Welcome to the Bookshelf Detective, a site for readers and writers of children's literature. Thank you for visiting, and please let me know how this blog served you.
Kim Tomsic

Friday, October 17, 2014

National Book Award Young People's Literature: The Finalists (and who made the longlist)

(from the National Book foundation website) YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE:

NBA 2014 Young People's Literature List


  • Eliot SchreferThreatened (Scholastic Press)
  • Steve SheinkinThe Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
    (Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan Publishers)
  • John Corey WhaleyNoggin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster)
  • Deborah WilesRevolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two (Scholastic Press)
  • Jacqueline WoodsonBrown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Group (USA))


- Laurie Halse AndersonThe Impossible Knife of Memory (Viking/ Penguin Group (USA))
- Gail GilesGirls Like Us (Candlewick Press)
- Carl HiaasenSkink—No Surrender (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers/ Random House)
- Kate MilfordGreenglass House (Clarion Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- Andrew Smith100 Sideways Miles (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster)


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Plopping, Zooming, Slashing and Other Horrendous Happenings in THE TUMBLEWEED CAME BACK

THE TUMBLEWEED CAMEBACK by Carmela LaVigna Coyle (illustrated by Kevin Rechin) (Rico Chico Books for Children, release September 2013) is a charming tall-tale story of two determined kids and one Granny matched against the antagonist—the pesky tumbleweed. Those plopping, zooming and slashing tumbleweed double and triple on every page turn, ruining pools and farmland. And no matter if the kids send them away down the Rio Grande or by time machine, the tumbleweed come back. But not to worry—the kids in this story have grit. They rely on problem solving and ingenuity to rid themselves and their Granny of the multiplying nuisance. 

The fun word choices in this story make it a delight to read aloud, and further enhance the tall-tale storytelling and the western setting. The colorful and comical illustrations by Kevin Rechin both punctuate the yarn as well as open the door for the child’s imagination to go wild. Parents, grandparents, and teachers alike will enjoy the pluck and resourcefulness of Carmela LaVigna Coyle’s characters.

THE TUMBLEWEED CAMEBACK was this year's winner of the Colorado Book Award for Children's Literature. It is fresh and original, and it’s funny while also showing kids that imagination and determination can payoff.    

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cowboy Up! by Nancy Bo Flood reviewed by Kim Tomsic

COWBOY UP! (Boyd Mills Press, 2013) by Nancy BoFlood is crafted with a delightful mixture of verse and prose. Flood’s writing grabs the reader by the hand and invites him or her into the unique world of the rodeo—a rich experience from anticipation at practice to the thrill of competition. It’s like she plunks the reader right in the saddle alongside each rodeo competitor from wooly rider to bull wrangler. Every page turn is packed with excited urgency, honest nervousness, and sometimes glory. The verse sections allow readers to practically taste the dust and feel the rope burn, while the prose unveil the mystery behind how rodeos work.  
COWBOY UP! is an original approach to making the rodeo fascinating and accessible to all. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never participated in mutton busting or seen a Brahma bull--you’ll feel like an insider after reading this book. 
Loved by School Library Journal and  Kirkus Review, too! 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590788936
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2013
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top Ten with Literary Agent Tricia Lawrence

TOP TEN: Info/Advice/& Fun Facts with Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA)

The Rocky Mountain Region of the SCBWI looks forward to the wisdom of Tricia Lawrence. She will serve on this year's conference faculty for the September 20 & 21, 2014 LETTERS AND LINES CONFERENCE. If you haven't registered, we are accepting walk-in registration on September 20 at 7:45am or September 21 at 8:15 am at the Marriott Denver West, 1717 Denver West Boulevard, Golden CO 80401. 

Who is Tricia Lawrence? Tricia is the "Pacific Northwest branch" of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA)—born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. After 19 years of working as a developmental and production-based editor (from children’s books to college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist.
As associate agent, Tricia represents picture books/chapter books that look at the world in a unique and unusual way, with characters that are alive both on and off the page, and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction that offers strong world-building, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won't let go.

You can find Tricia's writing about blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and other social media topics at http://authorblogger.net/ and at http://trishlawrence.com/


1.       SUCCESS STORY:  Hi, Tricia! Thank you for serving on the RMC SCBWI faculty and for agreeing to this interview. I love starting with dessert, so please tell us a yummy conference success story.

My first PB client is the past conference coordinator for Western WA, Kerri Kokias. I met her as a brand-new agent (not yet repping picture books) looking for a critique group and we hit it off. Of course, she will say I made her work. I made her write a ton. And I did. But when I was ready to sign PB clients, she was my first one. We are friends, crit buddies, and then author/agent. And it was the best decision I made! She is AWESOME! 

2.      PUBLISHING PATH: I’ll bet your experience as a social media strategist serves you and your clients well now that you’re an agent. What smart social media tips can you provide?

For my full-throttle social media for authors, you'll have to come to my workshop. In the meantime, look back over your social media content. Is it 80/20 (content/marketing)? For marketing, I mean "come buy my book" or "come to my book signing" and by content, I mean "there was this fascinating article I just read about bullying, which is one of themes of my next book" or "We need diverse books shared this article that really spoke to me about the important of diversity" and don't pitch anything. Just share, share, share. And if it has a theme to it, all the better. See you at my workshop!

3.      YOUR NEXT CLIENT: I understand you represent Picture Books, Chapter Books,  Middle Grade, and YA. At every conference—regardless of genre—agents say they are looking for great and compelling writing. Please give us more insight into your preferences.

I love all sorts of styles in kidlit. I do love a mystery, I love dark novels, dark young readers. For novels, I'm looking for the character I've never met  before, but I feel as if I know already. Someone who just walks off the page into my life. Laini Taylor's DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE series was that for me. Karou is someone I've never met before, but I now feel like she's someone important in my life. Challenge: how would you do a mystery PB?

4.      READING: I believe in order to be a great writer, a person should be prolific reader. I also believe when writers research and shop for an agent, they should read the agent’s client’s books in order to understand if the agent is a fit. Tricia, are you an editorial agent? Also, please tell us about some of your clients’ books.

I am an editorial agent. My books don't start coming out until Fall 2015, but in the meantime, on EMLA's website www.emliterary.com you can see what our agency is publishing month to month. Any of those would be a great idea to read. Robin LaFevers' HIS FAIR ASSASSIN series, GRAVE MERCY,  DARK TRIUMPH, and the third in the trilogy, MORTAL HEART. Anything by Deborah Underwood or Pat Zietlow Miller or Liz Garton Scanlon, picture  book wise. Anything by Trent Reedy, Conrad Wesselhoeft, Laurie Thompson, Laura Resau, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Ruth McNally Barshaw. I could go on  and on and on. I'm a huge fan of EMLA books!

5.      FAVORITE BOOKS: What were some of your favorite books as a child, and what are your current kid lit favorites (other than the ones you represent J)?

Favorite series: Narnia. Second favorite series: Little House on the Prairie. Current kidlit favorites are FLASHLIGHT by Lizi Boyd (a work of art), I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen, LET'S GET LOST by Adi Alsaid, GAIJIN by Matt Faulkner (my client, but I didn't rep this one).

6.      What’s on your wish list of future projects to represent?

I'm looking for innovative picture books, using other genres to tell a story in that format (murder mystery, horror, etc.). I'm looking for retro illustrations that are just alive. I'm looking for a super-duper chapter book series or two a la Penderwicks or CLEMENTINE. I am hungry for more girl middle grade. I'm also looking for amazing YA fantasy, fractured retellings (so, instead of fractured fairy tales, take a classic work of literature and crack it open). I'm wild about anything Bronte, Dickens, Hugo, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky. I was raised on these books, so if you're doing something innovative and new with them, bring it to me!

7.      What can you tell us about the state of the publishing industry?

In total flux. Indy bookstores are growing. The industry seems to be able to handle the massive changes being thrown at it. It's a great time to be an author or illustrator. If you're hesitating, why? Go for it! Write!

8.     How does the answer above influence you as an agent?

Always figuring out how to represent my clients better, how to inspire more authors/artists, how to be more creative myself! I feel as if I'm in a continual college semester, with always changing classes and I'm always carrying too many credits and wanting to learn more.

9.      A benefit for attendees of the Letters and Lines Conference is getting to walk away knowing the faculty on a more personal level. One fun fact about Tricia is that she Tricia loves hiking, camping out in the woods, and collecting rocks. She loves BBC America and anything British. She has way too many books and not enough bookshelves. Please give us one more fun fact!
If I am at a beach, I pick up pockets full of rocks and shells. If I am in a parking lot, I pick up rocks. If you show me a rock, I will want it. I have now shared my rock obsession with my neighbor's 3-year-old and she comes up to me now and asks for rocks. :) Funny how I always have one to give her.

10.  What’s your final word (for today) of advice that you would like writers to walk away with?

Writing is not easy. You are walking in footsteps of so many great writers and also great souls! Do not be discouraged! Press on! Don't give up!  Write, write, write.

Thank you, Tricia!
For submission guidelines, please visit the EMLA website and follow the guidelines. 

Submission Policy: Good news-- if-- you attended the Letters and Lines Conference! 
EMLA is closed to unsolicited queries or submissions BUT Tricia is open to queries from attendees of conferences where she speaks. If you met Tricia at the conference or have a referral, please paste your query into the contact form on our contact page. Please note that EMLA is no longer responding to queries or submissions from those who do not have a referral or have met them at a conference. Those sent in hard copy form via post or other means will receive no response from EMLA, and those sent via email will receive an automated form rejection.

***This is your big chance to query, so take the time--polish your prose--use advice your received at the conference--seek out a critiquing group--repolish your work--read the submission guidelines carefully--polish one more time--AND THEN send your query. Good luck!  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten with Literary Agent Terrie Wolf

TOP TEN: Info/Advice/& Fun Facts with Terrie Wolf of AKA LITERARY LLC
The Colorado/Wyoming region of the SCBWI is proud to announce Terrie Wolf as a faculty member for the September 2014 LETTERS AND LINES CONFERENCE.
Who is Terrie Wolf? Before becoming a literary agent, Terrie was an editor as well as a member of the international media. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University, Creative Writing at NYU and Journalism at CU-Denver. Terrie founded Wolf Literary Services, and in 2009 she co-founded AKA Literary.

 The Letters and Lines Conference is said to be one of the most intimate ways a writer can connect with leaders in the publishing industry. To launch participants’ conference-connect experience, Terrie has generously agreed to answer the following ten questions:

1.       SUCCESS STORY (the crème brulee):  Hi, Terrie! Thank you in advance for serving on the faculty at the upcoming RMC SCBWI conference, and for taking the time to answer my questions. Before we get into the meat and potatoes (craft), I’d like to start with dessert (contract).  Please tell us about one of your conference success stories.

Thank you very much for including me. After several years in the conference and workshop “trenches” I’m pleased to tell you I signed a conference participant. I was thrilled by a proposal provided by Kathy Borrus at Writer’s Digest West Conference last September. If you like to shop or travel you might recognize her name as Kathy is the author of Five Hundred Buildings of Paris, One Thousand Buildings of Paris, and The Fearless Shopper. Her writing has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Washington Flyer, and Art Business News among others. So, here we are, ready to work on this adult piece when she mentioned an idea she had for a children’s series of books.  To say I was floored would be an understatement. Ask me at the conference and I’ll fill you in! You’ll love her.

2.      PUBLISHING PATH: I read that before you were an agent, you were an editor with Hobson’s Press and also an award-winning member of the media with NBC and CBS. How and why did you decide to become an agent?

My father always said that if I was stranded on a desert island, I’d be just fine as long as I had a fishing pole, books to read and a phone so I could tell everyone I knew about the books I read and the fish I caught. A series of events that included big trucks, freak southern gales and patio umbrellas all taught me about  resilience and allowed me (forced me) to return to Colorado full time. The outlook may have seemed a little desolate in the beginning but gave me the opportunity to slowly find my way back to wellness. A few years ago I met an author whose work was witty and fresh. It reignited my passion. The author asked me to act as her agent because she said I talked about her work more than she did. That was the beginning. She was right and I still proudly represent her. She tweets @CJDunham1. Get to know her! 

3.      YOUR NEXT CLIENT: In addition to other genres, I understand you represent YA, Middle Grade, and Picture Book writers…excellent!  We all know agents are looking for great and compelling writing, and the word on the street is you pick story over genre. Please give us more insight into your preferences.

There’s so much that goes into this process. I like to know what my editors are interested in finding but I also ask readers what they would like to see. It’s really important to write the story as it is meant to be written rather than for a trend or market. Good stories just have a way of finding good homes.

