Perfect Picture Book Friday: MAYA’S TREASURE Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. Back in 2020, one of our Will Write for Cookies guests was the lovely Laurie Smollett Kutscera. Her wonderful MG chapter book, ADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON, had just been published. And now, I’m thrilled to feature her debut picture book, MAYA’S TREASURE. Congratulations, Laurie! The book is amazing!

Written and illustrated by Laurie Smollett Kutscera – Published by Peter Pauper Press

MAYA’S TREASURE

Written and Illustrated by Laurie Smollett Kutscera

Published by Peter Pauper Press (2021)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Family, SEL, creativity

Synopsis: From the Amazon Sales Page:
Keeping close the words and memories of her grandmother, a young girl is determined to craft a treasure from cast-off bits of shell in this beautiful picture book.

  • Each morning when the sun rises, Maya and her sister, Alita, go to the shore to collect the beautiful seashells the waves wash up on the beach overnight.
  • The sisters scrub their finds until they sparkle like stars, then string them together to make beautiful jewelry they can sell to the people in their island village.
  • When Alita discards shells she deems too broken or ugly, Maya rescues them and remembers the words of her grandmother: ”Even the tiniest nub can be quite beautiful. You just have to find the magic in it.”
  • But can Maya turn the cast-off shells into something truly special?
  • Vibrant full-color pastel illustrations throughout evoke magic and memory.
  • By the illustrator of ”Ravita and the Land of Unknown Shadows” and the author/illustrator of ”Misadventures of a Magician’s Son.

WHY I LOVE THIS BOOK:
1. I remember loving Peter Pauper Press editions years ago and I’m so glad they are still making beautiful books – Laurie, the author/illustrator did a magical job with the illustrations!
2. I love the intergenerational aspect of the story!
3. I love that the main character stays true to herself and finds beauty in imperfection!

As Laurie and I were chatting about this post, I asked her if there were any special moments that happened on her path to publication. I was blown away by several things that she said…and I’m soo thrilled that she stopped by today to share them with all of you.
ME: WELCOME, LAURIE!

LAURIE: Thank you so much, Vivian. It’s a pleasure to be here.

While we all hope our journey to publication is as effortless as our dreams, mine was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. Just before Peter Pauper Press contacted me with an offer of publication, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. By the time the contract was signed I had a lumpectomy and was scheduled for radiation treatments. I began work on the pastel paintings at the same time the treatments were taking place, but by the 2nd week of treatment, I had 2nd degree burns along my right side under my arm. Here, I had FINALLY found a home for Maya, and now I couldn’t raise my arm to draw! With the deadline drawing near, I was in a panic. I gave myself a few days to heal, then slathered myself in ointment, made myself a Tylenol cocktail and got back to work. I didn’t stop until all the illustrations were completed. 


When Peter Pauper finished laying Maya’s Treasure out, they sent me a pdf for my approval. I almost had a heart attack! In my rush to make the deadline, I had forgotten to add the string holding up the chimes! The chimes were floating below the branch and no one noticed it! Thank goodness it hadn’t gone to press. At the last minute, I was able to add a crucial detail. Moral of the story…stress gets you no where!

I also want to share where I got some of my inspiration and encouragement from. About 7 years ago, my husband gave me a lovely book to encouraging me through the challenges we’ve all experienced trying to get published. It’s called Reaching For The Stars. Everyday, I would go in my studio and work on Maya’s Treasure hoping one day it would find the perfect home. I’d pick up this sweet little book and read a few inspirational quotes to help me stay positive. Below are a few inspirational quotes that helped keep me going when I had my doubts. That little book, as it turns out, was published by Peter Pauper Press!  

And the last thing I want to share is that you never know what opportunity will come along that will encourage you to write a story that will become a book. Last April, when I was one of the 50 Precious Word winners, I won a critique and choose Tina Cho. She gave me some small but important suggestions on editing the text. Just a few nuggets that really added the final polish before I submitted the dummy to PPP. So thank you for that!!!

ME: WOW…that’s fabulous, Laurie. Tina is one of my long-time critique buddies and she gives fabulous feedback! I’m so happy you participated in #50PreciousWords…and won the opportunity to get her thoughts on your manuscript. As you mentioned…you never know where the steps you take will lead you. But the important thing is…to take the steps!!!!

