Saturday, April 23, 2011

HIGH FIVE #6: T is for Thank You For Joining Us Today!

[corey+signing+cropped.jpg]Today's interviewee (sorry it's three weeks late) for April's HIGH FIVE is Corey Schwartz. So you have a cute picture book out co-authored with Tali Klein. Here's a big HIGH FIVE to you! Hop! Plop! was published in 2006 by Walker Publishing Company, Inc. 

Summary: When Mouse and Elephant go to the playground together, it seems as if everything they try to play on together is broken until they finally find the piece of equipment that is just right for them.

Question ONE: What are three of your favorite picture books (because we all know you really have way more than three)?
Okay, virtually impossible to pick, but here goes.
Knuffle Bunny - by Mo Willems
That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown - by Cressida Cowell
Bear Snores On - by Karma Wilson
I would pick Ollie and Claire by Tiffany Strelitz Haber, but it's not out yet!  (Philomel, 2013)
Question TWO: How did you come up with the idea for your debut book? And what was your road to publication like?
Ah, phew.  An easy one.  In fact, I already answered the first part of that question on my blog.
As for my road to publication, I was incredibly lucky.   I sent Hop! Plop! to a half a dozen carefully researched publishers in Sept of '02, and the waiting game began. It turned out that my friend, Katie, had a friend at Walker. By November, I got the inside scoop that Walker was interested.  One by one, rejections trickled in till all my eggs were in the Walker basket.  Finally, in June, I got the official offer.  Though ten months seems like a long time, I consider myself fortunate to have gotten out of the slush without an agent or a conference contact. 
Wow! That is amazing! 
Question THREE: What are your top three tips for writers about writing, publishing, or whatever you have learned along the way that stands out as being very important, but no one ever talks about?
Network, network, network!   Connections mean a lot in this industry.   Go to conferences and interact with editors and agents via Facebook and Twitter.  Most importantly, form relationships with other writers.   You never know who might be the one to give you a lead or reference.   Of course, an agent is not going to rep you just because you know one of her clients. BUT an agent may take the time to give you comments (as opposed to a form rejection) if they have a personal connection to you.  My agent, Kendra Marcus, was a referral. She gave me specific feedback on my manuscript, THE THREE NIJA PIGS, and she invited me to submit it to her again if I addressed her concerns. Those small courtesies can make all the difference. 
Good to know. And congratulations on your second book!
Question FOUR:  How might teachers use your book in the classroom?  (This is also good for parents!)
Hop! Plop! can be used in any number of ways (lessons on size, weight, balance, rhyme, onomatopoeia, etc)  but when I read it to kids, I like to focus on the friendship aspect of the story.   I read the book, often in conjunction with another friendship story, and then discuss friendship. Did you ever do anything nice for a friend? What? How did it make your friend feel? How did it make YOU feel? That sort of thing. Kids can then draw and/or write about their favorite friend. 
As a teacher, I can see a whole unit on poetry and science being developed for second graders. What fun!
Quesition FIVE: What are your biggest challenges and greatest joys in parenting? Do you read picture books to your own children? What are some of your ideas for instilling a life-long love of reading in children?
The truth is, I have screwed up in almost every area of parenting (eating, sleeping, you name it!) except for one - developing language and literacy skills.
Here is my daughter enthusiastically "reading" (and signing) at 15 months!
I read to my kids non-stop.  But we did more than read books together- we played with books!  I'd give them porridge in three different sized bowls (with three different sized spoons!)   We'd build three houses out of foam mats, and my son would be the wolf and knock them all down.  We'd add our own stanzas to repetitive pattern books.  "Jordan, Jordan, who do you see?  I see Joshy looking to me." I even made that one into a big photo book for my daughter's preschool class.
There are so many ways to have fun with books! My daughter is now seven and has been reading independently for years, but there is nothing we love more than curling up with a hilarious book and laughing our heads off together!
Oh, well said! Thanks so much for sharing with us today. It was a delight to have you. My own daughter is four and she loves "reading" Too Purpley! by Jean Reidy.

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