Saturday, December 07, 2013

New Voice: Sam Bond on Operation Golden Llama (Cousins in Action) & Self-Publishing

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Sam Bond is the first-time author of Operation Golden Llama (Cousins in Action)(Volume 1)(Bound, 2013). From the promotional copy:

Dumped at their eccentric Grandma’s, Cagney, Olivia, Aidan, Lissy and Tess are convinced they’re in for a boring summer. But when Grandma gets a series of mysterious phone calls and a highly unlikely pet sitter arrives, the cousins find themselves jetting off to Peru, where, much to their surprise, they find the adventures have only just begun.

Why did you decide to self- publish independently rather than with a trade press?

Traveling the self-publishing route was not an easy decision. However, my reasons for self-publishing were very specific.

When I decided to write a children’s adventure book featuring my two girls and their three cousins, it didn’t occur to me there would be any issues. However, when submitting to agents and publishing houses I encountered the same complaint. Too many main characters.

Now, I’m English, and grew up reading one of England’s most prolific children’s writers, Enid Blyton. Her books are filled with adventure and mystery, with rarely a grown-up in sight. However, the one constant throughout her work is large groups of protagonists. The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Five Find-Outers and Six Cousins need no explanation as to the abundance of characters contained within.

Seeing I wrote my books as a gift to my children and their cousins, being told to remove two of the main characters was a deal breaker. After two or three agents reading fulls gave the same reason for rejection, I came to the hard decision that I needed to be true to my vision, and to do that, I would have to take a less traditional publishing route.

Believe me, I thought about making the changes requested. I knew writers who’d altered major portions of their book on the advice of an agent and gone on to be successfully published. However, in the end, I knew I would rather the book contain all five cousins and have a limited readership, than remove two of the cousins on the chance this would lead to the book reaching a wider audience.

What were the challenges?

Sam's desk
I would say the biggest challenge to self-publishing is taking yourself seriously and truly believing you can do it. You must be aware there are no deadlines, other than ones you set yourself and nobody cares about this book, other than you, your critique partners and, if you’re lucky, your mother!

My biggest fear was that I would forget something. When I started a photography business ten years ago, I researched a photographer I admired, and purchased her three-part course on how to start a business. I took a year to create a website, build a portfolio and design a logo. I also formed a company, opened bank accounts and filed tax documents.

These things all took away from what I loved to do most – take photos, but I felt they were needed for me to proceed in an orderly manner and knew they would enhance my success down the line.

It has been the same with self-publishing, except instead of buying a tried and tested course I relied on the knowledge of several indie authors in the Austin area that I’d sought out ahead of time. In fact, finding mentors to answer questions and guide me through this process was fundamental to my success.

One provided an amazing six month countdown to launch. Another explained how KDP works to boost sales. A third was kind enough to share the more hum drum actions required – setting up bank accounts, LLCs and EINs. With these three authors to guide me, I at last felt confident to proceed.

What recommendations do you have for other writers considering this route?

Spend the time you would have dedicated to querying, checking out indie boards, becoming intimate with different companies that offer services and set yourself a budget.

At this point, I suggest being truly realistic about your strengths. Although I knew I could do a lot of the work, I am not technically minded and needed abundant help formatting and uploading my manuscript. I was not expecting to need help and it was almost my undoing.

I also recommend giving yourself plenty of time. Just because you have the power to set a launch date, it should not be something you rush into. Once committed to a launch date it marks you as amateur if you have to back out because you underestimate the hours it takes to go from prototype to finished product – and believe me, it will take longer than you think. In fact, I would suggest having your book in hand before you even think of launching it into the world.

Finally, just because you’ve decided to travel the self-publishing route, does not mean you should do it alone. If anything it’s even more important to make contacts, join local societies, attend conferences and get to know your writing community.

In fact, I believe the encouragement and support I received from fellow writers, plus the accountability I had to my peers, was the piece of the puzzle that made all the difference.

Sausage on the coach

As a contemporary fiction writer, how did you find the voice of your first person protagonist? Did you do character exercises? Did you make an effort to listen to how young people talk? Did you simply free your inner kid or adolescent? And, if it seemed to come by magic, how would you suggest others tap into that power in their own writing?

Operation Golden Llama has five main protagonists and is written in omniscient pov; this gave me a lot of heads to be inside. However, it was a POV I was familiar with from books I read as a child, and although I toyed with limiting the POV to just one character and rotating through the protagonists one chapter at a time, I decided my characters were too feisty to have their thoughts limited.

The youngest of the main protagonists is six, the oldest twelve. Luckily, I started writing Operation Golden Llama when my children were in first and second grade, so I had a lot of material to work with. Also, my characters are based on children I know, which made the writing easier.

I wanted the children to be realistic, but they obviously had to be somewhat smarter and more prepossessing than your average child in order to make them interesting. If you listen to conversations between typical elementary aged children and wrote it down verbatim, it might be realistic, but it would not be fascinating.

Striking that balance was the challenge, all the time making sure Tess used words appropriate to a six-year-old, and Cagney possessed the sass and confidence of a pre-teen.

Olivia, Tess and Sam
I found one of the ways to make Tess believable was to have her ask questions. Not only was it a great way of explaining a word or situation the reader might not understand themselves, but it also reminded us of the age gap between her and her four cousins.

Plus, I kept check of words each cousin would use regularly. For Cagney it was “good grief”. Lissy would often address an adult using the words “ma’am" or "sir" and Tess often ends her sentences asking for clarification.

As often as possible, I wanted readers to be able to identify which cousin was speaking from the dialogue alone without having to rely on identification tags.

It is also useful to have a word in your head that sums up your characters. To me, Olivia is fearless, Cagney exasperated. Lissy is smart, Aidan kind and Tess exuberant. Often, I would just write what I wanted the cousins to say with no tag lines, then return later and add tags appropriately. This often worked better than deciding at the time and helped with flow.

Often however, the characters seemed to claim their own lines, and if it was essential that one character said a line for the plot and it didn’t seem true, I would re-write the line in their voice. It was interesting how, when reading the book aloud, it was obvious to me if I had the tag lines wrong. Olivia would never be in awe of dramatic scenery, but Aidan would. In the same way, a character inquiring how someone was feeling would always be Lissy, never Cagney. That just left Tess and anything crazy fell in the “Tess” category.

Five cousins at the Golden Llama launch; photo courtesy of Dave Wilson Photography

Friday, December 06, 2013

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Learn more about this book!
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Revelry! Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac from Steam Punk Romance | Coffee Time Romance. Peek: "Not too many books I know contain a pedantic Sasquatch with ESP. But he and his people are in the traditions of every Native American nation and it was not hard at all for me to imagine them surviving into the tenuous future of my story." See also Nine Post-Apocalyptic Books Starring People of Color by Audrey from Rich in Color.

Birthdayographies from Donna Bowman Bratton. Peek: "Where did the biography birthday idea originate? I'm glad you asked. My friend, the talented author Anne Bustard, launched the idea in 2008 with her own blog, Anneographies. And she totally rocked at it. Though Anne still loves picture book biographies, she's more focused on fiction now. I'm honored that she has passed the birthday torch to me."

What to Do Before Revising a NaNoWriMo Novel by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "One great thing about Nano is that we’ve written it so fast, the character’s journey is fresh in our mind from first page to last. Take this opportunity to make some notes to yourself and ask these three questions..." See also The Seven-Step Business Plan for Writers by Angela from Jane Friedman.

The Color of Imagination: Interview with a Cover Artist by Therese Walsh from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "The sales reps have a lot of sway, as do the booksellers (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc…). If a book is slated for a large retail order (such as Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters), the retailers can also have the final word."

Character Building: Using Quirks to Reveal Personality by Becca Puglisi from Jody Hedlund. Peek: "As with any other gesture or habit, quirks that are used too often become distracting. Choose fitting times for your character to show his personality so each instance has meaning and serves a purpose." See also Becca on the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Character Traits and How to Use Them from Susan Quinn.

Villains are People, Too by Bobbi Miller from Children's Literature Network. Peek: "I asked many of my favorite writers and illustrators to name their favorite villains, what they found memorable about these characters, and how this character influenced their writing?"

