WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
ANNETTE BAY PIMEMTEL
One of my favorite things to do is to check out the blogs of authors, illustrators, and educators…I always find amazing resources and amazing people! Last year, when I hopped over to our guest’s website, I fell in love with her books and with her mission to bring history alive for young children.
Last year, Mountain Chef (Charlesbridge, 2016) which next month will be awarded the National Council of Social Studies’ Carter G. Woodson Award. Here’s the link. Next year, Girl Running (Nancy Paulsen: 2018), and the year after that, Ann Brooks Goes West (with her piano) (Nancy Paulsen: 2019)…I hope Annette never stops!
Welcome, Annette! Thanks so much for stopping by to chat. I know my readers are excited to hear more about your writing journey.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
ANNETTE: My first grade teacher read us the new Richard Scarry Busytown mysteries (oh how I age myself!) and I was totally entranced by his vision of a town filled with all sorts of different creatures with different backstories and different motivations that could be uncovered. Obviously his story was fiction, but in some ways it seemed more true to the multi-cultural city I lived in than the Sally, Dick, and Jane books that were our usual fare.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
ANNETTE: I wish I’d known that—at least so far!—I would never discover the secret that would make it easy. Every project has its own challenges and problems—but also its own pleasures and delights.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
ANNETTE: I write at my treadmill desk. My handwriting is horrible, so I draft on the computer, though I do at least one revision by hand, sometimes with literal scissors and tape.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
ANNETTE: I write during the day while my children are at school.
ME: Why do you write for children?
ANNETTE: I love the magic that happens when artist and writer collaborate, so picture books feel like the most wonderful spot in the publishing world.
ME: Thank you so very much, Annette. And I agree…it is definitely magic when artist and writer meet and create a wonderland for kids! Kind of like a batch of the Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies you gave of the recipe for!
ANNETTE: Here’s a recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies, based on a recipe by Mollie Katzen in her wonderful cookbook, Still Life with Menu. My family desperately wishes I had a photo of them to send you, as they would like to eat them, but no time to bake them up now.
3/4 c. butter
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. peppermit extract
1 1/2 c. white flour
1/4 c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
Bake about 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
To find out more about Annette: email@example.com
Dear friends…thank you for stopping by and spending your precious time with Annette and me. Annette is generously offering a copy of Mountain Chef…so don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. And also don’t forget to leave reviews for your favorite authors on Amazon and Goodreads.
And an update on our visit to Mass General in Boston…Stuart’s cardiac catherization went well…and we should be bringing him home later today!!! Thanks to all who kept us close to their hearts and sent loving thoughts and healing prayers.
Life is pretty hectic around here…my husband has been having heart issues and they are doing a cardiac catherization at Mass General in Boston today…which is where I am right now!
But I didn’t want to miss Perfect Picture Book Friday…especially since the author of this book is going to be our guest on Will Write for Cookies tomorrow. I’m reprising the review of her amazing nonfiction picture book that I featured last year because it’s a fabulous mentor text for all of my pb writer friends, because it’s a great read for young kids, and because next month it will be awarded the National Council of Social Studies’ Carter G. Woodson Award. Here’s the link.
MOUNTAIN CHEF: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook Up the National Park Service
Written by Annette Bay Pimentel
Illustrated by Rich Lo
Publisher: Charlesbridge (2016)
Discrimination, conservation, National Parks, cooking, ingenuity
The true story of a Chinese American mountain man who fed thirty people for ten days in the wilderness–and helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service.
Tie Sing was born in the mountains. The mountains were in his blood. But because he was of Chinese descent at a time in America when to be Chinese meant working in restaurants or laundries, Tie Sing’s prospects were limited. But he had bigger plans. He began cooking for mapmakers and soon built a reputation as the best trail cook in California.
When millionaire Stephen Mather began his quest to create a national park service in 1915, he invited a group of influential men—writers, tycoons, members of Congress, and even a movie star—to go camping in the Sierras. Tie Sing was hired to cook.
Tie Sing planned diligently. He understood the importance of this trip. But when disaster struck—twice—and Tie Sing’s supplies were lost, it was his creative spirit and quick mind that saved the day. His sumptuous menus had to be struck and Tie Sing had to start over in order to feed the thirty people in the group for ten whole days. His skills were tested and Tie Sing rose to the challenge.
On the last night, he fed not just the campers’ bodies, but also their minds, reminding them to remember and protect the mountains.
2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, created by Congress on August 25, 1916.
Today, you can hike to Sing Peak, named for Tie Sing, in Yosemite National Park.
Tie Sing was a frontier baby, born high in the mountains in Virginia City, Nevada. Growing up, he breathed crisp Sierra air and scuffed through sagebrush. He learned to write in both English and Chinese.
