How To Design an Inspiring School Visit Presentation

Author Bethany Hegedus is known for her inspiring, touching and thought-provoking presentations to both adults and children for her GRANDFATHER GANDHI picture books. Now she has a brand new picture book out, ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and is creating new presentations to extend this wonderful story. We thought it would be interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Bethany develops her programming and are thrilled that she agreed to pull back the curtain. Here’s a guest post from Bethany Hegedus on tips for designing an inspiring school visit presentation…

Bethany Hegedus
Bethany Hegedus

You either have a new book out or your first book out and it’s time to think about school visits. Yikes! How can you present your book in an engaging way to a room of 30 kids or an auditorium filled with 500 or more? What do you share from the process? How can you showcase your book’s themes?

Ah, first take a deep breath. Your job as an author/presenter is to inspire your audience. It’s about them—not about you.

After four years of presenting the two GRANDFATHER GANDHI books, with themes around anger, non-violence, waste and recycling, I have a new book out, one that doesn’t deal with any of those themes. ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD focuses on Nelle Harper Lee’s spitfire streak, her childhood friendship with Truman Capote—another of America’s great writers—and her grit and gumption in becoming an author and telling the story that she was born to tell and creating characters who the world has come to love and own, like no other author.

How did I approach designing inspiring presentations? Here’s how:

  • Find and focus on what will interest your audience. Make connections to them.

Be a spitfire with ALABAMA SPITFIRENelle Harper Lee was a spitfire. Today’s kids are spitfires too. What makes a spitfire? Speaking up for yourself and others. Wearing what you want to wear. How can kids be like Harper Lee? The illustrator of ALABAMA SPITFIRE, Erin McGuire, created an image for our #BeASpitfire campaign, encouraging readers to “live lives of their own design”—just like Harper Lee.

  • Find and focus on what will interest educators. Make connections to the classroom.

ALABAMA SPITFIRE is about a writer—and not just any writer—but America’s favorite writer. What did she read as a child? Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Did she write as a child? She sure did. Nelle and Truman wrote pot-boiler mysteries based on their small-town neighborhood’s goings on. Old Mrs. Busybody and The Fire and the Flame were two of their titles. On my school visits, I am going to do mini or extended writing exercises with students based on their observations of their hometowns. Will there be a budding Harper Lee or Truman Capote in the audience? Perhaps. But even more than inspiring America’s next great novelists, I hope to partner with educators to show writing as a skill we can all use. We all have something to say. Writing is our way to say it. And share it.

  • Focus on the struggle. Yours, your characters’, and/or your subjects’.

Understanding resilience, which society is focusing on—rightly—as a way to ensure future success is key. I share with audiences young and old, my ten+ year journey to publishing my first novel. My thirteen-year journey to publishing GRANDFATHER GANDHI, and now I can share with them the decades Nelle Harper Lee took in perfecting her craft, writing short story after short story before landing an agent. Then switching to a longer form: the novel and writing and revising, and revising more to create a book she thought no one would really take notice of that went on to win the Pulitzer and become one of the most beloved books of all time.

  • Be yourself. Be real. And allow your audiences to be real.

Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

I was in Virginia speaking after the white supremacist marches and violence this last summer. One girl, the only African-American student in a packed auditorium, who I had called on many times, said at the end of the presentation that she was “mad at that man that killed that woman, running her over with his car.” I told her she had a right to be mad. I was mad. Arun Gandhi was mad…and if still living Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi would be mad too. Our anger was ok. It pointed to something unjust and unfair had occurred. Now, what were we going to do with our anger? Lash out at someone else? Lash inward at ourselves? Or could we talk about our anger and let it move us to action? I shared how the terrorist attacks on 9/11, of which I am a survivor, led me to ask Arun Gandhi to work with me.

What could this student do? I invited her to speak with me after the presentation and we had a long talk about her difficulties being “the only black girl” in the 3rd grade, and how the man who killed that woman in Virginia were white—just like I was. We talked about what being an ally meant and how hard it was to figure out who was our ally or not.

