A Super Trifecta: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway


Plate of Cookies





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

French Bread


  1. Put beans in a large bowl, cover with 2 inches of water, and soak overnight.
  2. 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.
  3. Cut yellow onion, garlic, and green bell pepper. Slice sausages and ham into bite-sized pieces.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: NO VOICE TOO SMALL Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. It’s a double-header weekend again…with a Trifecta Will Write for Cookies post tomorrow – an interview with all three of the fabulous authors of this wonderful book. And, if you leave a comment, you’ll have a chance to win a copy of this fabulous book!


Edited by Jeanette Bradley, Keila Dawson, and Lindsay Metcalf

Illustrated by Jeanette Bradley

Published by Charlesbridge

Ages: 5-9

Themes; Activism, social justice, agency

Synopsis: From Amazon:

Fans of We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices will love meeting fourteen young activists who have stepped up to make change in their community and the United States.

Mari Copeny demanded clean water in Flint. Jazz Jennings insisted, as a transgirl, on playing soccer with the girls’ team. From Viridiana Sanchez Santos’s quinceañera demonstration against anti-immigrant policy to Zach Wahls’s moving declaration that his two moms and he were a family like any other, No Voice Too Small celebrates the young people who know how to be the change they seek. Fourteen poems honor these young activists. Featuring poems by Lesléa Newman, Traci Sorell, and Nikki Grimes. Additional text goes into detail about each youth activist’s life and how readers can get involved.

Why I love this book:

  • Kids will love hearing about other kids who made their voices heard, spoke up for themselves and others, and made a difference
  • Endearing, yet powerful illustrations
  • A wonderful way to open discussions and encourage young people to speak up and get involved


Make a Megaphone

Photo courtesy: https://cmany.org/blog/view/say-loud-megaphones/

For detailed instructions on making a megaphone: https://cmany.org/blog/view/say-loud-megaphones/

Also, The Flipgrid Book Club link is live! Lindsay, Keila, and Jeanette are looking forward to engaging with kids and schools at the No Voice Too Small Book Club  featured in Flipgrid’s Discovery Library. 

Please remember that the best way to ensure the success of your favorite books is to buy them if you can, review them, tell friends about them, and ask your local library to purchase copies for their collection.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Make sure to be back tomorrow when Keila, Jeanette, and Lindsay stop by to chat about their exciting collaboration on this book and how their creative journeys are going. And leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway – maybe you can tell us a time when your voice was heard.

KIRSTI CALL: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway


Plate of Cookies





I love relaying how I met each of our Will Write for Cookies guests – I think it shows what a close-knit kidlit community we have. As co-coordinator of ReFoReMo (Reading for Research Month), Kirsti was one of my first kidlit mentors. I loved participating in that challenge – it really helped me focus on the importance of using published picture books as mentor texts for my own writing. And I’m grateful to her and to Carrie Charlie Brown for creating such a helpful resource.

Kirsti Call is the co-host of the Picture Book Look Podcast and the co-coordinator of ReFoReMo. She reads, reviews, revises and critiques every day as a 12×12 elf, a blogger for Writer’s Rumpus, and a member of critique groups. She’s judged the CYBILS award for fiction picture books since 2015. Kirsti’s picture book, MOOTILITA’S BAD MOOD (Little Bee) debuts fall 2020. COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) release in 2021. Kirsti is represented by Emma Sector at Prospect Agency.

And I count myself fortunate to have connected with Kirsti in person…we’ve met at our regional NESCBWI conferences, as well as at other local book events. Plus, she generously invited me and Alleanna Harris to be the very first author-illustrator duo to be interviewed on her fabulous new undertaking: Picture Book Look Podcast.

ME: Howdy, Kirsti! I’m thrilled to have you visiting here today! And I know that everyone is excited to hear more about you and your writing journey – so let’s get to the Q&A.

Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

Kirsti: I absolutely loved Maurice Sendak’s quirky stories and his expressive illustrations. 

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

KIRSTI: I wish I had known how little I knew.  Haha.  But seriously. There’s so much that goes into the craft and business of children’s writing—I had no idea. I wish I had slowed down and enjoyed the journey and been less frustrated about the concrete results (or non-results) of my work.  I now know that I’m closer to creating exceptional books with each new day that passes.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?  

KIRSTI: I like to mix it up.  I write on paper and on my laptop.  I write inside and outside.  I just finished converting my sunroom into a writing studio! 

It’s the perfect place for creating. I have a desk and a papasan and windows that overlook a backyard teaming with birds and animals.  And of course I have a stream filled with frogs.  And children to enjoy all of it with me.

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

KIRSTI: Early mornings are my favorite time to write.  But in actuality, I write in the open spaces and the ten minutes crevices of time between kid interruptions.  Having five kids and my husband home full time makes for a chaotic (and fantastic!) household, so focused writing time is rare. 

ME: Why do you write for children?

KIRSTI: I write for children because I love them. I love how silly kids are, how they let curiosity lead them to learn, how easy it is for them to love other people, how kind and open hearted they are, how they soak up stories.

I write for children because reading has been one of favorite things for as long as I can remember.  I hope my words make children laugh and maybe even learn a little too.

ME: Kirsti…thank you so much. I love that you write for kids because…you love them! Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

KIRSTI: I sure do, Vivian

Failure lives in the neighborhood of success. 

The more rejections we get, the closer we are to getting those book contracts.

Just. Keep. Writing.

My first book came out 7 years ago.  It took me 5 years after that to get an agent.  And now I finally have another book coming out.  Persistence, baby!

Enjoy the journey.

There’s nothing better than putting words together in a way that will influence other people for the better!

Thank you so very much, dear Kirsti! We are all loving your insights…and I know you are sharing a great recipe with us – because when it comes to cookies…there is nothing better than putting great ingredients together!

KIRSTI: This has been so much fun, Vivian! And I sure do have a super yummy recipe for everyone.

WOWOWOWOW! Rice crispies in date balls…that is an amazing combination. Thank you so very much, Kirsti!

Hey, dear readers…I know we are all grateful to Kirsti for her thoughts and for the recipe…and please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a signed ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of MOOTILLA’S BAD MOOD, written by Kirsti Call and Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Claudia Ranucci, and published by Little Bee Books.

If you’d like to check out the other stops on the book blog tour for MOOTILLA’S BAD MOOD, check this out:

August 17   The Story Behind the Story

August 19   Grog

August 24    Kidlit Oasis

August 28    deborahkalb.com

September 1    ReFoReMo

September 1    Picture Book Look Podcast

September 2  Future Bookworms

September 4  Perfect Picture Book Friday 

September 10  https://www.nancychurnin.com/

September 12  Will Writer For Cookies

September 15  Writer’s Rumpus

September 25 Mining for the Heart

And remember…the best way to help your favorite books success is to buy them if you can, review them on Amazon and other sites, share them with friends and on social media…and ask your local library to purchase them for their collections.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…and please swing by next week for more Picture Book awesomeness when we feature NO VOICE TOO SMALL and authors Jeanette Bradley, Keila Dawson, and Lindsay Metcalf.