ll just have to make some extra room.
Written by Carly Simon and illustrated by Margot Datz
Going to bed isn’t any fun, especially when there is ballet to do! Amy the Bear wants to dance. She wants to dance in her bedroom, and do pirouettes and beautiful leaps. Her mother tells her several times that it’s bedtime, but Amy’s excitement is so infectious that her mother lets her dance on! This book’s illustrations are amazing! You will immediately want to join Amy and dance around her beautiful leafy house and look at the sunset out the large windows. While this book is great for bedtime, it is also great to read before nap time at school. It’s calming tone and peaceful images will bring everyone’s mind to rest.
When we get mad sometimes we want to shout, sometimes we want to cry, or sometimes we want to hurt other people. The little boy in this story just needs someone to listen. After Taylor’s amazing creation falls to the ground different animals come by to tell him what to do to feel better. Roaring doesn’t work, talking doesn’t work, and laughing doesn’t work. When a rabbit comes along he sits patiently and listens to the boy’s story. He hears about all the animals who tried to make him feel better, but never listened to his feelings. You will fall in love with rabbit, and be encouraged to persevere when things are difficult. The illustrations in this book are so cute and you will love the patient, listening rabbit.
Penelope the T-Rex is excited for her first day of school, but when she arrives she discovers that all of her classmates are humans! How will she be able to resist eating them? Penelope has such a hard time making friends, and by the end of the day she feels very lonely. The illustrations in this book are so unique and captivating. At the end of the book, Penelope sees what it’s like to get a taste of her own medicine (she gets bitten by a fish!) and she changes her ways. This book is great for the classroom and has a great message about how to treat one another in a kind way.
Ghosts aren’t real, or are they? Follow along on a little girl’s journey as she is called through the forest by a mystical creature. Could this be the legendary ghost horse? Perfect for Halloween, this book has bright and colorful illustrations that will usher you into a perfect preschool spooky adventure. In the end, we see that things are never as scary as they seem. Good news! There are 3 more books in the cowgirl series! These are wonderful books for little ones who love horses. See “Cowgirl Lessons” for more horse fun.
Do you love colors, counting, and dogs? Then this book is for you! Dog has 1 black dot on his left ear, but as the day moves along he finds more and more colorful spots on his coat. A splat of red jam leaves a red spot, a splish of blue paints leaves a blue spot, and a splosh of pink ice-cream leaves a pink spot. Count all of his 10 dots and name all of the 10 colors. What a messy dog! After his bath at the end of the day, he gets nice and clean in the bathtub. The illustrations are great for pre-K! With big shapes and bright colors, there is so much to talk about!
Written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman
When a rustling in the trees attracts Bear’s attention, he goes to find out who is making the sound. What kind of animal is it? Could it be a new friend? His friends join him as he looks high and low to see where the sound is coming from. This book is great for learning about how to make new friends, and what to do if someone is a bit shy. Come check out tons of different animals and find out who is hiding from Bear.
Come discover how little Trixie says her very first words, “Knuffle Bunny”. On the way back home from a trip to the laundromat with her dad, Trixie begins to wail and sob. What could she be crying about? Oh no! She left her stuffed animal at the laundromat! Explore New York in these super unique illustrations and follow the family as they traverse the city to retrieve their lovable plush!
Amanda Leemisis a model, artist, and creator ofThe Hollydog Blog!She is passionate about encouraging our littlest humans to read! With two books published in the “My Hollydog” series, she loves illustration and uses her skills to create printable worksheets for ages 2-5. Creating resources that build fine motor skills and boost creativity is her passion.
It is my pleasure to welcome children’s book author Michelle Vattula to Frog on a Blog. Michelle’s debut picture book, The Stalking Seagulls, was published earlier this year. Once upon a time, Michelle and I were in a critique group together, and I had the privilege of seeing an early draft of this story. I’m so excited that her hilarious boy vs. seagulls book is now out in the world! Let’s hear from Michelle.Be sure to read all the way to the end for information about a giveaway!
Congratulations on the publication of your debut children’s picture book The Stalking Seagulls! Please tell us a bit about the book and what inspired the story.
M.V.Hi Lauri and thank you so much. The Stalking Seagulls is a day at the beach that everyone has experienced at one time or another. A little boy gets a sandwich and the seagulls descend. The fun part of the book is what the main character, Alec, does to try to thwart the seagulls advances. My family visits my snowbird parents each year in Florida and one year the seagulls were quite relentless, which is where I got my inspiration.
The Stalking Seagulls was printed in a special font called dyslexie. Can you tell us a little about that? And is it common for your publisher, Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing, to print books this way?
