Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
I’m so delighted to share an amazing book today that features a little known but very important and inspiring kid from history. Please welcome back wonderful author Beth Anderson who’s here to chat about her newest book, just out this month, TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE, illustrated by S. D. Shindler.
Description of book from the publisher:
Tad Lincoln’s restless wriggle just wouldn’t quit, much to the delight of his father, President Abraham Lincoln—if not so much to anybody else! This picture book brings to life the famous first son who coped with a disability and other challenges while showing compassion, intelligence, and wisdom beyond his years.
Kaitlyn: Hi, Beth, thanks so much for joining us again! It’s such a pleasure to chat with you about your wonderful books!
Beth: It’s great to be back! I’m excited to share a bit about Tad Lincoln, a boy from history who made me laugh and stole my heart.
Kaitlyn: Aw, your book made me feel the same about Tad. Can you start by sharing where the idea of this inspiring book came from?
Beth: As per my usual, I was following crumbs for another story, and I ran across an article about Tad Lincoln being the one who asked for the very first presidential pardon for a holiday turkey. It was a cute story but didn’t go deep enough for me when I looked for the “heart” that could drive the telling. As I dug further, I found a tender father-and-son story in which each saved the other from the sorrows and stresses of the time. I loved that a child was the one who provided joy and hope for a president and kept him going. That serious angle was balanced by the hilarity of Tad’s creative play and adventures. Heart plus humor is irresistible to me. As I built the story, I learned more about Tad’s partial cleft palate, speech impediment, and learning differences. Those personal struggles provided a window into his character, helped me see the world through his eyes, and explained his behavior. Framing the story with Tad’s challenges and differences brought even more power to his capableness and agency. That additional layer deepened a story about a boy and his papa in the President’s House.
Kaitlyn: I love that! The layers are so important for a story, and I love that finding those layers helped you find the heart of this story. Can you share why books like this are so important to share with our little ones?
Beth: I think it’s important for kids to see goodness in themselves and others, even when they appear to be annoying and undisciplined. Also, this book is a window into another side of a famous historical figure and reminds us that the names we encounter in history were real people meeting the challenges of their time and place—not so different from us. Making history personal enhances understanding and makes it meaningful today.
Kaitlyn: So well said. All kids should see the goodness within themselves, and I agree. I always thought of historical figures as something untouchable. I love that you’re helping kids see historical figures more as real people. There are so many fun adventures in this book, how did you go about researching to find them all?
Beth: And there were so many more that didn’t make it into the book! I followed the bibliography breadcrumbs from one source to the next and tried to come at it from different directions. Besides books on Abraham Lincoln, I dug into what others in and around the President’s House at the time wrote about Tad. Those accounts provided information on his actions and character as others saw him. I sought out information on the setting, examining photos, maps of Washington, D.C., and floor plans of the White House to get the lay of the land and mentally tag along with father and son. I try to put myself there and find answers to questions like, “What would they encounter on the streets?” I also had to dig into the specific animals, analysis of Tad’s probable disabilities, the Sanitary Commission, “Who was the gardener?”, “Who was the cook?” and more.
Kaitlyn: Wow! Lots of fun research rabbit holes! Now if you had to pick, what was your favorite scene to write about?
Beth: Gosh, that’s a tough question. I loved honing the scene of Tad leading his animal troops while the gardener raged. I had a movie in my head with lots of action, emotions, and a hint of surreptitious discipline. No one knows for sure what happened to that goat, but the historical record leads one to suspect foul play.
I also have to say I love the turkey scene. I had a much longer version of that originally, but when I moved beyond that incident, I was forced to cut it way back. That was difficult, but fun! And the spread with the turkey in the kitchen has to be my favorite illustration. No spoiler here. S.D. Schindler’s illustrations throughout are fabulous!
Kaitlyn: I love that your favorite scenes both involve animals, and cutting scenes you love down can be so hard; I’m very impressed! Can you share who your editor for this book was? Can you share what it was like working with him or her? Also, if you’re up for it, you’ve had the chance to work on many wonderful books, can you share some insight on what it’s like working with editors in general or share some similarities and differences?
