Interview Alert: Jennifer Raudenbush (+ a Giveaway!)

Please welcome children’s author and poet Jennifer Raudenbush to Frog on a Blog. Jennifer and I first crossed paths during a critique session on the online writing platform Inked Voices. I’m thrilled to have her with us today to talk about her beautiful debut picture book In the Palm of My Hand, which just released in March by Running Press Kids. Jennifer and I are both nature lovers, and clearly the natural world was a huge inspiration for her when she wrote the text of this expressive book. Let’s hear more from Jennifer about the book and what inspires her creativity. Be sure to read to the end to find out how you can win a signed copy of In the Palm of My Hand!

Congratulations on your lovely and poetic debut picture book In the Palm of My Hand! Please tell us a little bit about it and why this story was important for you to tell.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Lauri!

In the Palm of My Hand, released by Running Press Kids, is about a child who takes a nature walk and discovers tiny things—like an acorn or a wildflower—hold big possibilities, big potential, just like he does. Ultimately, it delves into the big picture ideas of connection and self-esteem.

I hope it encourages little (and big) people to go outside and explore their corners of the world. To stop and notice. To savor. The book is a bit meditative and invites taking a rest from all the doing to just “be” for a while. When my son was younger, he was rambunctious, to say the least. Time in nature always calmed and focused him.

My goal with In the Palm of My Hand, a lyrical love letter to the natural world, is for readers to fall in love with both the beauty of words and the beauty of nature.

How did you feel when you held your new picture book for the very first time? Did Isabella Conti’s beautiful artwork blow you away?

It was a thrill to hold my debut for the first time! I call it “the heart of my heart,” and it reminded me of what it feels like for a new mom to have her child, her heart, walking around outside her body.

I’d gotten to see Isabella’s sketches along the way, but it did not prepare me for seeing the entire, amazing colorized version.  Especially in her landscapes, she captures nature’s wonder and awe. I love the way the text and pictures pair together to tell a stronger story and create depth of feeling.

Isabella also had a professionally produced video made showing how she painted the illustrations. Your readers can watch her 2 ½ minute video HERE (scroll down the page).

As a picture book and middle grade novel writer as well as a poet, what most inspires your creativity?

This is an easy one to answer! Nature. My husband, teenage son, and I are surrounded by eastern Pennsylvania woods, and I walk my Westie pup Mazy every day. But whenever we travel, all of nature inspires me.

Another big source of creativity for me is reading. I try to begin every morning by reading poetry. Later in the day, I’ll read both fiction (mostly middle grade) and writing craft books. I tend to binge picture books after a trip to the library or while browsing in a bookstore.

How does your experience as a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist influence your picture book writing?

You’ve really done your homework, Lauri! While a Speech-Language Pathologist, I specialized in pediatrics because I loved children.  I definitely bring that love of children into my picture book writing. Also, I’ve always been smitten by words and language, which I both studied and used every day in that profession.

Why do you feel picture books are important?

For so many reasons! First, reading picture books forges a bond between parent, relative, teacher, or librarian and the child or children. This bond is special, meaningful, and deep. Reading together helps children learn vocabulary, story, and the sounds of words. It helps teach them to read, as they follow the words on the page. It develops in them a love of literacy. Finally, picture books, like all books, encourage compassion and understanding of other human beings through inhabiting other perspectives and understanding other viewpoints.

Please share some of your favorite picture book authors.

In the picture book space, my favorites include Beth Ferry, Carter Higgins, Joyce Sidman, Dianne White, and Pat Zietlow Miller. I tend to gravitate toward lyrical, poetic texts, because that’s my strength, but I also really enjoy humorous picture books.

What’s next for Jen Raudenbush? What projects are you working on right now?

I’m continuing to work on picture books, but I spend the bulk of my time writing middle grade novels. I’m currently revising my fourth (my third is on submission with editors). What I’m really excited about is taking my first verse novel class with Laura Shovan in May. I’ll be able to meld poetry with middle grade novels, and I can’t wait to tackle this new challenge!

Where can fans connect with you online?

Thanks for asking! I love connecting with people. The easiest way to reach me is through my Linktree HERE, where I have a fun newsletter your readers can sign up for. I’ll also list my links separately:

Website: , Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.


Jennifer is generously giving away a signed copy of In the Palm of My Hand to one lucky person who comments on this post! Just leave a comment by May 31st for your chance to win. I’ll choose a winner at random and connect them with Jennifer. This Giveaway is open to US residents only. Good luck!

Jennifer Raudenbush feels most alive when she’s creating stories, especially picture books, poetry, and middle grade novels. Jen lives with her husband and teenage son in eastern Pennsylvania, where its natural beauty provides endless inspiration. She has been published in Cricket children’s magazine, the 10.10 Poetry Anthology and Two Truths and a Fib Poetry Anthology. She is represented by Natascha Morris at The Tobias Literary Agency. IN THE PALM OF MY HAND, illustrated by Isabella Conti, Running Press Kids (Hachette), is Jen’s first published picture book.

Book Review MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS: A Teacher And Writer’s Perspective by Laura Roettiger


Everything about the book Maximillian Villainous (Running Press Kids, 2018) made me know it was going to be a hit at school. To be honest, I was excited to find this book at the library and I knew my enthusiasm would add to their interest. The title alone captured the imagination of the children who wanted to know more about this villainous monster. But wait, Max isn’t a villain! And right away, the author had us engaging with the main character.

The class of second and third graders may not know about the rule of three, expertly employed by author Margaret Chiu Greanias, but they sure appreciated the way it was woven into the story. The three tasks for Max: “1. Steal something 2. Make someone cry 3. Gain fame by being devious” are cleverly highlighted in the illustrations so that children focused on the list. We even compared it to the classroom rules, which was fun and another way to interact with the story. Of course, the students explained the tasks were the opposite of what they should be, demonstrating that the author and illustrator did a great job engaging the readers early in the story.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying different aspects of craft and I know how important page turns are. This book is a model of page turns done well. I’d like to mention two excellent examples. The first that attracted attention (read children needed to chime in with their predictions) involved the bunnies digging in the Sandman’s stash of magic sleeping dust. Many of the children knew what would come next. The other is when Max has an idea, complete with the villainous “Mua-ha-Ha!” This was definitely the class’s favorite part of the book (read everyone was making the sound and believed Max was turning into a villain like the rest of his family.) Well played, Margaret!

The illustrations (by Lesley Breen Withrow) in Maximillian Villainous are fantastic. They are colorful, full of wonderful detail, but not too busy, and whimsical, matching the tone of the story. Even the way the Illustrations were laid out on the pages and the use of signs and notes created a high level of interest for the children and for me.

This book definitely earns 5 stars from me because it’s got humor and heart on every page. Additionally, it allowed for a fun reading lesson learning about problem and solution in a story where they weren’t as obvious as in many books. This helped me know what the children understood and which ones needed more help. It is more proof that picture books are excellent vehicles for learning.

Laura R

Laura Roettiger is the author of the picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon (Eifrig Publishing, 2019) She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. Laura has three children of her own, all of whom were led by curiosity and creativity into STEM-related professions. Laura is also a part of #PictureBookBuzz, a group of authors with books being released in 2019.

Find Laura on Twitter @ljrwritenow and at her website