Watch Bethany get real and talk about her own inspiration from Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird and about Harper Lee and Truman Capote’s beginnings as young writers.

Thank you, Bethany!

Read more about Bethany Hegedus and her books and presentation on her speaker page.

Client Books Honored By Coretta Scott King, Ezra Jack Keats and Geisel Awards

From new imprints to appearances to major award wins, our clients are keeping busy. Read on…


MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERSKwame Alexander‘s OUT OF WONDER (co-written by Chris Colderly and Marjorie Wentworth) won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator award for illustrations by Ekua Holmes. Bravo to all on this gorgeous book of poetry!

Evan Turk‘s picture book MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERS won the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. We’re singing Evan’s praise! Congrats, Evan.

At this year’s 2018 ALA awards, Salina Yoon‘s MY KITE IS STUCK AND OTHER STORIES (A Duck, Duck, Porcupine! Book) took home a Geisel Honor. Congratulations, Salina!

VOYA Magazine included BLOOMING AT THE TEXAS SUNRISE MOTEL by Kimberly Willis Holt on its Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers 2017 list.


Kwame Alexander has launched his own imprint under publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. We look forward to seeing more innovative and out-of-the-box stories from his authors and illustrators. Both Kwame and The Booking Biz client Lamar Giles will have books on the debut spring 2019 list. Congrats, Kwame & Lamar! Read the New York Times article announcing the big news!

Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a MockingbirdWe’re excited for Bethany Hegedus and her new picture book ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, which is a #1 New Release in Children’s Literary Biographies on Amazon! Bethany has launched #BeASpitifire campaign in honor of Harper Lee. Meet many kidlit creators and hear how they are spitfires.

Bethany Hegedus and ALABAMA SPITFIRE were also featured in the Austin Statesman newspaper.


Javaka Steptoe visited Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art. Discover how he explores the role of art in picture books with this thought provoking article in PW’s Shelftalker with BookPeople’s Meghan Dietsche Goel. The author/illustrator of RADIANT CHILD said, “Great art creates places for people to enter into it.” Check out the YouTube video.

Carmen Oliver - Path to PromotionCarmen Oliver is excited to be a part of the six-week online book publicity course Path to Promotion for authors/illustrators (published and pre-published) looking to make a splash in the school and library market and to help each author tap into their authentic selves in their programming/marketing. Registration opens March 1, 2018.

Additionally, Carmen Oliver will be teaching again at the workshop Crafting Successful Author Visits April 29 to May 4 at Highlights Foundation along side faculty members Peter Jacobi, Jan Cheripko and break-out star author Andrea Loney (who attended last year’s workshop and has soared to success). During the workshop attendees put together their own school visit program then take that program into a school and present supported by the faculty. Testimonials from last year’s attendees include: “The synergy and positive energy from three faculty members were almost unbelievable,” and, “The workshop was small and intimate, which kept me focused and allowed the instructors to do a deep-dive into the information.”

Interview: Adam Lehrhaupt on Hockey, Feathers, and Pie

Adam Lehrhaupt
Adam Lehrhaupt

Award-winning picture book author Adam Lehrhaupt writes about chickens, words, animals and more. So where does he come up with these stories? Enquiring minds — us — wanted to know…

Booking Biz: What does your average day look like?

Adam: Well, on a typical day, I get up at 6:30, wake the kids, and head down to the office. After putting on some coffee, I sit down at my desk to answer emails, respond to social media, and generally wander around the internet. I’ll even put in some time working on my website or preparing new school presentations.

Once the kids are off to school, I get down to the real work…catching up on last night’s TV.

Just kidding. After they leave, if I don’t have a Skype or school visit, I head over to my sofa and read.

I try to read every day. For at least an hour. Sometimes much longer. And I read everything. Picture books. Chapter books. Adult books. Magazines. Anything that might help me come up with an idea. Or spark some creativity.

After that, I move back to the desk to do some writing. Some days I work on edits. Others I start something new. But I typically write for a few hours each day.