The Creator's Game: A Story of Baaga'adowe/Lacrosse by Art Coulson (Minnesota Historical Society Press): recommendation from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "Coulson's storytelling delivers nuggets of info about the ways that Ojibwe people play lacrosse, and, the way that Cherokees play it." 

Should You Revise and Resubmit? by Suzanne van Rooyen from QueryTrackerBlog. Peek: "Before committing to an overhaul, you need to ask yourself if the person requesting the R&R is someone you really want to work with, do you trust their opinion and will their suggestions improve your manuscript."

Barbara Park Remembered from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Barbara Park, author of many books for children – including the bestselling Junie B. Jones series – died on Nov. 15 at age 66, after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Here, some of those with whom she enjoyed lengthy professional and personal relationships pay tribute." See more information.

Plotting Along: A Diagram of Key Plot Points by Janet S. Fox from Through the Wardrobe. Peek: "Today I’m posting the latest in my personal collection of plot diagrams, something I’ve put together based on the best plot diagrams I’ve found and used."

Dumpster Diving: An Observation on Socio-Economic Class in Children's Literature by Charlesbridge editor Yolanda Scott from CBC Diversity. Peek: "I’ll take with me into my editorial work is to look more carefully and deliberately for class markers and where they appear or don’t appear in text and art. Indeed, the latter is an intriguing issue to explore in any book: who is not in a given story, and why?"

Mentoring: Two-Way Learning by Juliet Marillier from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Be prepared to make major changes, including cuts, to render your manuscript more readable / more publishable. Yes, even if it’s an aspect of the story that you are deeply fond of."

The Gingerbread Man's Top Five Writing Tips by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "Based on the folktale about this popular Christmas pastry that comes to life, the Gingerbread Man gives his writing tips." See also Frosty The Snowman's Top Five Writing Tips from Darcy and Take a Different Approach to Writing: Eat Dessert First by Amy Rose Capetta from Adventures in YA Writing.

Cynsational Giveaways

The winner of a signed copy of Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst is Alicia in Alabama.

See also the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway from Latin@as in Kid Lit: Exploring the World of Latino/a YA, MG, and Children's Literature. Peek: "From Christmas Day through Three Kings Day (Jan. 6), one lucky winner will win one of these (12) awesome books."

See also Giveaway of One or Two Things I Learned about Love by Dylan Sheldon (Candlewick), plus new YA releases from Adventures in YA Writing.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

Gingerbread Who-ville at the Four Seasons Austin
Guess what. I'm home in Austin for the rest of the year. You know what that means?

Deadline time! I'm pushing hard to finish my draft of the manuscript titled Feral Pride, which will be book 3 in the Feral series.

That said, I stole a little play time and consequently highly recommend "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "Frozen," both of which feature strong girl protagonists (Frozen has two of them!).

In other news...

Congratulations to Debbie Reese, recipient of the 2013 Virginia Mathews Scholarship! Peek: "The purpose of the Virginia Mathews Memorial Scholarship is to provide tuition to an American Indian individual who lives and works in an American Indian community, and who is enrolled, or has been accepted and will enroll, in a master's degree program at a university with a library and/or information sciences program accredited by the American Library Association for the 2013-2014 academic school year."

Find out the one thing I wouldn't change about the Feral series no matter what from YA Series Insiders.

Converting Prose to Graphic Novels with Cynthia Leitich Smith by Annemarie O'Brien from Quirk and Quill. Peek: "Think about offering new content or perspective with the goal of adding value for your readers. Perhaps tell the 'same' story from a secondary character’s point of view, for example."

YA Lit Boy Characters that Inspire Crushes from A Simple Love of Reading. Note: fun to see Kieren from the Tantalize series on this list.

A Celebration of Native American and Aboriginal Girls from A Mighty Girl. Note: pleased to see Jingle Dancer featured among recomendations.

Personal Links

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Ellen Jensen Abbott on Verisimilitude

By Ellen Jensen Abbott
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

I was 50 pages into my first writing project, a YA fantasy novel, when I picked up a book about writing for children.

In the first chapter, the author explained that a new writer should never start with a novel instead of a short story or write fantasy instead of realistic fiction.


But my story had a hold on me and I was not about to stop. Three books and over a thousand pages later, I’ve realized what that author meant. For a beginning writer, it’s hard enough to struggle with character, plot and setting. But fantasy and science fiction require something more—world building.

World-building is a labor of love for any writer, but a novel set in present day Boston begins with a geography, climate, social structure, and government. A fantasy or science fiction writer can set her story anywhere in the universe.

Freeing and exciting, but where do you begin? It’s a rush at times to play the role of god, but the stakes are high. Like characters, worlds need to be three dimensional and ooze verisimilitude.

When I started my current series, The Watersmeet Trilogy, I saved myself some of the angst of world building by setting it in some version of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Once I knew I was in the rocky soil of a New Hampshire-like place, I knew my characters were doing subsistence farming or hunting and gathering. Small farms led naturally to villages and towns rather than cities.

With towns came artisans: blacksmiths, wood cutters, tanners, and shepherds. From the first decision about geography and climate, I gained an economy and social structure. My world was fleshing out.

The New Hampshire setting also dictated the flora of my world. My main character, Abisina, is a healer and needed plants for tinctures, teas, and infusions. I picked up Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs, which covers more than 500 plants. Overwhelming—but I was only interested in plants that grew in a northern climate. Plenty of invention was still necessary.

I found what sounded like a delectable root for my dwarves to roast—Solomon’s Seal. But the name “Solomon” threatened to pull the reader out of a world where the Green Man is a central deity. So I renamed the root “Blister root.” No reader will recognize my blister roots as Solomon’s Seals, but basing them on a real plant gave them a reality my imagination couldn’t.

My reliance on Peterson’s Field Guides is only one tool in my world-building kit. I have maps of the land, villages, and my main character’s house scribbled on scraps of paper. I have a calendar with moon phases marked lest all my scenes take place during a full or new moon.

Sometimes that moon has to be gibbous!

I’ve worked hard and had a lot of fun making my world 3D, but I wasn’t prepared for the sense of loss I feel now that the trilogy is complete. Finishing the series means leaving behind my own private Genesis—the Obrun Mountains, the River Couldin, and Giant’s Cairn.

This may be why, in a recent conversation with my editor, I pitched two Watersmeet companions. I don’t want to work on them yet—there’s a cranky fairy demanding to have his story told first—but a time may come in the not too distant future when I’ll want to go home.

Cynsational Notes

Ellen Jensen Abbott thinks that life would be perfect if she could move her home, her job, her friends and her family to the White Mountains of New Hampshire where she grew up.

Until she can convince everyone to join her, she’s content to be writing, teaching English at the Westtown School, and living with her husband and two children in West Chester, PA.

In the Watersmeet Trilogy, readers follow the outcast Abisina as she leaves her village to search for her father and for acceptance.

On her journey, she discovers the whole land of Seldara: the dwarves of the Obrun Mountains; the fauns of the western forests; the centaurs of Giant’s Cairn—some friends, some foes. When she reaches Watersmeet, she thinks she’s found the home of her dreams where all of Seldara’s folk are welcome, but soon Watersmeet’s existence is at risk and Abisina finds herself outcast again.

Can she save the home she loves? Can she unite the land against a gathering evil? Can she embrace her destiny and become the Keeper of Watersmeet?

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win the Watersmeet trilogy--Watersmeet (Skyscape, 2009), The Centaur's Daughter (Skyscape, 2011) and The Keeper (Skyscape, 2013) and a Kindle Paperwhite. Publisher sponsored. U.S. only.

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Guest Post: Lindsey McDivitt on Positive Images of Aging

By Lindsey McDivitt
of A is for Aging, B is for Books
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Grumpy and frumpy, witchy and weary, frail and forgetful—none of us expects to be that kind of older person, and in reality this does not often describe normal aging.

But negative stereotypes of age, such as older characters in decline and needing help from a child, are too often the norm in books for kids.

In actual fact, late life is generally a time of great satisfaction.

Teaching empathy is important, but the images of aging we show children in books are of vital significance—to them and us. Ageism is evident in pre-schoolers. Even children who admire their own grandparents speak negatively about growing old and about older people.

Research also tells us that taking in negative stereotypes shapes us and even shortens our lives. We will become what we think as we get older. We all need and deserve a positive vision of our future.

Books that share positive messages about aging benefit both kids and adults, and they more accurately represent our diverse world of young and old.

At some point in our lives the conversation around birthdays will shift, from happy anticipation to dread. Why is that?

Ageism—pure and simple. Just like racism, ageism steals away recognition of our abilities, strengths and individuality.

In the words of Rosemarie Jarski, “We will all get older, so ageism is like turkeys voting for Christmas.”

We plan for a long life, so why is it so hard to recognize we stereotype older adults?

You can hardly blame us—our society surrounds us with words and images worshipping youth. But getting old is not a failure to remain young and it should be celebrated as the triumph of strength and survivorship it is.

What can we do to balance other media and add more realistic and positive images of aging to books for young people? As writers and illustrators let’s challenge ourselves to:
Lindsey's assistant
  • Provide older role models by creating interesting, complex characters and avoiding one-dimensional stereotypes such as poor, sick and sad. And let’s remember—dementia is not a part of normal aging.
  • Share the knowledge and strength older adults have acquired because of their age and experience. See My Teacher by James Ransome (Dial, 2012).
  • Highlight creativity and lifelong growth. Include a wide range of abilities and interests. See It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Lee & Low, 2012). 
  • Normalize aging and changing by showing it is a lifelong process. See Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (Viking, 1982).
  • Show satisfaction with late life—research tells us people grow happier as they age.
  • Avoid the freaky and foolish in both text and images, and choose our words carefully. “Old” is not a bad word and should not be used as such in any of our writing.
  • Include older characters that are working, volunteering, or making a difference in the world. Highlight the strengths often masked by an aging body. See Grandmama’s Pride by Becky Birtha, illustrated by Colin Bootman (Whitman, 2005). Show what people of all ages have in common.
  • Share the positives of intergenerational relationships, including those outside the family. See Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco (Doubleday, 2009).

Let’s try visualizing who we want to be as we grow older—both words and pictures carry powerful images.

And lastly, in the interest of full disclosure—the grandmother in my latest manuscript? She knits. But that’s not all she does...

Cynsational Notes

Visit Lindsey's Blog, A is for Aging, B is for Books, and like A is for Aging on facebook.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Cover Reveal & Author Interview: Dori Hillestad Butler on Writing Chapter Books & The Haunted Library

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Cheers to your upcoming series, The Haunted Library (Grosset & Dunlap, 2014)! Could you tell us about it?

It's a chapter book mystery series, just like my Buddy Files series (Albert Whitman). But instead of a canine protagonist, my main character Kaz is a ghost.

He's spent his whole life (and he is "alive"...this is a chapter book series so my ghosts aren't dead people, they're simply transparent people with superpowers) living with his ghost family in an old, abandoned schoolhouse.

But when the "solids" come and tear down the schoolhouse, Kaz and his family are separated as they blow away in the wind. Kaz ends up in a city library, where he meets a solid girl named Claire. Claire can see Kaz when he's not "glowing." She can hear Kaz when he's not "wailing." No one knows why.

Kaz and Claire form a detective agency to solve ghostly mysteries and help Kaz find his family.

What are the challenges of writing chapter books? How about writing a chapter book series?

interior illustration
I think one of the main challenges to writing a chapter book is first understanding what a chapter book is.

I hear a lot of parents say, "my child is reading chapter books."

What do they mean when they say that? Do they mean their kids are reading Frog and Toad? Yes, Frog and Toad has chapters, but it's an easy reader. Are they reading A Wrinkle in Time? That's a middle grade novel. Or are they reading The Magic Tree House? Those are chapter books!

You can't go by the age of the learn to read at different ages. Though, if pressed, I would say most chapter book readers are between ages 7 and 10. They're able to read and comprehend easy readers, but they maybe don't have the stamina to stick with a middle grade novel yet.

