Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
SPLASH! I hope you’re all getting some water fun this summer. If you are, this post is going to be awesome. If you haven’t gotten any swim time in, this will be extra fun for you, because you can IMAGINE you are! BUT that’s not all! This is a double fun interview: after you get tired out from your joyous splash time, you’ll get a bedtime story as well!
For all this fun, we’re turning to amazing writer, critiquer, social worker, and one of the #ReVISIONweek founders, Lauren Kerstein!
We’re here to talk about her Rosie and Charlie picture book series because the new one comes out in September. It’s called: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT. And, since it’s summertime, we of course, HAVE to talk about the first book in the series: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES
Kaitlyn: Thanks so much for joining us to talk books, today, Lauren!
Lauren: Thanks so much for having me, and for that wonderful welcome!
Kaitlyn: The pleasure is all mine, my friend! First off, I have to know is your book still coming out on time in Sept 2020 or have current circumstances pushed it back?
Lauren: Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night is still coming out September 1, 2020! I think the book made it to the printers just before things took a sharp turn with COVID-19. Nate Wragg and I launched Make Waves together in June of 2019 and it was a BLAST! We are launching together again, but this time, we are launching virtually. Second Star to the Right Books in Denver is hosting, and we look forward to a dragon-sized virtual party. Grab your pajamas and favorite stuffed animal and join us on August 30th at 4:30 pm (MST). Nate will be doing an art demonstration, I’ll be reading ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT, and we’ll be offering bedtime tips. You’ll be able to RSVP at https://www.secondstartotherightbooks.com/ very soon. You can also sign up for my blog to be kept up-to-date. I PROMISE I won’t flood your inbox! https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/
Kaitlyn: I’m so excited that your book made it to the printers in the nick of time, and I’m so exited, Second Star to the Right is wonderful at hosting book launches and yours sounds fantastic! Both of these Rosie and Charlie books are published by Two Lions (an Amazon imprint). Can you share a bit about them?
Lauren: I have absolutely loved working with Two Lions. Marilyn Brigham is an amazingly talented, caring, and insightful editor. Two Lions works hard to support their authors around marketing opportunities, and advocating for their books. They’ve also been generous with book donations for book drives.
Kaitlyn: It sounds like a dream to work with them! As someone who is always thinking about editing, is it easier to edit other people’s work than your own?
Lauren: Oh my goodness— it is monumentally easier to edit other people’s work. That is why I love running a critique business. It is so much clearer to see the strengths and challenges in someone else’s manuscript. As you know, I’m a template and checklist fan! I LOVE making them, and they help me approach my manuscript with an editor’s eye. But at the end of the day, it is my critique partners who keep my writing spirits up, my muse happy, and my inner critic at bay. They are BEYOND invaluable. I literally could not do this work without their support, encouragement, cheerleading, keen eye, and ability to see the strengths AND weaknesses in my work. The editors with whom I’ve worked at both Two Lions and Magination Press have also been instrumental in helping me be the best writer I can be.
Kaitlyn: That’s so wonderful to hear about how important your critique partners and editors are (and readers, here’s Lauren’s wonderful templates and checklists, she’s always been so generous about sharing them with everyone in the writing community for free!) One thing that I think is super cool about these Roise and Charlie books is they have a very similar set up but are about completely different topics (and both just as fun!). I haven’t read many picture book series, is that something that is typical for a series? Did your editor ask you to have a similar set up but a different topic? Any other insight you can give us about picture book series?
Lauren: I have tried to balance consistency with freshness in each book. The Mother Bruce (Higgins) series has provided a terrific mentor text series for me. I want children to find the characters they love in each book, and see them approach new situations as well. I also wanted to balance the funny with the sweet. I was originally creating books that were too similar (despite different situations) and my editor helped me approach each book in more of a unique way.
Kaitlyn: I love how thoughtfully you and your editor both approach your stories. Okay, now for the hard question: if you had to pick one spread that’s your absolute favorite from both of these books, which would you choose?
Lauren: I actually fell in love with one particular spread in each book, right away.
In Waves, I absolutely love what Nate did with the spread when the children are riding on Rosie in the pool. I pictured that spread quite differently when I wrote it, and he brought it to life in ways I never could have imagined.
In Good Night, I love the bubble bath scene. Nate drew Vern (Rosie’s favorite stuffed animal) in a bubble, and it is PRICELESS!
Kaitlyn: Oh, I LOVE that so much! So many new writers are nervous that not having creative control of the images and it’s nice for the to hear that there’s a reason the industry works this way; illustrators are amazing! What’s extra spectacular to me about ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT is that you made a bedtime book that REALLY stands out, which can be very hard with bedtime being such a hot topic, can you share how you thought of this style of storytelling?
Lauren: Thank you so much! It makes my heart happy to hear that. The entire Rosie and Charlie series began as a “how to” bedtime story. I wanted to capture how challenging bedtime can be, and yet how sweet it can be as well. As a child and adolescent psychotherapist, I’ve worked with TONS of families over the years around bedtime issues. As a mom—well, nothing can prepare you (not even years and years of experience working with children) for bedtime trials and tribulations. I wanted to offer real-life strategies that might help children (and their bedraggled grown-ups) through bedtime challenges, while also offering laughs, and an opportunity for snuggles.
Kaitlyn: Well, I for one sure think you hit all your marks with this book; I always adore books that can teach my daughter something without her realizing she’s learning because it’s fun! I love that the relationship between Charlie (the main character) and Rosie (his dragon) is like an adult to a child, but since the main character is really a child, kids relate and think it’s extra funny, while they are also hopefully realizing the complications they make for their parents/guardians and hopefully try to be better, was that your intent from the beginning or a happy accident?
Lauren: I did want the relationship between Charlie and Rosie to have a parent-child quality, but most of all, I wanted the friendship component to really shine through. Yes, I think if I were completely honest, my original intent when I wrote the first draft in 2016 during NAPIBOWRIWEE was to capture the push and pull between parents and precocious, curious, and exuberant children. If children can associate the complications Rosie makes for Charlie with possible complications they make for their parents, well, that is an added bonus. But most of all, I hope children walk away with strategies to be courageous like Rosie in many different types of situations.
Kaitlyn: Those are such wonderful goals and I definitely think you met them all and how cool that this came from NAPIBOWRIWEE! Can you dive a bit more into the original idea for ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES come from?
Lauren: As mentioned above, the original idea was born in 2016 during NAPIBOWRIWEE. I challenged myself to write seven picture books in different structures (one each day of the week) after reading a wonderful ReFoReMo post by Tammi Sauer about structure. Rosie and Charlie began as a “how to put your mommy to bed” book. Critique partners and a Rate Your Story judge recommended I make it more unique.
How about a dragon… who wants to learn how to swim?
I happened to be the parent rep or my girls’ swim team at the time, so I wrote it while sitting on the pool deck listening to the sounds of swimmers in the pool. Deborah Warren, my incredible agent, recommended I add real-life swim skills to the book, which was a fabulous idea! And Marilyn Brigham, my editor asked me to take it out of the “how to” structure and add specific characters. Thus, Rosie and Charlie were truly born. Although the book changed a lot, the heart stayed the same. Writing a book is truly a team effort! I couldn’t be happier with how Rosie and Charlie turned out.
Kaitlyn: OMG, I refer to that ReFoReMo post by Tammi Sauer all the time too, and it is part of the inspiration for one of my books too! And it sounds like you have just the best support and inspiration in your life! You also have a critique service for picture book authors, can you tell us a bit about it and how it started?
Lauren: As a judge for Rate Your Story, and a critique partner, I realized how much I LOVE critiquing! I run a critique business so that I could help authors polish their manuscripts until they shine. I always feel so honored to be part of an author’s journey!
Kaitlyn: That’s so beautiful and I agree, it’s one of the big reasons I became an agent, helping brilliant stories blossom is just magical! What’s your favorite thing about critiquing other people’s stories?
Lauren: I love highlighting the gold, and honing in on the areas that need to be tweaked. It is so satisfying to figure out what might take a manuscript from good to FABULOUS! There is so much talent out there, and today’s market is ultra competitive. Our stories have to be better than good, they have to be better than great, they have to GRAB an agent or editor and take hold. They have to make an agent or editor say: I NEED THIS! I love helping authors on this journey. If you’d like more information about my critiques or to access templates I’ve created, you can visit: https://laurenkerstein.net/critiques%2Ftemplates.
Kaitlyn: Girl, you are speaking directly to my heart in all of this: yes, yes, YES! To all of the above! Now, do you have any other books on the way that we might want to know about?
Lauren: Yes! HOME FOR A WHILE with Magination Press is coming out February 2, 2021. The talented Natalia Moore illustrated the book beautifully. This is truly a book from my heart. It’s about a little boy named Calvin who is looking for a place to call home for a while. It’s a tribute to children struggling to see their strengths, and learning to manage their emotions. I can’t wait for you to see it!
Kaitlyn: I can’t wait to see it either; it sounds just as wonderful as your other books! Thank you so much for joining us today, Lauren!
Lauren: Thanks so much for having me, and for all that you do to support the industry! I loved stopping by!
Kaitlyn: Aw, you’re the sweetest! It was an absolute blast!
Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, their two dragons…er, daughters, and their rescue dogs. Lauren’s debut: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions) splashed into bookstores in 2019. The companion volume, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions), will snuggle into bookshelves September 1, 2020. HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press) is expected February 2, 2021. Lauren also writes books in her field. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with Rate Your Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12×12 and SCBWI. Visit her at http://www.LaurenKerstein.net, on Twitter @LaurenKerstein, Instagram @LaurenKerstein, or Facebook.
ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT
Rosie the dragon’s bedtime routine has been a little bumpy lately. But not to worry! Charlie is prepared with his lists, rules, and fire extinguisher—everything a boy needs to help guide his pet dragon (and best friend) to a peaceful night’s sleep. But with bath-time bubble trouble, fiery-hot pajamas, and stuffed animal search-and-rescues, tucking this dragon into bed is not an easy task. And what happens when thunder strikes? Snuggle up with this adorable duo as they conquer bedtime the best way: together!
ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES
It’s summertime, and you’re invited for a rollicking day at the pool with Charlie and his pet dragon (and best friend!), Rosie. But be careful—swimming with a dragon can be, um, challenging. As Rosie and Charlie blow bubbles (don’t forget your umbrella!), practice flutter kicks (watch out for tidal waves!), and offer shoulder rides (hang on tight!), Rosie proves that dragons make the most fun pets ever. Now if only Charlie can keep Rosie’s attention focused on the rules at the pool and NOT on her gummy snacks (you know, the ones that cause stinky dragon breath!)…Grab your towels and sunscreen and join Rosie and Charlie for a fun-filled summer adventure!
Kaitlyn’s review of both books
ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT is such a creative take on a bedtime story, and one that kids as well as adults will love! Kids will enjoy that the main character is a kid that has so much agency and adults will love that it helps kids see the bedtime routine from their point of view and everyone will enjoy the wonderful comedy throughout and the stellar art that accompanies the brilliant words.
ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES is a wonderful picture book that kids will definitely relate to while not realizing how much they’re learning about their own social emotional growth about how to take on tough situations. The relatable humor and comically outrageous and also relatable scenarios will have kids roaring with laughter and ready to go swimming!
How would you like to win a book AND either a picture book critique or a virtual visit from author and critique pro Lauren Kerstein? There will be TWO winners!
Check out all the ways to get into the giveaway (each one is an extra entry):
- Comment on this post
- Share in the comments below that you added both Rosie and Charlie books to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list (here and here) and/or your Amazon Wishlist (here and here)
- Share in the comments that you pre-ordered a copy of her new book
- Share in the comments that you did a purchase request for any of her books for your library
- Quote retweet my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tag three friends.
Thank you all for joining us today! If you’re participating in the SCBWI Summer Spectacular, I’d love for your to share with me on social media things you’re loving and learning, feel free to tag me in your tweets so I don’t miss them! My mind is already blown just reading the line up; it’s going to be epic, for sure!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez