When We’re Lucky Enough to Have TWO New Books From Susanna Leonard Hill

Yes! You read the blog post title right! TWO new books from Susanna Leonard Hill! As you can see from the banner above, the covers are adorable. And I promise you the books are just as adorable as the covers. In case you would like to read other posts about Susanna’s new books, here is a handy schedule so that you can visit other stops on the blog tour.

But now let’s get down to the business of learning more about these books.

Due to the nature of these two books, WHEN YOU ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES and WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH, I thought it only fitting that I should check in on Susanna. Her books are instruction manuals and I have no doubt that her instructions are tried and true. However, hers aren’t your everyday instruction manuals. They involve (of all things) an elephant and a lion. Knowing how serious Susanna is about her writing I imagine her bravely taking on the dangerous task of caring for an elephant with the sniffles. And the even more dangerous task of giving a lion a bath.

In fact I imagine these dangerous tasks so … uh … well … uh … like I said dangerous, that I strongly suggested to Susanna that I conduct this interview by email instead of in person. I mean I’m not the one who chose to write these books and I don’t fancy putting myself in that kind of danger. Call me chicken if you like but I sure didn’t want any part of tromping or chomping!

Speaking of tromping, let’s start with the elephant.

Me: Susanna, I realize that elephants can look all gray and trunky and sweet, but let’s face it … they’re BIG! How did you do the research for this book? Did you actually observe an elephant? Was the elephant in your home for any length of time? Did you go through a lot of trial and error to determine the best way to deal with an elephant with the sniffles? Did you go through a lot of tissues? That’s a lot of questions (because I’m very curious) but, in general, I would like to know what your process was like as you wrote this brilliant instruction manual for those of us who some day might have an elephant with the sniffles?

Susanna: Penny! Penny, is that you? Argh! Urgh! If this elephant would justMoveOVER!
Ah! *gasps with relief* There you are!
Oh! And you have company! Hi, everyone!
PennyPennyPenny. I think we’d better begin by addressing the elephant in the room, don’t you?
No, not Umberto. (Although I should introduce him. Umberto, meet everyone. Everyone, Umberto.)

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill, Illustration copyright © 2017 by Daniel Wiseman, Used by permission of Little Simon

No. I am referring to the fact that you, my dearest Penny, refused to come here in person, feeling that you’d be in danger.
Oh, ye of little faith!
They don’t call me Safari Su for nothing! Did you really think I’d let my elephant tromp you?
Because of course you are right. I do take my research seriously, so Umberto has been camped out
here on Blueberry Hill for many moons. But he’s pretty harmless unless you happen to dart behind him when he’s about to sit down and he doesn’t see you in time… 🙂

As you may know, I have a bunch of kids. Some might say a horde. So I have dealt with many a kid-sniffle. And when kids have the sniffles, well, they often feel a little bit miserable – runny-nosed, itchy eyed, scratchy-throated, sorry-for-themselves little critters. So I got to thinking… (always dangerous 🙂 )… what would make them feel better?
If I were a chef, I might have whipped up a healing ganache or some such.
If I were crafty, I might have knitted, crocheted, or quilted a cozy coverlet.
If I were musically-inclined, I might have strummed a little ditty to cheer them.
Alas, I am none of those things.
But I am a writer.
So I thought to myself, how about a story?
And that is how this little instruction manual came about.
No kid wants to know how to take care of kids, though. That’s no fun!
So I thought to myself, hmmm…a kid might not want to take care of a kid, but EVERY kid needs to know how to take care of their elephant! (Every kid HAS an elephant, right? It’s not just me..? 🙂 )

Elephants, as it turns out, are not so very different from kids.
They like the crusts cut off their peanut butter sandwiches.
They insist on wearing rainboots even if the cloudy sky is only hinting at rain. Just In Case!
They won’t even consider going to sleep at night until you conduct the Mommy Sweep (clearing out any monsters who might be lurking in the closet or under the bed.)
So it came as no surprise that when they have the sniffles, just like kids, they need to be tucked in bed, entertained, waited on hand and foot, and kept happy and quiet so as to avoid sneezing and get better!
They just need everything exponentially larger and in greater quantities 🙂

Me: Why that doesn’t sound so dangerous. It seems like Umberto wasn’t into tromping at all. He just needed a little love.
But the lion . . . Yikes! They seem to like to chomp things. And people seem just right for chomping. Yet you and the lion must have come to some kind of agreement since you’re still standing. Same questions apply here—How did you do the research for this book? Did you actually observe a lion? Was the lion in your home/bathtub for any length of time? Did you go through a lot of trial and error to determine the best way to bathe a lion? Again, that’s a lot of questions (because I’m still very curious) but, in general, I would like to know what your process was like as you wrote this brilliant instruction manual for those of us who might have a lion in bad need of a bath?