Then the kids get back home and it’s time to help with homework.

Once homework is done, everyone piles in the car and we zip over to the rink for hockey practices. We spend a LOT of time at hockey rinks. I know…why haven’t I written a hockey book? Good question. I probably should. Let me know if you’ve got a good idea for one.

After hockey, it’s back home to get everyone ready for bed. Then I reward myself with a little TV, or another book. Depending on how the day went.

The next day, I get up and do it all again.

I Will Not Eat YouBooking Biz: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do best?

Adam: Ooh, this is a tough one. I enjoy so many things. Work wise, my favorite thing to do is visit schools. I get so much energy from the students! It gets me completely jazzed up and ready to write. I’ve come up with some of my best ideas after a visit.

Not work related, I’d have to say watching or playing hockey. I’ve only been playing for 10 years, about as long as my oldest son. But I really enjoy the game. It’s great fun to play, but also one of the best games to watch.

Booking Biz: Where do you get the inspiration for your books?

Adam: WOW! That’s a tough one. I get my ideas from all different places. Here’s a couple of examples:

I WILL NOT EAT YOU came to me during a long car ride. It was six hours. The kids sitting in the back. Punching each other. Screaming. Making a TON of noise.

All I wanted was some quiet.

And that’s when the idea came to me. What if there was a big, scary creature who desperately wanted it to be quiet? How would this creature react if animals kept bothering it with constant noise? Would it eat them?

For THIS IS A GOOD STORY, I was playing around with the idea of what things a story needs to be considered a ‘good story’. I came up with a pretty good list: a protagonist, maybe an antagonist, a setting, a little conflict to create plot, a big climax, and a satisfying ending. Then I challenged myself to write a book telling the reader how to use all of those things to write their own good story.

WordplayWith WORDPLAY, I was literally playing with words. I was playing with the idea of a character, Noun, who could BE anything he wanted. But he couldn’t DO anything. Then, I introduced Verb. And Verb couldn’t BE anything. But she could DO anything. The problem was, Verb really wanted to BE the center of attention.

I had SO much fun working on this story. I’m still amazed at what came from me just playing around with a few nouns and verbs.

Booking Biz: Did you always want to write books for children, or was there another career you wished for as a child?

Adam: I never really tried to push myself towards one thing or another. I love, LOVE what I do, but I have had some other pretty cool careers. I was a roadie for rock bands. I worked with David Copperfield. I even performed on Broadway. I guess I’ve been like the feather from Forrest Gump. I float where the winds take me and do my best to enjoy the ride.

All of that said, I couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out. I mean, I write books for children.

Seriously. That’s pretty cool.

Booking Biz: If you ruled the world, what would it look like?

Adam: If I ruled the world…

• Everyone would be able to eat their favorite foods, anytime they wanted, with no consequences.
• Kindness would be a necessity, not just a virtue.
• Evil would be eradicated.
• Books would be available to anyone, anywhere, whenever they needed one.
• TV and device use would be regulated based on societal contributions. Contribute more to gain more usage.
• I would be able to draw.
• And every Friday we’d all get pie.

If you wanted pie.

I wouldn’t force pie on anyone. But if you don’t like pie, any pie, you may want to reevaluate whether you want to be in a world ruled by me. I’m sure there are other worlds. You know what? I’d make another world just for no pie people. So they’d have a special place too. OK. Enough about pie.

Thanks for taking the time to hear what I have to say. Have a great day and dare to be creative!

Booking Biz: Mmmm. Pie! Thank you, Adam.

Learn more about Adam Lehrhaupt on his speaker page.

New Year, New Books, New Events

With 2018 underway, our clients are releasing new books and speaking at new events. Here’s their latest news:


Harper Lee's typewriter by Curious City
Harper Lee’s typewriter, created by Curious City for ALABAMA SPITFIRE

Bethany Hegedus‘ highly acclaimed picture book biography ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Balzer & Bray, Jan 23, 2018) is available for pre-order. When ordered through BookPeople in Austin, you’ll receive a signed copy by Bethany and illustrator Erin McGuire along with a beautiful handprinted serigraph of Harper Lee’s typewriter, handmade by Curious City. Order by Feb 10, 2018 to guarantee a signed copy.