Chapter books tend to have spot illustrations, large type, lots of write space. Chapters are short. So are paragraphs. Sentences tend to be simple, but not too simple. Main characters are spunky and fun, and plots are fast-paced with lots of action. You don't see a lot of explanation and description in chapter books. Everything moves along at a good clip.

As for chapter book series, writing a chapter book series really isn't any different from writing any other series. For me, the biggest challenge to writing a series is I'm limited by what I've already written. I often get three books in and wish I'd established some key element to the series back in book one. But it's usually too late to go back and change book one. That can be frustrating.

What advice would you give to writers interested in creating a chapter book series of their own?

First, read some chapter book series. I don't think you can write one if you've never read one or if you haven't read one since you were a kid.

Read a bunch of them. Get a feel for chapter book characters, plot, and pacing. Get a feel for how series are put together. That will help you as you craft your own series.

Keep in mind that each book in a series should be a stand-alone story, but it should also advance the series arc. Create a series character and/or concept that's interesting enough to follow through multiple books. Readers like series because they connect with a character and want to follow that character into other adventures. Give yourself enough to work with.

author portrait
illustrator portrait
What are your thoughts on the cover art? How does it draw readers into your series?

I love the cover art! I'm usually pretty happy with the covers of my books, but these may be the best covers of any of my books. I think Aurore really captured the personalities of the ghosts and she makes the books look fun.

I'd pick these books up if they weren't already mine.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Kristi Valiant on Marrying Art to Text in Picture Books

Check out the Penguin Cha-Cha Storytime Kit!
By Kristi Valiant
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Look through your shelves of picture books (does everyone love picture books enough to own shelves of them?). Do you notice any differences between the books that were written and illustrated by the same person versus the books that were written by one person and illustrated by another?

My first picture book as both author and illustrator, Penguin Cha-Cha, was published recently by Random House. I loved illustrating my own story, but I also love illustrating other authors’ books.

I’ve illustrated a handful of those, including the upcoming Pretty Minnie in Paris, written by Danielle Steel, about a teacup Chihuahua in the fashion world of Paris - Oh la la!

I approach illustrating someone else’s manuscript differently than when I illustrate my own.

When I’m given a manuscript to illustrate, much of the storyline is already there and can’t be changed. I do have some creative freedom in bringing my half to the book, and to promote that, the publisher usually keeps the author and illustrator away from each other.

I can deepen the story by adding elements, and sometimes even characters, to the illustrations that aren’t mentioned in the text. For example, in the picture book, Cora Cooks Pancit (Shen's), I added in a dog that wasn’t in the text and used him to echo the main character’s feelings with a problem of his own – all through the illustrations.

But even though I can deepen the story and be creative through the illustrations, the fact remains that the text was written before the illustrations, and I can’t change the text.

When I wrote and illustrated Penguin Cha-Cha, the visuals came first and the illustrations influenced the writing of the text in a major way.

Penguin Cha-Cha started as a portfolio illustration. The great thing about portfolio pieces is that you can draw anything you fancy. I was in a Latin-and-swing dance group and I liked penguins, so I drew dancing penguins.

Art directors and editors kept asking if I had a story to go with the illustration. They could see just by looking at the dancing penguins that I had fun drawing them.

When that joy shines through an illustration, it’s time to start thinking about making a book.

So I began writing stories about dancing penguins. Learning the craft of writing picture books, of course, took time and many tries.

I’m still learning, but what worked the best for me was to envision my dancing penguins story in my head as a sort of animation and pick out the key parts that forwarded the story and were the most visually interesting to draw as spreads for the book. Then I added in just the words necessary.

My editor had me add in a bit more text after the dummy was acquired, but mostly we stuck with the original dummy.

Many of us author-illustrators tend to start as illustrators and therefore are more visual than wordy. We can show part of the storyline in the illustrations, so perhaps not as much text is needed.

Check out the picture books on your own shelf and see if you can tell if the same person wrote and illustrated them.

Cynsational Screening Room

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win a signed copy of Penguin Cha-Cha, a bookmark, a sticker and a magnet. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. only.

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