Susanna: Now, the lion was another matter.
That lion ruled my house for months!
Months, I tell you!
At the time, he was not a lion. He was a 21 month-old old girl. A 21 month-old girl who had been treated with nothing but love and kindness since the day she was born, bathed tenderly and carefully from day one (well, day eight actually, since there can be no bathing before belly buttons) never carelessly splashed or doused or traumatized by water in any way.

And yet…
…one dark day…
…that 21 month-old girl decided there would be NO MORE BATHS!
And she was just as fierce as any lion, and just as LOUD!, believe you me!
And let me tell you, there was a great deal of experimentation, trial and error, coaxing, cajoling, middle-naming, and bribery involved in solving that problem!LION-2Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill, Illustration copyright © 2017 by Daniel Wiseman, Used by permission of Little Simon

After that, getting a lion into the tub was child’s play 🙂
It turns out that when you live with a horde of kids, research on wild animal behavior is easier than you might think. It seems to come with the territory 🙂

Me: Goodness! I never thought of it that way but you make excellent points. And after hearing from you, I’m certain that every household . . . and I mean EVERY household . . . should own a copy of your two books just to keep everything under control.

What’s that you said, Susanna? REALLY??? Oh.my.goodness!!! How generous of you! Listen up everyone!!!

Susanna is giving away one signed copy of each book! All you have to do is leave a comment below. Leave your comment no later than midnight (CDT) Thursday, August 10, 2017 and your name will be written on a tissue and place in my bathtub so that I can draw a winner! If an elephant and lion show up at my house before the drawing, I may have to use another method for the random drawing. Either way I will draw a winner for each book! ***You must be in the United States to win.

Don’t forget to share this post using #whenyourbooks!  Every time you post with #whenyourbooks you get an entry in the end-of-tour raffle for a Special Prize!

Meet Susanna: Susanna is the award winning author of over a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner and an Itabashi Translation Award Finalist.)  Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one forthcoming in Chinese.  Her newest books, When Your Lion Needs A BathWhen Your Elephant Has The Sniffles, and The Road That Trucks Built will be published by Little Simon in July 2017.  When Your Llama Needs A Haircut (Little Simon) and Alphabedtime! (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books) are forthcoming in Spring 2018 and Spring 2019 respectively, with additional titles coming in 2018 and 2019.  She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs.

Places to Find Susanna: Website: http://www.susannahill.com/HOME.html
Blog: http://susannahill.blogspot.com
Face Book Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SusannaLeonardHill
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusannaLHill
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SLHill1
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=26268678&locale=en_US&trk=tyah&trkInfo=tas%3ASUSAN%2Cidx%3A2-1-2
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/102248907287284628149/posts/p/pub
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/susannaleonard/
Making Picture Book Magic (online picture book writing course): http://susannahill.com/for-writers/making-picture-book-magic/

Winners of The Green Umbrella by Jackie Azúa Kramer

And we have WINNERS!!!!TheGreenUmbrella-cover-layout.indd

I interviewed Jackie Azúa Kramer in a blog post a couple of weeks ago. She shared about sources of inspiration and we had a drawing for two free books — one copy for the winner chosen by random.org and one copy for a Little Free Library near the winner. The drawing is over but if you missed the post head over and read it by clicking HERE

And the WINNERs are . . . 

Margaret Simon

and the 

Little Free Library in her City Park in New Iberia, LA.


Interview With Jackie Azúa Kramer, Author of The Green Umbrella and a Double Giveaway!

TheGreenUmbrella-cover-layout.inddToday we’re here to celebrate Jackie Azúa Kramer’s upcoming book, THE GREEN UMBRELLA, which will be on shelves January 31, 2017. That’s tomorrow 🙂
**Don’t miss the double giveaway. Details below.

Here’s the synopsis of THE GREEN UMBRELLAWhen Elephant takes a peaceful walk with his green umbrella, he’s interrupted by a hedgehog, cat, bear, and rabbit―each claiming that they’ve had exciting adventures with his umbrella. After all, it is an umbrella, and it certainly hasn’t been on any adventures more exciting than a walk in the rain. Or has it? Things aren’t always what they seem in this charming tale of imagination, sharing and friendship.

Prepare to be more than delighted with this book. It’s so full of imagination that I believe readers will be inspired to take imaginary adventures of their own.

Speaking of being inspired, it’s a fact that inspiration is a wonderful and necessary part of writing. Jackie wrote a great article for the Society of Children’s Book Writers (SCBWI) and Illustrators Summer 2015 Bulletin. Her article talks about inspiration. For today’s post, Jackie agreed to answer these questions about how she feeds her imagination with sources of inspiration.

PPK: In your article, Light My Fire, in the SCBWI bulletin, you discussed pictures as prompts or inspiration for your writing. Can you share about this source of inspiration?

JAK: I have very strong memories in my childhood, of what I’d call, visual inspiration. As a family we travelled all over the world. Exotic destinations like India, Israel, Venezuela, and Russia, to name a few. Between the people, architecture, clothes, art, food it was a feast for the eyes, not to mention all my other senses.

And the visual muses continued with my fascination in movies and theatre. I grew up close to New York City, and my parents would often take us to Broadway plays. The curtain rises and there are the incredible actors and sets, lighting, costumes and props. And movies…from the Golden Age of Hollywood to foreign and indie films, I can’t get enough.

So when I write, like scenes and acts in a play, I envision the page turns; the sets, costumes and props. As a matter of fact, every story I’ve ever written, I see as a moving image. Here’s one of my favorites—To Kill a Mockingbird.to-kill-a-mockingbird

PPK: Pictures are inspiring to me, too, Jackie. I’ve come up with many ideas based on an expression or action conveyed by an image. You mentioned to me that music is another source of inspiration for your writing. I’m curious about this. Could you tell us more?

JAK: Music! I think of the oft-used quote, “If music save the savage beast…” My music, as we have this virtual conversation is a plane flying overhead, birds chirping, dogs barking, kids playing, wind over trees, and more. In my upcoming picture book, The Boy and the Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla (Candlewick Press), a story about loss, and the sensitive questions and emotions between a boy and his father. I listened to sweeping movie soundtracks, A River Runs Through It and Out Of Africa. Here’s a sample:

I call that my writing environment in which I create a mood or a virtual reality.

PPK: So music helps create a mood for writing, as well as your writing environment. Tell us about your writing environment. And do you only write in one environment or do you move around your home or even outside your home? Do different environments inspire different parts of your writing?

JAK: Yes! I often venture out of my home workspace to a bookstore or my lucky local library where I wrote The Green Umbrella. Each place has a unique ambiance. In a secluded corner of the library I look out onto a tree lined street and this beautiful, old church.


And six months out of the year, I love to write outdoors in my beautiful yard, surrounded by trees and flowers, I lovingly refer to it as ‘The Canopy’. My soundtrack becomes birds chirping, dogs barking, kids playing and the wind over trees. How can one help, but be inspired.


PPK: Many writers advise getting out and living life to spark inspiration. How important is this advice in your writing life? How do you employ this advice?

JAK: As Matthew McConaughey said, in Dazed and Confused, “Just keep livin’! L-I-V-I-N!” It’s super important to live the life that one’s given. I call it the three ‘R’s’—refuel, recharge, renew. As creators we tend to work in isolation. In order to give our best, we need to give back to ourselves. Museums are an endless source of inspiration. Both in their 80’s, Matisse’s ‘Cut-Outs’ and Picasso’s ‘Sculptures’, remind me that it’s never too late to learn, and for new possibilities in creative expression.


The three R’s are available to all of us in the smallest of ways. Light a candle, listen to music, take a walk, talk to people. I don’t need to go far. I’m lucky to have a beautiful park in my town.


But every now and then, I have a bout of wanderlust and I’m gone, gone, gone. My partner in crime, and I, get on a plane, rent a car, stay in one town for a couple of days and move on…it’s so freeing. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit my ancestral roots in Spain.


Jackie, thanks so much for sharing about inspiration. I know it will be helpful to writers, both young and young at heart.

Double the Giving, Double the Fun! Giveaway for You and a Little Free Library!

Readers, today is your lucky day because Jackie is giving away two signed copies of THE GREEN UMBRELLA to one lucky winner! One copy is for the winner to keep. And the other copy is to donate to a Little Free Library near you. Little Free Library is near and dear to Jackie and I love that she’s donating a copy to be placed in one of them. If you’re not sure if you have a Little Free Library close by, you can follow this link and perform a quick search to find out—Little Free Library Map. If you want to know more about Little Free Library, head over to their website: Little Free Library. If you win, we need ‘proof of’ with an official charter sign and charter number. All registered LFL’s have them. For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post no later than midnight (CST), Monday, February 6, 2017. I will use Random.org to choose a winner. The winner will be announced on Friday, February 10 in my A GREAT NEPHEW AND AND A GREAT AUNT post.

Watch the adorable trailer!

Be sure and check out Jackie’s other blog tour stops. You will learn about this wonderful book and learn more about Jackie. Click HERE to see the schedule and find links to other stops.


Meet Jackie: Jackie earned her Masters of Education from Queens College. She is a member of SCBWI and has written for the SCBWI Bulletin. In 2014, she was invited to be a member of the Bank Street Writers Lab, Bank Street College. In 2015 Jackie was a presenter at the 1st nErDCamp Long Island.  Her picture book, The Green Umbrella (North South Books) debuts February 2017. The Boy and the Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla (Candlewick Press, TBD) and If You Want to Fall Asleep (Clavis Books, Spring 2018). Visit Jackie at: Jackieazuakramer.com

Other Places to Find Jackie
Twitter @jackiekramer422
Facebook Jackie Azúa Kramer