Prize Donor Feature, Traci Van Wagoner, Spring Fling Kidlit 2020

Hi Math is Everywhere Readers and Spring Fling Kidlit Hopefuls,

Today we have our tenth prize donor in our Prize Donor Feature Series. She creates gorgeous, award-winning illustrations and is diving into a career as an author-illustrator…

🎉Traci Van Wagoner🎉


Traci is donating a picture book dummy critique.

We asked Traci some spring-inspired questions so you can get to know her better. Here are her answers:

woman with beautiful colorful hat

  • What is your favorite thing about spring?

I adore spring with new life sprouting, budding and pushing out of their wintery sleep, days getting longer and warmer, mud, flowers, full rivers, and all the amazing smells. Spring is so full of hope it always makes me happy.

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

I think the most delightful and surprising thing is the amazing support and encouragement among writers and illustrators, even though we are all technically competing against each other for the coveted prize of getting our books published and out to readers.

  • Can you tell us a bit about the projects you’re working on?

I’m working on a personal project which is very close to my heart as it is a story of my mom’s which I’m illustrating and self-publishing, Eensy, Teensy Teddy Bear’s Adventure. My mom is the most amazing woman in the world (no lie, she really is), she’s so selfless she would give you the last piece of bread in her kitchen, and she has always encouraged and supported me even when I chose to be an illustrator (or starving artist as she saw it — not totally unfounded either). She should’ve known that would happen when she and Dad kept us in art supplies and creative projects through my entire childhood. Plus they both had artistic talent and painted as well. So, I want to give something back, which will be a published book for the world to buy with my my name and my mom’s name on it and a story inside that will help kids everywhere learn to be brave, too!

I’m sharing the journey of my illustration process on my Patreon page (feel free to support me and the project if you feel so inspired), and on my website.

I’m deep into the final colors and plan to launch the book into the world for Mother’s Day.

In April I will begin another fun journey with Ellie and Her Dragons with book 2 as Ellie experiences her first day of school. This is exciting since book 1 has been so well received and won 25 awards so far, including a Kirkus star review and Best Book of the Year in 2019.

three elephants
I’ve got other exciting news: I’m officially represented by Samantha Wekstein at Thompson Literary Agency.

Traci’s Bio

Traci Van Wagoner received a Bachelors degree in Illustration & Advertising Design from Utah State University and a BFA in Toy Design from Fashion Institute of Technology….. *snore* That’s the technical side of her background which says she’s spent a lot of time in school drawing, painting, playing with type, page layout, reading thick books, taking tests, and oh yeah, getting illustration projects (she stayed up all night finishing) torn off the wall by the teacher and stomped on. Yes, art school can be rough. But it did teach her to be tough and has been invaluable in dealing with the drawer full of rejections from editors and agents over the years of working at being an author and illustrator.
Coming from a family of 8 kids, she also had big brothers who toughened her up and made sure she could take a punch. So later, after her first round of college, she was tough enough to move to the BIG city and try to be an illustrator. It took a lot of doing, but she did it. She has illustrated over 10 games, and 15 picture books. Her latest, Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons has won 25 awards including Best Book of the Year 2019 and star review from Kirkus, and Nelson Beats the Odds was #1 Best Seller on Amazon.
When she’s not writing or illustrating, you can find her taming dragons, walking her dog in the BIG city, playing board games, watching a movie with her honey (they own over 1,000 movies), or gardening on the roof with her head in the sky. A farm girl turned city slicker, NYC has been good to her, providing a career and her love, Kurt Keller. Shortly after they met (when he stole her new toy) in toy school at FIT, they joined forces, Traci handling the artsy side and he the techy side, and created a toy and game design company, Imagine That! Design. Traci loves being her own boss and getting to work with her rambunctious dog, Hanna, waiting patiently(?) for play time, and her turtle who sometimes begs for food. She happily spends her days creating fun for children in the form of games, toys, and books.
Traci’s mission is to bring smiles to the world, to help foster better understanding between everyone, to encourage the use of your imagination, and to bring a bit of magic to the world. She’s always on the lookout for dragons.
Live. Laugh. Learn


Traci 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 in the comments which of Traci’s books is your favorite or which you’re 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 and author-illustrator friends!

2 thoughts on “Prize Donor Feature, Traci Van Wagoner, Spring Fling Kidlit 2020

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