Prize Donor Feature, Jolene Gutierrez, Spring Fling Kidlit 2020

Hi Math is Everywhere Readers and Spring Fling Kidlit Hopefuls,
Our seventh donor feature for our 18 prize donors is one of the most devoted, generous writers I knowā€¦

šŸŽ‰Jolene GutierrezšŸŽ‰

head shot of jolene

Jolene is donating winnerā€™s choice: a non-rhyming picture book manuscript critique, 750 words or less or the first five pages of a middle grade novel.

We asked Jolene some questions about spring of course! And here are her answers:

  • What is your favorite thing about spring?

Jolene: Spring is my favorite season! I love rain and green, growing things, and because I grew up on a farm, spring also meant new baby animals. Spring is a time for birth and new beginnings!

  • Spring is full of surprises bursting forth, what’s something you’ve found surprising about the publishing industry?

Jolene: Something that surprised me is just how many people are involved in the making of a book–Avi recently wrote a blog post about this. In addition to the number of people Emma Dryden says are involved on the publishing end, I would add all of our family members and friends, agents, critique partners, beta readers, sensitivity readers, etc. who are involved in reading and shaping our book before we ever send it off to an editor at a publishing house. So much love and effort goes into creating beautiful books, and we are all working toward putting great books in kids’ hands!

  • Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming book(s)?

Jolene: My fiction picture book, Mac and Cheese and the Personal Space Invader, illustrated by Heather Bell and published by Clear Fork Publishing, will be out this spring! It’s about a boy, Oliver, who watches class guinea pigs Mac and Cheese to learn how to be a good friend. His classmates don’t want him to snuggle, cuddle, and nuzzle them like a guinea pig, though! With the help of his teacher and classmates, Oliver learns that being a friend means respecting personal space. As a teacher and mom, I’ve definitely encountered kids who struggle with respecting personal space, so I’m hopeful that this book will help both children and adults.


My nonfiction middle grade book, Bionic Beasts: Saving Animal Lives with Artificial Flippers, Legs, and Beaks, will be published by Millbrook Press in the fall of 2020. I’ve researched 5 animals around the world–a sea turtle, an elephant, a dog, a goose, and a pig–and learned how these animals are receiving prosthetic body parts through innovative scientific advances. This book includes interactive activities for kids to test out. I had so much fun coming up with those ideas! I also worked with amazing sensitivity readers from NUBTribe to ensure that I’m representing animals experiencing limb differences in a respectful manner. I learned so much about science and the limb difference community in creating this book!

elephant with prosthetic

Jolene’s Bio

Jolene grew up on a farm in northeastern Colorado and now lives in a suburb of Denver, where sheā€™s been a school librarian for 25 years. She spends her days sharing childrenā€™s books and her nights writing them. Sheā€™s a wife of 21 years and a mama to two teenage humans and three preteen dogs. Jolene is an active member of SCBWI and The Authorā€™s Guild, a We Need Diverse Books mentorship finalist and a Writing with the Stars mentee. She is the author of Mac and Cheese and the Personal Space Invader (Clear Fork, 2020) and Bionic Beasts: Saving Lives with Artificial Flippers, Legs, and Beaks (Lerner, 2020). Learn more at

Jolene is one of the 18 wonderful prize donors for the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest 2020, make sure to follow her on social media, read her books, and review them to show your support! And get gif-searching or creating!
In the comments, tell us which of Joleneā€™s upcoming books you’re most looking forward to reading!


Kaitlyn and Ciara

PS. If you need more info on the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest, check here and make sure to share with all your writing friends!

30 thoughts on “Prize Donor Feature, Jolene Gutierrez, Spring Fling Kidlit 2020

  1. What a great interview, Jolene! I love what you said about the community involved in making a book. The solitary act of writing isn’t so solitary after all. I’m so excited to see both your books out in the world!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Heather! The entire Bionic Beasts project was so fascinating and exciting. On this blog and in place where kids aren’t likely to see this, I can say what I’ve always thought about this: I grew up on a farm where my dad “put down” animals like some of the animals in my book. Knowing that there are options for some of these animals brings me so much joy. ā¤ And YES–I can't WAIT to hold Mac and Cheese in my hands, too–you've made it SUCH a gorgeous book! šŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you should share that with kids. It’s empowering and shoes out growth as people. I lobe hearing it anyway and my family has always been very open so maybe you shouldn’t, but that’s my two cents. Yay for Mac and Cheese!!šŸ¤©šŸ’ƒ


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