Today I have the pleasure of welcoming picture book author Stephanie Wildman to my blog. Stephanie’s latest picture book, Treasure Hunt is out today!
Hi Stephanie, thanks for agreeing to appear on my blog! And happy book birthday to Treasure Hunt! Where did you get the idea for this book and how long did it take you to write?
Treasure Hunt started as a short story, not as a picture book. I wrote it for a contest that sought stories with environmental/ecological themes. In that early version, a grandmother saved a big cardboard box for her grandson to repurpose. I didn’t win.
I felt attached to the story, though, because during the pandemic I made toilet paper roll puppets (just like the twins do in the book) with my grandsons, and we planned a puppet show using a giant cardboard box.
I also planned “treasure hunts” for them to look for hidden objects around the house when they came to visit. They loved searching. These siblings in real life became the twins Flor and Roberto in the story, permitting some playful dynamics between them as they hunted. The grandmother is no longer part of the story, replaced by an older brother who hides the objects.
So, I would say the story grew and evolved over about two years – but I confess that the pandemic has warped my sense of time.
That’s the great thing about contests – they get our creative juices flowing, and it’s always possible that a contest entry could one day evolve into a book! What tips can you share with picture book writers who are just starting out?
The advice I got when I started out was join SCBWI and 12×12 Picture Book Challenge. That advice has served me well, as my phenomenal critique group came from my local SCBWI chapter, and the webinars available from both of these resources have been so helpful.
Of course, everyone says “read, read, read,” both to know the market and to see what works or doesn’t in picture books.
Most of all, though, I urge new writers to embrace rejection; it’s a part of being a writer. Even when a publisher accepts your book, you may be turned down for a podcast or a review or that next book. If you let yourself be flattened every time you get a “no”, it’s harder to be productive – so keep writing! And rewriting.
Great advice! How do you plan to celebrate the launch of Treasure Hunt?
I would love to figure out how to celebrate with Estefania Razo, the talented illustrator for Treasure Hunt, but we are thousands of miles apart – she is based in Guadalajara, Mexico.
For live event celebrations, I am doing a book launch at Linden Tree Books, a wonderful Bay Area children’s bookstore. And in March 2023, when the Spanish language version, Búsqueda del Tesoro, comes out, I will be doing a bilingual reading with translator Cecilia Pópulus-Eudave in the San Francisco Botanical Garden in conjunction with Green Apple Books on the Park. I love reading the book to children and I hope to do some school and library visits as well.
And if that isn’t enough celebration, I did treat myself to a doll from an Etsy vendor – Ahsen Toys – that I learned about from 12×12 – they create dolls from a picture you send – really a treat.
Wow, what a beautiful doll! Can you tell us about anything you’re working on at the moment, or any other books scheduled for release?
I’m excited to share my as yet unannounced – YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST! – news that my third book, Miri’s Moving Day, co-authored with Adam Ryan Chang, will be out in 2024 from Kar-Ben Publishing.
Yay, congratulations!! I feel honoured that you’ve shared the news here first.
Thank you so much, Stephanie, for taking the time to visit my blog and answer these questions! Where can you be found online?
Stephanie Wildman, author of Brave in the Water (2021) (illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar; translated into Spanish as Valiente en el Agua by Cecilia Pópulus-Eudave), became a Professor Emerita after serving as the John A. and Elizabeth H. Sutro Chair at Santa Clara Law.
She directed the school’s Center for Social Justice and Public Service. Lawley Publishing will release her second children’s book Treasure Hunt (illustrated by Estefania Razo; translated into Spanish as Búsqueda del Tesoro by Cecilia Pópulus-Eudave) in November 2022.
Her other books include: Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America (with contributions by Armstrong, Davis, & Grillo) (2021); Race and Races: Cases and Resources for a Diverse America 3d (with Delgado, Harris, Perea, and Stefancic) (2015); Social Justice: Professionals Communities and Law (with Mahoney and Calmore) (2013); and Women and the Law Stories (with Schneider) (2011).
Stephanie is a grandmother, mother, spouse, friend, good listener, and she can sit “criss-cross apple sauce” thanks to her yoga practice.
Bonus content: Former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer wrote the back cover blurb for the book: “Protecting the environment has always been a priority for me so this wonderful story is very special. It shows how children can enjoy doing something to actually make a difference!”