Beth: Tad Lincoln’s Restless Wriggle is my third book with Carolyn Yoder. (And we’ve got four more in process!) She is beyond amazing, and I have learned so much with each manuscript we’ve worked on together. Each book has its own challenges. Carolyn is such a pro and pushes me to the max. The first book with an editor is always a new experience as I think they all work a little differently. With the Calkins Creek team, it’s a very collaborative process with lots of sharing along the path of publication. This has helped me as I work with other editors because I’ve seen the stages and know better what to look for or ask about. For my first book, An Inconvenient Alphabet, I worked with Sylvie Frank when she was with S&S. Of course I knew nothing, so the whole process was eye opening. She guided me along the way and answered my myriad of questions. Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine (May 2022) is with Kids Can Press. I’ve worked with several editors on that book, so that process has been slightly different. I think each editor is a little different, each publisher, and each book, too. Experiencing the collaborative process and how everyone works through their piece is fascinating to me. And each book and process bring valuable learning to the next project.
Kaitlyn: It’s so wonderful to hear that though everyone is a bit different, each experience is so wonderful! Can you share how you found your agent, and how you knew she was the one?
Beth: I was sending a new manuscript out to a few agents when I saw a post about Stephanie Fretwell-Hill joining Red Fox Literary. Though I didn’t know much about what she was looking for, I knew Red Fox was a super agency and that Stephanie had valuable industry experience. I subbed to her. When we talked, she answered my questions with expertise and warmth. We had a great conversation that let me know we were “on the same page.”
Kaitlyn: That’s the best! I’m so glad you found the best advocate for you and your lovely stories! Can you share with us what you’re working on now?
Beth: I’m working on editor revisions with Carolyn Yoder for a new manuscript under contract but not yet announced. It was a story from “the drawer” that I realized was newly relevant and just needed a different take. It’s another story that features Abe Lincoln.
And...I’m revising a work in progress. It’s been sitting a bit while I do blog posts and launch activities for Tad Lincoln’s Restless Wriggle and prepare a couple presentations, but I’m getting anxious to get back to it.
Kaitlyn: I love those zombie stories that you bring back from the dead. Readers, if you haven’t heard about our Kidlit Zombie Week, check it out here, and you too can bring a story back to life. Beth, can you share some advice for authors?
Beth: I’d say three things: be patient, be open to learning and feedback, and be a part of the kidlit community.
Kaitlyn: I agree with all of these so much! Finally, if you could meet your favorite author, illustrator, or historical figure, would you chat by a fireside or go on an adventure?
Beth: Fireside chat. Because I have LOTS of questions!
Kaitlyn: Haha! I bet you’d walk away with SO many book ideas! Thank you so much for stopping by again to share about another wonderful book!
Beth: Thank you for the opportunity, Kaitlyn! And thanks for all you do to support kidlit creators!
Kaitlyn: My absolute pleasure; I feel so lucky to know so many amazing people who are doing so much to help inspire our next generation.
Author Bio and links
Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. With linguistics and reading degrees, a fascination with language, and a penchant for untold tales, she strives for accidental learning in the midst of a great story. Beth lives in Loveland, Colorado where she laughs, ponders, and questions; and hopes to inspire kids to do the same. She’s the award-winning author of TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE, “SMELLY” KELLY AND HIS SUPER SENSES, LIZZIE DEMANDS A SEAT!, and AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET. Beth has more historical picture books on the way, including three more stories of revolution, wonder, and possibility in 2022.
@Bandersonwriter (Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram)
Kaitlyn’s Review of TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE
This book is such a wonderful way for kids to learn compassion for every person and see the greatness in everyone. Kids will enjoy the fun adventures and not even realize they’re learning about history and empathy. I hope you share this story with the little ones in your life.
Giveaway- copy of TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE – continental US only please
To enter the random drawing, do any/all of the following options, then come back and write all of the things you did in ONE blog comment. (If you forget something, feel free to reply to your first comment ;))
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Thank you all for always supporting such wonderful creatives, and guess what, Fall Writing Frenzy friends? We think we’ll have the winner announcement next week, so keep any eye out for that, too!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez