Hi Valerie, welcome to my blog! Your latest picture book, Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! (illustrated by Sabrena Khadija) is fantastic to read aloud, with its bouncy, joyful rhythm and catchy rhymes. With this book coming out 4th October and several more due for release next year, you seem to really be on a roll!
Did it take you many versions to get Ride, Roll, Run like this, or did it come to you quickly?
Thanks for your praise of Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! and for welcoming me to your blog, Helen. Ride, Roll, Run has gone through a couple of iterations and title changes. The first version took place on a playground, and then the setting changed to kids playing with what they had available right in their neighborhood. The title at submission was City Fun, but, as you can see, that changed.
Once I got the idea, the writing came quickly, but, of course, there were revisions. Also, the word count expanded from the original draft to the published book (about 50 words to over 120).
City Fun is a good title too, but your final title is perfect with its use of the rule of threes, its alliteration and its rhyme! What tips can you share with picture book writers who are just starting out, in particular those who like to write in rhyme?
If you like writing in rhyme, go for it! Just make sure your rhyme is tight and authentic. If you’re struggling with rhyme – either finding the right words or staying true to the rhyme is restricting your ability to tell the story, then consider switching to prose.
Great advice! How do you plan to celebrate the launch of Ride, Roll, Run?
I plan to have a virtual launch at a bookstore as well as an in-person one at a local library. Also, a couple of hours after my virtual launch, I’m headed off to my fellowship at Baldwin for the Arts. It’s not a celebration of a book release in the traditional sense, but it’s definitely a celebration. I’m honored to have been selected for this wonderful opportunity sponsored by Jacqueline Woodson, and I look forward to working on my early chapter book series while there.
Can you tell us about anything you’re working on at the moment, or any other books scheduled for release?
Sure; I’d be happy to tell you what I have in the works. In addition to my early chapter books, I’m in the process of making revisions on a picture book biography. I also have another picture book biography out on submission. Below is the list of my upcoming books:
TOGETHER WE SWIM (Chronicle, April 2023)
BING, BOP, BAM: TIME TO JAM! (Abrams, Oct. 2023)
RAINBOW DAYS (Scholastic, May/Aug./Nov. 2023)
I SEE COLOR (Harper Collins, Feb. 2024)
Wow, you certainly are prolific; I can’t wait to read those books when they come out! Thank you so much for taking the time to appear on my blog and answer these questions, Valerie!
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me, Helen.
Where can you be found online?
Valerie Bolling is the author of LET’S DANCE!, a 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite award winner and CT Book Award finalist, and TOGETHER WE RIDE, which has received starred reviews from the Horn Book and School Library Journal. RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN!, which Kirkus Reviews described as “pure joy,” was released in October 2022. Sequels to her 2022 books (TOGETHER WE SWIM and BING, BOP, BAM: TIME TO JAM!) as well as a Scholastic Acorn early reader series, RAINBOW DAYS, are slated for 2023.
A graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, Teachers College, Valerie has been an educator for 30 years. She currently works as an Instructional Coach and also teaches picture book writing classes. She is a WNDB mentor and deeply immersed in the kidlit writing community, particularly involved with SCBWI, the 12X12 Picture Book Challenge, Black Creators HeadQuarters, and Diverse Verse.
Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing.