Hi Valerie and welcome back to The Book Tree.
Kerry: Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! is your latest picture book release. Where did the idea for this new book come from?
Valerie: The idea for this book came from watching the games children play outside and thinking about the activities I loved as a child. Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! is a book that, I hope, encourages readers to go outdoors and have fun – as all children should.
Kerry: I love the diversity and inclusion in this story. Is this something reflected in your own neighbourhood?
Valerie: My current neighborhood is somewhat diverse but not as diverse as my childhood one. I believe it’s important for children to have friends in their own neighborhood, regardless of its diversity, but it’s equally necessary to travel outside of that community to expand their circle and, hopefully, meet more people from diverse backgrounds.
Kerry: Do you still hand write your ideas in notebooks like you did when you were younger?
Valerie: All of my writing is done on the computer. That’s the method that works
best for me these days. I do keep paper and pen by my bedside, so if an idea occurs to me just before I fall asleep, I can jot it down.
Kerry: How important do you think it is for young writers to understand and use rhyme in their writing?
Valerie: Children should be introduced to a variety of writing styles and have the opportunity to try them out. Rhyme is one of those styles, and I would want young writers to give it a try because it will allow them to explore language in a fun way. It also presents a challenge – thinking critically about what words fit best together, like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. I wouldn’t force young writers to rhyme if it’s not working for them, however. Even when writing poetry, children don’t have to use rhyme.
Kerry: Are there any particular authors who have inspired you on your journey as a writer?
Valerie: My mentor, Kelly Starling Lyons, has been a great source of inspiration. Her books have served as mentor texts for me, and our conversations have provided so much helpful information about writing, publishing, and book promotion.
Another author who inspires me is my agent, James McGowan. He champions my work, helps me get my writing submission-ready, and answers my plethora of questions about the publishing industry.
Kerry: What are you reading at the moment?
Valerie: Currently, I’m reading an adult book, Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez. However, some fall picture books that I’m looking forward to reading are: Hold Them Close by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow & Patrick Dougher, Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm’s Fight for Change by Tameka Fryer Brown & Nina Crews, and Paati’s Saris by Jyoti Rajan Gopal & Art Twink.
Kerry: Thanks so much for dropping by for an interview Valerie!
There were so many amazing nominees for this year's CBCA Book of the Year awards that I don't know how the judges managed to choose! But they did, and those that were announced as winners and honor books last Friday, are an outstanding collection of stories by some of our most talented authors and illustrators. Congratulations to all those who were nominated. These books are not only beautifully written and illustrated, but they are also diverse, engaging and relevant to the world we live in. If you don't have them in your collection, you need to get to your local bookshop and order them as they are definite must haves for all school libraries.
I've just voted in this year's Crystal Kites Awards as part of the International Central group. The shortlist offered a wide variety of really interesting, funny and beautiful stories and it was hard to choose just one! All of the stories would be great additions to a school library collection and wonderful for diversity and inclusion for readers. If you haven't voted yet, here's the link and a look at the choices below.