Author Spotlight: Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw
Author Spotlight: Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw
It's Tuesday. That must mean...a new Picture Book Spotlight. Welcome back.
I'd like to start things off by saying THANK YOU for reading, recommending, and retweeting our posts! My hope for this blog is that it is meaningful, practical, thought provoking and entertaining.
Many congratulations goes out to Betsy Parkinson! Betsy won a picture book manuscript critique by Alyssa Jennette of Stonesong Literary Agency. If you happened to miss that post, you can read it here.
Don't forget we still have Jess Hernandez's giveaway in full swing--a query critique by Jess! Did you see that she got an agent? Read about it here.
Today we have a very unique Author Spotlight. If you didn't know, nonfiction picture books are super hot right now. However, Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw's new book is ice cold.
See what I did there? You're welcome.
This fabulous picture book is a must read--check it out! Not many authors can say their children exist in illustrated form (which is now something on my parent bucket list), but Suzanne can. Her debut book, I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy's Quest for Ice Cream Trucks features the real life story of her son's journey into sweet civic engagement (again, you're welcome).
Suzanne does have a giveaway with her post so be sure to read to the end. Two signed books!--a two scoop special (seriously, you're welcome).
Enough of the puns. I hear the eyes rolling...
a Roget’s Thesaurus (the actual book not online)
a pair of fuzzy socks
What’s something you absolutely must have in your refrigerator, pantry, or freezer? (besides ice cream) : )
Actually, I don’t keep any ice cream in the house because it’s way too tempting, but I always have a bar of quality dark chocolate on hand.
Sitting on my sofa looking out at our lake. It calms and centers me and allows the ideas to flow.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into kid lit...why picture books?
It has been my lifelong goal to publish a children’s book. In elementary school, I was that kid who when assigned a two-page paper, wrote ten. I received my first rejection letter (of many) from Western Publishing Company for my manuscript Boogie the Snail when I was twelve. In high school, I was co-editor of the school newspaper and co-wrote articles for the High School Happenings page of a local newspaper. As a freshman in college I majored in journalism, but my desire to teach children triumphed. Now as a nonfiction kidlit author, I have combined both passions!
Several years ago, I decided that if I didn’t make a concerted effort to carve out time to write I was never going to accomplish my goal. So, one New Year’s Eve, I made a resolution to make writing a priority and it was the first resolution I’ve ever kept. I picked up a manuscript I started years back, a fiction middle-grade version of I CAMPAIGNED FOR ICE CREAM. I also resolved to take classes to further my craft. One of my first courses was Kristen Fulton’s Nonfiction Archeology class. The idea of writing nonfiction books strongly resonated with me.
I teach developing readers by immersing my students in a different science theme each year and I saw nonfiction as a natural progression from my method of teaching to my writing. The course inspired me to try the ice cream truck story in a nonfiction picture book format and it worked. Now I’m hooked!
Thank you, it has been an incredible experience. I know it’s a cliché, but it truly is a dream come true and to have started with this story is extra special. I won’t go into that now as it’s the perfect segway to your next question.
Our books are always near and dear to our hearts, but this book for you is in another category. Tell us about the unique origin story for I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks.
I CAMPAIGNED FOR ICE CREAM is a legacy to my family. It was inspired by my son Josh, who at nine-years-old (he’s 27 now) wondered why ice cream trucks never came to our neighborhood. He soon discovered that a 1954 peddlers’ law forbade the sale of anything on our township streets including ice cream. Josh felt strongly that this was unfair. With a little guidance from his teacher momma, he decided to petition town hall to get the law changed. The book tells the story of Josh’s passionate journey to bring the joy of ice cream trucks to his town.
This story is phenomenal--even better that it's true! I also really enjoyed your puns and ice cream related figurative language--a solid detail that consistently tied your narrative together in a unifying and delicious way. This story has such an inspirational message of perseverance (and is highly educational!). Talk to us about the response you’ve had sharing Josh’s story.
Awww…thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the puns. That part was risky as I didn’t want them to feel like “groaners” (recently learned that expression from Jeremy, Josh’s younger brother). Fortunately, most of the feedback has been that the ice cream related words are part of the story’s charm. The overall response to the book has also been positive. The message that you can make a difference in our world no matter how old you are is one that is current and resonates with “kids” of all ages. When I’m done reading the book, a booming applause usually erupts. I’d like to think it’s for my writing, but I have a feeling it’s more for Josh’s victory. Either way I’m the proud momma of the main character and the book!
Talk to us about the process of distilling this true story that you got to live in real life into a picture book format...what was that like? Anything you had to cut or that just didn’t translate into a picture book?
When my kids were younger, I was an avid scrapbooker, so I had an extensive scrapbook to use for my research. It included copies of city documents, agendas, the law, Josh’s petition, letter, speeches, etc., along with all the newspaper articles we could find.
