Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. Today’s featured book grabbed my heart…both the words and the art! And you are all in for a huge treat because author Patricia Toht, a long-time kid-lit friend of mine, stopped by to share her path to publication. I know how helpful it is for aspiring authors and multi-published ones to hear about other writing journeys. Plus, Patricia is generously offering a signed copy of TOGETHER WITH YOU to one lucky winner!
TOGETHER WITH YOU
Written by Patricia Toht
Illustrated by Jarvis
Published by Candlewick Press
Themes: Seasons, multigenerational togetherness, rhyming
Synopsis: From Amazon:
From the team that brought us Pick a Pine Tree and Pick a Pumpkin,a big-hearted story about the love between grandparent and grandchild takes us through the seasons.
For one grandmother and grandchild, keeping dry in spring showers is easy when dashing through the drops side by side. In summer they stay cool with a squirt of the hose, then savor frozen treats in the shade. In autumn, snug in sweaters, they fly a kite while leaning into each other against the wind. And winter finds them nestling under blankets, sipping cocoa and watching the snow quietly fall. Narrated as a kind of love letter from a young child to a grandparent, this picture book pairs Patricia Toht’s safe, tender text with gentle art from Jarvis that meets it at every turn. An ideal gift from grandparent to grandchild (or the other way around), this charming story makes it clear that “no matter the weather, whatever we do, every day’s better together with you.”
Why I Love This Book:
1. I love stories that encourage multigenerational interaction!
2. I love rhyming stories that are wonderful read-alouds – this one flows effortlessly!
3. I love books where the art helps you connect with the characters and the story – the illustrations are just beautiful!
Make a Kite
Here’s a great craft activity to do with kids from pre-school age and up…and maybe a grandparent or other relative can be the one to help…please check out the link for detailed instructions: https://everydaychaosandcalm.com/13-kite-crafts-for-preschoolers/
And now, dear friends, as promised, some words from author Patricia Toht:
Together With You is a story about the love between an adult and child throughout the four seasons of a year. But the writing of the story is another tale – one of persistence.
This picture book had its beginning in a poem written for a class I took with Esther Hershenhorn, Chicago author and writing coach. The poem captured a winter night’s moment between parent and child. It was eight lines long and 69 words. The date on my first draft was September 2004.
Esther was encouraging in her comments. “I think there might be more here,” she suggested.
I developed the poem further, expanding it to 20 lines and 95 words. The poem still focused on the winter night, but also included a summary about how special it is to spend time together with people you love.
Esther encouraged again. “There may be even more here,” she said.
The class wrapped up, but every so often I pulled out the poem again. Was there enough to make it a book? Not yet, I decided. The story didn’t have enough illustration potential for a 32-page book. The arc was very small – early evening to bedtime. The poem needed more.
One strength of the poem was its focus on sensory details. What sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches happened in the winter? I added more. But the poem still felt too restricted by the parameter of “winter”.
I decided to expand the scope to all four seasons, and that’s when the poem bloomed into a book. A refrain at the end of each season fell into place. The ending expanded to two stanzas.
My first submission in 2005 nearly resulted in a sale. But the publisher felt the age group skewed a bit young for their audience. More submissions followed with many kind words in response, but no takers. I put it aside.
In 2010, our family moved to the UK. I retrieved Together With You from mothballs and submitted to a UK publisher in 2012. Another near sale.
I signed with a fabulous agent in the UK, and we had success selling some picture books. Two of those teamed me up with illustrator Jarvis, whose gentle, nostalgic illustrations pair well with my verse.
By this time, I had aged from parent to grandparent. I considered the manuscript again through this new lens. Surprisingly, making the change from parent to grandparent would require NO change in text, just a new description in the submission letter!
In 2018, Walker Children’s Books in the UK bought Together With You and again contracted Jarvis’ beautiful illustrations. This month, on February 13, it releases here in the US.
What have I learned on the 19-year journey of this book? Learn your craft. Find critique partners you trust. It’s okay to shed tears of disappointment. Let manuscripts rest. Try looking at them through different lenses. But above all, DON’T GIVE UP!
WOW! YES! Persistence! And Patience! And the willingness to Prepare (take classes, listen to mentors, get feedback from critique partners) and Practice (revise and revise and revise). And of course, the Passion to want to see that story connect with young readers! Congratulations, Patty…I’m so very proud of you – and grateful to you for sharing this wonderful path to publication.
To find out more about Patricia and her books: https://www.patriciatoht.com/
And to connect with her on social media:
And if you’d like to have a chance to win a SIGNED COPY of TOGETHER WITH YOU, please make sure to leave a comment (maybe you can tell us what activities you enjoyed doing with a grandparent or other older relative)…and please share on your social media for extra tickets in the giveaway hat.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! My son and daughter and son-in-law are taking me to dinner and to see the Fab Four tonight at a venue in Massachusetts to celebrate my birthday.
I love the idea of looking at an “aging” story through a different lens. The book looks beautiful. Congratulations! And Happy Birthday, Vivian 🙂
Congratulations! I love to read story’s about an author’s journey to publication! There is hope for me. I would love this intergenerational story — so important for kids and grandparents.
Congratulations Patty! I am blessed to have 3 grandchildren and love spending time with them. I look forward to sharing this book with my grandkids. I have fond memories of my Grandma and Great Aunt coming over most weekends to help my Mom with us 4 kids.
Congrats, Patricia! Grandparents are such special people in young lives. I have wonderful memories of both my grandmothers, who were very different but each amazing in their own special ways. Look forward to reading your book. So happy it finally found a home and hooray for your patience and persistence!
What a wonderful PPBF post! The special connection between grandparents and grandchildren is amazing. Also, your message of patience and perseverance is so important! Looking forward to reading this gem! I loved when my Grandmom (my Dad’s mom) would teach me some words in German and my Mom’s mom would teach us Lithuanian.
Happy Birthday Vivian! Enjoy the Fab Four and time with your family! The video you shared about the Fab Four looked wonderful. 🙂
I’ve loved any book that Patricia and Jarvis have teamed up on! They are a phenominal duo. Thanks Patricia for sharing the long, emotional, roller-coaster of journey for this book – it and you are very inspiring! Congrats on another adorable book. What I enhoyed doing – buiding wooden marionettes with my grandfather and then painting them with my grandmother! (shared on twitter)
I love this. I also have a piece I am hanging on to. I know the right time will come. Congratulations. Thank you.
Oh my goodness this is such a sweet story!! I love the kite activity. One of my characters in a WIP I’ve been sending out has a kite that is central to their character development throughout the story. I really enjoyed reading this and your journey is inspiring to keep believing in your dreams. Thank you and have a Happy Birthday, Vivian!
Thank you for sharing your beautiful story❤️❤️
It ‘s neat to see the changes that the original poem went through to finally make it to the text of a picture book! And it sounds amazing and beautiful!
So glad your patience and persistence paid off! Can’t wait to read it!
Wow, Patricia—such a great example of not giving up on a story! I’ve started taking another look at old manuscripts, too.
This brought forth memories of me with my grandfather, the only grandparent I really knew. Such a beautiful book! Thank you! And it’s so good to hear success stories at the end of long journeys. So a second thank you, as well! Congrats!
I love this so much. My grandma was truly my best friend so this tugs at my heartstrings in all the right ways. Congrats!
Happy Cake and Candle Day, Vivian! Love how the Kid Lit community supports each other on their journey. Beautiful book. Thank you for sharing.
Happy Cake and Candle Day, Vivian! I love stories about a child’s relationship with their grandparents. I am new to this craft and love how the Kit Lit community supports each other on the writing journey. Thank you.
In May I’ll become a first time Grandma! Together With You is a book for me! I’ll share it with my granddaughter in the years to come. Thank-you for writing it!
Happy Birthday, Vivian (late, but still heartfelt!).
Patricia, great post! Thanks for sharing your journey with this picture book! Congrats!
Thank you for the interview and chance to win a mentor text copy. I shared on Pinterest.
It’s encouraging to read about the long journey and near sales of this book. I love the idea that a manuscript can rest.