WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
JEANETTE BRADLEY, KEILA DAWSON, LINDSAY METCALF
A super trifecta – triple the awesomeness – I’m so honored to present these three talented women who will be sharing their insights and inspiring all of us today. Their newest book, NO VOICE TOO SMALL, was our Perfect Picture Book Friday pick yesterday. Let’s find out a bit about each of them first.
Jeanette Bradley has been an urban planner, an apprentice pastry chef, and the artist-in-residence for a traveling art museum on a train. Her debut picture book LOVE, MAMA was published by Roaring Brook Press in 2018. It contains no cities, pastries, or trains, but was made with lots of love. She is also co-editor and illustrator of the forthcoming anthology NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY (Charlesbridge, 2020) and illustrator of WHEN THE BABIES CAME TO STAY (Viking, 2020). Jeanette lives in Rhode Island with her wife and kids. Jeanette is represented by Emily Mitchell of Wernick & Pratt. Follow her on Twitter @JeanetteBradley and on instagram @jea_bradley.
Keila V. Dawson worked as a community organizer, teacher, school administrator, educational consultant, and advocate for children with special needs before she became a children’s book author. She is co-editor of NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY, along with Lindsay H. Metcalf and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley (Charlesbridge, September 22, 2020). Dawson is the author of THE KING CAKE BABY, illustrated by Vernon Smith (Pelican 2015)andthe forthcoming OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK, illustrated by Alleanna Harris (Beaming Books, January 26, 2021). She is a New Orleans native, has lived and worked in the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Website: www.keiladawson.com Twitter: @keila_dawson Instagram: @keilavdawson Pinterest: pinterest.com/keiladawson/ Flipgrid: https://flipgrid.com/novoicetoosmall/
Lindsay H. Metcalf is a journalist and author of nonfiction picture books: Beatrix Potter, Scientist, illustrated by Junyi Wu (Albert Whitman & Company, 2020); Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices (Calkins Creek, 2020); and No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, a poetry anthology co-edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley (Charlesbridge, 2020). Lindsay lives in north-central Kansas, not far from the farm where she grew up, with her husband, two sons, and a variety of pets. You can reach her at lindsayhmetcalf.com or @lindsayhmetcalf on Twitter and Instagram.
Do you see what powerhouses these women are? And why I’m so excited to have them all here today? HELLO, HELLO, HELLO! Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar. I really appreciate you all stopping by. I know everyone is excited to hear what you have to say, so let’s get right to it!
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
Jeanette: I loved Mary Bair, especially THE COLOR KITTENS, which I read until the binding fell off of my Little Golden Book. Arnold Lobel has also had a big influence on my aesthetic. There was something about that tiny house in MISS SUZY that was so appealing to me that I used to just stare at those drawings and imagine I lived there. I think it shows up in my work.
Keila: I have fond memories of nursery rhymes and fairytales, but no particular authors come to mind. As a young reader, I liked HIGHLIGHTS magazines and when older I loved the humor and satire of MAD Magazine. I grew up in the era of Dick and Jane. I can still hear my mother’s voice when practicing a school reading assignment and she’d say, “Those words aren’t on the page.” I think I’ve been creating stories in my head for a long time.
I remember when the Nancy Drew books were popular, but I was an active outdoorsy kid and preferred having my own adventures rather than reading about them.
Lindsay: I remember loving picture-book series. The Berenstain Bears (Stan & Jan Berenstain), Little Critter (Mercer Mayer), and the Little Miss and Mr. Men books (Roger Hargreaves). For the latter, I had many of them on tape and would sit for hours listening through my giant headphones and kiddie tape deck. I can still hear the music that would play when it was time for a page turn. I learned to read at age 4 by listening to those tapes. Even though I write mostly nonfiction now, I almost never read it as a kid—unless you count the newspaper. Which I guess you should, since I grew up to be a journalist.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing/illustrate?
Jeanette: There will always be people whose work you love and wish your work looked more like theirs. Don’t try that. Just be you, making the marks on the page that only your hand can make.
Keila: That it’s important to learn all you can about making connections, networking, and marketing before your first book sells so you will have time to focus on writing your next book.
Lindsay: That not every project will sell, and that’s OK. Each manuscript is a learning experience with its own challenges that sculpt you into a better writer.
ME: Where do you like to write/illustrate – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
Jeanette: I create whenever and wherever I can find the time. Sometimes that means I’m drawing on my iPad on the sidelines of a field hockey tournament. Other times it means locking myself in my basement studio with a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
Keila: I turned my solarium into an office and use a laptop, but I often work in my kitchen where I act as concierge to my cat and dog.
Lindsay: On my porch swing with my laptop. Our porch overlooks a quiet street corner, and all the backyard critters are my must. I get to hear the breeze blow through the leaves, the crickets, the cicadas… I can watch the squirrels play chase and hear the Mississippi kites with their haunting cry. Nature is my muse.
ME: When do you write/illustrate – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
Keila: My muse is a night owl! I do my best thinking while writing. And sometimes when dozing off to sleep or waking. I do my best revision work in the shower!
Lindsay: I think best during a specific window between morning coffee and lunchtime. Trouble is, that’s when my kids need help with online school! After lunch, I crash for a couple hours and struggle to put together a thought. Late afternoons are for marketing tasks, errands, and chores. So I find myself often writing and working on the weekends when my husband can take care of the day-to-day.
ME: Why do you write or illustrate for children?
Jeanette: In college I studied ceramics, and I was drawn to an aesthetic of deceptively simple appearing art that is called wabi-sabi in Japan. It is a philosophy of beauty that embraces imperfection and strives for simplicity, and yet is the hardest thing to do well. So of course writing and illustrating picture books would appeal to me!
Also, I love multimedia art, and picture books are meant to be read aloud. They are in a way, a performance on a very intimate stage. When creating with words or pictures, I am always thinking about the interaction of three art forms: visual art, literature and theatre. Even when I am just illustrating a book, I think about it as both a series of 2D images and as an interactive, 3D sculpture.
Keila: As a writer, I want to introduce children to people and places they may not have ever imagined. When I learn something that isn’t in a book for kids, I want to write about it so children can be better informed. I write for kids because I believe learning about and from one another is the key to understanding the one world we share.
Lindsay: Because I want to help make the world a better place, and children are wide open to new ideas and excited about joining in the same mission.
ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers and/or illustrators, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.
Jeanette: My advice for aspiring writers and illustrators is the same: find a critique group! You can’t grow in isolation.
Keila: Writers often hear read, read, read. I think it’s important to read the whole wide world. And for parents and educators – take Kwame Alexander’s advice, “If you want your kids to imagine a better world, the books on your shelves should reflect that.”
Lindsay: My advice for teachers, parents and children is that reading is reading is reading. Let kids choose what they read—whether it’s the same comic book 109 times in a row, the Jeep manual, or a book that features a main character of a different gender. Putting young readers in boxes for reading levels or asking them to take a quiz after they read sucks away the joy and discourages them from becoming lifelong learners.
ME: WOW! A tremendously helpful trifecta of insights and information, for sure. Thank you so very much, Jeanette, Keila, and Lindsay! Thank you also for the generous giveaway…I know there will be LOTS of interaction for this post because every comment and every social media share is another ticket in the giveaway hat…and everyone is panting to have a copy of this book! Plus, thank you for sharing a favorite recipe,.which is coming up in three, two, one…take it away, Keila!
Keila: Do you want to host a post pandemic protest planning potluck party? I made this dish when hosting a Get Out The Vote event. And it was a hit! And I’ve included an invitation template also.
New Orleans Crock-Pot Red Beans & Rice
1 lb. Camellia red beans
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ green bell pepper
2 bay leaves
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon thyme
1 medium-sized ham hock
½ lb. ham
½ lb. beef smoked sausage
½ 1b. hot sausage
¼ cup butter (4 tablespoons)
1 4 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups long grain white rice, cooked
- Put beans in a large bowl, cover with 2 inches of water, and soak overnight.
- The next day, drain remaining water from beans, rinse. Put the beans in a Crock-Pot; fill with water about 2 inches from the top. Add meat and all fresh and dried seasoning except garlic.
- Cut yellow onion, garlic, and green bell pepper. Slice sausages and ham into bite-sized pieces.
- Cook on low for about 6-8 hours or until beans are soft and easy to mash. Mash about a third of them on the side of the crock-pot with a large spoon to create a creamy gravy.
- Add butter, tomato sauce, and garlic. Cook for another 30 minutes.
And here’s a template for an invitation to a Post Pandemic Protest Planning Potluck. What will you be speaking out about? And what dish will you bring?
I hope everyone has a beautiful weekend. It’s Rosh Hashanah for those who celebrate…a New Year…a new beginning…but honestly, I think we all need those wishes for a Good and Sweet Year.