Writing stories that make us bigger on the inside
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We’re up to Holy Shenanigans!
Join me and Pastor Tara Lamont Eastman as we talk Sun in My Tummy, stories, bookmobiles, and love.
When Tara invited me to be her guest and posed three and a half questions about love, I wasn’t quite sure how the threads of my books were going to connect to the theme. But just as the elements of breakfast in Sun in My Tummy all lead back to the sun, so the varied tendrils of our conversation ultimately brought us back to love.
I was particularly moved by the breakfast story Tara tells in her opening words.
You can hear that story and the rest of our conversation here.
Open Book celebrates Ontario’s literary scene, with special focus on books and events produced by Ontario’s independent, Canadian-owned publishers. In their own words, “Open Book is committed to showcasing the outstanding range and quality of contemporary Canadian writing and invites readers from Canada and around the world to connect with Ontario’s vibrant book culture.”
What an honour for me to have a chance to talk with Open Book about my latest picture book, Sun in My Tummy, and some of the ideas and inspiration behind it. I also got a chance to share a bit about my own writing process, some of my favourite picture books, and what I think makes for a great kids’ book.
I am really grateful to Open Book for this opportunity and for all they do to lift up the work of Ontario writers, artists, and publishers.
You can read the whole interview here.
In lieu of an in-person launch, my collaborators Andrea Blinick (illustrator) and Erin Alladin (editor) and I met virtually to talk about the background to our book Sun in My Tummy.
It was good to have a chance to share a bit of the story behind the story, including reminiscing about a terrific grade six field trip which still fills me with excitement! And I loved peeking behind the scenes as Andrea developed the main character and played with different effects of light and darkness.
Special thanks to my daughter Miriam for doing the video editing. I was terrified that the recording would not work, but I managed to download it successfully, and Miriam stitched the bits and pieces together better than I ever could have. I have learned a lot about technology over the past couple of years, but if you need something done quickly, ask a teenager!
You can listen to our conversation here. I enjoyed it and I hope you do too.
I will have lots more to share about this book over the next few months. For now, I will just say that I am delighted to be teaming up once again with Cathrin Peterslund on Here: The Dot We Call Home (Paraclete Press, 2022).
Here: The Dot We Call Home is a simple and enchanting book that invites children to see themselves as both descendants and ancestors, and caretakers of our beautiful planet.
This is my home. I live here. But I am not the first…
When a child finds clues that others have lived in her house before her, she begins to wonder about them, and about those who will come after her. The more she wonders, the more her sense of home expands, stretching to include an entire planet.
With her thoughtful approach and her unique ability to make big concepts engaging and personal to children, Laura Alary invites readers along for the ride, zooming through time and space to the outer reaches of our solar system for a new perspective on the planet we share. The child marvels: How can something so big seem so small? But also: How can something so small seem so big? Overwhelmed by the mess that humans have left behind, in the end she realizes that there is only one thing to do: start where she is.
In spare and simple words, Here: The Dot We Call Home helps children begin to think of themselves as both descendants and ancestors, and to comprehend that people of every place and time share one home, and the task of looking after it.
Publication date is September 6, 2022 but you can pre-order the book now: https://paracletepress.com/products/here-the-dot-we-call-home?_pos=2&_sid=48229208a&_ss=r
Happy Book Birthday to Sun in My Tummy!
This lyrical introduction to photosynthesis is also a book about mindfulness (and mindful eating), gratitude, and the intricate interconnectedness of the natural world.
It is beautifully illustrated by Andrea Blinick and published by Pajama Press. The publisher has created a free downloadable teaching guide to make the book more user-friendly for teachers. You can find that on the Pajama Press website here: https://pajamapress.ca/resource/sun_in_my_tummy_teaching_guides/
And to bring some warmth to your morning, here is our Sun in My Tummy playlist!
One of the joys of writing is the people you meet.
Over a year ago I was getting ready for the launch of my (then) new book, Breathe, and was thinking about who might consider writing a endorsement for it. At the time I had just discovered that one of my favourite writers, Brian McLaren, had written a children’s book called Corey and the Seventh Story. This made me think that he might be sympathetic to my own aims of writing thoughtful books for children. Asking people to read and endorse your work can be a bit scary, but I decided it was worth a try. To my delight, Brian not only wrote a beautiful endorsement for Breathe, he also mentioned my book Mira and the Big Story on his blog. Those acts of generosity make a big difference to writers like me who are trying to get their work out there.
Another thing Brian did was introduce me to another Brian–Brian Allain, who is the creative force behind Writing for Your Life, an organization that helps support and promote writers of “books with substance and soul.” When Brian invited me to join him in conversation about my path to publication, and my two newest books (Sun in My Tummy and The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything) I was delighted. For me, words always come more easily when I write than when I speak, but Brian made me feel so welcome and relaxed I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with him.
You can listen to our conversation here.
To learn more about Writing for Your Life: https://writingforyourlife.com
I find it both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking when reviews of a new book begin to come in. So you can imagine the delight I felt when I learned that Sun in My Tummy had received a starred review from Quill and Quire!
After describing Sun in My Tummy as a “radiant picture-book homage to our nearest star and main source of energy on earth” the review goes on:
“Unfolding at a leisurely pace, this kitchen table conversation covers a lot of ground, which includes plant life cycles, food webs, and photosynthesis. The rhythmic second-person narration is immediately immersive and full of relatable, child-friendly comparisons: “Not long ago, these oats were a field of swaying grasses. Before that, seeds, snuggled deep in the dark earth, like you in your blankets. What woke them? The sun!”
Scientific concepts are presented in easy-to-understand, lyrical language. Nature is full of surprises, and the chemical process that plants use to transform carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight into sugar – which in turn fuels life – is described with beguiling awe and infectious enthusiasm: “Food from thin air!” As the hungry little girl tucks into her bowl of oatmeal and blueberries, delicious prompts like “Is that the taste of sunlight?” encourage inspection, reflection, and sensory engagement.”
You can read the whole thing here: https://quillandquire.com/review/sun-in-my-tummy/