Additionally, I had VCR tapes (does that age me?) of all the board meetings and the TV news stories. As part of my research, I watched and transcribed every single board meeting so I could be assured my information and any quotes I used were 100% accurate. There were so many fun side stories to Josh’s quest that I couldn’t include but share when I do my school visits.
Your glossary is sweet added bonus (see, I can pepper in ice cream puns too!). Was this something you included in the original manuscript or something added later in the process? Why was it important to include this back matter?
LOL! Yes, you can; it becomes contagious. I had the glossary from the beginning. The teacher in me wanted to include vocabulary essential to the civic process. I worked hard to portray the meaning of most of the glossary words through the context, but felt it was important to provide accurate definitions of each in the backmatter. Interestingly though, I discovered there were two words I should have included. Many preschoolers and early elementary students don’t know the meaning of the words “Aye” and “Nay”. I now start my author visits with the younger set by explaining those two words and have them apply their newfound knowledge in a mock vote involving ice cream.
I can honestly say my launch party was amazing and one-of-a-kind. It took place “in the room where it happened”(for all the Hamilton fans reading this)—West Bloomfield Town Hall bringing everything full circle. I approached Steve Kaplan, the current supervisor of the township (he was on the board when Josh petitioned for ice cream trucks) to see if I could have my party in the board room. He quickly grabbed onto the idea and offered to host. Attending were trustees from the 2001 board, current township employees, many friends and family members, and Josh! who flew in from Colorado.
The township hosted an actual live show which was broadcasted on West Bloomfield’s community television station, so I now have a tape (this time DVD) of my entire launch party!
The program included speeches from and interviews of myself, Josh, my publisher (who also flew in for the event) and Mr. Kaplan. West Bloomfield provided the food which of course included an ice cream truck.
The final treat (sorry, but I couldn’t resist throwing in another ice cream pun) included not only a book signing by the author, but also by the main character!
Additionally, I’ve just finished a book tour throughout Michigan and Chicago with my last venue at the Barnes and Noble in the city where I teach. Each stop was filled with at least one incredibly special moment! I look forward to creating more moments this year as I embark on school visits.
How can you encourage writers and artists in the thick of the querying process who may want to throw in the towel?
The querying process is tough and it can absolutely be discouraging, but you just have to hang in there. When you are disheartened from waiting for responses and receiving rejection letters, grab your favorite ice cream for a pick-me-up and work on the next project. Moving forward is key!
I have three nonfiction picture books in the works. One is out for query (fingers crossed), a second is in the final revision stages, and I just finished the research on the third. All three connect to one of the yearlong science themes I use to teach my developing readers. The one in the revision stage was also inspired by Josh who is…hint…a space engineer.
What are some picture books published recently that have inspired you or had you laughing out loud?
Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin
written by Michelle Cusolito and illustrated by Nicole Wong
Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover
written and illustrated by Markus Motum
Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate
written by Sara Levine, illustrated by Masha D’yans
Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann
No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young
and illustrated by Nicole Wong
All are books I am in awe of for their unique ways of approaching nonfiction and incredible illustrations!
Who would you like to give a shout out to?
Thank you for this. I would love to give a huge shout out to my amazing critique partner Kat Harrison! She deals with chronic pain daily but doesn’t let it stop her. She has made a positive impact on many others in her situation and is an inspiration to me in a myriad of ways. Her debut picture book Surgery on Sunday launches January 2020. I am so excited for her!
I’d also like to give a shout out to the talented illustrator of I Campaigned for Ice Cream, Wendy Leach. She did an incredible job capturing the essence of Josh. I was impressed with her ability to portray children’s facial expressions and her attention to detail. Her illustrations also told a sub story that rounded out the book with a layer of humor.
they gift readers of all ages with a hefty dose of emotion in a short period of time!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey and debut with us, Suzanne!
Thank YOU for stopping by to support authors at every stage of their journey, kidlit fam. Keep it up! To thank you for celebrating with Suzanne, she would like to give away 2 signed books for 2 lucky winners! Did I mention they are BOTH signed by Suzanne and Josh!? Well they are. See details below on how to enter the giveaway.
2 scoop special!
2 signed books! (by Suzanne AND Josh!)
TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
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The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, August 27th at 9AM CST
The winners will be contacted on Tuesday, August 27th and announced on Twitter and Facebook
About Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw
Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw, but you can call me Suzanne. Us = My devoted husband Marc + my incredible sons Josh and Jeremy + my furry writing buddy…Ziggy! Author of children’s books – mostly nonfiction, but I have a fiction chapter book in the works too. Never want to stop learning. Need to read—big fan of the Harry Potter series (BTW, I’m a Hufflepuff). Educator who’s all about encouraging and engaging developing readers. Jazzed about science—especially space, nature, and oceanography. Also dabble in interior design. Cayaking* is one of my favorite pastimes (*I know it starts with a K, but there’s no K in my name). On my yoga mat at least twice a week. Born and raised