M.V.According towww.dyslexiefont.com, Dyslexie font is a typeface – specially designed for people with dyslexia – which enhances the ease of reading, learning and working. The dyslexic font has subtle differences with the letter, such as being thicker on the bottom and slight slants to certain letters. This in turn assists the dyslexic reader. My publisher MacLaren-Cochrane only prints their books in dyslexie.
How long have you been writing with an eye toward being published?
M.V. Even though I have been writing for a long time, it has only been in the past six years that I have truly focused on being published and ultimately learning as much as I can about the publishing world.
What is your favorite thing about picture books?
M.V. Hmmm….that is a great question. There are so many areas to address, but overall, I love how they make me feel. When a picture book has a great and satisfying ending, I then feel good. Picture books can elicit many different emotions and having a writer creative and talented enough to evoke them is quite a special talent.
You have a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. How does your knowledge of speech pathology affect or inform your writing?
M. V. My main focus in Speech-Language Pathology was within the geriatric population, so I dealt with a lot of Aphasia (an acquired language disorder due to a brain injury, such as a stroke) and Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). That being said, the use of language was vital, making sure words and thoughts were clear and that words and phrases helped elicit language and communication. It’s complicated to explain, but my background has allowed me to use language that is fun and creative.
You are a member of at least one writer’s critique group. How important is it to you to be involved in groups like this?
M.V. Being part of a critique group is everything! I have three different critique groups and they all bring something different to the table. I am blessed and thankful for their expertise and opinions. They have all made me a better writer and critiquer.
What’s next for Michelle Vattula? What are you currently working on?
M.V. I have a great agent, T.J. Kirsch, from JCH Literary, who believes in my writing and is working hard to find it the right home. I have multiple completed manuscripts, Yay! I am doing a lot of revisions on others. I just started working on a sequel to a complete MS. Lots of pokers in the fire, that’s for sure.
Instagram @michelleciampavattula and Twitter @Mmvattula
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
M.V.I hope you enjoy The Stalking Seagulls. If you are a writer and frustrated with the process, stay strong and keep going. The publishing world is a hard business, but with perseverance and heart, anything is possible. Best of luck and may the seagulls never get your sandwich!
Thanks so much, Michelle! I’m sure everyone will enjoy your wonderful debut book.
Folks, if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of The Stalking Seagulls, here’s a chance to get your hands on one. Michelle has generously offered to give away a signed copy of her book to one person who comments on this blog post by August 23. A winner will be chosen at random.
Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.
Michelle Vattula was born in Boston but grew up most of her life in Erie, PA. After she received her Bachelor’s degree from Miami University of Ohio, she ventured back to Boston for her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Northeastern University. Michelle Currently lives in the beautiful rolling hills of North Pittsburgh with her Finnish husband, her two rescue Golden Retrievers (one who is a therapy dog), and two beautiful boys who are her true inspiration for writing.
Michelle’s debut picture book, THE STALKING SEAGULLS, was released by MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing on April 20, 2021. Michelle is part of the Western Pennsylvania SCBWI leadership team as their New Member and Critique Group Coordinator. She is also a proud member of the Twitter group #Newin19. Michelle is represented by T.J. Kirsch from JCH Literary, and is open for interviews, story times/readings and visits (virtual and in-person).
Title:An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z
Publisher/Year: The School of Life/2021
I admit it, I don’t post about poetry very often here on the Frog. But, April is Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than by sharing a children’s picture book filled with fun poems?And lovely illustrations, featuring adorable animals?
ButAn Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Zby The School of Life, with amazing art by Rachael Saunders, is more than a fun read. It features 26 emotions from anger to melancholy to zeal, each one encompassing a two-page spread with a new animal and setting.The goal of the book is to help children develop emotional literacy. Some of the featured emotions are more straight forward, such as boredom, fear, or happiness. And some are more complex, such as embarrassment, insecurity, or vulnerability.
Sample from L is for Loneliness:
If Loneliness was an animal,
It would glide throughout the deep:
No ears to hear its lonely song,
No company to keep.
Children experience many different emotions, and some have difficulty expressing them properly or even articulating what they’re feeling, leaving them with another feeling–confusion. An Emotional Menagerie aims to help children understand and deal with their feelings and emotions in a healthy way.
Though the rhyme isn’t perfect in every stanza, children will still likely be engaged listeners as an adult reads them each poem. And they will definitely enjoy viewing the charming animal pictures while they listen.
My favorite spread: T is for Tranquility
During these extra-trying days, I can’t think of a better time to share a book about emotions with our kids.