Growing, Greatness, & Badges
Spring is a time of re-birth and growth. And with the COVID quarantine, I think most of us are realizing how much we need to grow (whether it be as a person, partner, writer, or parent).
And that has been Kaitlyn’s and my goal for Spring Fling-
to help us grow. We had no idea that the contest would land smack dab in the middle of a nationwide shut down. But we are so thankful that our kidlit community has virtually surrounded us and "sprung" into our lives.
We both want to say thank you for giving us warm fuzzies and laughs in this chaotic time!
We also want to say a big thank you to Heather Bell! She designed these fabulous badges for all our Spring Fling participants.
You can get your badge by right clicking and saving the badge. You can use it on your website to show off your accomplishment and awesomeness! Or feel free to share this lovely art on any of your other social media platforms.
I had a chance to catch up with heather this morning this morning. She let me pester her with a few questions.
Alright Heather, first question if you could be any kind of donut, what would you be?
Ooooh. I think I'll go with the raspberry filled. Number one--it's my ultimate favorite. Number two--can't go wrong with a general yummy doughnut plus a sweet surprise center!
Sweet! Just like you! You are also very talented. Not only are you a talented illustrator you are also an author. Do you consider yourself an author first? An illustrator first? Or are the two inseparable to you?
I think it really depends on the project. I have a formal education in art, but have been writing stories since I was little. The part that draws me most is creating worlds. And both writing and art have to kind of dance together to make that happen.
You’re repped by our very own Kaitlyn Sanchez. Any advice for querying writers?
I’m so honored to be repp’d by Kaitlyn! As everyone says, this is a subjective business. It’s a good mantra. Everyone will have different opinions about your work.
As far as advice goes, keep creating, keep sending, and keep learning. It’s just a mix of time and luck before it lands in the hands of someone who thinks, yes! This is it.
Truth! What a wonderful reminder. Thank you so much for the beautiful badges you donated! I absolutely love that you illustrated the beautiful transformation and growth of spring for our badge. It is oh so timely!
Can't get enough of the beautiful Heather Bell, Check out her website here!
Alright friends, prepare yourselves to grow into your greatness this week.
Things may seem hard.
Words may be difficult to type,
time might be hard to find,
but you can do this.
You will grow. You will blossom. You will be great!
Have you ever heard the phrase "in the groove?" Well, Valerie Bolling’s book, Let’s Dance will have you getting your groove on! The illustrations are beyond beautiful. The rhyme rolls off the tongue, and the verbs are vivacious!
There are so many wonderful classroom connections. Aside from all of the amazing movement vocabulary, each illustration features dances from around the world.
pull out those maps and plant a few pins on all the different countries represented. Teacher friends, you could even Watch youtube videos of the various dances. I am inspired to conduct a whirly-twirly research project, I bet your children will be too!
I had a chance to chat with the author behind this brilliance. And I can tell you, she inspires me in more than just my dance moves!
Alright Valerie, let’s start off with my favorite question. if you could be any kind of donut, what would you be?
That’s definitely the most interesting question anyone has asked me, Ciara. Another blogger asked, “If you could be any animal, what would you be?” However, your question tops that! I honestly don’t know what to pick because I’m not a fan of donuts; I prefer other sweets – homemade cakes and cookies – brownies, too. I guess I’d pick chocolate. Since I like brownies and rich chocolate cake, a chocolate donut is the closest I can get to those favorites.
Ha! I’m so glad I get the quirkiest question award! I love all things sweet too! So, if you want to be a brownie, you be a brownie!
This book gets you moving and grooving! What inspired you to write it?
Who doesn’t like to dance? I know some don’t, but most people I know enjoy it– especially young, uninhibited children. Turn on music and watch them go! Babies who can barely walk will sway and/or raise their hands.
My nieces love to dance. When they were two and four, they even danced while brushing their teeth. Now at ages soon-to-be six and eight, they still love to dance! They certainly provided inspiration for this book.
Kids are the best. I love watching mine. (They have no rhythm and two left feet just like their mama. There’s lots of crashing and falling, but we have a good time.)
What was your favorite part of the writing process?
I actually like revision. It’s the challenge of getting it right. In the case of Let’s Dance!, it was finding the best rhyming words and making sure the scansion was tight. There’s a sense of satisfaction each time the story gets closer and closer to being query-ready.
That is a very positive way to look at a tough part of the process. Love it! As authors, we all want to inspire kids. What do you hope kids will take from your stories?
I want people to find joy in my books. I want Let’s Dance!, and my subsequent books, to achieve the hallmark of a good picture book: begging to be read again and again. I also want my books to serve as models for celebrating diversity–featuring those who may not regularly appear in stories. I want all children to see themselves in my books and to see, also, those who may be not like them.
See, everyone? Isn’t she wonderful? Check out her book, I promise it will have you dancing for joy!
Valerie Bolling has been an educator for over 25 years and a writer since age 4. She is a graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, Teachers College and currently works as an Instructional Coach with middle and high school teachers.
In addition to writing picture books, Valerie writes a Monthly Memo for teachers that she publishes on Twitter, and she has been published in The National Writing Project’s Quarterly (“The Family Writing Project Builds a Learning Community in Connecticut”) and NESCBWI News (“Microaggressions Don’t Feel ‘Micro’”). Recently, she had a poem accepted for publication by Cricket Media.
Valerie is a member of NCTE, SCBWI, the NESCBWI Equity and Inclusion Committee, the Authors Guild, the WNDB Mentorship Program, #12X12PB, 2020 Diverse Debuts, 20/20 Vision Picture Books, and a picture book critique group.
Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing.