Hi Math is Everywhere readers,
Today’s post is going to be super fun because we have two incredibly talented creators here to reveal their gorgeous picture book: MUSHROOM RAIN! And on National Mushroom Day no less! May I introduce you to the wonderful writer (and my very first client) Laura K. Zimmermann and the awesomely talented artist Jamie Green?!?
About MUSHROOM RAIN
What can smell like bubble gum, glow neon green at night, be poisonous and yet still eaten by humans, and even help create rain? The answer is mushrooms! From their hidden networks underground to the fruiting body above, mushrooms can do incredible things. But don’t call them plants–mushrooms are fungi. They’re more closely related to animals like you! Through lyrical text and colorful, detailed artwork, the wonderful, mysterious, and sometimes bizarre world of mushrooms is explored. Back matter includes a glossary, additional mushroom facts, and a science activity.
Kaitlyn: Thanks so much for joining us today, Laura and Jamie!
Laura: Thank you for having us!
Jamie: It’s a pleasure to be here!
Kaitlyn: I’m so excited to dive in, so Laura, without giving the whole cover away, can you tell us your favorite parts of this cover?
Laura: My favorite part is…all of it! So I’ll randomly choose the tail twirled around a mushroom stalk.
Kaitlyn: Ohh, mysterious! Now, Jamie, without giving too much away, can you tell us and/or show us a bit about how this cover came to be so we can start picturing what it might look like?
Jamie: Originally I had fully illustrated a cover design but had this gut feeling of “this isn’t quite it”. I decided that I should follow that gut feeling and scrapped the whole thing, without batting an eye! What came next was the actual MUSHROOM RAIN book cover which I think can best be described as gentle yet dramatic! It features our stars of the show–mushrooms–as well as some things that…crawl.
Kaitlyn: Wow! I love that you followed your instincts, Jamie. Okay, Laura, can you give us one more hint about the cover so we can try to guess what it will look like? And maybe a hint about color so we can start trying to picture it?
Laura: A nighttime visit in a magical garden just after the rain.
Kaitlyn: Whaaat? That sounds absolutely amazing! Readers, are you on the edge of your seat? Are you ready to see this magical cover for MUSHROOM RAIN? I know I am!
On your marks…
Wait for it…
Here’s the cover of Laura K. Zimmermann and Jamie Green’s picture book, MUSHROOM RAIN:
Kaitlyn: Wow! What a gorgeous cover. Jamie, can you share some details about this beautiful cover you created that others may not notice?
Jamie: Sure, featured here are three types of mushrooms. Can any mycophiles recognize them? For those that don’t, they are the birch bolete (bottom left), pink oyster (top left) and shaggy parasol (on the right). We decided as a group to include the parasol mushroom because it looked like a “dancing princess”, and the other two I chose for their shape and color. The larger blue flowers you see are moon flowers, which open up under the night light of the moon. I was inspired to include these because they grow all along the trail that I run on early in the mornings.
Kaitlyn: It sounds like you have a wonderful eye and great nature all around you, Jamie. Now, Laura, can you share why you adore this cover so much?
Laura: I just love the Wonderland feel of the cover. It captures the dream-like kingdom of mushrooms perfectly.
Kaitlyn: It really does capture the dream-like kingdom of mushrooms – what a perfect description! Laura, can you share how this wonderful story came to be?
Laura: It began when I stumbled across a story about Beatrix Potter’s research. I am a scientist who writes children’s books. Beatrix a researcher? I had to know more. Up to this point I had never thought much about mushrooms. Beatrix thought about them a lot. She spent years foraging—illustrating 250 species of fungi and painting more than 335 watercolors that ranged from realistic to scientific. Her observations led to questions without answers, so she began her own research. As did I. And as I worked to understand her mycological studies and read her journal entries about masses of crisp yellow cups nestled in moss and troops with foxy-brown caps, I began to see mushrooms in a new way. Then one day, I came across an article about mushrooms creating rain and the book MUSHROOM RAIN was born.
Kaitlyn: I love how you followed the story and made something absolutely brilliant from it. Jamie, can you share why you decided to illustrate this book when asked?
Jamie: This was quite literally a dream project for me. I was fresh out of college, just having graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design, and my senior thesis was called More Than Just Mushrooms which was a book I had illustrated because of my love for, and knowledge of mushrooms. It was in my sophomore year of college that I picked up a book at the campus library that was filled with vintage botanical illustrations of mushrooms. Something just clicked. From that day on, mushrooms became the center of my world. Now I forage, read any fungi-related book I can get my hands on, and mushrooms remain my favorite subject matter to draw. Illustrating MUSHROOM RAIN was a no-brainer when my agent approached me with the project!
Kaitlyn: That’s just the best! I love that you were so meant to be the Illustrator of this book! Your art really brings this beautiful, lyrical story to life. Laura, can you share some advice for writers?
Laura: I’d be happy to. For lovers of nonfiction …this one’s for you.
Write because you don’t know how not to on topics that won’t let go. If you’re pestering friends and family with awesome facts you discovered on your latest fall down a research rabbit hole, grab onto that idea and follow it where it leads. If you do, you’ll never lose. Publication is amazing, but discovering new things about our fascinating world brings a joy all its own. Seriously, did you know that some fungal mycelia may be able to learn and remember? How cool is that?
Kaitlyn: Yes!! Find your joy and follow it is the best advice not only for writers but for life in general. And now that everyone has seen your stunning work, Jamie, can you share advice for illustrators, too?
Jamie: Stay curious about the world. If I had not picked up a book on mushrooms at the library, it never would have led me to unlock a whole other side of my life, both personally and as an artist. Find matters that lead you to want to create a whole universe surrounding them. For me, getting out into nature on hikes, runs, forays, etc. helps me to be a more inspired and informed illustrator. I think a lot of the creativity happens when you aren’t drawing at all. Widen your visual vocabulary by going on adventures, even if it’s just to the local park, public library, or a new cozy cafe.
Kaitlyn: Yes! Keeping your eyes open in all you do and going on adventures will definitely continue to inspire illustrators and creators in general! You and Laura are so motivating! Readers, I hope you’re inspired to go out and explore right now, but first make sure to preorder this amazing book! Laura and Jamie, final question, if you could spend the day with your favorite author or illustrator, would you rather go outside and fly a kite or sit by a fire with tea?
Laura: Well that depends…what is the weather like outdoors?
Jamie: Outdoors–as long as they are okay with the fact that they might end up manning the kite while I scour the ground for mushrooms peeking through the grass…
Kaitlyn: Hahaha! You are both the best! I can’t wait for everyone in the world to hold your brilliant book in their hands, and thank you so much, both of you, for joining me today on the Math is Everywhere blog and for sharing your gorgeous cover with us!
Author bio and social media/website links
Laura K. Zimmermann is a college professor by day and children’s writer by night. She has published numerous academic articles as well as nonfiction stories in children’s magazines. MUSHROOM RAIN is her first picture book. When she’s not writing, Laura can be found teaching and conducting research at Shenandoah University or wandering through nature with her mini Goldendoodle, Tivy. You can find Laura online at laurakzimmermann.com and on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @LauraK_PBwriter.
Illustrator bio and social media/website links
Jamie Green is a maker living in Greenville (funny, right?), South Carolina. It is a goal of theirs to both intrigue and educate, combining nature and whimsy and creating a space for curiosity. They are working on multiple childrens and middle grade books at the moment, as well as doing patreon, youtube and learning how to tattoo. You can catch them in a corner of a cafe or on trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains. @jamiemgreenart on Instagram and Twitter
Copy of MUSHROOM RAIN (continental US only please) from Sleeping Bear Press and an NF picture book critique under 1,000, no rhyme from Laura K Zimmermann
There are 4 ways to enter the random drawing (each one counts as an extra entry). Do the following and come back and leave a comment with which of them you did and please indicate in your comment which prize you prefer.
Share in a comment below that you
- Added MUSHROOM RAIN to your “Want to Read” list on Goodreads and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Pre-ordered a copy of MUSHROOM RAIN
- Links to pre-order: Winchester Book Gallery (for a book signed by Laura and a bit of swag) https://www.winchesterbookgallery.com/book/9781534111509
- Did a quote retweet or retweet about this blog post on Twitter and tagged a friend, a librarian, a teacher, and/or your favorite indie bookstore.
- Followed Laura, Jamie, and Sleeping Bear Press on social media
@LauraK_PBwriter on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest
@jamiemgreenart on Instagram and Twitter
@sleepingbearpress on Instagram and Facebook, @sleepingbearbks on Twitter
Thank you all for supporting such wonderful creators, and if you’re still reading, check out another chance to win a copy of MUSHROOM RAIN and more from @PBLaunch2022. GRAND PRIZE is a set of 18 signed 2022 PBLaunch member books including MUSHROOM RAIN! https://twitter.com/PBLaunch2022/status/1448421069220687875
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez