top of page

Update - Winner Announced! Celebrate National Rescue Dog Day with Berrie Torgan-Randall!


6/4: Congrats to MissLisaProdcutions on winning Berrie Torgan Randall's giveaway! We'll be in touch soon with more details.


A special thanks to everyone who joined us and celebrated rescue dogs and furry friends of all sorts!



 

5/20/2024


Hi, parents, librarians, book fanatics, writers, and readers of all sorts! We're here with a very special guest celebrating a very special day - National Rescue Dog Day. We're so excited to have Berrie Torgan-Randall with us, author and illustrator of the early Graphic Novel Series, Bella & Blue. Focusing on celebrating everyday struggles, silliness, surprises, and of course our four-legged friends, her book is a must. Want to know more about Berrie, Bella & Blue, PLUS want a chance to win a signed copy AND have $25 donated to a pet rescue of your choice? Read on...


Q: Hi, Berrie! Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit. We’re thrilled to host you, and to hear about your early-reader graphic novel, Bella & Blue! It's such a sweet read on such an important day. Before we dive in, can you share a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer and illustrator of children’s books? 


A: I was a very shy child and found school to be challenging except for art class. I loved everything about art class – the burlap and glue collages, the linoleum prints, and the smell of the Tempera paint. In pursuit of this passion, I went to art school where I took multiple and varied fine arts classes. I loved being in the art room, and there was one other special place where I loved to be—the school library. After working various jobs after art school that weren’t very gratifying, I reconsidered my career options and remembered the joy of my time spent in the school library. I went to grad school to become an elementary school librarian. 


Being a librarian is my bread and butter, a profession that I love. However, my true passion is illustrating and writing children’s books. It wasn’t until later, after my kids went to school, I finally pursued my dream of writing and illustrating for children. With hope in my heart, I started attending conferences to achieve my dream of illustrating books for children. These conferences inspired me to use my imagination and be creative. 


To practice consistent characters I created a mini cartoon called The Adventures of Lola & Louie which were wordless stories about a pair of adorable siblings. I made mini books to hand out as my business cards at SCBWI events. As I grew more confident with sharing my portfolio, I also worked on my writing skills. 


I spent years writing query letters and sending my portfolio to professionals that I met at the many conferences I attended which garnered a lot of rejections until one day I got an email that said “Let’s talk.”


Q: Bella & Blue follows eight-year-old Bella and her dog Blue who helps her with her anxiety. What a neat concept for kids, especially young ones who may be facing anxiety like Bella. 


Can you share more about your story? How does Blue help Bella and what was the inspiration behind your story? 


A: Bella & Blue was written to help kids with anxiety. One of my children suffers from anxiety and our dog Chase was helpful in calming her down. When I wrote this book, I hoped that children would see themselves reflected in Bella’s story and seek help or comfort from a four-legged friend or two-legged parent, teacher, or friend. 


Bella gets nervous during unfamiliar situations such as thunderstorms or trying new activities. Bella meets a puppy who is up for adoption at the Pop Up Pet Shop for the first time while shopping with her grandmother Gigi. Bella’s dad is reluctant at first when she asks to keep the dog (now named Blue) but has a change of heart when he sees how well Blue effortlessly and humorously is able to relieve Bella's anxiety.




Q: Your book contains three short stories about Bella and Blue. What gave you the idea to format your book this way? And, what tips do you have for anyone looking to write/structure their story similarly? 

Can you also share what each story is about? :) 


A: I encourage anyone who wants to write a graphic novel for young readers to check out similar books from the library. While creating Bella & Blue: Bella Meets Blue, I read a lot of early reader graphic novel mentor texts including the Unicorn and Yeti series by Heather Aryis Burness and Hazel Quintanilla and the Bird and Squirrel series by James Burks. These books helped me figure out the number of pages and pacing of graphic novels for young readers. 


Chapter One, “Bella Meets Blue” 

Eight-year-old Bella feels like she has a black cloud following her around when she is out shopping with her grandmother Gigi. That is until she spies a free puppy to take home. Bella’s dad is not happy at first about adopting a dog but realizes that Blue is good for Bella when she is blue. 


Chapter Two, “Ballet Blues” 

Bella loves to dance and imitates ballet dancers she sees on tv and almost knocks over Gigi’s 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 boombox. 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!” Bella comes up with the idea to invite her new dance friends (and their dogs) to a “free for all dance party” complete with tunes from Gigi’s boombox. 


Chapter Three, “Blue Ribbon” 

Bella asks her grandmother Gigi for help making a costume for Blue. Hat-loving Gigi brings out her hat collection to garner ideas for Blue’s costume. Blue decidedly doesn’t like any of the hats and hides under the couch until Gigi brings out a summer hat and recalls a happy memory when Bella’s dad bought them all hot dogs. Bella and Gigi realize that Blue is not excited about the summer hat but is clearly excited by the word “hot dog.” Bella and Gigi make a hot dog costume for Blue, and he proudly prances around the room with the costume on. Although Blue doesn’t win the Blue Ribbon at the Canine Costume Contest, Bella gives Blue a hug and lets him know he gets the prize for being the best dog ever. 

Q:  I love how the story is illustrated in mainly a monochromatic color scheme - how cool! What gave you the idea to use this color scheme?


A: I consider myself a visual learner and part of my motivation for writing Bella & Blue: Bella Meets Blue was to create a story that is humorous as well as accessible to visual and reluctant readers. 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 about people owning pet monkeys! So I suggested to my publisher that I would come up with a story about a girl and her therapy dog. Originally, the publisher wanted the book to be in black and white only. I suggested that to appeal to visual learners like myself that a third color should be added. I chose a “Tiffany Blue” because as you know good things come in boxes from Tiffany. 


Thanks for sharing! We love the way the book & illustrations came out.


Q: Will there be another Bella & Blue book?


A: Yes! I recently signed a contract with The Little Press for the second book in the series, Bella & Blue: Times Two. This book is scheduled to be released in October 2026 and will feature three new chapters about math anxiety (“Math Class Blues”), sleepovers (“Pajama Jitters”) and a special trip to Paris (“Fear of Flying”). 

Q: Congrats! We can't wait for 2026!


BONUS Question: Why is National Rescue Dog Day important to you, Bella, and Blue? 


There are so many pets who need a good home and so many families who need a pet. In our family, our pets (a dog and a cat) were a great way for my kids to share responsibility and a great excuse to get outdoors and talk a walk or play catch. Our favorite game to play with our dog was doggie softball with a bat and a tennis ball. Chase, our dog, was a great outfielder. In addition, Chase was great at helping with life’s stresses because he was always there to listen and was always willing to share his soggy green tennis ball. 


We couldn't agree more! Readers, want to know what we thought of Bella & Blue? You can find our reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.




Q: Would you like to leave a cool tip or treat for our readers?


A: A treat!


I'd like to offer one signed copy of my book, Bella & Blue, PLUS a $25 donation to a shelter of the winner’s choice.


Wow! Thanks so much for such a generous treat!


Giveaway Instructions: Readers, to enter this giveaway please 1) leave a comment below on how a rescue pet has helped you and 2) share this post on social media. Please also thank Berrie for stopping by! Pet GIFs are always welcomed and appreciated.


The giveaway winner will be drawn and announced on or about 5/31.


Note: Books will be shipped & donations will be made in the US only. Winners must have a US address.


Thanks again for stopping by, Berrie! We loved connecting with you.



About Berrie Torgan-Randall:

Berrie Torgan-Randall is an author/illustrator working from her home studio in Media, PA (west of Philadelphia). In addition to being an author/illustrator, she is the Illustrator Coordinator for the Eastern Pennsylvania SCBWI. Berrie’s illustrations have appeared in Ladybug Magazine, and her debut early reader graphic novel, Bella & Blue: Bella Meets Blue was published by The Little Press Publishing in 2022. Berrie recently signed a contract with The Little Press Publishing for the second book in the Bella & Blue series to launch in October 2026 titled Bella & Blue: Times Two. In addition, Berrie’s debut picture book Just Ducky was recently acquired by Cardinal Rule Press to be released October 2025. Check out Berrie’s portfolio at https://www.berrietr.com


For more about Berrie, check out the below links:


X (Twitter): @berrietr

Instagram: @blue.berrie


To purchase Berrie's book on Amazon or to leave a review for it, click here.



 




147 views

10 Comments


What a sweet, lovely pair, Bella and Blue!! Congrats, Berrie, on this beautiful series. I have a rescue cat right now who brings lots of joy and humor to my life!! He's energetic, cuddly, and definitely eases my anxiety, which I've struggled with since childhood. Thanks for sharing!!

Like

Well done again Berrie! Love to see stories of Bella and Blue continue! We have always had rescue dogs/cats. Our dog Sabre was particularly good a warning us of the house entry of JH boys!



Like

Thank you, Berrie for writing and illustrating a wonderful story with an important message. There are many times when a special fur baby helped me (and my family), but I'm sure there is a word-count limit here...:) But, I will briefly say our most recent addition, Oliver, helped me with the grief I felt after the passing of our Yorkie. I want to thank you too for your generous treat and raising awareness for all the precious animals waiting for their forever home. 💜



Like

I’m so happy to read this will be a series! Anxiety is an ever-growing issue with children and I think this concept is so timely. Members of our family have rescued several pups - one in particular had a terrible start in a puppy mill. She has since become a very loved and well-traveled pup. She has helped ease anxiety and stress, just like Blue! Thanks for sharing your journey and for helping out a local shelter with your generous donation!

Like

My golden retriever Berry (love that his name is close to the author's!) was a Paws for a Cause dog that failed his training and we adopted him. Berry ended up "adopting" me and gave me unconditional love and a renewed purpose and joyous outlook on life. Thank you, Berrie for the interview and chance to win a copy of your book as well as help a local shelter.



I shared this post on tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/yesreaderwriterpoetmusician/751008313567821824/celebrate-national-rescue-dog-day-with-berrie?source=share

Like
bottom of page