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Photo courtesy: https://www.kidslovewhat.com/28-seashell-crafts-for-kids-to-make-this-summer/

WOW…summer is over here in New England, but there are plenty of kids who are living near shorelines where you can go walking along the beach on a sunny autumn day to collect shells. And, if you live where it is warm all year long and you are near a place where shells abound, I hope you go for it. If getting out to a shell-gathering spot is impossible, you can purchase bags of shells. And I guarantee you will want to when you see the awesome shell crafts here: https://www.kidslovewhat.com/28-seashell-crafts-for-kids-to-make-this-summer/

And we are so lucky because the talented Laurie and her publisher are offering a copy of this beautiful book as a giveaway – all you need to do is leave a comment below…can you share what your special treasure was when you were a child? And, if you post the blog link on your social media, you get extra tickets in the giveaway hat.

Please remember that the best way to thank an author for a book you love is to buy the book, review the book, tell friends about it, and ask your local library to purchase copies of it.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Stay safe and well.

45 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: MAYA’S TREASURE Plus Giveaway

  1. I’m so glad you were able to finish your illustrations, Laurie. Breast cancer has been part of my journey, too. I think surviving gives us more determination to follow our dreams. I am so happy for you and your lovely book!

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    • Hi Deborah,
      Thank you for your kind words, and you are so right! There’s a fervent inner strength that seems to be in charge now! I hope you’re doing well!

      Like

    • Hi Deborah,
      Thank you for your kind words and Yes! You are right. My determination is palpable these days. I hope you’re doing well!

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  2. What a beautiful story to tell. Laurie’s book will truly inspire individuals (both young and old) to see the beauty in these “treasures” from the ocean. When I was younger I found an arrow head in a creek bed (which I still have) and consider it one of my treasures. As I got older, my dream was to go someplace where I could collect shells . . . what an experience that has been. I’m now surrounded by treasures and have made lifelong memories. Wishing Laurie much success with her debut picture book! Thank for for this lovely interview.

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    • Thank you Linda!
      Wow! What an incredible adventure you’ve been on. Maybe we’ll run into each other one day. Nothing is more delightful than walking along the shore collecting treasures. Your memories are a gift!

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  3. What a beautiful book! Thanks for sharing your story with us, Laurie. Congratulations on this lovely book. I love the beach! I collected books about horses and horse figures. I still have some of those treasures. 🙂

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  4. What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing your book journey, Laurie. I live near the coast of Long Island NY and have quite a collection of rocks, shells, nubs that I feel are beautiful. Best of luck with Maya’s Treasure! I will tweet the good new of your book!

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  5. What a charming book for kids. My great niece who lives along the east coast, will certainly enjoy this book. Gorgeous artwork and a special message. Enjoyed the interview with Laurie and loved the inspiration book her husband gave her. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Thank you Patricia! I’m so glad you liked the artwork for Maya’s Treasure. Living on the east coast, I’ll bet your great niece has a lovely collection of shells! I just finished making shell chimes to share with students. That would be a fun project for her too!

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  6. I love the beautiful, soft illustrations in this sweet picture book. Laurie, it is amazing what a person can do through determination. As a child I collected shells when my family visited the beach and I loved discovering “pretty rocks” on my walks to school. Now I collect picture books.

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    • Hi Pamela, Im so happy to hear that you like the illustrations. And yes, Maya and I both found determination to be the key! Those pretty rocks you collected are filled with memories, aren’t they? I’ll bet your picture book collection is equally so. Good for you!

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  7. Not only a BEAUTIFUL book, but a poignant story on what you endured while writing/illustrating. Congratulations, Laurie! Sending “good health” wishes your way.

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    • Hi Danielle,
      Thank you for your kind words and for sharing Maya’s Treasure on Tumblr! You never fall out of love with collecting shells and rocks! I’ll bet Clover thought YOU were a treasure too!

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  8. Looks like a sweet story and the illustrations are lovely. My grandmother passed away when I was just six but some of the few memories I have of her are all about her imaginative and creative ways. My treasures as a child were things I found around the farm that I could make something out of. Thanks for sharing these words.
    Theresa Anacker Wohlers

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  9. What an inspiring story! I’m a beachcomber and collector of shells & smooth rocks since childhood. We even purchased a coffee table & side table topped by river rocks (probably not the smartest purchases for a serial mover, but we love them!). Wishing you continued success & good health!

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  10. This interview is so inspirational! Reaching for the Stars Every Day. Yes, that’s what it feels like we’re doing in this creative industry. Congrats on making it through cancer treatment to shepherd this book to publication!

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  11. I am so sorry to hear about your health issues while trying to finish this beautiful book. It makes it he book all the more special. My latest pb manuscript deals with memories of my grandmother as well. Congratulations

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    • Thank you for your kind words Meredith. I’m actually grateful that I had a deadline. It kept me from obsessing about the idea of having cancer. I’m great now. Good luck with your manuscript , it sounds like a lovely story!

      Like

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