4.      Sometimes the Internet gets buzzing with a lot of misinformation of where an agent is or isn’t. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT  2012-2014

I took much of 2012 - 2013 and 2014 away from work due to illness, the Black Forest Fire and the 2013 floods. I ran into the big three: my mother’s death, my father’s illness, and I have been stalked daily since April 2013. It’s just part of the drill, part of what helps me decide what I want to do. Usually what I want to do is fall back and read.

Wow! That’s a lot to shoulder. I’m sorry for your difficulties, and I admire your bravery and determination. I’m glad to know your father is doing well again, and your experiences are a testament to how books are friends to people during difficult times—a point that moves me to the joyful side of life—READING: I’m sure you would agree that in order to become great writers, we must first read, read, and read! Writers should also know when shopping for an agent, they should read the agent’s client’s books to help further reveal if the agent is the right fit. Terrie, are you an editorial agent and if yes, tell us more?

I am an editorial agent, and proud of it. You won’t see many of our works for some time due to the publishing schedule. Learn what you can from every single book you pick up.
·         I encourage you to visit our website as a way to familiarize yourself with our clients and their writing The new and improved website should be up no later than Monday, September 22, 2014. It’s been such a wonderful journey!
·         Upcoming Fact: our Kenley Conrad’s HOLLY HEARTS HOLLYWOOD will be released Tuesday, September 23, 2014 via Swoon an imprint of Month9 Books.
5.      FAVORITE BOOKS: What were some of your favorite books as a child, and what are your current kid lit favorites (other than the ones you represent J)?

I read everything from Louis L ‘Amour to Zane Grey, Sports Afield and Boys’ Life. I still adore The Velveteen Rabbit, Little House on the Prairie, and Black Beauty.
Current favorites:
-         Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, 2013)
-         The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HC, 2012)
-         Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (Egmont, 2012)
-         Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker (Chronicle Books, 2011)
-          And the list goes on and on!

Helen Lester’s TACKY THE PENGUIN and A PORCUPINE NAMED FLUFFY still make me giggle. I still love Jerdine Nolan’s HARVEY POTTER’S BALLOON FARM, Robert Munsch’s I’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER, and ROTTERS by Daniel Kraus are all favorites at this very moment. Ask me in ten minutes as my list will change.  

6.      What’s on your wish list of future projects to represent?

Three words: unforgettable, empowering and unexpected. If I can find works that make me laugh out loud, that’s even better.

7.      What can you tell us about the state of the publishing industry?

It has yet to bore me.

8.     How does the answer above influence you as an agent?

I am easily distracted.

9.      Like I said, a special benefit of the Letters and Lines Conference is attendees walk away knowing the faculty on a more personal level. One fun fact about Terrie is that she knows sign language and has served as an interpreter for the Deaf and Blind School in Colorado Springs (cool!!). What’s another fun fact you’re willing to reveal?

I have a piano in my office.

10.  THE MEAT AND POTATOES: What’s the final word of advice that you would like writers to walk away with?

Be the writer your characters know you are. Be kind, be loving and allow everyone around you to see your need for a place like this one.

Thank you Terrie Wolf! I look forward to meeting you in September.

The pleasure is mine, really.

Writers who would like to query Terrie Wolf should email the query and the first ten pages of the manuscript (or full manuscript for picture books) in the body of the email (no attachements, please!) to  aka@akaliterary.com. The AKA Literary website is being updated (due to be ready next week!), and Terrie will soon provide that address link so you can learn more. In the mean time, follow her on Twitter at @AKA_Terrie. Bonus piece of advice: it’s Terrie, not Terry. It’s Ms., not Mr. J

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So You Want to Write or Illustrate Children's Books and Magazines

Illustration by Roberta Collier-Morales

SCBWI Colorado and Wyoming (Rocky Mountain Region) will host the annual Letters and Lines Conference

Conference for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

WHEN:  Sept 20-21, 2014.