Erica S. Perl’s middle grade novel All Three Stooges was released on Jan. 9, called “An unforgettable coming-of-age story about comedy, loss, and friendship for fans of Jennifer L. Holm and Gary D. Schmidt” by publisher Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. “Spoiler alert: This book is not about the Three Stooges. It’s about Noah and Dash, two seventh graders who are best friends and comedy junkies. That is, they were best friends, until Dash’s father died suddenly and Dash shut Noah out. Which Noah deserved, according to Noa, the girl who, annoyingly, shares both his name and his bar mitzvah day.”

Illustrator Larry Day‘s newest picture book with Kay Winters, VOICES FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, released Jan. 10. From the creators of VOICES FROM THE OREGON TRAIL and COLONIAL VOICES comes an unflinching story of two young runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, told in their voices and those who helped and hindered them


What Girls Are Made OfElana K. Arnold’s YA novel WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Young Adult Fiction.

The sequel to Elana’s A BOY CALLED BAT also has been selected as a Junior Library Guild book! BAT AND THE WAITING GAME will be on shelves on March 27 and is available for pre-order.

Mitali Perkins has received a 2018 Walter Honor from We Need Diverse Books for her YA novel YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR.


Melanie Crowder spoke of the story behind her recent YA novel AN UNINTERRUPTED VIEW OF THE SKY on Colorado Public Radio on Jan. 12.

Our clients will be at Denver’s first Children’s Festival of Stories! The event, which was designed and organized by The Booking Biz Associate Agent Sarah Azibo, will bring more than 30 authors and illustrators to the city center to engage with young readers, parents, librarians and educators March 16-18. Activities include storytimes, readings, illustration demonstrations and unique creation stations for attendees. An Evening of Story will be held for librarians and educators, and a World of Workshops offered for aspiring artists and writers of all ages. Among the speakers are Melanie Crowder, Pablo Cartaya, Elaine VickersMiriam Busch, Sarah AronsonAmmi-Joan Paquette and Emily Arrow, who will be offering special rate school visits in the area March 12th-16. Visit for more festival information and contact The Booking Biz to arrange a school visit with these presenters.



2018 Bookish Resolutions

The new year has started, and at The Booking Biz, we hope 2018 is bringing you all good things–including lots of wonderful books!

A new year is also a good time for changes, resolutions, and making the world better. Books can help.

Inspired by their own books, our clients are sharing their own resolutions. What are yours?

Maybe a FoxKathi Appelt, author of MAYBE A FOX

My New Year resolution is to consider more fully the angels in my life and to focus on them. In fact, focus is going to be my “word of the year.” In writing and in life.

Sarah Aronson, author of THE WISH LIST

The problem with resolutions is that I can never choose just one! Just like the fairy godmothers of THE WISH LIST, I am going to have a year filled with kindness, determination, and gusto. I want to share the sparkle–with readers and writers. I hope that 2018 will be a year filled with lots of happy beginnings, middles, and of course ever afters!


Molly B. Burnham, author of the TEDDY MARS series

My resolution is to open myself up to my full purpose, potential, and possibility, just like the dog in my upcoming book, who learns that she is capable of so much more than she thinks a dog can do.

Miriam Busch, author of RAISIN, THE LITTLEST COW

My New Year’s resolution? Perspective, perseverance, and play!

Voices From the UndergroundLarry Day, illustrator of VOICES FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

My New Year Resolution is to support teachers and librarians for their hard work and empowering children with the courage and freedom to explore new subjects.


My New Year resolution is to help all children believe that love will win.

Liz Garton Scanlon, author of ANOTHER WAY TO CLIMB A TREE and the upcoming KATE, WHO TAMED THE WIND

I resolve to get outside and love the Earth like she loves me!


My 2018 resolution is to #beaspitfire, sharing with kids and adults how we can all live lives of our own design. How we can all tell the stories we were born to tell. And that, most of all, childhood matters.

Dianna Hutts Aston, author of A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT

My resolution today and every day is to inspire children to seek their dreams with courage and perseverance…and along the way, stop often to smell the wildflowers, listen to the trees, and grow strong on the fruits of the earth.

Uma Krishnaswami, author of THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING

Two-fold New Year resolution: 1) to read my draft as if I were a stranger to it, and 2) revise like a sculptor looking for the story’s hidden shape.

Lindsey Lane, author of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN

My New Year Resolution is to live into the mystery where anything can happen. Anything.

Feral NightsCynthia Leitich Smith, author of the FERAL series

My New Year’s resolution is to lift up and empower new and underrepresented voices.


This January, my husband and I jetted away for a couple days to explore the beauty of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and while exploring its wonder, I was reminded how important it is to take time to move and as Georgia O’Keefe said, “take time to look.” In 2018, I plan to make more time to do both and I invite you to do the same. My mom reminds me from time to time to stop and smell the roses, and this year, I’m going to do lots of moving, looking, and smelling. Thanks, Georgia and Mom.

Ammi-Joan Paquette, author of TRAIN OF LOST THINGS

My New Year’s Hope is that all the lost be found and that all the found be cherished–this year and beyond.

Penny Parker Klostermann, author of A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE

My New Year Resolution is to do all I can to encourage children to read happily ever after.

Mitali Perkins, author of YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR

My resolution is to cross borders of race, class, education, gender, politics, religion, and age to try and bring the distant near.

Another Kind of HurricaneTamara Ellis Smith, author of ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE and her upcoming ROSIE’S SHOES

My two New Year Resolutions are to make friends with people who seem to be different from me [like the characters in ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE] and to find the light inside myself so I can really know who I am, and to help other people find their own light too [like the characters ROSIE’S SHOES].

Caroline Starr Rose, author of RIDE ON, WILL CODY!

My resolution for this year is “Ride On!” When things are great, keep on trucking. When things are challenging, know they can’t last.


My New Year Resolution is to find more ways to be party of positive social change.

Paper Chains by Elaine VickersElaine Vickers, author of PAPER CHAINS

My New Year Resolution is to always remember that family, friendship, and stories are what link us all together.

Dianne White, author of GOODBYE BRINGS HELLO, which comes out on June 26

My wish for the New Year is to be brave and grateful, to “open the door” to new adventures and to encourage others to do the same.

Meg Wiviott, author of PAPER HEARTS

My New Year’s resolution is to strive to be brave and kind.

Interview: Uma Krishnaswami on Treadmills, Knitting, and P.G. Wodehouse

Uma Krishnaswami
Uma Krishnaswami

Uma Krishnaswami grew up in India with writing a distant thought. Now, she’s a writer of novels, picture books, short stories, poems and articles. Her books have been published in 11 languages and won numerous awards. She’s also a teacher, guiding future writers in sharing their own stories.

What’s Uma’s life like now? She told us…

Booking Biz: What does your average day look like?

Uma: I’m usually up early. Coffee. An hour of exercise, breakfast, and my day begins. No more than an hour to get correspondence and other business related tasks out of the way. Then I settle in to work. That means some combination of writing or revision, depending on what the current project needs. I work at a treadmill desk—sometimes standing, sometimes walking. The pace varies. I read at 1 mph, type at 0.5 and revise with the treadmill off. Longhand writing is all in the armchair with a notebook and a fountain pen. After about three hours with a couple of small breaks, I stop for lunch, then put in another four hours or so in the afternoon. Then it’s teatime, followed by an hour’s walk, whatever the weather. Rain? I just throw on the raincoat and head on out. That’s a working day, more or less. I try to keep weekends free. I find it helps to give my writing a chance to simmer on its own without my thinking directly about it. But when I’m working on a book, it’s always in the back of my mind, so in a way I’m always working.

