Author of all ages
Storytelling is a bridge of hope and wonder, connecting beyond culture, faith, ethnicity and age.
Well-written words can make us laugh, gasp, tear and question. While traveling the pages in a book, we can discover that we are not alone. We can pounce through the pages like a curious kitten, delighting in a richer awareness of ourselves and others.
We are all storytellers, whether through text, action or voice. All stories matter, but the words we use and the way we tell them matter most of all.
“Back in his bed, he searches for the moon. In the dark hue of the night, he finds it once more. And right there, between the moon and him, his dreams are waiting. Tomorrow, I’ll tell the world,” he says.
Nigel has BIG dreams. When he gazes at the moon, his future is filled with the same brilliance. His imagination soars! He’s an astronaut, a dancer, a superhero. He’s a star among the cosmos. His pride swells. His eyes sparkle. He’s the most brilliant body in the sky...until it’s time for Career Week at school when he can’t find the courage to share his dreams. He searches for books with pictures of boys who look like his dreams. But can’t find any. He whispers his fear to the moon—his dream companion. “What if I wish to be too many things?” Feeling out of place with his classmates, he worries they laugh at him. “...[H]e quivers at the thought.” But in a surprise classroom visit by his parents who speak of their own careers, he learns to take pride in his roots and gain the courage to share his dreams.
Debut author Antwan Eady crafts a luminous tale that inspires children how come from blue-collar families to dream big. To voice their aspirations out loud and proud. To respect their roots, no matter the economic level.
Antwan spent many nights whispering his own dreams; now he proudly shares them with the world. Growing up in Garnett, South Carolina, Antwan spent most of his days four-wheeling, fishing, and picturing a world without boundaries. As the youngest of his siblings and the first in his family to graduate from college, he’s spent years helping others do the same. He’s a proud graduate of Clemson University!
As an author, Antwan believes children should have access to literature that inspires them, saves them, and helps change their lives because “that’s what books have done for him.”
His books provide literature where the underrepresented may see themselves driving the stories. Antwan is the author of Nigel and the Moon as well as the upcoming Micah’s Rise, The Last Stand, and The Gathering Table.
Nigel and the Moon’s message is a profoundly simple one: keep believing in self and take pride in family roots. Dream big—no matter the imagined or actual limitations. No matter the scare of failure. No matter what others say. Brave the guffaws, the fears! Whatever our age, spend time peering out the window at the moon, the stars, the universe and invite grand hopes and dreams.
Susan Johnston Taylor
“Ever seen a purple snail? A spotted newt with orange tail?... For nature’s full of brilliant hues, vivid pinks to navy blues. Come marvel at the painted bugs, speckled frogs and ruffled slugs.”
Susan Johnston Taylor’s Animals in Surprising Shades takes readers on an adventurous journey of discovery. Using simple, poetic forms, like the octave, quatrain, haiku and more, Taylor crafts a lyrical text that uncovers fascinating facts about Earth’s colorful creatures. On each spread, she poses a question about the animal: “Does the idea of strawberry frogs make you hungry? Can you regrow an arm or a leg?”
These questions engage the reader to think beyond the page. She defines her poetic forms in simple language and later adds an interactive spread about “Nature’s Masterpiece.” Young poets who love science and young scientists who love poetry will be motivated to test their knowledge and craft their own verse.
Susan Johnston Taylor graciously shares with us her writing journey and what she’s learned along the way.
Q: What was your inspiration ?
In early 2020, I read about these squirrels in India that have really colorful fur, unlike the more neutral-colored fur we see in North American squirrels. I started thinking about a concept book that explores animals in unexpected colors. Inspired by Jane Yolen’s delightful STEM poetry collections, I decided to try my idea as a poetry collection.
Q: How did you choose the animals ?
I think some of the original animals I’d chosen were cool but perhaps not the most surprising animal in that color. For several colors, I researched multiple animals to see which would deliver maximum surprise (and also feel distinct from the other animals in the book, because I didn’t want an orange bird followed by a yellow bird and then a green bird). After watching YouTube videos of that animal in action, read about the animal and started drafting new poems, I wound up with more poems than would fit in the book, but it also meant my editor and I could choose the very best poems from the bunch.
Q: Any advice for pre-published authors? Breaking into children’s publishing is tough, but the community is so lovely and supportive. Even though many of us tend to focus on a traditionally-published book as the ultimate goal, there are other ways to write and/or illustrate for children. I’ve written for children’s magazines, a children’s poetry anthology, educational publishers, and a tech platform that teaches grammar to kids in fun and surprising ways. If you stay open to those opportunities, it can challenge you creatively and provide some smaller wins (plus, sometimes a paycheck) as you pursue a traditionally-published book deal.
Child wonder is contagious. It can rub off on us, reminding us to be joyful even in our busy days. We can press “pause” on our rush to accomplish and take time to delight in the “whimsy and wonder” of the world around us. A slow, second look of gratitude for all creatures great and small.
“Julie Andrews, born into a melody in a tiny English village, wrapped her voice around the world like a hug.”
As a young girl, Julie Andrews struggled through her parents’ divorce and the devastation of World War II. To offer her comfort and a sense of safety, her stepfather guided her into life-changing singing lessons with a renowned teacher. It was then that Julie discovered her “voice was not just her gift, but one she could share with others.” Her first appearance was on vaudeville stages, and later at the age of 13, she even performed before the Queen in the Royal Palladium Theatre. Her extraordinary singing was “underscored by the hum of her father’s love.”
Talented author Julie Hedlund beautifully captures the life of Julie Andrews from the time she was a child through her growing years of discovery into her successful performances in film and theatre to her current days of writing children’s books. Through Hedlund’s well-crafted lyrical text and Ilaria Urbinati’s lush watercolor illustrations, readers will marvel at the strength, passion and courage of Julie Andrews. It’s no wonder the world loves this legendary woman!
Julie Hedlund grew up watching Sound of Music every year with her family. Her love and admiration for singer and actor Julie Andrews stayed with her as she matured...as did the songs from memory.
Song after Song was a labor of love for Hedlund. She listened to dozens of interviews where Julie Andrews talked about her childhood, traveled to London for research, visited the theater where Julie sang in front of the Queen, and walked in Julie's home village. While in London, Hedlund went to the underground station where Julie and her mom and stepfather sheltered during World War II , and spent time in the Imperial War Museum to gain a deeper understanding of the London at War. Hedlund's hard work researching and writing creates a one-of-a-kind tribute to her beloved icon Julie Andrews...a picture book that's sure to charm all ages of readers. The challenge will be to read the text without humming "Spoonful of Sugar" or "Do Re Mi."
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