Where:   Marriott Denver West
1717 Denver West Blvd - Golden, CO

Who:  This conference for those interested in children's book publishing serves both BEGINNER and EXPERT. Whether you simply dream of writing or illustrating, or you're actively pursuing a career, this conference is for you. It will help you make connections, learn from classes, and get you positioned for next-steps. Here you'll meet editors, agents, award-winning authors and illustrators ; you’ll actually connect on a personal level because the RMC SCBWI offers an intimate conference experience. Stop mulling over “wouldn’t it be great…” and launch your aspirations into action today! Learn or Pitch or Connect or Polish--it's up to you. There is something for everyone. Beginners feel included and find this conference a nice way to break-into the industry, while experts find sessions and get ideas to help polish their pieces.

If you’re actively writing or illustrating (or both!), there is also an opportunity for you to participate in a critique-connect session with peers…perhaps you’ll find your future critiquing group, or perhaps you’ll get a fresh perspective. Feeling shy…no problem, you’re also welcome to sit in and see how critiques with peers works.    

This year’s faculty features three editors, two literary agents, and several award-winning authors and illustrators.

Confirmed featured faculty:
Salina Yoon, Author/Illustrator
Terrie Wolf, AKA Literary
Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary
Carter Hasegawa, Candlewick Press
Lanie Davis, Alloy Entertainment
Sarah Miller, Sleeping Bear Press
And others! For full faculty listing and bios please click here: FACULTY

SAMPLING: Below please take a glimpse at some of the many sessions available during this year’s conference. For the full schedule please click here: SCHEDULE:

A brief glimpse is listed below:
·       Creating the Buzz-Worthy Novel-Donna Cooner
·       Children’s Publishing 101-Lindsay Eland
·       From Pages to PR: What a Literary Publicist Offers-Jen Hailligan
·       Crafting Picture Books for Illustrators-Salina Yoon…also Illustrating a concept picture book with Salina Yoon
·       Writing for the Children’s Magazine Market-Cheryl Reifsnyder
·       Creating Picture Book Hooks and Endings- Sarah Miller
·       Narrative Non-fiction-creating the award winner-Carter Hasegawa
·       The Magic of Motivation-Jeannie Mobley
·       First pages
·       And more!!!

HOW TO ENROLL: *Update* you can register on September 20th at 7:45 am or on September 21 at 8:15 am at the Marriott Denver West, 1717 Denver West Boulevard, Golden CO 80401
Cash or credit cards only, please.

For details about the event visit our web page: https://rmc.scbwi.org/events/2014-letters-lines/


Saturday and Sunday Registration: $290 non member or $240 SCBWI Member Price*
Saturday ONLY Registration: $235 non-member or $185*SCBWI Member Price 
Sunday ONLY Registration: $175 non-member or $125*SCBWI Member Price *

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ninja Moves for a Successful Book Launch

Todd Tuell, author of the action-packed picture book NINJA NINJA NEVER STOP (Abrams, April 2014 ), entertained dozens of kids at his book launch which was held at that Maime Doud Eisenhower Public Library in Broomfield, Colorado on April 27, 2014. Kids laughed, danced, chopped, made crafts, played games, ate ninja-lato, and bought books! It was one of the most successful and exciting book launch parties I’ve ever seen.

Perhaps Todd has a jump in the fun-department, since he has previous experience as a preschool teacher. Whatever his source of ninja moves and magic, kids love his book! Of course they do—it’s fun, and colorful, and invites the mind to journey on a clever path full of possibilities. Kirkus reviews says of NINJA NINJA NEVER STOP, "bright primary hues add energetic yet retro feel to carpenters illustrations a good choice for mischievous preschoolers with an interest in martial arts.” 

K: Hi, Todd! Thanks for agreeing to an interview. Congratulations on a fun and fantastic story. Without a doubt NINJA NINJA NEVER STOP is a hit! I understand you've already done several school visits as well as your book launch party. What went into your decision-making for planning your launch and the school visits?
Thank you so much, Kim, for this opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned with your readers.

The first thing that went into planning was to look at my book launch as something bigger than an individual event. This was great advice I got from my agent, Rubin Pfeffer. For that, I’ve focused on creating some resources to get kids excited about the book, about reading and all the fun of being a ninja. By putting all of this together, I can generate some buzz by helping anyone around the country host a fun ninja event in places I can’t physically attend. Now that I’ve put these elements together and tested them out with my own events, I can distribute them as an online resource kit. You can look for these on my website in the coming weeks.

It’s also been important to me to share the experience with those parts of my life that have been so important. So for my initial events, I approached my children’s elementary teachers and our local library, practically our second home. These teachers and librarians have been such a big part of our family and even my writing career. It was only natural to include them.

K: How do the plans you make for school visit differ from what you prepare for bookstore or library appearances?
With a school visit there is inherent structure and elements of decorum. The expected classroom behavior is understood and generally accepted by the children in the classroom. In that environment, the kids know how to move from one activity to another. Additionally, your host in the school, either the teacher or librarian you are working with, generally has the hope that you’ll bring some type of academically driven activity to extend what they’ve been doing in the classroom. The one thing to remember is that you’ll probably only have the teacher with you in the classroom to help with activities. Make sure that the individual activities you bring such as writing exercises can be self-directed by the children.

A library is much different. It’s a different environment than school, so kids don’t always understand the rules. Develop a schedule but be ready to adjust. Your audience can range widely in age, so you’ll need to develop appropriate activities to engage everyone’s interest. One great thing about a library event is that parents and other adults will often stay. This makes it easier to break out into stations so a parent and child can explore a bit more independently. Do try to have friends and family available to help at each activity. Finally, you also have to allow for families to come and go as they need.

K: What do you think are the three most important elements for a successful school visit or book launch, especially for authors who write picture books?
1.    The most important thing is to extend your book beyond its pages. Engage the kids with activities that enhance the book experience. Many books are fun for these kids, but you want to make yours stand out with an outstanding experience.
2.    It really helps make the event successful when you have a champion at the venue, that teacher or librarian who is just as invested as you in making it a fun and memorable experience for the audience.
3.    Learn from each experience for the next. You’ll see early on how long the kids’ attention span lasts, what’s working for an age group, and more importantly what’s not. After an event, always ask for suggestions to make it better. Teachers can pinpoint subtle things that can make a huge difference because they know these kids so well.

K: At your book launch, you had various fun station set up for kids --a haiku writing station, Ninja mask making and painting station, and a cardboard ninja star throwing game (fun!!) What advice do you have for authors regarding crafts and games?
There were certainly some lessons learned. I was a little overambitious on the mask making with paints and markers. I’d suggest always going simple. The kids got too focused on decorating their masks and didn’t always get to experience the other activities (plus it makes for a tougher cleanup).

Have lots of help. Family and writer friends love to celebrate in the launch and jump in to help lead an activity. This frees you as the author to spend some time individually with your young fans. Make sure to do that. Ask and answer as many questions. You should make these kids as important to the event as the book and the activities.

K: And how did you come up with the fabulous ideas for your crafts? Furthermore, how many arts and crafts stations or game stations do you think are important for a book launch?
Does this answer change for school visits?
I think the number of activities isn’t as important as making sure what you do have planned is safe, engaging and somehow relate to your book. That said, a bigger event should have variety especially if you expect children of varying ages and abilities. You should have some activities that are self-driven by the kids and others where they are challenged but guided by a helper or parent. One easy thing is to have plenty of activity sheets. These are things they can take home, so always brand them with your book and contact information.

Most of my ideas came from parenting blogs. You can find craft and activity ideas on most any theme. Also invite your kids or kids in your target audience to weigh in with ideas. Don’t forget to ask the host at your event venue, too.  They know specifics about what NOT to include in a program.

The crafts and activities you choose absolutely depend on the type of launch event. It’s dependent on the age range, the wider the range, the more offerings you should have.

Schools are different. You’ll definitely be limited on the number and type of activities because you’ll be the primary one leading them. Answering questions and helping 20+ kids can be much tougher. Have samples and prompts prepared if you are doing some type of writing exercise and do one as a class together so they get the idea.

K: Todd, I love the song and lyrics you created, and so did the kids. There was lots of laughter when they danced to What Would a Ninja Do. How can other authors go about creating their own music?
Involving music and movement is ideal for a book event. It’s a fun way to engage the kids because you are involving so many senses. If you have an idea and want to pursue it, definitely do it.

It’s great that there are so many people who love music from high school and college music students to people who play in the band at a local church. I have no skill when it comes to music, so I reached out to a guy I’d heard sing many times. I told him what I was looking for, and was delighted that he was so excited for a fun project. So don’t be surprised who might lend their talents.

K: Regarding time management, how much time do you allot to each component of your presentation to kids?
It’s amazing how the time for your visits will go by so fast. I think you are wise to keep each activity to about 7 to 10 minutes. Otherwise, you can start to loose kids. Alternate your activities between ‘quiet’ ones and active ones. I’d also typically advise starting with group activities then moving towards the independent ones to conclude.

I noticed that you engaged the kids in a question and answer session throughout the presentation. Smart idea! It kept the kids on their toes and drawn to your presentation. What other gems of advice do you offer authors to make the visit successful?
Forget that the day is ‘your day’ or a day about your book. Make it all about the kids’ experience. The book is just a small part of that, but it will be memorable if you’ve made they time fun.

What process did you go through with the library to set up your book launch?
For writers, your librarians should become your best friends. I spend so much time there with my kids already and was lucky when the time came around for my book to launch, to have a champion in my home library. Having that support can make an event so successful and now be able to use her as a reference to get into other libraries with this program.

It’s a matter of first, asking if you can provide a program. But be prepared when you make a contact at your library. Show that you are professional with a full plan for the event and by explaining how it all ties together as more than a simple reading if you are asking for support for a launch event.

Finally, be open to suggestions and change. Most libraries are quite experienced now with wonderful summer reading programs to have great tie-in ideas. Just listen.

What process have you gone through to set up your school visits?
You should start now making friends with your own kids’ teachers and librarians or those in your neighborhood.  As a debut author, I did not have any reference visits to point to when asking to be a visiting author. So I determined to avoid the red tape by approaching the administrators of schools. I went straight to classroom teachers and librarians that I knew. I was prepared with what I could bring and how that might extend what the kids were doing in class.

I wanted to build up my experience as a classroom presenter, so initially I have not asked for a visit fee. That’s a great way to get a foot in the door. Most teachers will jump at a chance to bring in an author to speak to kids. If you’re charging little or nothing to speak, they’ll be happy to generate some buzz with parents and send pre-order forms home with kids in advance of your visit. The kids take home a flyer so they are anticipating something cool is coming up. They are ready and looking forward to the event. Create the order form and email it to your teachers. Make it easy for them to sell your book and kids’ parents to buy it.

What’s the best parting advice you can give us about creating a successful book launch event?

It’s all about preparation. With the agent advice I mentioned earlier, I say spend time on creating and testing out activity ideas that enhance your story and make the entire event memorable. These are things you’ll be able to use again and again once you’ve got them in your pocket.

The best thing I did was to get into a smaller environment first to learn some lessons. I suggest you incorporate as many senses as possible, especially movement. There is so much research indicating how cross-body movements create cross-brain activity and connectivity in children.

Thank you so much for your time, Todd!

If you would like to set up a virtual visit or live with Todd, please visit his blog at:  http://www.toddtuell.com/

Todd Tuell is the co-regional adviser to the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). NINJA NINJA NEVER STOP is his debut book.

If you are in the Denver area and would like to bring your child to Todd’s next event, please join him at Tattered Cover Book Store in Highlands Ranch at 10:30am.
Location: 9315 Dorchester Street in the new Highlands Ranch Town Center on Highlands Ranch Parkway between Broadway and Lucent Boulevards. A parking lot is conveniently located in the front of the store. The zipcode is 80129.

Or you can find him at Barnes and Noble in Boulder in June, 2999 Pearl Street, Boulder CO 80301


MG/YA Author Panel

Wednesday, May 14th, 6:30p.m.
Tattered Cover Colfax, Denver
Join Melanie Crowder, Lindsay Eland, Claudia Mills, Ellen Mahoney, Christine Liu-Perkins and Barbara Wright as they present their recently published novels and participate in a panel Q&A. There will be door prizes and a drawing for a Young Author manuscript critique!

Picture Book Group Story Time
Saturday, May 17th, 10:30a.m.
Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch
Celebrate the beauty and wonder of picture books written by Libby Martinez, Jean Reidy, Todd Tuell and Nicole Weaver. There will be readings by each author as well as door prizes and fun activities for all attendees!

Children's Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading.
Established in 1919, Children's Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes -- wherever young readers and books connect! 
Children's Book Week is administered by Every Child A Reader, a 501(c)(3) literacy organization dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. The Children's Book Council, the national non-profit trade association for children's book publishers, is an anchor sponsor.
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