Book Uncle and Me

Booking Biz: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do best?

Uma: I love to hike. We have a regional park close to the house and I walk a lot in there. I’m a knitter. I knit scarves and hats and socks and give a lot of them away. Knitting helps me revise, actually. I like to potter in the garden although I’m better at planting than maintaining, so everything always looks a little wild, which is okay. Finally, I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to be able to visit some amazing places in my life.

Booking Biz: Where do you get the inspiration for your books?

Uma: Everywhere. That sounds clichéd, but I don’t think that inspiration is necessarily a sparkling gold-tipped wand. For me, it comes more slowly, seeps into the mind and refuses to leave me alone. I try to keep myself open to ideas. When one shows up, I test it out by writing around it and asking questions about it. I do this in a notebook, in longhand, sometimes in different colored inks. When those thoughts begin to coalesce, that’s when I know that the idea has come to stay with me and I need to write through it to find a possible story.

Booking Biz: Did you always want to write books for children, or was there another career you wished for as a child?

Bright Sky Starry CityUma: Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself becoming a writer. I thought I wanted to be a doctor, then a lawyer, then a teacher, then an actor, then an artist. For a while the goal changed just about every day. But the thing is, I was a writer even then, without knowing it. I wrote constantly in response to things that happened to me. I made up stories. I wrote letters to authors. One of them, British comic writer P.G. Wodehouse, sent me a reply which I still have. I was every bit a writer, from the age of 6 when I wrote my first piece of fiction in green crayon on a wall. I just didn’t know that people like me (brown kids, in India) could imagine themselves as writers.

Booking Biz: If you ruled the world, what would it look like?

Uma: Oh I would be busy! Well, okay, first of all, I’m assuming that world-ruling comes with magical powers. So…here goes. I’d clean up the planet for starters. Mount Everest and the plastic in the ocean. I’d get rid of fossil fuels and adopt clean energy. And I’d clean up the halls of power. You couldn’t be a criminal and rule a country in my world. I’d see that children’s bodies and minds were nourished as they deserve. I’d honor the pursuit of knowledge. By that I mean knowledge across the arts and sciences, including the lifeways of indigenous people, keepers of the planet’s aboriginal cultures. I’d honor the abilities and accomplishments of women. I’d outlaw war and the kind of nationalism that comes at the expense of other people’s humanity. That’s the short list.

Booking Biz: A world of love and respect is a world we would love.

Read more about Uma Krishnaswami on her speaker page.

End of Year Good News

It has been a tremendous year of awards and recognition for all of our clients. But 2017 isn’t over yet! Here’s some more good news…


Uninterrupted View of the SkyMelanie Crowder’s YA novel AN UNINTERRUPTED VIEW OF THE SKY and Elana K. Arnold’s WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF have been named Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2017.

Young adult novel YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR by Mitali Perkins is a Horn Book Best Book of 2017.

MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERS, written by Michael Mahin and illustrated by Evan Turk, was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2017.


Larry Day
Larry Day

Larry Day will illustrate Bob Raczka’s picture book BEWARE!, about a bear and a bee who meet on uncertain terms but ultimately become friends. The story is told in words made up of only the five letters in the title. Publication is set for fall 2019 from editor Karen Boss at Charlesbridge.

Congratulations to all our speakers on their amazing work in 2017. We look forward to continuing to represent them next year.

Winter Recommended Reads 2017

Happy Holidays from The Booking Biz!

No time of the year is bad for reading, but with winter weather outside and time off from work, the holidays are a great time to read new books and give books to others. Here are some of our best recommendations for wonderful holiday reading:


It’s great to introduce kids to the wonder of reading early. This winter, spend time with your youngest family with these amazing books.

Penguin's Christmas WishAuthor/illustrator Salina Yoon‘s holiday board book with PENGUIN’S CHRISTMAS WISH, in which the beloved character Penguin finds Christmas magic in unlikely places.

