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This week, we have Adam Searle on the blog to discuss his book "Goodbye Mother Bear". Adam David Searle was born on 5th November 1981. He was diagnosed with dyslexia at 5 years old and could not read or write until he was 11. Adam says "I used to love being read stories and, as I had a vivid imagination, I used to tell my own stories. I started to learn to read after discovering the Goosebump books and decided that I too wanted to be a writer." Adam wrote his first story The Big & the Little Monster at age 12 and published it years later in 2017. He has written five additional books including Goodbye Mother Bear. He is currently working on a second book featuring Faraday Bear. Outside of writing, Adam enjoys playing guitar, surfing, collecting autographs, and spending time with his bowtie loving dog, Gambit.


Thank you for joining us Adam. What inspired you to write Goodbye Mother Bear?


The theme for Goodbye Mother Bear was a very hard topic to do but there are many children from all over the world who suffer from the loss of a loved one and are grieving. Much like how adults do, children will grieve in different ways either by withdrawing from the world or shielding their own emotions from others. The grieving process for them is tough and, sometimes, giving support can be just as hard.


There are children's books out there but I felt none of them really went into depth with the feelings of emotions children often feel such as anger, depression and loneliness. They also did not include the feelings of those around them such as friends, neighbours or those at school and how they would cope and the frustration they feel at not being able to help.


That was why I wanted to create a book which tells the story of Faraday Bear, the young bear cub, a character which children could look up to and feel for as they follow his journey through his different emotions and how he distances himself from his friends. Children who have suffered a loss can relate to Faraday while those who know of someone who is grieving can use my book to understand and to help, just like how Faraday’s friends all did.



What was the process like from inspiration to publication?


It was a very long and tiresome process. Although there was very little change from my first to final draft, I spent many hours on research and I was very doubtful of how people would feel about the topic of the story. I sent it to an editor to see what he thought of the story and he loved it! He also felt that children – and adults – would learn a lot from my book.


Do you have a scene in the book that was your favorite to write or see illustrated?

It has to be the ending. I love every page and paragraph of my story and my illustrator Ian Ward did a fantastic job in bringing Faraday and his friends to life. But, during writing, I felt the raw emotion coming from the ending and I still feel it now every time I read it. Faraday never got the chance to say goodbye to his mum and suffered from a number of emotions that kept him distant from those around him, so seeing him and his friends come together to create a memorial in the woodlands that was his mum’s favourite place, and for Faraday to finally say goodbye to her, is magical.




Grief and death are issues that many children will face. Why is this book important for kids to have on their shelves?


Goodbye Mother Bear focuses on many different key points and emotions and grieving and friendship are the main strong topics for this story. If a child is suffering from a loss of a loved one, then I hope they will follow Faraday as he faces his struggles and finds his peace. On the other hand, if a child has a friend, neighbour or a classmate at school who has suffered a loss, I hope that Goodbye Mother Bear will help them too to understand the emotions they will be feeling and how they can help out.



How can parents, teachers, or counselors use this book to engage deeper with their children?


Children will grieve in different ways but many will do so in silence, just like how Faraday did. Faraday could not react with his friends and became very withdrawn and distant as he battled his emotions. But Faraday was not the only one to suffer because his friends also struggled on how to act around him. Goodbye Mother Bear expresses how you are truly never alone and how it is ok to feel sad and to have a cry and how, with good friends, you will always have support.


Do you have any advice for authors that want to write about hard topics?


Yes, and that is research. It is very, very important that you do your research and get your facts correct. Readers will want to get advice from your book so getting it perfect is a must.


I agree, research is so important. Not only on the facts but on your audience and the other books out there addressing the same issues.


Adam, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. Where can we find you to keep up with your work?


I am very active on-line at Instagram where readers can get in contact and keep up to date with my work and future projects and where I will be doing signings! Books can be ordered via amazon (please click the follow button to keep up to date) and local stores such as Barnes & Noble. Personalized signed books can be bought directly from my website where I ship worldwide and readers can also be kept up to date with my blog. It is always a pleasure to hear from my readers or parents and teachers, so please do give me a follow, a like and drop me a message. My website is www.adamdsearle-author.com




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This week we have to pleasure of having Berrie Torgan-Randall on the blog.

Berrie has been passionate about children’s literature since she was a little girl, and has fed her desire by becoming a children’s librarian and by pursuing a career as an illustrator and writer of children’s books. Berrie’s professional experience includes illustrating books for various businesses and academic institutions. Berrie is under contract with publisher Blue Bronco Books Jr. to write and illustrate a series of early reader graphic novels Bella & Blue is a graphic novel early reader series following 8-year-old Bella and her little dog, Blue. Bella & Blue celebrates life's everyday struggles, silliness, and surprises. In addition, Berrie is the Illustrator Coordinator for the Eastern PA SCBWI. She is looking forward to making connections with professionals while organizing events for illustrators who are on a similar journey of creating beautiful and meaningful picture books. https://www.berrietr.com


Thank you so much for joining us Berrie. To begin, what inspired you to write Bella & Blue?


