Wednesday, December 5, 2012

HIGH FIVE #23: Interview with Cynthia Kieber-King

If you're here for the Christmas picture books giveaway, it's in the previous post. Just another day or so to enter that contest. But please feel free to stick around and visit a while.

Please welcome Cynthia Kieber-King, another debut picture book author! I hope you have time to stop by and read her wonderful story before your holiday festivities get underway. 

Title:  Habitat Spy
Author:  Cynthia Kieber-King
Illustrator:  Christina Wald
Publisher:  Sylvan Dell Publishing
Release date:  April 2011
Word count:  172
"Told in rhyming narrative, Habitat Spy invites children to 'spy' the plants, invertebrates, birds, and mammals living in North American habitats: backyard, beach, bog, cave, desert, forest, meadow, mountain, ocean, plains, pond, river, and swamp. Children will have fun discovering the characteristics of each habitat as they find and identify the resident plants and animals, while learning about what living things need to survive."
Here’s a big HIGH FIVE congratulations to you for your debut picture book!

Question ONE: 
What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.
Only 3?! No fair! Here’s my try:
  1. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf - who can resist this poetic sweet bull?
  2. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann - so cute and funny!
  3. Wonders of Nature by Jane Werner Watson - a beautiful meditative walk through nature

Question TWO: 
How often did you read to your children when they were younger; do you feel like you have an extra special bond with your children because of books? Did you read to them or with them once they were teens?

I started reading to my son when he was a baby - it was always part of the day's activities, not just for bedtime. Even when he started reading to himself, I still read to him before bed. And when he got too old for that, I tried to read what he was reading so we could talk about it. Sharing all those great stories over all those years was something special. 

Question THREE: 
How might teachers use your book in the classroom?
My book explores thirteen common habitats, so I think teachers might find Habitat Spy an attractive way for them to introduce habitats to younger kids, and as a great springboard into further discovery for older children. Sylvan Dell creates free teacher guides full of activities for each of their books; Habitat Spy has a 70 page teacher guide at the Sylvan Dell website.
Question FOUR: 
What was your road to publication like? 

My first version of Habitat Spy had a different title and a different form - longer lines of lyrical poetry. I hadn’t submitted that first version to many publishers when I came across Sylvan Dell, but I  knew as soon as I saw their beautiful list that I just had to be part of it! That first submission was ultimately rejected by the other publishers and by Sylvan Dell. During the next few years as I worked on other projects, I revised that first version by making it more active (such as turning each long line into one strong verb paired with each plant or animal) and changing the title to reflect the new activity of seek and find. I also kept tabs on Sylvan Dell’s submission page on their website, and when a few years later they asked for submissions about habitats, I sent in my revised manuscript and it was accepted! I’m now working on a follow-up picture book, as well as a chapter book and two YA novels.
Question FIVE: 
What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?
  1. View your manuscript without emotion when you edit and revise.  
  2. Educate yourself about the agents and publishers that would be the best fit for your manuscript and how to submit to them.
  3. Be persistent and don’t give up - sometimes it’s about being at the right place at the right time!
Thank you so much, Cynthia, for being with us today and sharing your story. I love how you knew to revise your story. It paid off. Good luck on all your longer writing adventures. 

You can visit Cynthia on her website too!

If you missed an interview, you can still read all of them and give the authors a big HIGH FIVE! Only one more post until I go AWOL for three weeks. Don't worry, I'll be back in January!


  1. Smart way to go about getting published! These sound like great books, educational and fun. I know my kids love learning about nature and the world around them. Thank you for the wonderful tips!

    Shannon at Writing From the Peak

  2. Wonderful interview! I love that the publisher ended up taking the manuscript after you gave it a hard edit and waited for the right moment.

  3. Editing really does pay off. Next on my list of things to do is to actually write those queries and send stuff out!


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