Why I like this book:
- I love unknown gems of history uncovered by writers who weave great picture book stories for kids.
- This story has so many different levels…National Parks, racial discrimination, conservation, cooking, ingenuity, courage…parents and teachers can use it as a springboard for many different discussions.
- Wonderful illustrations that help you feel you are camping right alongside Tie Sing.
- Last summer was the 100th anniversary of the National Park System: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial/index.htm
- If you have a National Park in your area, why not plan a day trip. When we lived in Colorado, we often drove 2+ hours to get to Rocky Mountain National Park…in the summer, we’d fish…in the fall, we’d stroll around Estes Park, the town right at one of the park’s entrances, where elk would walk up and down the streets…and in winter, we’d go up for a weekend and stay at one of the local lodges in the park…to snowshoe and cross country ski during the day and soak in the outdoor hot tub in the evening.
- Fortune Cookies
Photo courtesy: Taste of Home
Have you ever made fortune cookies? The kids will have fun thinking up their own fortunes to put in the cookies.
You can find the recipe here: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/homemade-fortune-cookies
Please leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of this wonderful book…and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the Q&A with author Annette Bay Pimentel.
To find more picture book reviews, hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday page.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INFORMATION – INSPIRATION – INSIGHT
JULIE SEGAL WALTERS
This kidlit community is teeming with incredible people and it’s been my honor to get to know many of them. Today’s guest is one of the founders of PicturetheBooks2017, a group of authors and illustrators whose debut picture books are launching this year.
Julie Segal Walters is a children’s book author who lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, son, and pesky cat. Before writing for children, Julie was a lawyer and advocate for civil rights and civil liberties, and an international democracy and civil society development specialist. In those days, she was a frequent writer, public speaker, and commentator on NPR, Court TV, and C-Span on civic engagement and religious liberty. These days, Julie can be found advocating for her many favorite children’s books to anyone who will listen. Julie is fluent in Spanish, and loves to cook, but not bake. She thinks baking has too many rules. This Is Not A Normal Animal Book (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, Fall 2017) is her first picture book (illustrated by Brian Biggs) .
Welcome, Julie! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat!
ME:Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
JULIE: My favorite author as a child was Judy Blume. Like many kids my age, I read and re-read every book she wrote, and grew up along side her characters and their increasingly complex problems. From Sheila to Sally to Margaret to Deenie to Katherine, in my mind, Judy Blume was more friend than admired author. Through her books, she was always there for me. In her writing, she seemed to truly understand me. I’ve carried the appreciation for Judy Blume’s “friendship” with me FOREVER (Ha, ha! See what I did there?). In fact, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to slip her a little thank you note during a book signing event in D.C. Sometimes you just need tell complete strangers how much their work has meant to your life.
ME: Where do you like to write?
JULIE: My absolute most favorite place to write is on an airplane. I don’t know what it is but I have written more — both quantity and quality — on airplanes than in any other single location. I love it! I don’t know whether it’s the white noise, or the lack of internet, or the butt in chair that makes airplanes such a perfect place for me to write. If I could fly somewhere every day (or even every week), I would have many more polished manuscripts indeed! The same is not true for trains, however. Who knows why these things are the way they are.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
JULIE: The “when” of writing for me remains frustratingly unroutinized. For the most part, though, I write during the middle of the day when my son is in school. Although I do love my productivity when I write early in the morning!
ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing?
JULIE: Among the many things I know now that I wish I had known when I first started writing is, when starting out, don’t write with an eye toward publication.
Like so many picture book writers I know, I first began writing picture book texts when my son was young and I yearned to create and memorialize stories for him. The problem was, before I wrote all the stories for my son — the playful food experiences we shared, the book about always loving himself, and all the other “lesson-forward” tales, — I began researching everything I needed to know about writing and publishing for children. I joined SCBWI and attended a conference. I read blogs about page turns and querying agents and editors and leaving room for the illustrator. I got my writing critiqued.
The result? I took the business of writing for children seriously and learned a ton about both the craft of writing and the picture book market. I understood that writing picture books is not a hobby, that first drafts of 2,000 word stories about my young son will not sell, and that writing really means revising — over and over and over. I wrote a marketable story, and sold it relatively quickly. (Note: an experience I have not been able to repeat for subsequent books!) I was extremely fortunate to write and sell my first book, and am thrilled about my upcoming debut.
The other result, though, is that it’s five years later I still haven’t written those important-to-me lesson-forward stories for my son. I still haven’t figured out how to memorialize the playful food experiences we shared that remain an important-to-me memory of our time together, but that he doesn’t remember at all. I haven’t brought myself to take the time to write fiction stories that are not for publication (hopefully). I focused on my publishing pipeline and not on my reason for writing in the first place.
I wish I had known that would happen when I first started writing for children. I wish I had first just written for my child.
ME: Why do you write for children?
JULIE: The books that were important to me as a child remain the most important books in my life, and I’ve rarely if ever had a relationship with a book the same way as an adult. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to create something with the goal that it will find a special place in a child’s life. Whether it’s sharing fun facts, or making kids laugh, or helping them feel connected or seen in the world, everything I write is with an eye toward whether the story will be important to a child. It’s an honor to write for children, and I take my responsibility very serioiusly.
ME: Oh my goodness, Julie. I would love to take your answers and send them to every newbie/wannabe writer…it would save them so much meandering and going around in circles…you’ve laid out a perfect plan of action steps to becoming a serious kidlit writer! And I know you have some thoughts about your book that you’d like to share as well.
JULIE: Thank you, Vivian! It’s a privilege to share my book with you and your readers.
THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK begins as a stroll through different types of animals, but quickly evolves into a disagreement between the author and illustrator over how to draw them, — in particular, the blobfish. Based on a Yiddish proverb, the book is a behind the scenes look at the picture book creation process, the importance of collaboration and compromise in the face of different opinions, and the beauty of both words and art. With a sprinkle of snark. THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK is a commercial story that breaks the fourth wall, while remaining appropriate for classroom use. (It even includes nonfiction back matter!). You can read a review of Julie’s book from PW, and you can pre-order SIGNED books from Politics and Prose, buy it on Amazon, or request it from your favorite bookseller!
(Special note for educators: Visit my website on or after October 31st for a fun and informational teacher’s guide to the book!)
ME: And I’ll add another note for everyone…please please please…go to Amazon or Goodreads or other book sites and let the world know how much you love your favorite books by leaving a review.
And guess what…we are not done yet. Even though Julie says she is not a baker, she is sharing a super recipe for…well, I’ll let her tell you. Take it away, Julie!
Julie’s favorite cookie recipe:
The “Signature Cookie”
About 20 years ago, I was invited to a “bring a special dessert” party. I decided to tackle lemon squares, because I love the combination of sweet and tangy — in food and in life. I spent an entire day cutting butter into flour for the shortbread crust, zesting and squeezing lemons, slowly heating a lemon juice and egg mixture until it was curd but not curdled, and generally becoming irritated by the number rules to follow that caused too many dirty measuring implements and bowls in my apartment kitchen.
About 15 minutes before leaving for the party, I looked at my plate of elegant and delicious lemon squares and felt completely underwhelmed. How could something so high maintenance to bake be so paltry to look at? I decided that I couldn’t show up at the party without something more.
Luckily, I happened to always have a roll of chocolate chip slice-and-bake cookies in the fridge. I quickly grabbed a mini muffin tin, dropped a quartered slice-and-bake cookie into each cup, and popped the tray in the oven. During the 10 minutes it took for the cookies to bake, I peeled the wrappers off 12 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups. When the cookies were done, I pressed a peanut butter cup into each cookie, forming a crust around the candy. Five minutes later, a dozen chocolate glazed peanut butter cookies in a chocolate chip cookie crust sat alongside my divine lemon bars on my lap on the metro.
Do I need to tell what happened next?
My friends flipped for the peanut butter cup cookies! The precious lemon bars sat untouched and alone like me in my lemon chiffon dress at homecoming, while 15 people pleaded for the recipe for the chocolate peanut butter cookies.
I vowed that day that I would never bake anything other than those cookies for the rest of my life, and the signature cookie was born.
The Signature Cookie
Mini muffin tin
Slice-and-Bake chocolate chip cookie (any brand)
Mini peanut butter cups
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Slice the cookie dough loaf into rounds (about 1/2 inch thick), and quarter each round.
Place one quartered dough chunk into each mini muffin tin cup, and put the tin in the oven for 8-12 minutes (checking for cookies to puff up, fill the cup, and brown slightly).
While the cookies bake, unwrap the peanut butter cups.
When the cookies are lightly browned on top, remove from oven.
Immediately insert one peanut butter cup into each cookie, pressing down gently so that cookie forms a crust around the candy.
Allow to cool slightly. Lift cookies out with a knife and cool completely on cooling rack.
Total active time: 15 minutes.
WOW! I can’t wait to try this recipe, Julie! Thank you so very much…for the recipe, for your insights into the writing life, and also, for your VERY generous giveaway of a PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE. Dear readers, we ALL love getting feedback from a pro…so please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…the leaves are coming into their glory in our little corner of New England…and the weather has been quite mild. Indian Summer is one of my favorite times of the year! I’m actually at a Picture Book Writing Intensive led by Charlesbridge editor Karen Boss at the Writer’s Loft in Sherbourne, Massachusetts. Next week, I’ll share a bit of what I learned!