Every week, I make myself participate in a self-imposed ritual of “Marketing Monday” where I spend at least one morning researching agents, editors, and publishers to send submissions of my dummy books and portfolio samples. While researching, I came across a publisher who promotes creatives from New Jersey. I grew up in a small NJ town across the river from Philadelphia, so I thought I would give it a shot and write a query letter with a link to my portfolio. A couple months later an email came, then a phone call, and then a contract!


Originally, my publisher wanted me to write and illustrate an early reader about a young girl and her pet monkey. I didn’t agree with this plan. Mainly because I had heard too many real life disaster stories of owning a pet monkey! So I suggested to my publisher that I would come up with a story about a girl and her dog. The publisher emphasized that the book series should be a social/emotional story so I created my character, Bella, who is a spunky 8-year-old who suffers from anxiety. My character, Blue, is a dog who helps calm Bella’s anxiety by jumping up on her lap and giving her a high five.


I love that you weren't afraid to voice your suggestions to help make the book better, switching from a pet monkey to a dog.


As you are both author and illustrator, what was the process like for you? Did you start with an image or text?


I begin with really rough thumbnail sketches to get my ideas on paper. I then write out the story like a script with art notes so that my editor can get what the story is about. My final story is much different from the original thumbnails. It’s a long process of sketching, rewriting, new sketches, rewriting, to final art and manuscript. I signed my contract in 2020, and the first of the series comes out in October 2022!


We can't wait to get our hands on it! Do you have a scene in the first book that is your favorite?


Yes! Bella loves to dance so she imitates ballet dancers she sees on tv and almost knocks over Gigi’s (her grandmother) prized plant. The next day, Bella begins a ballet lesson and has an anxiety attack because there are too many ballet rules. While at Gigi’s house, Bella is sad about the class so Gigi tells Bella to slip a tape in her boom box. Gigi teaches Bella and Blue her dance moves – Disco, Boogie Woogie, and The Bump. Bella is excited to show off her dance moves in ballet class and causes a domino of dancers during the floor exercises while showing off “The Bump!”



You mentioned earlier that this book has a social emotional focus. Why do you think this series is important for kids to have on the shelves?


Many kids, including my own daughter, suffer from anxiety. Bella & Blue reflects an anxious child’s personality with humor and heart and helps kids see how having a supportive family and pet can help them cope with their anxiety. Bella also takes the lead and figures out how to solve problems that occur during the story.


How do you think parents, teachers, or counselors could use Bella & Blue to engage in deeper conversations with kids?


This book is a mirror for anxious kids. They can see themselves reflected in Bella, and it helps readers talk about their own anxieties. Bella’s anxiety is illustrated like a tornado that comes on all of a sudden and escalates. Kids can talk about how they feel when they have anxiety and talk about what or who makes them feel better.


Do you have any advice for authors who want to write about tough topics for kids?


Be real and be honest. Kids don’t want you to fluff over the hard stuff. You can talk about hard stuff and still make kids laugh along with the characters in your book. If you have a book inside you write it down (it’s very therapeutic). Join organizations like SCBWI (Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators) and 12x12 to learn how to write for children and hang in there.


Thank you so much Berrie for taking the time to connect with us here!


To follow Berrie or learn more about her work you can find her on Instagram at blue.berrie, Twitter at berrietr, or her website www.berrietr.comwww.berrietr.com. Be on the lookout for Bella & Blue coming to the world October 2022!

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This week continues Picture Book Therapy Thursday where we delve into picture books that can open up deeper discussion on tough topics with kids. I am so excited to feature Chelsea Lin Wallace on the blog!


Chelsea Lin Wallace is an author and a poet with a master’s in education. As a former elementary school educator, she loves teaching creative writing to children. As a little girl, Chelsea moved around a lot, but felt a unique connection to every home. She now lives happily in Los Angeles, California with her husband, daughter, and dog.


This week we will discuss her debut picture book: A Home Named Walter.




Walter was a happy home.

He loved the bustle and warmth of the family that lived with him. But when they move away, his feelings are hurt. He grows cold and quiet and only wants to be left alone.


So when a little girl and her mama move in, Walter is determined to get them out! But in his struggle to do so, Walter may just feel livable again and change how he feels. A Home Named Walter is a special story that will resonate with many readers for years to come.


Chelsea, thank you so much for joining us! To start off, why don't you tell us where the inspiration for Walter and his story came from.


Ever since I was teeny tiny, I could feel a spirit in most everything around me. It used to drive my parents bananas because I’d never ever dare throw anything out. I soon became a rescuer of discarded toys and abandoned stuffed animals.