Tis the season for kindness, and BE THE CHANGE written by Bethany Hegedus and Arun Gandhi, illustrated by Evan Turkshares the kind wisdom of the Mahatma Gandhi. Such a great thing to be thinking about this time of year. You can reflect and be the change you wish to see in the new year.

MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERS written by Michael Mahin and illustrated by Evan Turk celebrates the music that would inspire rock and roll.

Elf in the House

The excitement of Christmas Eve is the subject of the GHOST IN THE HOUSE follow-up ELF IN THE HOUSE, written by Ammi-Joan Paquette and illustrated by Adam Record.

Story is at the heart of how we learn, grow and entertain, and in Adam Lehrhaupt‘s THIS IS A GOOD STORY, illustrated by Magali Le Huche, story is broken down so readers can build it back up.

Emily Arrow offers up kidlit tunes celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and winter in her new WINTERTIME SINGALONG CD (and kazoo!), with songs inspired by CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, THE POLAR EXPRESS and others.


Here are some of our winter favorites for kids of every age … including adults.

The WIsh List Book TwoEveryone wants wishes to come true, and Sarah Aronson‘s THE WISH LIST series from Scholastic is just that.

For an inspirational story encouraging girl empowerment, we love STEP UP TO THE PLATE, MARIA SINGH by Uma Krishnaswami.

Reading is fun during dark, spooky nights, and Janet Fox‘s THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE is an historical fiction adventure with ghosts and creepy characters.

Written by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee, MAYBE A FOX tells a beautiful, heart-warming tale that’s a great read by a roaring fire.

The Epic Fail of Arturo ZamoraPablo Cartaya‘s THE EPIC FAIL OF ARTURO ZAMORA is filled with familia, comida y amor!

Family and friendship come in all different configurations in Elaine Vickers‘ PAPER CHAINS and Melanie Crowder‘s THREE PENNIES.

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: IT’S ALIVE! by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson will keep budding scientists and nature lovers learning over the holiday.

Pet lovers will want to read Elana K. Arnold‘s A BOY CALLED BAT to review all that is involved with making a new friend.

If you’re hoping for good fortune in the new year, JASPER AND THE RIDDLE OF RILEY’S MINE by Caroline Starr Rose is a golden pick!

And for help keeping your New Year’s resolution, Molly B. Burnham‘s TEDDY MARS ALMOST A WORLD RECORD BREAKER gives readers the never-give-up attitude.


Winter is always a good time to reflect on the world and our place in it, and how better than to read amazing YA books…

OverturnedThere’s nothing like a good thriller to keep your mind off the cold weather outside, and Lamar Giles‘ new book OVERTURNED is just that.

National Book Award finalist WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF by Elana K. Arnold is especially poignant right now as women speak up.

The highly acclaimed YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR by Miltali Perkins is on many best-of lists for a reason. It’s is currently on agent Sarah Ahzibo’s TBR list for the holidays.

Plus, a treat for the ears, the audiobook version of Kwame Alexander‘s SOLO includes the music created for the book by Randy Preston! What’s not to love?

Check out more books by our speakers.

Best Books & Cover Reveals

With end-of-year book celebrations being announced, our clients are getting lots of love for their books. And we’re got new books to look forward to.


Chicken In MittensFour books by our clients are on the Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books of 2017 list! Congratulations to CHICKEN IN MITTENS written by Adam Lehrhaupt, BOB, NOT BOB written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, THE EPIC FAIL OF ARTURO ZAMORA by Pablo Cartaya, and WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF by Elana K. Arnold. The Best of the Best lists represent their choices for the year’s most outstanding titles, books of exceptional quality for a diverse, city-wide readership.

Elana K. Arnold’s WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF and Mitali Perkins’ YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR are on the New York Public Library “Best Books for Teens” list!

Melanie Crowder’s THREE PENNIES and Pablo Cartaya’s THE EPIC FAIL OF ARTURO ZAMORA are on New York Public Library’s “Best Books for Kids” list!

MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERS, written by Michael Mahin and illustrated by Evan Turk is on the Best Books of 2017 Lists for the New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature. It also received a Parents’ Choice Gold Award for 2017.

Teddy Mars Almost a World Record BreakerMolly B. Burnham’s TEDDY MARS: ALMOST A WORLD RECORD BREAKER and Elana K. Arnold’s A BOY CALLED BAT have been nominated for the 2019 Grand Canyon Reader Award through the Arizona Library Association!


The popular blog Mr. Schu Reads has showcased the covers of a number of new books coming from our clients.

Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick wrote a guest post for the cover reveal of their new picture book DEAR SUBSTITUTE, which honors “the unsung of the unsung.”

For the cover reveal of TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: HISTORIES AND MYSTERIESAmmi-Joan Paquette, who  co-authored book with Laurie Ann Thompson, finished Mr. Schu’s sentences, like:

The cover for Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries took my breath away! The whole Walden team have outdone themselves, and I love the perfect mix of factual, mysterious, and just plain silly…”


Interview: Kimberly Willis Holt on Words, Gardens & Libraries

Kimberly Willis Holt
Kimberly Willis Holt

Since her first novel, MY LOUISIANA SKY, Kimberly Willis Holt has won numerous awards for her children books. She writes stories about kids trying to find their place in life when they’re faced with difficult circumstances. Among her books are WHEN ZACHARY BEAVER CAME TO TOWN, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and PART OF ME, which won the Louisiana Library Association The Literary Merit Award.

We asked her some questions to find out more about this amazing author.

Booking Biz: What does your average day look like?

Blooming At the Texas Sunrise Motel

Kimberly: I’m an early riser, so the mornings are reserved for coffee and reading, usually nonfiction, short stories, or my book club’s novel selection. Right before dawn, I go into the garden and water and do other garden tasks. It isn’t work to me. I love it as much as writing. When I pull away at the grass invading flower beds, my thoughts always wander back to my stories. After I’m through there, I exercise, shower, eat and get to return to my writing. One exception with this schedule is when I’m writing a first draft. Then the writing comes first thing in the morning. That way I don’t try to revise as I write.

Later I usually cook dinner. After my husband washes the dishes, we watch a show, movie or read. My days begin and end with words.

Booking Biz: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do best?

Kimberly: Garden.

Booking Biz: Where do you get the inspiration for your books?

When Zachary Beaver Came to TownKimberly: Most of my ideas come from my well of life. When I visit schools I tell kids about how they will never run out of anything to write about if they go to their wells. They never run dry. My first book, MY LOUISIANA SKY, came from a moment in fourth grade when my mom and I passed a lady on the way to my grandmother’s house. My mom explained that the lady was mentally challenged and that she had children. That moment stayed with me because I’d never known any kids with parents like that. I wondered about those kids. When I started writing, I thought about that small moment and the voice of a character came to me. It was an idea I cared about. That too, is important. Writers have to care about what they write about. Is it any wonder that my latest book, BLOOMING AT THE TEXAS SUNRISE MOTEL, was inspired by my garden?

Booking Biz: Did you always want to write books for children, or was there another career you wished for as a child?

Kimberly: Ever since I was in fifth grade, I wanted to be a writer. I struggled in school because I was a slow reader. Back then I didn’t think I could be a writer because I wasn’t a perfect student, but in seventh grade three people made me feel like it was possible–two teachers and a friend.  I never made a conscious decision to write for children. The genre chose me.  Funny thing though, a few years back I was reading my journal that I kept in college. In it, I stated that I’d like to write for children. So maybe my subconscious led me here.

Booking Biz: If you ruled the world, what would it look like?

Kimberly: I think reading and being surrounded by beauty changes hearts and lifts our spirits. If I ruled the world everyone would have access to books and gardens.  And while I’m at it, how about a library surrounding a huge garden that could be seen from every window?

Booking Biz: That sounds like an amazing library.

Read more about Kimberly Willis Holt on her speaker page.