Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
I hope you’re ready for a colorful day because that’s what’s coming at you on the Math is Everywhere Blog post today! We have debut author Taylor Rouanzion here to talk about her gender non-conforming picture book, Rainbow Boy, that’s coming out in January 2021 with Beaming Books!
Kaitlyn: Hi, Taylor, thanks so much for joining us today!
Taylor: Hi, Kaitlyn! Thanks so much for having me.
Kaitlyn: First of all, the reason you wrote this story is so inspiring, can you tell us a bit about it?
Taylor: Rainbow Boy was inspired by my own rainbow kiddo, who was born male and loved mermaids and ballet at this age! I searched high and low for picture books made for gender-nonconforming kids and not just about them, and when I had trouble finding any I decided to create one for my child and others who are similar.
Kaitlyn: That’s so beautiful. I hope your sweetie loves it! What do you hope all kids get from your book?
Taylor: Never be afraid to show who you truly are and embrace every part of yourself! There may be people (usually grownups, ahem) who want you to choose one part of yourself and let the rest go, but your hearts are too big for that! Every part of you is special, and the combination of all of those wonderful parts is what makes you unique. No one else can light up the world exactly like you can!
Kaitlyn: Aww! I love them, and LOLed at the “ahem”. I try so hard to keep things so open, but I know there will always be some things that I don’t get right with my daughter, and I hope books like these help parents, too! Please share some thoughts on seeing diverse children in picture books.
Taylor: Representation in picture books is so critical. Most importantly, children who share those diverse characteristics will have an opportunity to see themselves in the books they read and are read to them. And also, other children will get to learn about all the different kinds of wonderful people there are in the world! Early exposure to diversity creates a more open and compassionate society for diverse children to grow up in.
Kaitlyn: YES! So well said. How do you think children’s books in current times compare to when you were a kid and are you a fan of the changes?
Taylor: There is so much more humor in today’s picture books! A lot of books from my childhood were very didactic and focused on teaching a specific lesson. Now we have books with the sole purpose of making kids laugh–which I think is wonderful! If you can give children an appreciation for books early in their lives, they will be lifelong readers.
Kaitlyn: I totally agree, books are so fun! Can you share how you got into writing for children?
Taylor: I began writing young adult novels and signed with my first agent for one of my YA books. When that didn’t pan out, I needed a new way to incorporate my love for the publishing industry in my life and career–so I started working in a public library in the children’s department! Within a few months I realized this was my calling, and now I’m halfway through getting my masters so I can be a children’s librarian. After reading so many picture books in story times, I discovered I have a passion for writing those as well as YA!
Kaitlyn: I LOVE that you found your calling this way; everything happens for a reason, even if it’s not clear at the time. I’m so happy for you! Good luck with your masters! Can you share how you found your current agent?
Taylor: I sold RAINBOW BOY on my own while I was in between agents, and my publisher chose Stacey Chomiak to do the illustrations. When Stacey’s agent, Claire Draper at The Bent Agency, saw my pitch for a new picture book during #DVPit on Twitter, they asked to see the manuscript–and the rest is history!
Kaitlyn: Twitter pitch events and great connections are such wonderful parts of this industry; thanks so much for sharing that! Who was your editor at Beaming Books for this story and can you share what the experience of working with an editor is like?
Taylor: Naomi Krueger is my editor, and working with her is a dream! She is so considerate of my input and vision for the book. Along with working together to revise the text of the manuscript, she also listened to my opinions on illustrations and even font sizes! I have always felt I am in the best hands with Naomi and the rest of the Beaming Books team.
Kaitlyn: That’s the dream! You seem to have a great handle on this industry, can you share some advice you like to give to authors?
Taylor: Oh boy, I don’t feel quite qualified to give advice, ha! I will just say that your career almost never takes the simple path you first imagined, and that’s okay! The best opportunities often pop up in the least expected places. Don’t miss them when they do, and be ready to seize them!
Kaitlyn: Yes! Your career shows the winding road can be just as fun and rewarding! Can you share with us what you’re working on now or what’s coming up next for you?
Taylor: I am working on quite a few projects right now: a handful of picture books, an adult nonfiction project, and sprucing up a shelved YA to hopefully take out soon!
Kaitlyn: That all sounds so exciting! Finally, if you could meet your favorite author or illustrator, would you chat by a fireside or go on an adventure?
Taylor: I would chat by the fireside with Madeleine L’Engle for HOURS. Reading her children’s AND adult books feels like a cozy conversation with her already; hearing her thoughts and opinions in person would just be fascinating.
Kaitlyn: Oh, that does sound cozy and inviting! Thank you so much for sharing and for joining us today.
Taylor: Of course! Thank you for the opportunity to tell you a little about myself and my book.
RAINBOW BOY by Taylor Rouanzion, illustrated by Stacey Chomiak, from Beaming Books, out January 19, 2021
Taylor Rouanzion lives in Northern California with her husband, child, and miniature dachshund. She has been a part of local support groups for trans/gender-nonconforming kids and their parents. Her own child is gender nonconforming and has inspired Taylor to write for her and others like her so they can be seen in children’s literature.
Taylor earned her bachelor’s degree in English and is currently studying for her master’s in library and information science. She has worked as a children’s and youth library assistant and hopes to become a children’s librarian someday in the future.
Kaitlyn’s Review of Rainbow Boy
Rainbow Boy is such a beautiful book to inspire kids to be themselves. It’s also lovely how it touches on gender nonconforming topics in such a fun way; plus kids will love the bright, fun colors in these illustrations!
Do you want a picture book critique from Taylor? If so, you can enter in the follow ways (each earns you another entry into the random drawing)
- Comment on this post
- Share in the comments below that you added Rainbow Boy to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share in the comments that you ordered a copy of Rainbow Boy
- Share in the comments that you did a purchase request for Rainbow Boy at your library
- Quote retweet my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tag three friends.
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez
PS who is super excited to dance with Valerie, Kailei, and I tomorrow at 4 PST for our Kidlit Dance Party?!?! I’ve been prepping all week, my principal even walked in on my music blasting and one of my students asked to record me dancing for a snap chat! 😉 I can’t wait to see you all!