Then there was Woolly. Woolly was my lovey, a stuffed wombat. He was most certainly alive and I don’t say that with a wink-wink—I honestly believe to this day my love loved him alive.


Unfortunately,ache, when I was 12 years old, I lost Woolly on an airplane. I still grieve that loss. The first few picture book stories I wrote had so much to do with that ache, but I wrote the ache from Woolly’s point of view. Like—if I felt these feelings, what must he have felt? And what came of him?


On top of all of this, I moved around a ton as a kid. Gosh, a dozen houses and 4 states before the age of 10. Can you imagine how I felt about each house we left and each home we made?


All of this is to say, Walter likely has been living with me for a while and decided it was time I tell his story.



I love hearing how that feeling of connection with the things around you turned into a book! What an empathetic thing to wonder how your lost toy felt, too. What was the process like with A Home named Walter from inspiration to getting published?


It was sort of like being on the most thrilling roller coaster of your life but then the ride stops midway, then starts, then stops, then starts again until you reach the end of the ride and you want to get back in line and do it all over again.


There are rushes of exhilaration at each phase: from idea, to first draft, to revision, to query, to sale, to published. Like in the revision phase when you write that thing that just makes the story click and you’re like, “Woah. Is this something?” Or the query phase when an agent “asks you to get on a call.” Or the sale phase when your agent gives you the “good news.” But in between all these roller coaster rushes, there is space: space to worry, space to wonder, space to anxiously pace yourself into a panic. There is a great deal of pause in this business between all the bursting moments. For me, I kept busy in those spaces, writing the next story.


When I got the call that WALTER had sold, it was probably one of the best feelings of my life but it was the same feeling I had when I got the inspiration for the story idea itself. I think it’s important for me to love what I do for the sake of what I do.


That description of the roller coaster that stops and starts is spot on. It's so easy to use that pause time of waiting for anxiety instead of excitement. But when you finally reach the end, it's all worth it.


Do you have a scene or a sentence in the book that is your favorite?


Yes, I have many. One of the early scenes I love is when the family living with Walter (he’s the house) moves away and he gets so sad:

He let his grass grow brown and his plumbing rust.

He let his floors creak and his doors droop.

And there he sat.

A cold, quiet, empty house, growing weeds all around.

(And he liked it that way).

That last line holds so much meaning. I can't wait to see it in the context of the book.


Why do you think this book is important for kids to have on their shelves?


This is a story that children will enjoy reading again and again. It’s full of humor and heart, it’s fresh and fun, and the art is warm and inviting.


But it’s also a story for the child who has ever lost someone or something, the child who has moved, the child who has experienced change or transition, the empathic child, and for the child who feels their home has a heart.


This book is a beautiful story first and foremost. But it’s also a pathway to expanding perspectives—a way to think about the world from a different place and a way to think about how we heal. I hope that it’s a story that endears children to their hearts; for them to know their love has the power to help another.


This book wouldn’t be what it is without the art from Ginnie Hsu. She not only brought Walter and this world to life, but the warmth and sincerity of her work makes you want to move right in. She is herself an extraordinary human being with a deep soul and you can feel her honesty in every spread.



How do you think parents, teachers, or counselors could use A Home Named Walter to engage in deeper conversations with kids?


Walter is a home that gets his feelings hurt and his saltiness results in almost comical ways of trying to push the new family away. But underneath all of that is a real conversation about how we respond to fear, or to pain, or to sadness. Do we cry? Do we keep it inside? Do we hide or scream or shut people out? How do we process and work through difficult emotions?


Then there is Little Girl, who is also dealing with her own grief. But she is processing hers different from Walter. She has opened herself up so much, she can feel Walter’s ache. We get to witness the power of her vulnerability, her compassion, and her empathy.


I really appreciate the different depictions of grief and processing emotions that you include in the story. What a great thing for children to see.


Do you have any advice for authors hoping to write books about tough topics?


I have written several stories that deal with difficult topics, and the best advice I can give is to remain authentic. Before you write, take the time to dig into your own emotional cavities. Where is your experience being pulled from? What did it feel like? Why do you want to write this? What are some ways that metaphor storytelling (like a house) could create even more impact on the emotion you want to express?


I never, ever write with a message or moral in mind. There is an innate catharsis in reading and writing. Maybe it’s not our job to “teach” them that catharsis, but to share our own, and hope that it connects with them somehow and maybe, just maybe, inspires them to express themselves through story too.


I think in so many areas of life it's important to dig into your own emotions and intentions of the things you do.


Thank you again Chelsea for taking the time to share with us! We can't wait to see Walter on the shelves!


A Home Named Walter goes on sale April 5th, but you can preorder now!


To follow Chelsea for more about Walter and her upcoming projects, follow her on Twitter @chelseaauthor or visit her website at chelsealinwallace.com


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