Happy spring, everyone! We're thrilled to have the wonderful Laura Renauld, and all her Woodland Friends, on the blog today. We're especially excited to hear more about her newest book, Doe's Dandelions (Illustrated by Jennie Poh). When Doe finds out dandelions instead of daffodils have taken over her garden, she sets out to warn her friends. Only, she soon realizes dandelions may have more worth than she thought. Want to know more about Laura, her Woodland Friends series, PLUS want a chance to win a signed copy of Doe's Dandelions? Read on...
Q: Hi, Laura! Thanks for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit. We’re thrilled you could stop by and talk about your new book from your Woodland Friends series, Doe’s Dandelions! For anyone who may not be familiar, can you share more about yourself and your Woodland Friends series with us?
A: Hello! It’s an honor to be here. Doe’s Dandelions is the fourth installment of the Woodland Friends series, illustrated by Jennie Poh and published by Beaming Books. It is a spring story, rounding out this seasonal series. The same four friends show up in every book, but they each get to star in their own story. The series started in 2018 with Porcupine’s Pie. Bear’s Bicycle and Squirrel’s Sweater followed. Now Doe’s Dandelions joins the bunch! I have also written a picture book biography about Mister Rogers titled Fred’s Big Feelings, illustrated by Brigette Barrager and published by Atheneum/S&S.
Q: In your story, Doe grows daffodils for the Spring Petal Parade, but despite her weeding and care, dandelions have taken over her garden. Thankfully, her friends enjoy the dandelions more than she thought. Can you share more about the story with us?
A: Every story in the series features the main character journeying through the woods to check in with each of the friends. After Doe weeds her garden, she sets off to warn Porcupine, Squirrel, and Bear about the invasive dandelions. She is surprised to learn that Porcupine likes to eat dandelions, Squirrel thinks they make lovely bouquets, and Bear grows them on purpose to make a wishing garden. Doe comes to realize that all things, even dandelions, have worth. The story ends with all the friends including dandelions with their traditional flowers in the Spring Petal Parade.
Q: Your story showcases how dandelions, something we adults try so hard to get rid of, have worth. What takeaway do you hope children will have when reading this story?
A: I hope readers learn to question their assumptions. Just because a certain belief or opinion is popular, doesn’t mean it is correct. Children and adults learn and grow when they gather information, keep an open mind, and allow their ideas to evolve.
That's such an important message, Laura. Thanks for sharing!
Q: Jennie’s illustrations are absolutely delightful. What are your favorite spreads and why?
A: I’d love to share my favorite from each book!
Porcupine’s Pie – This spread near the end of the book just exudes warmth and friendship.
Bear’s Bicycle – I love this action spread and the juxtaposition of a large and small animal crashing into each other.
Squirrel’s Sweater – Squirrel’s sweater is accessorized and looks so darn cute!
Doe’s Dandelions – The spot illustrations show Porcupine’s enjoyment of dandelion leaves and the colorful opposing page illustrates Doe stepping out of her comfort zone for the first time. As a whole, this spread injects the text with curiosity, movement, and a generous spirit.
Each book in the series also displays a wordless spread, which really highlights Jennie’s adorable art.
Readers, check out these adorable spreads!
Q: We know writing a multi-book series is a dream for so many authors, but has its challenges. What advice would you give to anyone looking to write a series? What should they keep in mind before starting or expanding on their story idea?
A: When I wrote Porcupine’s Pie, I didn’t have a series in mind, but as I talked to kids during school visits, the four woodland friends and the fall setting quickly lent itself to brainstorming different seasonal stories. I followed the pattern of the first title to create stories around each character and an object appropriate for the season. Jennie’s illustrations brought cohesion to the covers and wordless spreads became a feature in each book.
If I had been deliberate about creating a series from the beginning of the process, I probably would have setup many of these same elements. I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to cobble a series together by accident!
Considering all the elements that go into creating a series before you write will serve you well. Look for storylines that can be expanded or revisited: seasons, holidays, school routines, developmental milestones. Or create a character-driven story that has multi-plot potential. Consider your title. Does it have a pattern that you can use again and again? Are there minor characters that could appear in every story, perhaps by taking on a larger role? Is there an action that will recur in each story, such as a journey through the woods?
By planning out a structure, you’ll be ready for what comes next, whether you write one companion book or several in a series!
Wonderful advice, Laura! Thanks again for joining us today. We can't wait to check out your books!
Spring into Storytime Giveaway!
Laura has offered to give one lucky reader a signed copy of her new book, Doe's Dandelions!
Giveaway Details: To enter to win, leave a comment below and let Laura know why you can't wait to read her new book!
The winner will be chosen on or about Tuesday, 4/2!
*Note: books will be shipped in the US only.
Bonus: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of two (2) 15-minute Zoom Ask Me Anything chats with Heather and Lynne Marie!
About Laura Renauld:
Bio: Prior to becoming a children’s author, Laura shared her love of books with her third grade students. After experiencing first-hand the power of story to captivate, amuse, and encourage, Laura knew that she wanted to create books for kids.
Laura is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. When she is not writing picture books about porcupines, pirates, and pickles, Laura can be found at the library, in the woods, or sharing her love of reading and writing with children. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their two story-telling sons.
For more about Laura, visit her at the below links:
Website /blog: Laura Renauld – Children's Author
To purchase Laura's books, or to leave a review for them, click here.