Celebrate Groundhog Day with Jess Townes!
Happy almost spring, readers! We're thrilled to have the wonderful Jess Townes back with us today celebrating her new release, Groundhog Gets it Wrong. As you know, everyone makes mistakes. Groundhog surely does when he mispredicts the start of spring. But, when Groundhog finds out his mistakes about the weather impact everyone's plans to attend the spring carnival, he tries his best to make amends. Will he be able to? Want to know more about Jess, her new book, PLUS want a chance to win a signed copy of Groundhog Gets it Wrong? Read on...
Q: Hi, Jess! Thanks so much for joining us again on #SeasonsOfKidLit. For those who may have missed our Trick-or-Treat post with Jess in October, click here to learn all about her debut book, Spellbound.
We're absolutely thrilled to hear about your new book, Groundhog Gets it Wrong! It seriously looks both adorable and hilarious. What gave you the idea to write this book?
A: Thank you so much for having me back! I wrote the first draft of Groundhog Gets It Wrong in 2016 as part of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge. That year, the Groundhog predicted an early spring, and where I live, he sort of got it right! We had a lot of unseasonably warm weather that February. This made me wonder, how often is this groundhog accurate in his shadow-based predictions. It turns out, not very often at all. This planted the seed for a book exploring what happens when the Groundhog is wrong.
Q: In your book, Groundhog comes from a line of meteorologists that are pretty accurate. However, Groundhog doesn't seem to be as accurate as his family. Can you share a little more about the story with us?
A: I wrote the first draft of this story in 2016, but after a couple of rounds of revisions with my critique group, I put it in the proverbial drawer on hold. My agent and I agreed that it might not be the best manuscript to submit as a debut, but perhaps one to revisit later. The early drafts of the book focused on the themes of making mistakes and making amends, but when we finally sent it on submission, we got a request to revise and resubmit to my now editor, Ellen Cormier at Dial Books for Young Readers, with a new theme. I loved Ellen's idea of weaving a theme of resilience and growth when something doesn't come easy to us the first time. In fact, I really related to this version of Groundhog as a recovering perfectionist myself. So, yes, Groundhog's family does have a better track record when it comes to predicting weather, but that is because they studied meteorology and were prepared. Groundhog initially assumes that his lineage and the fact that he is a groundhog will make his new job easy, but finds out that all of us have to work to hone our talents and skills.
Q: What a cool story and path to publication for Groundhog! What is your favorite quality about Groundhog and something you think the readers will love?
A: I love Groundhog's tenacity. Even though it takes him some time to figure out that the only way to make things right is to learn and grow from his mistakes, he sure does make a lot of zany attempts to fix things in the meantime! Who among us hasn't looked for a shortcut to hard work in some arena of our lives? I also love his facial expressions - you can read him like a book! Nicole Miles did an amazing job capturing his personality.
Q: The illustrations in Groundhog Gets it Wrong are adorable! Can you share some of your favorite spreads with us?
A: I agree! I feel so lucky to have been paired with such a fun and talented illustrator. I love the sense of absolute desperation on Groundhog's face in this spread as he tries to come up with solutions. I think it's also a great example of how authors and illustrators both contribute to the overall story, as Nicole found places to insert her own funny ideas about things he might try. I laughed out loud the first time I saw the image of him trying to cover a snowman with a blanket.
I also really love the way Nicole left early clues about the fact that Groundhog's family had actually studied meteorology. You can see the scrolled up weather maps on several spreads, including this one. Too bad Groundhog doesn't notice them earlier!
Q: What makes Groundhog Gets it Wrong the perfect anytime read?
A: I don't know about you, but I make mistakes year-round! In fact, I was supposed to have this questionnaire to you by the end of the day yesterday, and thankfully you were gracious enough to grant me an extension! I think the themes of resilience when faced with a new or hard to learn skill are resonant for young readers all through the year, whether they are learning to read, spell, ride a bike, tie their shoes, or master meteorology. I hope that readers are encouraged to not give up when they feel that early sense of frustration at something being hard, or that feeling of embarrassment at making a mistake or being wrong. I hope they look to Groundhog as a role model for starting over and trying again until they master whatever goal it is they are trying to achieve! Well said, Jess! Thanks again for joining us. We loved getting a closer look at your new book!
BONUS: As a special treat, Jess is offering a signed copy of her new book. How cool is that?!
Giveaway Details: To enter to win a signed copy of Groundhog Gets it Wrong, leave a comment below and let Jess know why you can't wait to read her new book! If you share this post on social media, let us know that too (for an extra entry into her raffle).
One winner will be announced on February 2nd!
*Note: books will be shipped in the US only.
About Jess Townes:
Jess Townes is the author of several picture books, including Spellbound and Groundhog Gets It Wrong. A lifelong storyteller, Jess has worked in public education, non-profit development, birth and lactation services, as a freelance writer, an actress, and currently works as a bookseller at Main Street Books in St. Charles, Missouri, but her favorite part of any job is the connections she builds with other people. She believes that there is no better path to those connections than through our stories. Jess lives outside St. Louis with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and a fifty-pound lap dog.
Jess’s website: www.jesstownes.com
To purchase Jess's books on Amazon, or to leave a review, click here.