A new picture book!

I have a new picture book on the way! Road Work Ahead

Road Work Ahead

This one has been a lo-o-o-ong time coming. I started it when my son was 2…and now he’s 27! When he was 2, he loved to look at all of the trucks and machines along the road, so I started snapping pics for him, and made him a “look book” that later turned into a picture book. I loved that book, so I kept rewriting it, and sending it out…and now 25 years later, it’s a book you can hold in your hand.

Road Work Ahead is coming out with Viking Children’s Books on September 15, 2011! Viking published my very first picture book, Man on the Moon, in 1997, so I feel like I have come home.

The publisher, Regina Hayes, asked me to write a new beginning and ending, so we knew why the little boy was on the road looking at all of the road work. It also added a who, by showing us the little boy before he got into the car. I needed all 6 Ws (who, what, when, where, why and how) to make it a story, not just a list of machines along the road. Stories sell, but lists…well, not so much. Adding 2 short stanzas made it work. (A good editor can see what your story needs and give you the push you need to make it work!)

So I added my mother and her famous homemade oatmeal cookies to the book. (We used to eat them right after they came out of the oven. Yum!) Driving to Grandma’s house for fresh, warm, homemade oatmeal cookies is definitely a reason to keep going despite all of the traffic delays due to the work along the road. And when you get to eat them at the end of the book, ah, sweet reward!

Jannie Ho, the illustrator, and I, have created a Road Work Ahead Facebook page, and we post a new link with news, updates, or activities for kids there each week. This week I posted a link to the August 1stΒ Publishers Weekly review.

Here’s a snippet of the PW review: A batch of Grandma’s homemade oatmeal cookies beckons, but for this backseat narrator, the sights and sounds along the road to her house are equally compelling: “Road work ahead./ Move over. Go slow./ Jackhammers crack./ Look at them go.”

(Notice how the change I made is mentioned in the review! The quoted text is the original beginning of the story. I had jumped too far into the action. What worked better was taking a few steps back and letting the reader know who the narrator was and why he was on the road in the first place. As I always say, “Writing is rewriting!” And a good editor makes ALL the difference!)

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