Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
It’s time to celebrate!! Get your party hats and your best party close because it’s a book birthday!
George loves Saturdays because Saturdays are for Stella. They have fun visiting museums, fighting off alien attacks and baking cinnamon rolls together. When George’s world is turned upside down, he doesn’t know if he can handle Saturdays without Stella. Just when he’s at his lowest point, he is saved by a new Stella. Published by Page Street Kids
Kaitlyn: Happiest of happy book birthdays, Candy, thanks so much for joining us for you and your book’s special day!
Candy: Thank you, Kaitlyn! As you know it takes a LONG time to birth a book, so I am very excited the day has finally arrived where my book is out in the world.
Kaitlyn: It DOES take a long time! I’m so excited it’s finally here too! What are you doing to celebrate today?
Candy: We started the morning with a batch of Grandma Stella’s cinnamon rolls (recipe available on my website www.candywellins.com) to enjoy for breakfast. Later today, I’m doing a Zoom party with a few close friends. I’m doing a bigger virtual book launch on September 5 through The Writing Barn, a local writer’s retreat where I first began my author journey 4 ½ years ago. Anyone is welcome to attend this free event (https://www.thewritingbarn.com/class/free-book-launch-celebration-with-candy-wellins-kirsti-call-online/) I’m teaming up with author Kirsti Call and her new book MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD. We’ll be discussing BIG emotions in books for little people.
Kaitlyn: That sounds amazing! You and Kirsti AND big emotions?! I can’t wait! I also can’t wait to hear about the inspiration behind this story, can you share a bit about its journey?
Candy: I’ve always wanted to write a grandparent story because my grandmothers were so integral to my childhood. Initially this story began as a sort of love letter between grandparent and grandchild. It was a lot of sweet moments, but it wasn’t a story and it lacked depth.
I lost both of my grandmothers when I was pregnant with my first child. I now think of my life as two distinct time periods–the time I had with my grandmothers and the time I’ve had with my kids. I really wish they could have all met because I know they all would have LOVED each other. I was sad when I lost them, but I knew I had to live in the present for my kids. I share stories, recipes and photos of them as a way to connect the past to the present. It was this idea that helped me form the heart of the story that is SATURDAYS ARE FOR STELLA.
The biggest change in the editing process was the name of the book. It was originally called GEORGE & STELLA: A LOVE STORY.
Kaitlyn: Oh, Candy, I’m so sorry. I got to meet one grandpa and wish so much that I got to meet the rest of my grandparents, but the stories and traditions my parents share definitely make me feel connected to them. I’m so glad you were brave enough to share this important story with us all. My favorite thing about this story is how it comes full circle to the new Stella; it’s so beautiful, was this planned from the start or something that came later?
Candy: Originally the story ended with Grandma Stella dying and George just kind of accepting it in his own way. It didn’t feel authentic and I knew that most people (kids and adults) can’t move on so easily. I had written the scene where George crosses out all the Saturdays in his calendar and it reminded me of marking my own calendar with weekly milestones when I was pregnant. Suddenly, I realized what George needed to get through his grief: a new Stella.
Kaitlyn: I just got the chills; it’s so beautiful and how you came up with it is so authentic, thank you for sharing that! Now for another though question: Do you have a favorite spread in this book? If so, why? If not, why not?
Candy: Oh gosh, they’re all so lovely. The illustrator Charlie Eve Ryan really did a fantastic job. But I think my favorite is the one where George and Grandma Stella are napping together since that feels like it was pulled directly from my own childhood.
Kaitlyn: Aww, I LOVE that! Sweet cuddles are the best! Is there a special significance to the name Stella? When reading, I felt this story about a grandma and grandchild, but by calling her Stella, she could be interpreted as an older friend, too, was that your intention?
Candy: I never struggle with naming characters. I feel like the names just come to me as if the characters know what they should be called. For both George and Stella, I wanted names that could easily work for an older person or a child. Stella was a serendipitous choice. You may have noticed that my dedication is to “Mickey Larson and Liz Fennel, two stellar grandmas.” I liked that Stella worked in a way that maybe a Hazel or Evelyn couldn’t have.
And no, I didn’t intend for her to be interpreted as an older friend, but I like that thought. It makes the story feel even more universal.
Kaitlyn: That’s so awesome that you’re so great with name! And awww yay! I love when things come about after publication that you may not have intended, but that make the book even more special in some way. Can you share about your experience at Page Street?
Candy: It was a very collaborative process. They involved me in all decisions and I always felt like I knew where I was in the process. I think the biggest plus for me was getting a say in how the art should look. I told them I pictured very cozy and sweet Tomie dePaola-esque art spreads and I think they hit the nail on the head by teaming me up with Charlie.
Kaitlyn: OMG! Definitely nail on the head! What advice can you share for aspiring authors?
Candy: My critique group and I exchange Christmas gifts every year. One year I gave a framed print of the Winston Churchill quotation “Never, never, never give up.” I know he was talking about resisting the Nazis in WWII, but I feel like it’s perfectly applicable to picture book writers too. I feel like we’re all writing because we love children’s books and we’re passionate storytellers, but man, the rejection and the unknown can be crushing at times. Just keep in mind that we have all been there at one point in our careers (often many points). We all get rejected. We all keep writing. We all get better.
Kaitlyn: YES! Such great advice; it’s so hard for all of us, don’t give up! Finally, if you could spend the day with one of your favorite authors, would you rather go on an adventure together or sit by a fire and chat?
Candy: This is a dreamy question. I’m going to assume a little time travel and pick an adventure with Ernest Hemingway. He’s one of my all-time favorites and who better to go on an adventure with? Maybe skiing in the Alps or hiking in Africa? He really did it all.
Kaitlyn: I’m dreaming right along with you, that sound amazing! And now I’m lifting my punch slicing a piece cake, too, toasting this amazing picture book birthday! I am so excited that so many people now get to experience this phenomenal book!
Candy Wellins is a lifelong writer and book lover. A former elementary school
teacher, Candy has a BA in journalism and an M.Ed. in literacy education. She’s now a
full-time mom to three wonderful children who keep her up-to-date and immersed in
kid’s literature. When she’s not reading, writing or mother, Candy loves running,
traveling and naps! Her debut picture book Saturdays Are For Stella (Illustrated by
Charlie Eve Ryan, PAGE STREET KIDS) earned a Kirkus-starred review and comes out
in August 2020. Her debut picture book biography The Stars Beckoned: Edward White’s
Amazing Walk in Space (Illustrated by Courtney Dawson, PHILOMEL) comes out in
early 2021. Candy and her family make their home in Central Texas. You can follow her
at http://www.candywellins.com, on Instagram @candywellins or on Facebook @candywellins.
Kaitlyn’s review of Saturdays are for Stella
This sweet, sentimental story with stunningly beautiful illustrations will become an instant favorite for all in your family: for the children who love the special relationship with their grandparents, for the grandparents who adore their time with their grandkids, and for the parents who get to observe it all. The extra special thing about this book is that it goes beyond the grandparent-grandchild relationship and after grandma Stella is gone, nothing seems good until a new Stella comes into the pictures. She doesn’t replace the original Stella but instead reminds the child of all the wonderful things he loved about Stella and can now teach to his brand new friend.
Win a picture book critique from the talented Candy Wellins!!
Here are 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 Saturdays are for Stella to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share in the comments that you ordered a copy of Saturdays are for Stella
- Share in the comments that you did a purchase request for Saturdays are for Stella at your library
- Quote retweet my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tag three friends.
Thank you all for reading and I can’t wait to see your reviews of this amazing book!
Stay safe and well in these times!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez